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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 31

August 3, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Latino Children, Effects of Pre-K, Eat Veggies

Hot Topics

Caring for Latino Children

A new research brief published this week notes the crucial role high-quality early education plays in closing school readiness gaps, especially for low-income, non-English speaking children, and examines the qualifications, attitudes and diversity of those teaching Hispanic children.

The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families brief, based on the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), covers teachers and caregivers working with children from infants to age 5 in centers, such as Head Start and pre-K programs, and home-based programs.

Teacher characteristics were compared for high-Hispanic-serving settings (where 25 percent or more of the children served are Hispanic) and low-Hispanic-serving settings (where less than 25 percent of the children enrolled are Hispanic), according to Who is Caring for Latino Children? 

The report notes:
  • Forty-five percent of teachers or caregivers working in high-Hispanic-serving centers—and roughly two-thirds in high-Hispanic-serving home-based settings—are Hispanic. Just 2 to 6 percent of teachers and caregivers in low-Hispanic-serving settings are Hispanic
  • Regardless of the proportion of Hispanic children served, roughly one-third of teachers or caregivers working in centers have a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, teachers or caregivers working in high-Hispanic-serving centers are more likely to have a CDA or state certification
  • Many teachers or caregivers working in high-Hispanic-serving centers and large, listed, home-based settings speak Spanish with children; in low-Hispanic-serving settings, few teachers or caregivers speak Spanish with the children they serve

Research shows teachers are key to providing high-quality early learning opportunities and that young Dual Language Learners benefit strongly from participating in high-quality preschool programs.

At the same time, NIEER research finds that state policies have not caught up with the expansion of the population of young DLLs and the need to ensure access to high-quality pre-K that addresses their specific needs.

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

As the new school year begins, NIEER is partnering once again with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on a multi-year study engaging more than 1,000 children across New Jersey to identify and combat obstacles to healthy child development.

NIEER launched the study in 2017, working with six school districts. Read about phase one of the study here. This fall, NIEER begins working with a new cohort of districts across New Jersey.

Children living below poverty level are at higher risk for school failure, poor job prospects and chronic health problems. Nationally, nearly one in three children is overweight or obese and there are serious concerns about the loss of opportunities for play reducing children’s activity levels with negative impacts on learning as well as physical development and serious adverse consequences for adult health. NIEER’s work is needed due to a scarcity of research on how high-quality preschool program can improve developmental outcomes and encourage better child health.”

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently shared a retrospective report about the Leadership Academy, along with a summary, outlining implementation, expectations, lessons learned and recommendations.

Launched in 2014, the State Early Learning Leadership Academy was designed to build competencies of early childhood leaders working in state education agencies. The ultimate goal was to improve the capacity of state agencies so they are more likely to adopt policies and practices that enhance early learning outcomes. Learn more about the 2018-19 Leadership Academy cohort here.


The Vanderbilt Study of Tennessee Pre-K: Overview, Findings, and Significance for Texas

Texans Care for Children just released a policy brief addressing the unwarranted generalization of a recent multi-year evaluation of the effectiveness of Tennessee’s state-funded voluntary pre-k program (VPK). That study found VPK students had greater academic gains during pre-k compared to a control group; but, the study also found students who did not attend VPK scored slightly better on 3rd grade reading, math, and science achievement tests.  This new study was a randomized trial and confirms the results from an earlier series of studies using state wide administrative data that found the same pattern.

Studies of pre-k in Texas and other states have found a quite different pattern: students who attend pre-k not only were more prepared for kindergarten but continued to have higher achievement to third grade and beyond, according to the policy brief. Commentators urge continued investment in pre-K, along with more research examining and strengthening practices in kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Family Feedback and Programmatic Decision-Making: Responsiveness of Early Childhood Administrators

A new study released in the Early Childhood Education Journal examined families’ rated level of satisfaction with and open-ended comments on eight aspects of a birth-five child care program in the Northeast United States. These included class environment, teacher-teacher interactions, teacher-child interactions, teacher-family interactions in an anonymous end-of-year survey.

Program administrators then participated in a 90-min focus group to discuss aggregated findings. Content analysis revealed noteworthy insights regarding initial reactions and proposed recommendations. Researchers stress the importance of seeking anonymous feedback from families,  allotting dedicated time to reflect on and address concerns and notifying families of specifically how their input is being used to inform programmatic improvements.

Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Of Strategies to Increase Vegetable Consumption in Preschool Children Aged 2-5 Years

In a new paper released in Appetite, researchers present a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published between 2005 and 2016 on strategies to increase vegetable consumption in preschool children aged 2- to 5-years-old. Researchers note that most children do not meet daily recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake, and consumption of vegetables remains especially low.

Nine dominant intervention strategies emerged to promote vegetable intake in preschool children, including choice, pairing (stealth), education, food service, modeling, reward, taste exposure, variety and visual presentation. Researchers suggest, based on these results, that repeated taste exposure is a simple technique that could be implemented in child care settings and at home by parents. Health policy could specifically target the use of novel and disliked vegetables in child care settings with emphasis on a minimum 8-10 exposures.

Factors that Contribute to Effective Nutrition Education Interventions in Children: A Systematic Review

A new systematic review of research on childhood nutrition education interventions released recently in Nutrition Reviews suggests establishing healthy dietary practices at an early age is crucial, as dietary behaviors in childhood track to adulthood. Researchers sought to identify factors associated with successful nutrition education interventions and published between 2009 and 2016.

Successful interventions targeted school children, engaged parents, used face-to-face sessions, identified specific behaviors to be modified and assured fidelity by training teachers or recruiting trained experts to deliver the intervention.

Spontaneous Focus on Number Before and After Guided Parent-Child Interactions in a Children’s Museum

In a recent study released online in Developmental Psychology, researchers asked 54 preschool-aged children and their parents to play together in a children’s museum exhibit using either a numerical prompt or a non-numerical prompt. Researchers found that after playing with their parent, children whose parents received the numerical prompt showed greater spontaneous focus on number compared to children whose parents received the non-numerical (control condition) prompt.

Researchers suggest that when parents interact in an informal play setting with their children in ways that involve numerical content, it can sharpen children’s later spontaneous attention to numerical information.


Center for Study of Child Care Employment

The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment is seeking a Research Director to serve as a member of the Center’s senior leadership team and plays a formative role in CSCCE’s overall current and future projects.

The Research Director will be expected to assist the Directors to obtain salary and project support from grants, contracts, and other external resources. The Research Director will lead and manage the research and policy team, supervise data collection, data management, and analysis of research projects, and assist the team to develop and supervise student research projects.

Apply by August 6, 2018 to ensure full consideration by the committee; August 23, 2018 is final date for applications to be accepted.  Find more information here.


RWJF Systems for Action Webinar

Tuesday August 7, 2018
1 pm ET

Systems for Action (S4A) is a signature research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that builds a Culture of Health by rigorously testing new ways of connecting the nation’s fragmented medical, social, and public health systems. S4A uses a wide research lens that includes and extends beyond medical care and public health to incorporate social service systems such as education.

Studies funded through this program will produce new scientific knowledge about implementation and impact of novel strategies to align multiple delivery and financing systems supporting a Culture of Health. Learn more during the informational webinar. Register here.

Early Education News Roundup

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

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