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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 40

October 5, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Equalizer, Survey Says, DLL

Hot Topics

The Equalizer

A new report published in Sociology of Education revisits findings of the 2004 study ‘‘Are Schools the Great Equalizer?’’ and identifies the years before kindergarten to be the primary source of inequality in school achievement.

Inequality in Reading and Math Skills Forms Mainly before Kindergarten: A Replication, and Partial Correction, of “Are Schools the Great Equalizer?” replicates the “Great Equalizer” study using “better scaled test scores” in both the original data and a newer cohort of children that provide a stronger basis for assessing how inequality in test scores changes over time.

“Past research has reached varying conclusions about how unequal children’s skills are when schooling begins and about how much inequality grows or shrinks during later school years and summer vacations,” according to the new study.

Researchers find inequality in test scores does not grow but “slightly shrinks” between the start of kindergarten and the end of first or second grade. “By the time kindergarten begins, gaps have already emerged, and later school or summer interventions must be viewed as remediating gaps rather than preventing them,” the study concludes. “It might be more cost-effective to reduce inequality between children, and between parents, before kindergarten begins.”

A recent study led by researchers at NIEER (State Prekindergarten Effects on Early Learning at Kindergarten Entry: An Analysis of Eight State Programs) found that state pre-K programs vary substantially in their impacts on test scores at kindergarten entry.

If public pre-K is to make an appreciable contribution to reducing inequality, state and local education agencies must focus greater attention on producing large improvements in foundational capabilities of disadvantaged children—with particular attention to language—and on explicit efforts to build on those gains in the early primary grades.

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NEW on Preschool Matters Today blog

My Love-Hate Relationship with the Yearbook Survey

Fall is a harbinger of so many things.  For some, it’s the start of a new school year and the promise of new learning and skills. For others, it’s the start of football season and the possibility of the NY Giants making the playoffs (I know, I know…but a girl can dream, can’t she?) For many of us at NIEER, fall is the start of “Yearbook” season.

Before coming to NIEER, I worked at the NJ Department of Education for almost 16 years.  For 13 of those years, I was responsible for filling out NIEER’s State of Preschool yearbook survey…in triplicate.

But while I didn’t always look forward to completing the survey (back in the day, it wasn’t web-based with fancy pre-population!), I also remember feeling grateful and proud each time the annual State of Preschool Yearbook was released.  Proud, because the annual yearbook showcased our progress and quality from year to year.  Grateful, because the Yearbook protected us more than once. Read more

NIEER Activities

National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) Senior Co-Directors Steven Barnett and Ellen Frede recently traveled to Dubai for international conferences focused on early childhood education. They delivered keynote addresses at the first early childhood development conference organized by the UAE Ministry of Education.

The Conference gathered more than 1,100 educators and international leading experts at the Teachers Training Institute in Ajman to launch a collaboration among the UAE Supreme Council of Motherhood and Childhood, the International Bureau of Education-UNESCO and the United Nation’s Children’s Funds- UNICEF.

Dr. Frede’s keynote address focused on designing quality preschool programs “with children’s well-being and happiness at heart.” Dr. Frede also participated in a panel discussion on promoting early education quality, noting how New Jersey has defied the odds to produce achievement better than would be expected through preschool through primary grades reform.

In his keynote presentation, “Fulfilling the Promise of Early Childhood Education,” Dr. Barnett discussed the promise and challenges of designing policies based on research with high-quality preschool programs, as well as specific lessons for program design and practice. See Dr. Barnett’s presentation

Dr. Frede and Dr. Barnett also participated in a follow-on UNESCO conference focused on developing a strategic framework for national policy making aimed at early childhood education system integration.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) staff have been working with the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) to help clarify what P3 is and to encourage planning and implementation. Partners from NYSED, CEELO and the Northeast Comprehensive Center convened a meeting of four pilot district teams in 2017. Teams of administrators and educators from preschool through third grade learned about P3 and began the planning process and later shared both challenges and lessons learned with NYSED and CEELO.

Building on their success, NYSED hosted a Pre-K to 3rd Grade Summer Institute for similar teams from districts throughout the state to learn from a number of research and practice leaders and consider how lessons from the case study states could inform their own district planning and P3 implementation.

A report based on the Institute work, PreK-3rd Grade Systems: Lessons Learned from New York School Districts, provides administrators and educators with answers to common questions, and offers guidance for using a P3 framework to align existing initiatives, standards, and activities.


Educating English Language Learners: A Review of the Latest Research

A new article released in American Educator provides an overview of seven principles from a recent consensus report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine along with an example of how they can be applied in practice.

