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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 34

August 24, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Got Data? Pre-K Maps and Fact Sheets

Hot Topics

Got Data?

This week, Chalkbeat highlighted North Carolina as the source of a disproportionate share of education research, thanks to extensive—and accessible–state education data.

The result, according to Matt Barnum, is “a troubling reality: We know much less about how policies play out in places where data is hard to access — and in some cases, may be kept under lock and key for political reasons. That leaves the public to take the best lessons it can from a state that’s home to just 3 percent of the country’s public school students.”

The data is available through a Duke University research center—an objective third party with no obvious political or policy agenda. Too often, Barnum asserts, concern about “unflattering conclusions” prevents release of data or even its collection.

From Washington DC to California, calls are being made for improving access to data. Last year, a Data Quality Campaign report criticized state school “report cards” as difficult to find and understand, saying “everyone deserves to know how their public schools are doing… It shouldn’t be this hard.”

On a federal level, the national Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking last year issued its final report calling for Congress and the White House to modernize the country’s infrastructure for collecting and protecting data. The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, introduced in the House by Republican Speaker Paul Ryan and in the Senate by Democrat Patty Murray, draws on report recommendations. The Act has passed the House but awaits a committee hearing in the Senate.

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NIEER Activities

NEW! From our website: Pre-K Data Snapshots

NIEER’s State of Preschool yearbook is the only national report on state-funded preschool programs with detailed information on enrollment, funding, teacher qualifications, and other policies related to quality, such as the presence of a qualified teacher and assistant, small class size, and low student-to-teacher ratio. Visit our website for policy briefs and graphics addressing specific topics based on The State of Preschool 2017 data:

Maps and graphics (August 2018)
Pre-K Enrollment Change 2002-2017
Quality Standards Benchmarks Met
State Pre-K Spending per Child
Percent of 4-year-olds enrolled in State Pre-K
National Overview

Opportunities & Policies for Young Dual Language Learners  en español (July 2018)
Research has shown that high-quality preschool can reduce achievement gaps before children even enter kindergarten. This policy facts addresses the lack of information available on DLLs being served and the policies that support them in state-funded preschool. en español

State Policies Supporting Comprehensive Preschool Services (June 2018)
The most effective preschool programs incorporate comprehensive services. These services may target just the child or the family. In 2016-2017, most state-funded preschool programs provided at least one comprehensive service, with the most popular being parent involvement activities, followed closely by home visits/parent conferences.

State Policies that Support Curriculum in Preschool (May 2018)
In 2016, NIEER introduced a new quality standards benchmark which assesses whether states have policies to support programs in curriculum selection and implementation, such as training or ongoing technical assistance. This new benchmark reflects emerging evidence that use of comprehensive and integrated curriculum models, when implementation is supported to ensure fidelity, has positive effects on children’s learning.

Lead Teacher Workforce: Qualifications, Pay and Parity (May 2018)
Teachers are a strong direct determinant of preschool program quality, and state pre-k program polices influence who becomes and stays a teacher as well as the competencies they acquire.1 This fact sheet reviews state policies regarding lead teacher qualifications, compensation, and professional development.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently participated in a National Conference of State Legislatures webinar discussing The State of Preschool 2017 yearbook, and calculating costs for quality using the CPQ&R.

CEELO’s Senior Project Director Lori Connors-Tadros and NIEER Early Childhood Education Policy Specialist Karin Garver were joined by state legislators who have worked directly with improving quality and access to prekindergarten in their states. Download the webinar slide deck or view the  webinar.


A Portrait of American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Families 

A brief recently published by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, ACF provides a snapshot of indicators of need and potential unmet need for early childhood services, based on the 2010–2014 American Community Survey.

The report shows a majority of AI/AN young children live with a parent, and most young children live in households with a working adult, and most have health insurance. However, almost one-third live in households at or below the FPL and participation in preschool and nursery school is low, at 21 percent, despite a high rate of adult employment. Additionally, few AI/AN mothers received home visiting services.

