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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 50

December 21, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: ICYMI, ECE in Conflict, Tell the World

Hot Topics


Everyone knows about the State of Preschool yearbook, but NIEER has many publications throughout the year. Here are five you might have missed from 2018.

Prekindergarten Effects on Early Learning at Kindergarten Entry: An Analysis of Eight State Programs

This study found participation in these preschool programs resulted, on average, in broad gains in children’s learning at kindergarten entry in literacy, math and language. Literacy improvement—recognizing letters, for example—were almost uniformly large.

Estimated effects on math were moderate and estimated effects on language (vocabulary, comprehension) were smallest. In some states estimated language effects were near zero. NIEER authors find the pattern raises concerns that state pre-K program effectiveness cannot simply be assumed but should be measured comprehensively and regularly with a goal of continuous improvement.

Looking Back, Looking Forward: Tracing the Arc of Early Childhood Policy

A 30-year-old NASBE task force on early education still holds water, even as the context and concerns of the field have shifted. Authors Lori Connors-Tadros at CEELO and Learning Policy Institute’s Madelyn Gardner find Right from the Start offered a blueprint—still relevant today—to chart the way forward.

Fully Funding Pre-K through K-12 Funding Formulas

While just 11 states have tried it, inclusion of state-funded pre-K in the school funding formula may well be the best option for extending access to more children. Authors W. Steven Barnett and Richard Kasmin find that programs in states using the K-12 funding formula for pre-K clearly have benefited, including weathering the Great Recession much better than programs in other states.

Building capacity in health and education systems to deliver interventions that strengthen early child development

Building capacity within health and education systems of low- and middle-income countries in order to deliver high-quality early childhood services requires coordinated efforts across sectors, effective governance, sufficient funding, an adequate workforce, reliable data systems, and continuous monitoring, evaluation, and improvement cycles. Authors Milagros Nores and Camila Fernandez of US AID focus on identifying eight critical aspects of enabling systemic support for early childhood services.

NIEER Pre-K Data Snapshot: Lead Teacher Workforce–Qualifications, Pay and Parity

Teachers are a strong direct determinant of preschool program quality, and state pre-K program polices influence who becomes and stays a teacher as well as the competencies they acquire.

Each policy is important, but the constellation of such policies for each state pre-K program also matters because these policies are interrelated. Authors Allison Friedman-Krauss and Richard Kasmin review state policies regarding lead teacher qualifications, compensation, and professional development.

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

Tell the World About Your Program

Most of us want to tell the world about the success of our early childhood program. We especially want to tell others how we built it into a good program, the difficulties we overcame, and the lessons learned. We hope our experience will help others avoid problems if they are forewarned and have some solutions at hand. But it’s more than just that.

Reporting how you implemented your program adds to the body of evidence on what has been tried around the world and provides a menu of sorts from which others can choose and learn.

NIEER Activities

NIEER co-hosted a recent webinar exploring challenges, opportunities and realities of providing early learning opportunities for young children living in conditions of war, disaster, and displacement. Discussion was led by Katie Maeve Murphy, Hirokazu Yoshikawa and Alice J. Wuermli, co-authors of the article recently published in the ANYAS Special Issue.

More than 320 registrants from around the world contributed questions and participated in the webinar. You can watch the webinar here or listen to the audio here.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) encourages you to save the date for the 2019 NAECS-SDE Roundtable to be held Wednesday to Friday, May 29-31, 2019. Location: TBD.

The event is collaboratively planned with NAECS-SDE, CEELO and CCSSO’s ECE-SCASS, with national technical assistance partners to build capacity of state agency early childhood specialists to provide informed leadership about research-based practices directly affecting the development and learning of children, birth through grade three.

The meeting provides participants with cutting-edge research and innovative proven practices to enhance state policies and programs. Click here for a summary of Roundtable 2018.


What Guides Pre-K Programs?

With growth in public pre-K programs guided by state early learning standards, this new study published online by Teachers College Record set out to understand what guides pre-K programs by comparing the role of standards in pre-K programs in NJ and WI, analyzing standards conceptualization and enactment by district administrators and teachers.

The study concluded policy and standards alone were not very good predictors of the pre-K programs’ enacted practices. The logic of practice embedded in standards evolved through policy enactment in the local context, through the work of actors, like local child care advocates, the administrative designs of district leaders, and the policies of the adjacent K–12 system.

Authors suggest the nonlinear implementation of early learning standards in this study shows the importance of looking beyond policy inputs and child outcomes and the need to include the administrative and instructional practices.