The report, Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures, examines what research tells us about learning English from early childhood through high school, identifies effective practices for educators, and recommends steps policymakers can take to support high-quality educational outcomes for children and youth who are learning English.

The author notes these principles and practices build on findings from previous reviews on the same topic, as well as U.S. Department of Education best-evidence syntheses. Recommendations for future research are outlined and useful resources are identified.

Encouraging the Development and Achievement of Dual Language Learners in Early Childhood

A new article in American Educator discusses an emerging consensus on effective teaching of DLLs in early childhood with an underlying principle that young children need both systematic exposure to English and ongoing support for home language maintenance and development.

The study author reviews recent research that has identified certain ECE program features and instructional practices promoting school readiness and future success and helping reduce achievement gaps between DLLs and their English-only peers at kindergarten entry.

The article shares a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finding emphasizing that ECE programs should intentionally use both languages—the child’s home language and English—to promote high levels of proficiency in both, a characteristic that carries linguistic and cognitive advantages and is valuable in later school and life. However, the practical implications of implementing a balanced approach to early bilingualism contain many challenges, the author suggests, and these are also presented.

Variation in the Long-Term Benefits of Child Care: The Role of Classroom Quality in Elementary School

In a new article in Developmental Psychology, data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development were used to estimate the additive and multiplicative benefits of high-quality child care between birth to 54 months of age and high-quality elementary school education between first and fifth grade.

Results indicated that math and language and literacy benefits of high-quality child care accrued from the end of preschool through age 15, but only when coupled with higher quality classroom environments during the elementary school years. The authors suggest that, in contrast, the benefits of high-quality child care were no longer present when children later attended lower quality classrooms in elementary school. Taken together, the authors conclude that these results point to the importance of continued investments in children’s education throughout the first decade of life.

Self-Control Interventions That Benefit Executive Functioning and Academic Outcomes in Early and Middle Childhood

A new paper released in Early Education and Development examines the extent to which child self-regulation and self-control interventions benefit executive functioning and academic outcomes. Researchers review interventions that occur in preschool, as well as those designed for elementary school-aged children. Outcomes include concurrent and later executive functioning gains, school readiness, school transition, and educational achievement.

Researchers conclude by proposing future directions, highlighting areas where additional research is needed. In particular, studies measuring preschool/school readiness and transition, investigations that examine both socio-emotional and cognitive aspects of self-control development in the context of intervention, and research integrating parents, families, and schools are recommended. Additionally, more comprehensive, longitudinal studies of how these interventions affect academic outcomes would contribute greatly to this emerging literature, authors suggest.

The Impact of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems on Families’ Child Care Choices and the Supply of Child Care Labor

A new Labor Economics article draws on a variety of datasets to empirically characterize the way in which families and providers respond to the enactment of QRIS.  Researchers exploit the differential timing in states’ QRIS roll-out to examine two sets of outcomes–families’ child care choices and maternal employment and the supply and compensation of child care labor.

Several findings are presented. For example, although QRIS induces families to shift from parental to non-parental care, economically disadvantaged families are more likely to use informal care, while their advantaged counterparts are more likely to use formal care. Additionally, QRIS increases the supply of high-skilled labor, particularly within the center-based sector and all but the most highly-skilled child care workers experience rising compensation levels but also greater turnover.

Finally, states that administer a wage compensation program alongside their QRIS experience larger increases in child care supply and compensation as well as lower turnover rates than states operating a QRIS in isolation. These and other findings are discussed.


University of Illinois at Chicago

The College of Education (COE) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is seeking to fill an open rank tenure-track or tenured position in literacy and language education. The faculty member is expected to contribute to the College of Education and LLC programs by conducting research, providing excellent teaching to diverse undergraduate and graduate student populations, and providing vision and leadership for the LLC area.
The starting date is negotiable but no later than August 16, 2019, and the salary is commensurate to rank and experience. This position also includes the possibility of directing the UIC Center for Literacy. Applications are due Oct. 12, 2018 For more information, click here


NBCDI Early Childhood Workforce Event

Monday, October 15, 2018
12:45- 4 p.m. CT
University of North Texas – Dallas

The National Black Child Development Institute is hosting a special event focused on “Responsible Transformation of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Workforce.” Dr. Aisha Ray will join NBCDI staff and conferees from across the country for a  tour of the University of North Texas – Dallas state-of-the-art classroom simulation for early childhood educators.

Click here to register for this mobile workshop. Register for this year’s NBCDI 48th Annual Conference, Oct. 13-16, 2018.

Early Education News Roundup

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

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