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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 49

December 14, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: KISS, Survivor and NGA

Hot Topics

Keeping It Simple

A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center focuses on streamlining administration and funding for early childhood education, with an assessment of how well states are doing and recommendations for improvement at both federal and state levels.
“Fragmentation, bureaucratic inefficiency, and lack of coordination in the administration of ECE programs create real obstacles to access and result in many children—often including those who are already the most vulnerable—missing out on the support they need,” the report states.
Early education is one of the few issues with bipartisan support. Congress last year nearly doubledthe amount of Child Care and Development Block Grant(C CDBG) funding, while also boosting appropriations for Head Start and sustaining the Preschool Development Grant program.
Federal funds flow both to states that disperse them and directly to local programs. In addition, many states and cities directly fund their own preschool programs.
Creating an Integrated Efficient Early Care and Education System to Support Children and Families: A State-by-State Analysis warns that policymaker willingness to increase funding is influenced by program efficiency, good governance, and focus on quality assurance and results—with some arguing that current funding would be sufficient if resources were used efficiently.
While the federal GAO has found fragmentation and overlap reduced in ECE programs at the national level, the Center focused on state progress toward improved integration and governance in ECE programs.
States that scored higher in the ranking had consolidated program administration in a smaller number of agencies (typically two to three agencies, rather than three to four), had functioning Early Childhood State Advisory Councils, and had implemented QRIS.
Information collected by BPC was used to generate individual state fact sheets found on its website ; Maryland ranked at the top, while Texas and Vermont tied for last.
“These issues matter on the ground, in the everyday lives of families with young children who too often have trouble determining what services they might be eligible for, let alone how to go about accessing them,” the report states. “…When families have to apply to multiple programs, housed across multiple agencies, often with duplicative paperwork requirements and inconsistent eligibility criteria, many simply give up.”
The Education Commission of the States also recently examined different early childhood education structures and strategies—including the creation of state offices, consolidation, and collaboration and coordination across state agencies. The ECS report includes state examples, along with policy considerations.
We invite you to follow NIEER on Twitter  @PreschoolToday  and Facebook at  Preschool Today . Please share your social media handles  so we can connect.

Last month’s election will bring new ideas and new people into state government and state education offices. There is no playbook to guide new state early education leaders and little, if any, formal orientation for the position. Read more
NIEER Senior Research Fellow  Jim Squires offers some guidance in this blog, along with a compilation of advice in Surviving State Government: An Underground Guide for State Early Learning Specialists.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Co-Director for Research Milagros Nores is featured in a Child Trends video Q&A focused on the importance of supporting young dual language learners at preschool and at home. Dr. Nores explains how bilingualism can nurture early communication and social skills, adding “We have a very clear understanding that having a second language…builds stronger children. It should never be seen as a deficit.”

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes ( CEELO) recently announced its 2019 Leadership Academy for current state agency specialists. Applications for this fifth cohort will be available beginning Friday, December 21 and are  due February 1, 2019.
For more information about the program, visit the Leadership Academy  webpage. See the Application webpage for selection criteria, requirements, and information about previous cohorts. You will find the 2019 Application here next week.


Early Learning Facilities Policy Framework

 A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center offers major principles authors consider critical to the development of policies, strategies, and standards for early learning facility investments. “Early learning facilities” in this context refers to all types of out-of-home settings used for child care and early education, including child care centers, family child care homes, Head Start facilities, and part-day preschools.

“Despite what is known about the impact of early learning spaces—both home-based and center-based—on the health, safety, and development of young children, there are no dedicated funding sources to support the development of well-designed facilities,” the report states. “If the federal, state, and local governments want to promote positive child development for all children and families, dedicated investments in high-performing facilities must be part of the overall strategy.”

Fruit and Vegetable Intakes in Relation to Behavioral Outcomes Associated with a Nutrition Education Intervention in Preschoolers

A recent study issued in Nutrition Research and Practice investigated whether nutrition education focused on fruit and vegetable intakes can affect preschoolers’ fruit and vegetable intakes, as well as their behavioral outcomes, based on data from 35 preschoolers residing in Seoul, Korea.

Researchers report that after the intervention, vegetable intake increased significantly and levels of total problems, internalizing, externalizing, anxiety, depression, and aggressive behavior decreased, as reported by parents. Anxiety score, as measured by teachers, also decreased.

Researchers conclude that nutrition education of preschoolers regarding the intake of fruits and vegetables had a positive effect on preschoolers’ vegetable intake as well as on their emotional and behavioral outcomes. They suggest that a long-term, large-scale study with a broader study design is warranted to further examine the role of fruit and vegetable intake in both the cognitive development and the behavior of preschoolers.

In a new study released in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, researchers examined the impact of a nature intervention at an elementary school among kindergarten children. The two conditions were a daily language arts lesson in an indoor classroom or the same daily language arts lesson held outdoors. Child well-being was compared in the two conditions.

Researchers report that teachers’ redirections of child behavior were significantly fewer in the nature condition compared to the control. Also, fewer children were off task in the nature condition on average. Children reported no significant difference in happiness in the two conditions, but teachers reported a modest benefit in child well-being in the nature condition. Researchers suggest the outdoor classroom is a promising method for increasing nature contact and promoting student well-being.

Evaluating Pre-Service Kindergarten Teachers’ Intention to Adopt and Use Tablets Into Teaching Practice for Natural Sciences

A new article in the International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation describes using the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to examine how pre-service kindergarten teachers’ attitudes toward use of mobile devices affect their willingness to use smart mobile devices to teach natural sciences in kindergarten. The survey participants comprised 75 students from a Greek university.

Researchers indicate the pre-service teachers’ attitude toward the usefulness of mobile learning in the teaching process has the strongest influence on their intention to adopt mobile learning. This was followed equally by perceived ease of use.

A Cross-National Comparison on Subjective Well-Being of Kindergarten Teachers: Hong Kong and Italy

A study recently released in Frontiers of Psychology compares kindergarten teachers’ subjective well-being in Hong Kong and Italy. The study is based on data from 367 Hong Kong and 243 Italian kindergarten teachers. These teachers completed a self-report questionnaire containing the Job Satisfaction Survey, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and the General Health Questionnaires-12, as well as socio-demographic data.
Researchers found higher levels of reported job satisfaction among Italian teachers, while Hong Kong teachers were more satisfied with pay and promotion, but less with supervision and the work environment. Researchers interpret these results in terms of cultural values and educational systems in each context.


National Governors Association

The NGA Center for Best Practices ( NGA Center) is seeking a Director of the Education Division. The Education Division provides information on best practices in early childhood, elementary, secondary and higher education. The Director will lead a team of 10 professionals who address issues across that spectrum: and human capital, standards assessment and accountability, whole child governance and finance. Sample portfolio items include teacher effectiveness; high school redesign; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); strengthening higher education systems and more.
Click here for details and to submit an application.


European Early Childhood Education Research Association

Annual Conference
August 20-23, 2019
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
EECERA, an independent, self-governing, international association promoting research on early childhood policy and practice, invites members and colleagues to submit research proposals for presentation at the Annual Conference.
The Annual Conference is the largest early years’ research conference in Europe. For details please visit the EECERA 2019 website.
Deadline is 23:50 GMT Feb. 13, 2019.

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