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NIEER's weekly newsletter for the latest in early education news

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 19

May 11, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Debate Goes On, Wollongong U, Read Aloud

Hot Topics

Debate Goes On

The Power to the Profession recommendations for qualifications of teachers of children under age five continue to stir a debate that many hoped was resolved with a 2015 workforce report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

A recent Bipartisan Policy Center blog by Linda Smith, former ACF deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development, notes “It goes without saying that current education requirements for those working in early childhood education lag behind developmental science.”

But she warns the conversation should not end there, adding “the better question for everyone is how to pay teachers at either the AA or the BA degree levels.”

In an OpEd published by The 74, Sara Mead of Bellwether Education also urges more dialogue. “These disputes show that the initiative…is working,” she writes. “To become a real profession, the early childhood field needs space for robust, public debate about issues and tensions—something it has historically lacked.”

To advance policies expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities, advocates usually strive to build effective coalitions and develop aligned messages. Public debates can be risky, handing ammunition to opponents or creating doubts among potential allies.

Yet “a field that can’t debate important issues internally is ill-equipped to respond to pushback from external critics,” Mead notes. “…Further, more robust public dialogue would lead to better thinking and solutions on knotty challenges facing the field.”

Many voices have weighed in, including Task Force funders such as the Foundation for Child Development. In a recent statement, FCD called on the Task Force to “slow down” and develop a process for serious input “that includes vigorous and transparent discussion from a broad range of perspectives.”

“The work of the initiative’s Task Force is an opportunity for social and systemic transformation that cannot be squandered.”

We invite you to follow NIEER on Twitter @PreschoolToday and Facebook at Preschool Today. Please share your social media handles so we can connect.

NIEER Activities

NIEER welcomed colleagues from the University of Wollongong Early Years program and  Early Start center based in New South Wales, Australia for an exchange on policy research.

Dr. Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Academic Director of the Early Years, Dr. Steven Howard, Senior Lecturer in Education, and Dr. Marc de Rosnay, Professor of Child Development and Academic Director of Early Start discussed early education research on policy and practice with a particular focus on the development of tools to help improve policy and practice. In addition, they joined NIEER faculty on visits to observe New Jersey preschool programs around the state.

Early Start brings together early childhood researchers and educators with families and the community with the guiding aim of helping all children realize their potential, especially those growing up in regional and remote Australia or living in vulnerable circumstances. Early Start emphasizes community engagement and the use of technology as researchers work with those directly engaged in the care and education of young children to enhance those environments in ways that produce better outcomes for children.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes has posted recordings and slide decks from recent webinars on early education policy.

Early Learning Opportunities in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), recorded April 26, provides an overview of the early learning opportunities in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and shares lessons from the CEELO-CCSSO policy brief reviewing plans approved by USED, The State of Early Learning in ESSA: Plans and Opportunities for Implementation

High-Quality Instruction—Birth Through Third Grade, recorded May 8, features panelists discussing what constitutes high-quality instruction in the early grades and addressing rigor in the context of play-based learning, state agency support for district leaders and schools seeking to optimize curricula and environments pre-K through third grade and how district personnel and teachers can implement high-quality curriculum pre-K to third grade.


Teacher Decision Factors That Lead to Preschool Expulsion: Scale Development and Preliminary Validation of the Preschool Expulsion Risk Measure

A new article in Infants & Young Children features the first study to examine teachers’ decision factors behind preschool expulsions. The paper presents results of the development and validation of the Preschool Expulsion Risk Measure (PERM), as well. Evidence for the PERM’s reliability and validity is based on an analysis of a sample of 352 preschoolers from 88 sites in a New England state.

Results support the PERM as a viable tool for assessing the propensity to be expelled. Findings shed light on the decision factors that induce teachers to consider expulsion of a preschool child. Study authors suggest the findings from this study can inform early education programs and policies to address this issue.

Reading Aloud, Play, and Social-Emotional Development

In a recent study released in the journal Pediatrics, researchers examine impacts on social-emotional development at school entry of a pediatric primary care intervention. The intervention, the Video Interaction Project (VIP), promotes positive parenting through reading aloud and play, delivered from birth to 3 years (VIP birth to 3 years—phase 1) and at preschool-age (phase 2). In the VIP, a bilingual facilitator video recorded the parent and child reading and/or playing using provided learning materials and reviewed videos to reinforce positive interactions.