The Evaluation Roadmap for Optimizing Pre-K Programs

This new publication from the Brookings Institution is intended as a guide to building strong evaluation into new pre-K programs, collecting and evaluating data and interpreting outcomes for continuous improvement, despite wide variation in state and local conditions which makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of pre-K programs across locations.

An earlier publication, Puzzling It Out: The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects (Brookings, 2017), concluded that lack of comparable data and rigor in evaluation design were preventing pre-K programs across the country from realizing their potential. This roadmap offers direction to states and school districts at varying stages of designing, developing, implementing, and overseeing pre-K programs. It is organized around seven key questions.

Who’s Minding the Kids? Experimental Evidence on the Demand for Child Care Quality

A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) examines relationships between the hourly price of child care, caregiver education and experience, caregiver car ownership and availability in the market for home-based child care. Researchers found that while parents are sensitive to the cost of child care, they also have strong preferences for quality, particularly with regard to caregivers’ educational attainment.

Researchers also found parents value those owning a car but not necessarily those with more availability. Finally, researchers suggest the child care market’s quality problems may be driven by parents’ inability to afford high-quality care or their lack of informational resources on how to identify such programs, rather than an unwillingness to pay for them.

Discrimination at a Young Age: Experimental Evidence from Preschool Children

In a new CESifo Working Paper by the Munich Society for the Promotion of Economic Research, researchers examined the development of discrimination in a framed field experiment with 142 preschool children aged three to six years old. Researchers used a simple but valid and reliable task well-suited for studying discrimination in young children.

Researchers report that discrimination is a rather general trait in children. Further, they report that discrimination gets more pronounced with age. Researchers suggest that further research should be conducted examining possible differences in ethnicity, language group affiliation, or immigrant status, as well as the development of gender differences in discrimination with age. Researchers suggest designing and testing interventions to mitigate discrimination in the early years.

Factors Associated with Preschool Workers’ Willingness to Continue Working

A new study published in the journal Medicine examines factors associated with preschool workers’ willingness to continue working for five years or more. This study was based on 1,137 preschool workers in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan.

Researchers found that for preschool workers under 39 years old, male, good mental health, a high number of social supports, and good work engagement act positively in regard to willingness to continue working. For those over 40 years, it was found that permanent employment and good work engagement were positively predicted willingness to continue working.

Worker engagement was the only common factor between preschool workers under 39 and over 40 that predicted wiliness to continue to work. Researchers suggest their findings underscore the importance of considering age when attempting to maximize preschool professionals’ willingness to continue working.

Use of Otoacoustic Emissions to Improve Outcomes and Reduce Disparities in a Community Preschool Hearing Screening Program

In a new study published in PLOS, researchers compared outcomes of a community-based low-income preschool hearing program before and after implementation of otoacoustic emission (OAE) in a single-visit, two-tiered approach, based on data from 3,257 children.

Researchers found that in a community setting, implementation of second-line OAE screening for conditioned play audiometry (CPA) referrals reduced referral rates, increased identification of hearing loss, reduced outcome disparities, and improved follow-up rates. Researchers suggest this study provides lessons on how to improve outcomes and reduce disparities in early-childhood hearing screening.

My Hands are Ouchie – Outdoor Experiences of Children in an International Kindergarten in Norway

In a study published recently in NTNU Open, researchers explore outdoor experiences of young children in an international preschool setting in Norway. This study is based on data collected during 20 days in an international kindergarten, using a qualitative approach, and the main sources of data were observations with informal dialogues and an interview.

Researchers discuss children’s experiences outside and inside the kindergarten, the variety of places for playing, and children’s choices of playmates. Proper clothing is strongly emphasized when it comes to weather and conditions that might be uncomfortable for children. They further focus on the variety of learning opportunities for children in the studied kindergarten with regard to the use of outdoor areas.


Clayton Early Learning 

Clayton Early Learning is seeking a Director of Development to support fundraising efforts. The role requires a strong understanding of fundraising principles, best practices, processes and strategies.

Clayton Early Learning provides national leadership to advance the field of early childhood education by researching, implementing and disseminating innovative teaching models. For more information and to apply, click here


Costing Out Early Childhood Development Programs

9 am ET
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

This webinar featuring Emily Gustafsson-Wright and Izzy Boggild-Jones will identify key components necessary in a costing model and share learning from Bangladesh, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, and Mozambique. Register here

Early Education News Roundup

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

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