Intended as a “first step” in understanding the characteristics of AI/AN young children and their families, the brief states that more research is needed to understand the service provisions, availability, and barriers to supporting these families.

Child Care Aware® of America’s 2018 State Fact Sheets

Child Care Aware® of America this week published its most recent set of fact sheets illustrating the unique child care landscape in each state. State fact sheet statistics are calculated from federal databases and state-level information collected annually from Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies as well as survey data.

Each state fact sheet includes child care facts, including data on infants, toddlers, and young children; the supply of child care; the cost of child care; and the child care workforce. They also describe services provided by and the role of CCR&Rs in each state as well as participation in state initiatives for quality, health and wellness, family engagement, and emergency preparation.

The Role of Length of Maternity Leave In Supporting Mother-Child Interactions and Attachment Security Among American Mothers and Their Infants

A recent study published by the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy examined associations among length of maternity leave, mother-child interactions, and attachment among U.S. working mothers and their infants. Researchers used the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort to conduct analyses, and participants were drawn from this nationally representative sample.

Researchers found that controlling for SES, the length of maternity leave was directly linked to the quality of mother-child interactions and indirectly linked to attachment security. Researchers suggest these results have implications for development of family policies that support the needs of infants and mothers during the first months of life.

Association Between Household Poverty Dynamics and Childhood Overweight Risk and Health Behaviours in the United States: 

A new study in Pediatric Obesity examined the association between household poverty dynamics and childhood overweight risk in the US based on longitudinal data of 16,800 children (from kindergarten to the 8th grade) in the nationally representative US cohort‐Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class 1998–1999. Researchers examined the differences in BMI trajectory, weight‐related health behaviors and risk of overweight in association with household poverty dynamics during follow‐up (no experience of poverty), (experienced it once) and recurrent (greater than or equal to 2 times) and persistent poor.

Overall, researchers reported, children experiencing poverty were more likely to have adverse BMI growth trajectory and eating and sedentary behaviors compared with the never poor. The recurrently poor children (12.8%) had the fastest Body Mass Index (BMI) trajectory, highest overweight/obesity prevalence from 5 to 16 years old and the highest proportion of excessive soda/fast food consumption and irregular exercise at 8th grade than did others. Researchers suggest the experience of recurrent household poverty had a significant association with children’s adverse eating behaviors and increased obesity risk subsequently.

What Happens During Language and Literacy Coaching? Coaches’ Reports of Their Interactions with Educators

In a new study in Early Education and Development, researchers investigated coaches’ interactions with educators in the context of a large-scale, state-implemented literacy professional development (PD) program. Researchers examined log data and open-comment reports to understand what coaches found salient about their interactions with educators. They also examined how those reports aligned with the initial design of the PD.

Researchers found that coaches reported spending a large proportion of their interactions with educators completing administrative tasks and that coaches disproportionally targeted instructional content from the PD while also adding unrelated instructional content to their coaching. Although coaches reported focusing on relationship building, they reported using less efficacious coaching strategies (e.g., observation and discussion) more frequently than coaching strategies demonstrated to be more efficacious (e.g., modeling and co-teaching).

Researchers suggest this study has implications for the design of PD for both improving coach training and allowing some flexibility to meet educators’ learning needs. Findings also support the need for more nuanced mechanisms for investing in coaching and coaching outcomes.


National Governors Association

The NGA Center for Best Practices seeks an experienced professional to join the Education Division as a Program Director focusing on state level policy issues related to special populations including children and youth with disabilities, gifted learners, English language learners, rural students, students from economically disadvantaged families, and students in foster care.  Job description

The Program Director will focus on state policies and issues such as early intervention, special education, racial equity, rural education, dual language learning, and equitable funding models. The division is focused on helping governors develop and enact effective education policy and support its implementation. Apply here


Using Technology to Address Professional Development

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
3-4 p.m. EDT

This National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning webinar outlines how technology can be used to address state professional development (PD) system needs, beginning with the approval of online PD course offerings to seamlessly tracking course completion in state workforce registries. Webinar is aimed at professional development system leaders, state child care administrators and related staff members. Register here

Early Education News Roundup

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

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