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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 18, Issue 7

February 15, 2019

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: ECE Pioneers, Child Care and K-12

Hot Topics

Science in the Service of the Public Interest

The early childhood field lost one of its best intellects and moral leaders with the passing of Dr. Ed Zigler.  In addition to being one of the few leading developmental psychologists of his era to focus research on public policy questions, he was an architect of such major federal initiatives as Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Dr. Zigler leaves behind an early education legacy grounded in what Yale University called his passionate belief “that science should be in the service of the public interest.”

Head Start, a federal program, has served more than 35 million children and families since its founding in 1965. In an interview with EdWeek, Zigler said the distinctive traits of Head Start were the program’s focus on parental involvement and on comprehensive services, explaining “if you’re interested in the development of children, you can’t just stop with education.”

His long career included roles both inside and outside government. He was the first director of the U.S. Office of Child Development (predecessor of the current U.S. Administration for Children and Families), and the former chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau. Zigler conceptualized and advanced the implementation of the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, now provided internationally.

He advised every White House Administration from Presidents Johnson to Obama. During the Nixon administration, he created the first U.S. Office of Child Care, and conceptualized and implemented both the Healthy Start program and the Home Start program. He became a proponent of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and paid parental leave.

In 1978, he founded The Yale Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy, which was renamed in 2005 as the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy. He published more than 800 scholarly articles and 43 books and monographs, including many seminal works in the field of development science.

As Yale News notes, “Few have positively affected the lives of as many American children and families as Zigler.”

Events to honor his life and contributions are being planned for the spring,

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NEW on Preschool Matters Today blog

Child Care is Unaffordable for Working Parents Who Need It Most

A new Research Brief, Child Care Affordability for Working Parents, finds that many U.S. parents who are highly attached to the labor force would have a difficult time purchasing full-time center-based care. This finding is especially true for low-income, Hispanic and black parents.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently convened a group of  Pioneers in Early Childhood Education for a roundtable discussion and video interviews. This video series will capture the wisdom of leaders who have helped shaped the early childhood education field. Videos will be appropriate for a wide audience, providing another helpful resource for policy advocacy, professional development and public relations outreach.

The Legacy 2030 project is capturing the voices and experiences of state early education specialists and others who have influenced early education policy to see where we’ve been, figure out what works and then set a course for where we should be headed.

A new Foresight Law + Policy paper explores the relationship between K-12 education and early education, asserting that for years, the K–12 world has fundamentally underappreciated how the early years shape long-term educational outcomes. In both the K-12 and early learning worlds, there has been a corollary underestimation of the many ways policy and culture enforce a separation between the two. The paper outlines the challenges and proposes solutions.

“The bottom line is that all states and all districts have goals for improving high school proficiency and helping students succeed in life after high school,” writes author Elliot Regenstein. “The birth-to-eight years offer our best opportunity to improve long-term outcomes. But as long as the relationship between K-12 and early learning remains broken, we will never take advantage of that opportunity at scale.”

Child Care in State Economies – 2019 Update

The 2019 Update examines the child care industry’s effect on parents’ participation in the labor force, and provides extensive details regarding the industry’s impact on regional economic growth and development. The report was commissioned by the Committee for Economic Development.

The report finds child care subsidies encourage greater labor force participation, which in turn increases overall economic output in a region. (See NYT OpEd Day Care for All). (See NYT OpEd Day Care for All)

Language Skills, Behaviour Problems, and Classroom Emotional Support Among Preschool Children From Low-Income Families

A new paper released in Early Child Development and Care examined the relationship between language skills and behavioral problems and the potential moderating role of the quality of classroom emotional support in this relationship. The study included data from 242 preschool children from low-income families.

Researchers report an inverse relationship between language skills and behavior problems that varied by the level of classroom emotional support provided by teachers. Researchers found that children with lower language skills exhibited higher levels of behavior problems in classrooms where teachers provided lower levels of emotional support. Researchers suggest enhancing teachers’ emotional support aimed at children with lower language skills and provide direction for future research.

