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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 21

May 25, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Going for Gold, ANYAS and Wage Floor

Hot Topics

Going for Gold

A new national report assessing how the largest U.S. cities address health and well-being issues awarded top honors for high-quality preschool programs to Boston, Charlotte, Nashville, New York City and San Antonio.

CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, annually assesses quality of life in the nation’s 40 largest cities based on nine key policies, including access to high-quality preschool. NIEER has partnered with CityHealth to evaluate preschool policies for access and quality, using the State of Preschool quality standards benchmarks. (See 2017 yearbook Executive Summary. For an explanation of revised benchmarks, see pg. 16)

This year, 33 cities received a medal for high-quality Pre-K, up from 31 in 2017—5 gold, 8 silver and 20 bronze. The 2018 new medalists are Albuquerque and Seattle, both earning silver.

Bronze medals were awarded to cities with more than 30% of children enrolled in pre-K; silver medals were awarded if pre-K met 8 of 10 minimum quality standards benchmarks and gold medal cities did both.

San Antonio improved from no medal in 2017 to a gold medal in 2018. Baltimore, Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Washington, D.C. all dropped to a bronze medal due to the more rigorous quality standards used this year, according to CityHealth.

Education in the US is a local control issue and cities have often been leaders– home to the first comprehensive high schools and community colleges. As cities are home to more of the children and families suffering from an unfair lack of access to high quality pre-K and its long-term benefits, they have more to gain from expanding access to quality.

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

NEW on Preschool Matters Today blog

Cities Emerge as Preschool Champions

…. progress toward full participation in high-quality preschool is slow. Currently, less than a third of 4-year-olds and an even smaller percentage of 3-year-olds have access to high-quality pre-k–the kind of pre-k that leads to lasting benefits, based on national data. NIEER calculates that at the current rate of growth in state-funded pre-K, it would take 150 years to reach 75 percent enrollment.

A bright spot in this otherwise gloomy outlook is the expansion of locally funded preschool programs.

NIEER Activities

The New York Academy of Sciences this week published a special issue focused on implementation research and practice addressing early childhood development authored by global researchers and practitioners, including National Institute for Early Education Research faculty.

NIEER Co-Director for Research Milagros Nores, Ph.D. is both an author and a co-editor of Implementation Research for Early Childhood Development. The special issue including 19 papers is available on NIEER’s website.

“This issue provides a comprehensive guide to strengthen implementation research, reporting and learning from early childhood programs as they unfold in the field based on papers and case studies from across the world,” Dr. Nores said.

Dr. Nores is lead author on papers identifying eight critical aspects of enabling systemic support for early childhood services, and illustrating the significance of process data for program improvement specifically in the aeiouTU program in Colombia. She also is a co-author on papers supporting a transparent and standard reporting of implementation evidence on nurturing care interventions designed to promote ECD, and summarizing the state of implementation research and practice for early child development as well as proposing recommendations.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) and Illinois Action for Children recently hosted a Cost of Quality Early Learning Think Tank including state and local leaders, advocates, and national experts engaged in cost studies of early learning programs to take stock of what we know about using cost data to inform and drive policy decisions on financing high-quality early learning programs.

Participants discussed the political and strategic approaches needed to move the field toward adequate and stable funding of high-quality early learning programs. A forthcoming report will summarize highlights and identify recommendations. Click here for a list of participants and shared materials


First National Study of Region XI AI/AN Head Start Children and Their Families, Classrooms, and Programs

Mathmatica Policy Research this week shared AI/AN FACES 2015, the first national study of Region XI AI/AN Head Start children and their families, classrooms, and programs. Data describe the developmental progress of Region XI Head Start children as they complete a year in the preschool program.

Region XI serves children and families in programs operated by federally recognized AI/AN tribes. These programs serve about 20,000 children, the majority of whom are AI/AN. Selected findings demonstrate that Region XI children make gains in language, literacy, and math skills across the program year but score lower than children of the same age nationally. These findings are similar to other studies of Head Start children and identify an opportunity for growth. The study also examined some of the cultural and linguistic experiences of children. A webinar June 4 will introduce researchers to the study’s purposes, design, instruments, data structure, and data access requirements. Register here

Developmental Transactions Between Self‐Regulation and Academic Achievement Among Low‐Income African American and Latino Children

In a paper recently released in Child Development, researchers examined the development of emerging self‐regulation skills across the preschool years and its relationship to academic achievement in kindergarten and first grade. 403 low‐income African American and Latino children participated in the study.

