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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 23

June 8, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Leading States, Continuum, Curriculum

Hot Topics

Leading States

Mississippi Education Superintendent Carey Wright cited reliable, relevant data on local children as a key to her success launching high-quality public preschool in a state seldom at the top of national education rankings. Dr. Wright shared her advice this week during the opening session of the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE) annual conference.

“Having data about your own state is important,” she said.

In Mississippi, research showed children who attended pre-K were 1.5 times more likely to be reading at grade level by third grade and 3.5 times more likely to graduate high school on time, Dr. Wright said. And that helped build the public will to expand the program she launched in 2013.

Mississippi has embraced preschool as the leading edge to overall improvement of its schools, maintaining quality while slowly expanding enrollment. Mississippi’s state-funded Early Learning Collaborative met nine of NIEER’s 10 quality standards benchmarks, serving three percent of 4-year-old in 2016-17. Combined with district-funded pre-K programs, the state estimates about 16 percent of 4-year-olds attended public pre-K.

Mississippi “proves what’s possible despite all the challenges we face,” Dr. Wright said. “It’s our time to lead. Everybody in this room can make a difference for children.”

During the conference, state early education leaders, advocates and experts discussed common challenges and potential strategies for expanding high-quality early learning opportunities. Equity for all children, improving early learning birth through third grade, making the most of ESSA and workforce qualifications and compensation were key topics. View presentations and handouts.

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 Founder Steven Barnett will be a keynote speaker during the Second International Early Childhood Action Congress on June 14 & 15 focused on “The Transition to School: Equity, quality & innovation.”

Dr. Barnett will be speaking during the “Key Promising Paths to Strengthening Transition Capacity Building” session, addressing questions such as the need to invest in the educational continuum from birth through school-age, how to invest public funds to overcome challenges with design and implementation failure, why long-term planning and organization matter in the transition from early childhood to primary school and how to create windows of opportunity for social investment.

CEELO Update

Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes Senior Project Director Lori Connors-Tadros and NIEER Senior Co-Director Ellen Frede recently participated in a gathering of CCSSO’s Promoting High-Quality Pre-kindergarten Network, a consortium of nine states working together over 18 months to use their role as state K-12 leaders to improve the funding, access, and policies that support state-funded preschool programs for all students. Network members include Mississippi, New York, Minnesota, Tennessee, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Maine, Colorado, and Delaware.

Dr. Frede led a discussion about the role of state early childhood leaders in supporting effective curriculum decisions and implementation fidelity, including how the curriculum supports children’s learning in multiple domains, and alignment with standards and curriculum. See Dr. Frede’s presentation on curriculum.


Exploring the Use of Texting to Support Family-School Engagement in Early Childhood Settings: Teacher and Family Perspectives

In a new study released in Early Child Development and Care, researchers examined the nature of current communication (including texting) between school and home. They also examined openness among teachers and families to the idea of sending or receiving home-school communication via text. They also examined beliefs among teachers and families about how texting can support various aspects of family-school engagement.

Researchers suggest that many teachers and families are enthusiastic about using texting. They also view texting as a tool to further family-school engagement and communication and to enhance child outcomes.

Parental Guidance of Young Children’s Mathematics and Scientific Inquiry in Games, Cooking, and Nature Activities

In a new paper released in the International Journal of Early Years Education researchers investigated the influence of guidance instruction and type of activity on parental guidance of young children’s mathematics and scientific inquiry during cooking, games, and nature activities at home. Thirty families participated with their preschool-aged child in the study.

Results suggest that parents can use inquiry guidance to support preschoolers’ mathematics and scientific inquiry in a variety of activities performed at home. Authors suggest that as children engage in inquiry-based learning during co-constructed activities with parents, they develop conceptual understanding of mathematics and scientific inquiry in a positive social context.

What is the Impact of Professional Learning on Physical Activity Interventions Among Preschool Children? A Systematic Review

In a Clinical Obesity study, authors conducted a systematic review to investigate professional learning models (length, mode, content) offered as part of objectively measured physical childcare‐based interventions. The search identified 11 studies. Ten studies objectively measured physical activity using accelerometers; five studies used both accelerometer and direct observation tools and one study measured physical activity using direct observation only. Seven of these studies reported statistically significant intervention effects.

Researchers report that only six studies described all components of professional learning, and only two studies reported specific professional learning outcomes and physical activity outcomes. They also report no identifiable patterns between the length, mode and content of professional learning and children’s physical activity outcomes in childcare settings.

Authors note that educators play a critical role in modifying children’s levels of physical activity in childcare settings. They suggest that professional learning offered as part of a physical activity intervention that potentially impacts on children’s physical activity outcomes remains under‐reported.

The Link Between Coparenting Cooperation and Child Social Competence: The Moderating Role of Child Negative Affect

A new study in the Journal of Family Psychology examined the moderating role of child negative affect in the link between coparenting cooperation and child social competence. Researchers indicate that controlling for dyadic, parent-child nurturance, and marital love, coparenting cooperation was positively associated with teachers’ ratings of child peer acceptance and social cognition and children’s self-reported social competence. However, these associations were significant only for children with high negative affect.

Researchers stress the importance of considering child dispositions when examining the contributions of family relationships to child development. They suggest parents, especially those with temperamentally difficult children, should learn to work cooperatively with each other to promote their children’s social competence.

Family Socioeconomic Status, Cortisol, and Physical Health in Early Childhood: The Role of Advantageous Neighborhood Characteristics

In a new article in Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers examined the moderating role of community-level risks and resources on the relationship between family socioeconomic status (SES) and children’s daily cortisol output and physical health during the kindergarten year. Researchers report that children reared in lower SES family environments had higher cortisol when residing in lower opportunity neighborhoods. However, there was no significant relationship between family SES and children’s cortisol in more advantaged, higher opportunity neighborhoods.

Researchers suggest that higher opportunity neighborhoods may protect against the negative consequences of low family SES on children’s stress physiology and physical health. They further suggest that public health interventions that bolster neighborhood opportunities may benefit young children reared in socioeconomically disadvantaged family environments.


Tennessee Office of Early Learning

The Tennessee Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning is seeking well-qualified candidates for the position of Instructional Leadership Manager. This manager provides technical support and professional development for early childhood leaders and teachers to ensure implementation of high-quality program and instructional practices through a continuous improvement model.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three professional references to


Virtual Data Training Series

July 17-19 and July 23-25
Morning Sessions, 10:30a-12:00pm EST
Evening Sessions, 4:30-6:00pm EST

Free virtual data training series, sponsored by Child Care & Early Education Research Connections, on effectively linking administrative data to survey data using the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE).

Training provided by NSECE project staff using a web-based learning platform and video conferencing. While this course uses the NSECE, the course focuses on skills which can be applied to other datasets. Register by June 18 at

Early Education News Roundup

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

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