Association Between Availability of Children’s Book and the Literacy-Numeracy Skills of Children Aged 36 To 59 Months: Secondary Analysis of the UNICEF Multiple-Indicator Cluster Surveys Covering 35 Countries

In a new article in the Journal of Global Health, researchers conducted a secondary analysis using data covering 100,012 children aged 36-59 months from 35 countries. Researchers examined the relationship between the availability of children’s books within the household and scores on a literacy-numeracy index constructed from three questions assessing children’s ability to identify/name at least 10 letters of the alphabet, read at least four simple popular words and know the names and symbols of all numbers from 1-10.

Researchers report that only half of the children from all the countries analyzed have at least one children’s book at home and less than one-third are on track for literacy-numeracy.

Snapshots from the NSECE: How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012?-Child Age, Household Income, & Community Urbanicity Snapshots

A new release from the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families highlights child care use  and child care cost by child age. Additionally, it reports differences in how much households paid for child care by household income. The 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) is a nationally representative survey of U.S. households with children under age 13 and the ECE workforce.

Researchers report that childcare costs varied by child care age and that the cost of care can be a substantial percentage of  income. Although households in rural, moderately-urban, and urban areas had similar costs for care, household incomes tend to be lower in rural areas, so households in rural areas spent the largest percentage of their income on care.

Coaching Quality in Pre-kindergarten Classrooms: Perspectives from a Statewide Study

A new study released in Early Childhood Education Journal examined coaching dosage and activities of forty-nine coaches, 947 teachers, and 189 administrators in a state-wide prekindergarten program that responded to survey questions about coaching dosage and activities. The survey was designed to identify similarities and differences in stakeholders’ perspectives of coaching.

Researchers report that the vast majority of coaches, teachers, and administrators surveyed agreed that coaching was an effective professional development strategy for supporting teachers’ use of evidence-based practices. Researchers suggest that their results have implications for how coaches, teachers, and administrators prepare for large-scale coaching.

Teaching of Cursive Writing in the First Year of Primary School: Effect on Reading and Writing Skills

A new study in PLoS ONE investigated whether the development of academic writing skills could be effectively supported by training strategies focusing on cursive writing based on a sample of 141 students attending eight classes of the first grade of primary school. Researchers report that all children were typically developing, not exhibiting any cognitive or sensory disabilities, nor displaying motor disorders that could significantly hinder the execution of the writing task.

Researchers report that growth models on pre-, post- and follow-up measures showed that performance on prerequisites and writing and reading skills were better overall among the children in the intervention group as compared to the control group. Researchers suggest that it is necessary to think about the role of graphomotor abilities in the development of handwriting skills, as well as giving more weight to graphomotor skills in teaching plans. Researchers suggest that explicit and direct teaching of letter shapes and frequent practice are essential elements of this process.

Starting Early: The Benefits of Attending Early Childhood Education Programs at Age 3

A new paper published in the American Educational Research Journal considered the short-term benefits of early childhood education participation at age 3 for 1,213 children from low-income families living in a large and linguistically diverse county. Although no benefits emerged for executive functioning, children who participated in formal early childhood programs at the age of 3 entered prekindergarten the following year demonstrating stronger academic skills and less optimal social behavior than their peers with no earlier educational experience.

However, these academic benefits were short-lived and did not persist through the end of prekindergarten, in large part because children who did not attend these programs at age 3 caught up with their classmates who did. Roughly a quarter of this convergence in academics was attributed to children’s subsequent classroom experiences.


Intercultural Development Research Association 

IDRA is inviting applications for the IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows Program supporting research that will inform efforts to secure equitable funding of public schools across the country. The program was established by IDRA to honor the memory of IDRA founder, Dr. José Angel Cárdenas.

Applications due March 22. Find details here.


2-3:30 pm EST
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

This Foundation for Child Development’s Young Scholars Program webinar will provide an in-depth look at the negative impact of food insecurity on the health of young children of immigrants in the U.S., with a special focus on connections with young children’s development.  Register here.

Early Education News Roundup

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

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