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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 41

October 12, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Face Time, Progress in Seattle, PDG-B5

Hot Topics

Secret Ingredient

This week more than 100 early childhood professors, researchers, pediatricians and policymakers issued a public statement warning states that online preschool programs are no substitute for traditional classrooms and urging states to invest in “relationship-based, universal prekindergarten programs with proven long-term benefits.”

Temple University Professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, one of the experts who signed the statement, states  that online preschool robs early education of one major ingredient: HUMANS.

“Our children spend enough time in social isolation — in front of screens with little outdoor play — in places with little opportunity to grow important skills they will need for school and beyond,” she notes. “We take the humans out of preschool at their peril.”

The statement, published by Defending the Early Years (DEY) and Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC), cites American Academy of Pediatrics concerns about young children’s screen time, as well as potential data mining aimed at young children and their families. Investing in online preschool—while appearing to save money in the short-term—threatens needed resources for “actual” high-quality preschool.

Children without access to quality pre-K (often the targets of these online programs) already face a higher risk of academic difficulty than their peers, and online pre-K threatens to expand, not close, that gap, according to the statement.

Utah—one of six states not investing in public pre-K—was the first to sponsor an online “preschool,” called UPSTART. Since then, the company has expanded pilot programs to at least seven other states, including Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania– and new companies are entering the market.

Technology can help boost “narrow skills,” such as knowing the alphabet, being able to count, and recognizing colors, quickly and easily through repetition; but online preschool ignores the way young children learn best.

“Children need face-to-face interaction with peers to learn how to interpret other’s emotions, develop empathy, and learn how to negotiate their social relationships,” says University of Delaware Professor Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, who also signed the statement.

“These skills are crucial not just for children — but for the adults they will become,” notes the author of  Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells us About Raising Successful Children. “Interacting with peers does more than enrich children’s social skills. Children learn new vocabulary, new concepts, and new ways to play that research tells us they profit from… Why keep children from being enriched by peers?”

We invite you to follow NIEER on Twitter @PreschoolToday and Facebook at Preschool Today. Please share your social media handles so we can connect.

NEW on Preschool Matters Today blog

Will This Program Work Here? Assessing Feasibility

Family involvement programs can look great on paper and yet fail miserably. Programs can have defined goals, a well-defined time frame and program structure, research-based curricula, proven results for a specific target population, and still fail to produce the positive outcomes we expect.

Why do some well-designed intervention programs fail? One common reason is implementation. Read more

NIEER Activities

A rigorous evaluation by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) showed the Seattle Preschool Program up for renewal by voters next month has continued to improve and now provides children with classroom quality levels associated with strong gains in learning and development.

“The evaluation finds that SPP quality has steadily continued to improve and quality now exceeds that in some major city and state early childhood programs,” said Milagros Nores, Ph.D., NIEER Co-Director for Research and lead author. “Children in SPP made gains in all measured domains, including language, literacy and mathematics.”

The report, released this week by the city, is the third SPP evaluation conducted by NIEER, in partnership with Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington. Evaluations have assessed program quality, and measured children’s gains in receptive vocabulary, literacy, math and executive functions. See Year One and Year Two report.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) this week published a new report highlighting presentations, discussions and resources from a Cost of Quality Early Learning Think Tank held May 16-17, 2018 in Chicago. Download report

The meeting provided state and local leaders, advocates, and national experts engaged in cost studies of early learning programs an opportunity to take stock of what they are learning about collecting, analyzing and using cost data to inform and drive policy decisions about financing high-quality early learning programs.


Comparing the Potential Utility of Kindergarten Entry Assessments to Provide Evidence of English Learner’s Knowledge and Skills 

This new report from ETS (Educational Testing Service) is a document-based, comparative case study aimed at increasing understanding about the potential of state kindergarten entry assessments (KEAs) to provide evidence of English learner (EL) kindergartners’ knowledge and skills and inform kindergarten teachers’ instruction.
Using a sample of nine purposely selected state KEAs, the study explores to what extent these measures contain items specific to ELs, allow or mandate linguistic accommodations, and have policies on assessor or observer linguistic capacity, as well as whether research supports use of such measure with EL students. Results have implications for policymakers tasked with selecting or developing KEA.

A new book examines innovative approaches to early childhood policy, practice, and service delivery in Australia, England, Finland, Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea and Singapore.

Researchers, led by Sharon Lynn Kagan, analyze the quality, equity, efficiency and sustainability of services for young children in the six jurisdictions, providing a deep dive into the innovative strategies and approaches to ECEC and offering an inside view of challenges, themes and lessons from these diverse systems.