Researchers found that VIP enhanced infant through toddler social-emotional competencies critical for education and health and demonstrated that promoting parent and child reading aloud and play reduced hyperactivity at school entry, with sustained impacts 1.5 years after completion and increased impacts with continued intervention.  Researchers suggest that pediatric primary care represents a scalable platform for providing effective, low-cost interventions to prevent poverty-related disparities by promoting positive parenting.

How Consistent are Associations between maternal and paternal education and child growth and development outcomes across 39 low-income and middle-income countries?

A new study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health examines data from 89,663 children aged 36 to 59 months in 39 low-income and middle-income countries for associations between maternal and paternal education and children’s growth and development outcomes. The variability in these relationships by each country and within subgroups of countries was also examined. Overall, in the pooled sample, maternal and paternal education were independently associated with higher height-for-age scores, and higher scores on the Early Childhood Development Index, comparing secondary or higher to no education groups. Associations were stronger for maternal education than paternal education.

Researchers suggest there was wide variability in the significance and magnitude of the associations between caregivers’ education and children’s outcomes by country and within subgroups of countries. Researchers suggest that further research is needed to understand the sources of variation that may promote or constrain the benefits of caregivers’ education for children’s early health and development in low-income and middle-income countries.

How Does California Pre-K Measure Up?

A new post on the New America website examines California pre-K programs based on data gleaned from the State of Preschool 2017 report recently released by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). The blog post provides some noteworthy facts about both the California State Preschool Program (CSPP) overall and the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program. For example, it notes that California serves the highest number of pre-K children out of all the states in the country in CSPP and TK combined.

The blog contains highlights about issues related to cost, access, funding, and services for both 3- and 4-year-olds, among other issues in California. These issues are grounded in a national context.

NEPC Review: It Takes a Community and Pre-K Teachers and Bachelor’s Degrees

In a newly released review by the National Education Policy Center, Adam Winsler provides a review of two reports from Bellwether and New America. The reports review the current state of Early Childhood Education teacher preparation programs and are both based on a day-long meeting in Washington, DC on September 26, 2017 convened by New America and Bellwether. Follow-up interviews were conducted with selected attendees and other experts in the field.

The quality and reasoning behind each report’s assumptions, methods, findings, and recommendations are presented by the reviewer. Overall, it is suggested that the Bellwether report is more comprehensive and of higher quality than the New America Report, though both were found to be informative.

The New America report, Pre-K Teachers and Bachelor’s Degrees: Envisioning Equitable Access to High-Quality Preparation Programs, examines what would be needed to ensure that bachelor’s degree programs make a significant impact on teaching quality, help retain diversity in the workforce (current and future), and become accessible to non-traditional students with financial stresses as well as familial and job obligations.

The Bellwether report, It Takes A Community: Leveraging Community Colleges To Transform The Early Childhood Workforce presents the role that community colleges play in preparing and developing early childhood workers. It highlights models to help early childhood educators succeed in community college programs and go on to obtain higher levels of credentials. It also offers recommendations to maximize the potential of community colleges to support professional development and credential attainment for early childhood educators. The reports were both written in response to the push for higher academic credentials for the early childhood workforce.


Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa

The Tulsa Community Foundation is seeking a Director of Research Partnerships to play a key role in shaping, managing and communicating the evaluation of the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa (BEST), an initiative through George Kaiser Family Foundation, the supporting organization of Tulsa Community Foundation.

This person will report to the managing director of BEST and will manage key relationships, including those with BEST research and evaluation partners and a research and evaluation advisory group. The position is open immediately. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Please e-mail cover letter and resumes to Katie Oliver, Tulsa Community Foundation.


Promoting the Success of Young Children Learning English: Nebraska and National Perspectives

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Scott Conference Center
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Registration is now open for “Promoting the Success of Young Children Learning English: State and National Perspectives,” set for June 20 at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Scott Conference Center. Hosted by the Buffett Institute and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the conference is open to educators, policymakers, researchers, philanthropists, community leaders, and others. Register here

Early Education News Roundup

ICYMI: Read this week’s key stories on early childhood education issues.

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