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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 36

September 7, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: All the evidence, Implementation Matters, SDG Academy

Hot Topics

The Big Picture

Public policy is best informed by syntheses of all the available evidence rather than by considering each new study as it arrives in a vacuum–as all too often happens.

A new paper published in Economics of Education Review examined the effects of universal Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) on child development and children’s later life outcomes with a large body of international evidence. Researchers synthesized findings from recent studies that exploit natural experiments to attempt to identify the causal effects of universal ECEC arrangements. They used 250 estimates from 30 studies conducted between 2005 and 2017.

In Do Children Benefit from Universal Early Childhood Education and Care?, researchers report results showing high-quality arrangements consistently generate positive child outcomes. Publicly provided programs produce more favorable effects than privately provided (and mixed) programs. They do not find that effects fade out in the long run and but do find that gains of ECEC are concentrated within children from lower SES families.

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NEW on Preschool Matters Today blog

Why Reporting on Implementation Matters

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) is proud to partner with the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN) on a new blog series examining issues highlighted in the recent Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Special Issue Implementation Research and Practice for Early Childhood Development.

Nurturing care is necessary for children’s healthy development, yet there is little understanding of how best to deliver these interventions across the full range of existing systems and in a wide diversity of settings. Implementation research is central to understanding  what, why and how interventions work in real-world settings and to test approaches to improve them.

The first blog, by Special Issue editor Aisha Yousafzai of Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, focuses on answering the question commonly asked by policy makers about programs that promote early child development: What program elements, policies, and/or family and community circumstances contribute to positive results and under what conditions?

NIEER Activities

NIEER is joining with PNC Foundation, through its Grow Up Great program, to showcase play as learning for young children during the annual health fair and recreation event in New Brunswick, NJ. The “Health and Play Family Day” event Sept. 8 hosted by the New Brunswick Recreation Department attracts children and families for a health fair sponsored by St Peter’s University Hospital, and other activities such as music, games and food trucks.

For the first time, NIEER and PNC Foundation will offer pre-K activities—including bilingual Simon Says, art, dress-up, and blocks—while talking with parents about the importance of play in a child’s development. Benefits of play include: sustained attention, understanding symbolic representation, cooperation, problem-solving, self-regulation, cognitive development and content knowledge. See “Why Play?” handouts in English and  ¿Porqué Jugar?  en español.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently launched a new webpage featuring resources and materials to help states strengthen the alignment of birth through 3rd grade educational policies and increase coordination of resources and policies across statewide systems.

Resources include CEELO’s recently published PreK-3rd Grade Systems: Lessons Learned from New York School Districts report highlighting several districts making progress in implementation of PreK-3rd grade plans unique to their communities, analyzing information collected from the PreK-3rd grade teams and sharing cross-cutting lessons learned.


Effects of the First Step to Success Intervention on Preschoolers with Disruptive Behavior and Comorbid Anxiety Problems

In a new paper released in School Mental Health, researchers examined the effects of the First Step intervention on a subsample of 38 preschoolers with comorbid anxiety symptoms. Compared to usual-care controls, preschoolers assigned to the First Step intervention demonstrated medium-to-large effects in reducing externalizing behavior and improving social functioning outcomes but had small effects for reductions in internalizing behaviors. The authors discuss implications of their research for intervening with preschoolers at risk of comorbid disruptive and anxiety behaviors.

The Effects of a Parenting Program on Maternal Well-Being: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial

This new paper published by EconStor analyzes effects of an early childhood intervention (Positive Parenting Program) on maternal well-being using data from both a randomized controlled trial and an offering of the program free of charge to a group of more disadvantaged mothers, for which no control group was recruited. This paper uses data from Germany, which researchers describe as having a universal day care system yet an underdeveloped infrastructure of parenting programs.

Researchers argue that while the program’s goal is to improve child outcomes, potential improvements in maternal well-being could be an additional benefit improving the cost-efficiency of the Triple P program. Results show a positive effect on maternal well-being, with the largest effects appearing three years after treatment, demonstrating an additional way early childhood parenting programs benefit families. For policy makers interested in increasing the well-being of mothers with young children, the report concludes, early childhood interventions addressing parents are effective tools.

The Malleability of Executive Function in Early Childhood: Effects of Schooling and Targeted Training

A new study released in Developmental Science explores whether targeted training was comparable with regular schooling in improving Executive Function (EF) and fluid intelligence. Researchers compared the performance of a first‐grade schooling group with that of two kindergarten training groups, as well as a business‐as‐usual kindergarten control group.

Researchers report that both training groups achieved comparable performance with the schooling group. They suggest their findings provide further evidence for the malleability of EF demonstrating that both long‐term and short‐term interventions can facilitate the acquisition of those important skills.

The Efficacy of Multimedia Stories in Preschoolers’ Explicit and Implicit Story Comprehension

In a new study released in Early Childhood Education Journal, researchers investigated if additional multimedia features of digital storybooks hinder or promote young preliterate children’s explicit and implicit comprehension in a small group reading activity. Preliterate children’s deeper story comprehension skills can be initial indicators of their later reading comprehension, authors note.

Results indicated children in the multimedia-enhanced storybook group outperformed the print storybook group in terms of both explicit and implicit story comprehension. Further, explicit story comprehension was higher than implicit story comprehension for both groups, and the children recalled significantly more story elements. The length of the story retellings was greater with the aid of animated illustrations.

Researchers suggest their findings indicate a digital storybook provides close temporal contiguity of text and visuals and may enhance story understanding by “concretizing” the narration. The study provides evidence that multimedia stories can foster children’s implicit story comprehension and inferential thinking about the content of the story.

English Language Program Participation Among Students in the Kindergarten Class of 2010-11: Spring 2011 to Spring 2012

A Statistics in Brief report released earlier this summer by the National Center for Education Statistics describes the percentage of students who participate in instructional programs designed to teach English language skills and the specific programs in which they participate as they enter schooling. These may include English as a second language, bilingual education, and dual-language education. It also provides information regarding changes in program participation over the first two years of schooling.

This brief uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (ECLS-K:2011), focusing on students’ transition from kindergarten to first grade. The ECLS-K:2011 is a longitudinal study that was designed to follow the same children from kindergarten through fifth grade.


The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development,  an upcoming SDG Academy interdisciplinary course on early child development, will draw on cutting-edge developments in neuroscience, psychology, economics, anthropology and program implementation and evaluation to help students understand how child development is at the center of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All course video lectures have been translated intoSpanish, Portuguese and Hindito reach a wider audience.

The course is co-hosted by NYU Global TIES for Children, Harvard Center on the Developing Child, and UNICEF and is taught by Professor Hirokazu Yoshikawa (New York University, Global TIES for Children); Professor Jack Shonkoff  (Harvard Center on the Developing Child); Professor Catherine Tamis-LeMonda (New York University); Professor Aisha Yousafzai (Harvard Chan School of Public Health), along with participation of Pia Rebello Britto (UNICEF Senior Advisor and Chief of Early Childhood Development). See Trailer for the course (narrated by Shakira).

Course begins September 24; participants may start any time in the following eight weeks .Enroll here.


Status of Infants & Toddlers in Philadelphia

Child Trends Webinar
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018
3:30 pm ET

Join Child Trends experts for a webinar highlighting key findings from a new Child Trends report, funded by the William Penn Foundation, providing a portrait of the well-being of Philadelphia’s youngest children. Researchers will talk about how Philadelphia’s children fare on a range of measures, including comparisons to similar cities. They will also share findings on the role of public support systems in promoting positive development and mitigating developmental risks. Register here.

Early Education News Roundup

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

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