Increases in set shifting, an executive function that involves the ability to shift attention between one task and another, predicted prospective increases in reading, but not math scores. Increases in simple response inhibition predicted prospective increases in math, but not reading scores. Authors suggest these findings can inform early intervention programming and needed supports for school readiness and achievement.

Assessing Preschoolers Interactive Behaviour: A Validation Study of the “Coding System for Mother-Child Interaction

A new study released in Child: Care, Health, and Development describes the validation of the Coding System for Mother-Child Interactions. They also present evidence for the validity of the system.

Researchers suggest that the coding system is valid and reliable for assessing child interactive behavior of preschool-age children. They further suggest that it represents a practical approach with reduced costs and flexibility regarding requirements for training. They also describe its applications in addition to making suggestions for future research.

The Use of a Fitbit Device for Assessing Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Preschoolers

In a new study in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers set out to determine the accuracy of the Fitbit Flex activity monitor for assessing preschoolers’ physical activity and sedentary behavior in free-living conditions. This cross-sectional study included 27 preschoolers who each wore the Fitbit Flex and ActiGraph GT3X+ simultaneously for 24 hours.

Researchers conclude that the Fitbit Flex activity monitor accurately estimated the amount of time spent in sedentary behavior and overall physical activity in preschool-aged children, but with an underestimation of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Study authors suggest that the Fitbit Flex activity monitor is a relatively accurate physical activity monitoring tool that may be used in clinical and research settings.

Improving Number Abilities in Low Achieving preschoolers: Symbolic versus non-symbolic training programs

A recent study published in the journal Research in Developmental Disabilities examines the effect of a non-symbolic training program, called PLUS, and a symbolic training program, called DIGIT, to examine factors that contribute to mathematical abilities in low-achieving preschoolers.

Researchers found that participation in both training programs improved preschoolers’ performance on numerical tasks. Researchers suggest that this study provides evidence that symbolic and non-symbolic abilities bi-directionally impact on each other and that ordinality knowledge is an important factor of mathematical development.

At the Wage Floor: Covering Homecare and Early Care and Education Workers in the New Generation of Minimum Wage Laws

In a new report released by the University of California (UC) Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, the UC Berkeley Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, and COWS at UW-Madison, researchers examine wages for a particular class of workers. These workers provide home care and early care and education services to the very young, people with disabilities, and those who are frail due to age or illness.

The authors present a case for the need to raise workers’ wages and argue that significant public investment is a necessary part of the solution, both to deliver minimum wage increases to these workers and to cover the significant unmet need for care. The authors provide background about the shared and divergent challenges in the homecare and early care and education industries. Finally, they review emerging policy initiatives to fund wage increases for homecare and early care and education workers and identify principles they suggest can inform public policy going forward.


Florida Center for Inclusive Communities

The University of South Florida, Florida Center for Inclusive Communities (FCIC) is seeking a candidate for a 12-month, non-tenure track position in the position of Co-Director for the Florida Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Training and Technical Assistance Center.
The Co-Director will be responsible for community and state HIPPY program outreach activities (involves state and national travel), supervision of the research and evaluation team, development of grant funding proposals, lead in the promotion of the HIPPY program, strategic planning, communication and reporting to the funder, and interaction with community, state, national, and international stakeholders. Apply here


Advancing the Workforce Teaching Birth through Third Grade

Tuesday May 29, 2018
3 pm Eastern

In advance of its sixth annual Roundtable next month for state early childhood specialists, CEELO has hosted a series of webinars sharing expert content regarding early childhood education policy issues. Webinars are free and open to anyone interested. This final webinar will include information from the Stakeholder’s meeting on Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education Report at the National Academies of Science. REGISTER HERE

Early Education News Roundup

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

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