Effectiveness of a Hand Hygiene Program at Child Care Centers

A new study published in Pediatrics investigated the effectiveness of an educational and hand hygiene program in reducing respiratory infections incidence and antibiotic prescriptions in 911 children aged 0 to 3 years old attending 24 daycare centers in Almería, a city in Andalusia, Spain. Children attending day care centers have an increased risk of respiratory infections, according to the study authors. However, it is not clear which factors influence these infections and which measures can be adopted in these centers to reduce their transmission.

Children in the hand sanitizer group had less risk of respiratory infection episodes and antibiotic prescriptions compared with than those in the control group. Children in the soap-and-water group had a higher risk of respiratory episodes and antibiotic prescriptions than those in the hand sanitizer group. The percentage of days absent was significantly lower in the hand sanitizer group compared with the control group and the soap and water group. The authors conclude that hand hygiene programs that include hand sanitizer and educational measures for day care center staff, children, and parents, reduce absent days, respiratory infections, and antibiotic prescriptions for these infections in children at these daycare centers.

Early Childcare Type Predicts Children’s Emotional and Behavioural Trajectories into Middle Childhood. Data From The EDEN Mother-Child Cohort Study

A new Epidemiology & Community Health study notes that scientific literature has yielded contrasting results on the impact of early childcare on children’s behavioral and emotional difficulties. Authors studied this association in France, where childcare is of high quality and children enter preschool at the age of 3.

Results show that compared with children in informal childcare, those who attended center-based childcare had a lower likelihood of having high levels of emotional symptoms, peer relationship problems, and low prosocial behaviors. Attendance of center-based childcare for more than one year was especially protective of high levels of emotional, peer-related difficulties and low prosocial behaviors, authors suggest. Further, girls and children from a favorable socioeconomic background reaped more benefits of childcare than boys and those from less favourable backgrounds. High-quality center-based childcare may be linked to lower levels of emotional symptoms, researchers suggest.

Impact of Homelessness on School Readiness Skills and Early Academic Achievement: A Systematic Review of the Literature

A systematic research review published in Early Childhood Journal examined the impact of homelessness on young children’s school readiness skills in preschool and academic performance in early elementary school. Fourteen studies were identified that included data exploring this association in preschool through Grade 3.

Researchers report that children experiencing homelessness have lower school readiness skills and academic achievement compared to the general population of children. However, researchers could not conclude whether children experiencing homelessness perform lower than socio-demographically matched housed children. They further report that most large studies found children experiencing homelessness had lower academic performance than housed low-income children. However, fewer than half of small studies found support for this association.

Authors conclude that good school attendance, high-quality parenting, self-regulation, and early education are among several potential protective factors discussed in the literature that may lessen the negative impact of homelessness on school readiness skills and academic achievement in early elementary school.

Team‐Based Parent Training by Child Specialists Helps Maltreated Children

A new study in Pediatrics International assessed effects of the Parent Training (PT) technique, in which child specialists such as preschool‐ and school‐teachers promote secure attachment in children with aberrant social behavior following maltreatment, using a team approach. The study took place in Japan.

Homeroom, special education‐related, student guidance‐related, nursing teachers and co‐workers received a parent training course conducted by the authors. A homeroom teacher provided classroom management to model good examples of social life for the target child. A nursing teacher and assistant offered individualized instruction to foster the formation of secure attachments by the target child.

Researchers report that behavioral abnormalities in both school and home resolved in 7 out of 12 cases and suggest their research indicates parent training technique as applied by child specialists using a team approach may be a useful intervention for fostering secure attachment in children with maltreatment who exhibit behavioral abnormalities.

Improving Self-Regulation Skills of Preschool Students Through CrossFit Activities

A new study in Advanced Science Letters examined if CrossFit would impact students’ self-regulation. Authors describe CrossFit as physical activity involving high intensity and strength training, mixing different exercises that push all aspects of the body.

After 15 session CrossFit activities were completed, researchers report that most of the students greatly improved their self-regulation. Participants could wait a considerable amount of time and both lessen and manage their motor activity and impulsive actions, the study authors report. They also had more friendly and positive attitudes toward their peers, authors suggest.


Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education

The University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College is seeking a full-time, tenure-track Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education for the Behavioral Science Department beginning August 15, 2019. UC Blue Ash College is the largest regional college in Ohio, offering primarily associates degrees, with an enrollment of approximately 5100 students.
Applications will be reviewed beginning November 15, 2018. Click here for details.


SRCD Biennial Meeting

March 21-23, 2019
Baltimore, MD

The Society for Research in Child Development is offering an Early Career Interdisciplinary Scholars Fellowship enabling early scholars in relevant fields outside psychology/human development to participate in the Biennial Meeting. The Fellowship is designed to promote a receptive climate for truly transdisciplinary research that will advance understanding of the complexities of child and adolescent development. Learn more about eligibility and application requirements

The deadline to apply is Friday, November 16, 2018, 11:59 PM EST

Early Education News Roundup

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

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