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NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 44

November 2, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Free and Universal, Motherhood and Midterms

Hot Topics

Free and Universal

A new study in the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy  identifies a strong link between availability of  free and compulsory preschool and primary school graduation rates, with the greatest increase among girls in low-income countries.

Is free pre-primary education associated with increased primary school completion? A global study utilized a new global policy database developed by the researchers. to examine the potential of one policy approach to achieving higher rates of primary completion: increasing primary school readiness and achievement by increasing enrollment in pre-primary school through free and compulsory provision.

No significant association was found for provision of at least one year of free, pre-primary education alone. “A policy that makes pre-primary education compulsory places responsibilities on both families and government,” the report states. “…families have to find a way to send their children…(and) A compulsory policy also places pressure on the public sector to spend funds to ensure that all age-eligible children can attend preschool.”

Completing primary school is a target of the United Nations “Education for All” initiative as an element for economic progress and improved outcomes for children around the world. While some evidence shows making primary school compulsory can boost completion rates, the report states, “the persistent gap between enrollment and completion rates and the stagnant, low completion rates in many low-income countries” highlight the need to identify other policy approaches.

Free and compulsory pre-primary education is associated with a nearly 10 percentage point increase in primary school graduation rates for countries at the median and a 12 percentage point increase in rates for primarily low- and lower-middle-income countries at the lower end of the distribution, according to the report.

Several developing countries now provide free and compulsory pre-K. Kazakhstan made pre-primary education free and compulsory in 1999 and Ghana has provided free and compulsory pre-k since 2007.

IJCCEP is published by NIEER in partnership with the Korean Institute of Child Care and Education (KICCE). IJCCEP accepts original and review papers, technical reports, case studies, conference reports and government reports, including thematic series. Submission guidelines.

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NEW on Preschool Matters Today blog

ECD Implementation Insights: Shaping Demand and Affordable Preschool in India

ANYAS Special Issue author Gauri Kirtane outlines how the pilot Program to Improve Private Early Education (PIPE) strives to shape demand for quality preschool services and improve learning outcomes in urban India.

This blog series explores issues highlighted in the recent Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Special Issue Implementation Research and Practice for Early Childhood Development. 

NIEER Activities

NIEER Research Project Coordinator Kate Schellie Hodges will participate in the workshop “Risks vs. Hazards: Outdoor Play in Three Early Education Contexts” during the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference Nov. 14-17 in Washington D.C.

The workshop, featuring Heather DiGiovanni, Claire Kamenski of the Henry Frost Children’s Program, and playscape designer Rusty Keelerwill help participants recognize why outdoor experiences are healthy for young children and how early education environments can support children’s healthy risk taking. Examples include the Anarchy Zone in the Ithaca Children’s Garden, a preschool enrichment program at a nature sanctuary and the Henry Frost Children’s Program‘s outdoor classroom. 


The Intersection of Health and Education to Address School Readiness of All Children

A review recently published in Pediatrics combines Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) resources with relevant literature in the PubMed database to encourage alignment in the fields of pediatrics and education to promote transdisciplinary work.

Researchers report reviewing education literature to understand the current US achievement gap, providing an update on the impact of child health on school readiness and exploring emerging solutions in education and pediatrics. They also present next steps for transdisciplinary work between  education and pediatrics that has the potential to improve the health and school readiness of young children.

The Mommy Effect: Do Women Anticipate the Employment Effects of Motherhood?

A study recently published by The National Bureau of Economic Research finds substantial and persistent employment effects of motherhood in U.K. and U.S. data–and evidence that women do not anticipate these effects.

As The New York Times reported, the analysis suggests motherhood became more demanding during the 1990s. “Parents now spend more time and money on child care. They feel more pressure to breast-feed, to do enriching activities with their children and to provide close supervision.

A result is that women underestimate the costs of motherhood. The mismatch is biggest for those with college degrees, who invest in an education and expect to maintain a career, researchers found.

Association of Prenatal Phthalate Exposure With Language Development in Early Childhood

Prenatal exposure to phthalates has been associated with negative neurodevelopmental outcomes. A report published online this week in JAMA Pediatrics examines associations between early language development and first-trimester phthalate exposure.

Because phthalates are not covalently bound, they leach into the surrounding environment and are routinely found in indoor air, dust, food, water, as well as in blood, breast milk and amniotic fluid..

Delays in language development in early childhood, as assessed by validated tests, have been shown to be a factor in later academic achievement and the need for special education. Findings suggest first-trimester phthalate exposure (particularly to DBP and possibly to BBzP) appears to be associated with poorer language development in children aged 2.5 to 3 years.

Carnegie Challenge Paper: Next Generation Family Engagement

The Carnegie Foundation of New York recently released a challenge paper examining the history, current practice, and potential of family and community engagement as a key element of ensuring lifelong success for all children. It suggests five high-leverage areas of investment: community initiatives, capacity building and professional development, data pathways, public policy change, and public communication and engagement strategies.

It also questions what additional efforts are needed to build on a bold vision of effective family and community engagement strategies at the local, state, and national levels. Authors encourage readers to share  ideas at Responses from education leaders are available on the same web page where this article can be found.

Prospective Associations between Participation in Leisure-time Physical Activity at Age 6 and Academic Performance at Age 12

A new study in Preventive Medicine examines prospective associations between kindergarten participation in leisure-time physical activity and academic performance by the end of sixth grade. The research is based on the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, a 1997-1998 birth cohort from the province of Quebec, Canada with a sample of 2,837 children.

Higher overall participation in leisure-time physical activity at age 6 was associated with better teacher-reported grades in language and math and self-reported grades in language, as well as with higher classroom engagement at age 12. Researchers suggest that promoting leisure-time physical activity may be an effective way to encourage children to be active and to help them improve their academic performance, both leading to long-term wider benefits.

Executive Function Deficits in Kindergarten Predict Repeated Academic Difficulties across Elementary School

A new study in Early Childhood Research Quarterly investigated whether deficits in executive functions (EF) increase kindergarten children’s risk for repeated academic difficulties across elementary school. Researchers examined first- through third-grade achievement growth trajectories in mathematics, reading, and science of 11,010 children participating in the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort of 2011 (ECLS-K: 2011).

Researchers report deficits in executive functions (EFs), particularly in working memory, increased kindergarten children’s risk of experiencing repeated mathematics, reading, and science difficulties across elementary school, overall. Researchers suggest that working memory deficits increase the risk for repeated academic difficulties. They also report that deficits in cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control also increase this risk. Finally, they suggest that early interventions may need to target EF as well as academic skills deficits.


Colorado Department of Education P-3 Office

The Colorado Department of Education has an open position for a Literacy Director in the Preschool to Grade 3 (P-3) Office. The director will align communication and policies, supervise a team of consultants doing field TA and support internal and external groups supporting literacy. Details here. Deadline is Nov. 9, 2018

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018
9:30-10:45 a.m.
AEI Auditorium
Washington, DC

AEI hosts a panel discussion the day after mid-term elections to explore what outcomes mean for education. Panelists include Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, Third Way; Alyson Klein, Education Week and Aaliyah Samuel, National Governors Association. Watch the event live here.

Early Education News Roundup

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

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