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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 18, Issue 9

March 1, 2019

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: P-3, Take This Quiz, Cities

Hot Topics

Bridging the Achievement Gap

A new journal article points to the Chicago-based Child-Parent Center Preschool to 3rd Grade Program as a model for  how schools can help children “get off to the right start.”

The Power of P-3 School Reform reports that despite increased investment and enrollment in public preschool programs, the achievement gap by family income is large–and increasing.

“Given the size of achievement disparities, the relatively modest levels of achievement proficiency of students worldwide, and the limited reach of current programs, longer and more comprehensive strategies are needed.” according to the article.

Preschool to 3rd grade (P-3) approaches, including the Chicago-based Child-Parent Center Preschool to 3rd Grade Program (CPC-P3), provide strong models for scaling and sustaining an evidence-based program to narrow early achievement gaps.

CPC started in 1967 as a comprehensive preschool program, but evolved to offer services in kindergarten and the early grades, aimed at avoiding the low achievement and family disengagement that seemed to follow a child’s transition to local elementary schools. CPC now provides education and family support services in six Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin districts, the article states.

By providing an integrated and well-aligned curriculum — along with family services and supports — during those formative years, CPC-P3 strives to ensure students build an academic and social skills foundation that allows them to succeed as school becomes more content-heavy.

Yet replicating that model has proved challenging. Although the notion of P-3 and a service continuum is not new—the concept evolved during the early years of the War on Poverty–the article states that key principles of school improvement (principal leadership, school climate, learning communities) have been rarely applied to early learning.

A NIEER presentation to the National Principals Conference  in 2017 provided research on kindergarten through third grade classrooms, as well as elements of a professional development approach designed to fuse rigorous and appropriate experiences for children as they transition from early childhood settings to the primary years of schooling. See our related blog Giving Young Students a Bigger Slice of the Pie (Chart)

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

Is Your Chief State School Officer an Early Learning Supporter? Take this Quiz

The midterm elections of 2018 is ushering in a group of new state superintendents who will put their stamp on states’ education systems and reforms. Though most of them probably will not have much early education background, many of them will also lead state pre-k programs and in some cases, even child care systems and other early childhood programs. (According to a recent reportfrom the Bipartisan Policy Center, in most states, the state department of education is the agency that is responsible for the largest number of early childhood programs.) I wonder, though, how many of these new chiefs who oversee early care and education (ECE) will organize their state education agencies (SEAs) in ways that will allow them to leverage the power of early learning to accomplish the agencies’ core mission and goals.

Based on strong public and policymakers’ support of ECE, I’m optimistic that many of the new superintendents will understand its importance and draft strategic plans that include it as a priority or a key component. But how will that translate into their agencies’ structure and operations? Read more

NIEER Activities

NIEER Assistant Research Professor GG Weisenfeld, Ed.D. will join CityHealth and Monica Liang-Aguirre, Early Learning Director for the City of Seattle’s Department of Education and Early Learning, for a March 7 webinar discussing municipal policy promoting high-quality pre-kindergarten and policies that support it, along with the recent Pre-K in American Cities report.  Register here.

The analysis by NIEER identifies a growing number of cities, including Seattle, creating local funding streams to establish and sustain pre-K programs. However, many programs fail to meet minimum quality standards benchmarks that research has shown deliver lasting benefits, while other cities provide high-quality programs but reach too few children.

This will be the second webinar in CityHealth’s quarterly Policymaker Webinar Series. This series serves as a platform for local leaders to share stories of pursuing policy change to improve city residents’ health and quality of life. To view past webinars in the series, click here.


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

NIEER’s AERA Open article entitled “State Prekindergarten Effects on Early Learning at Kindergarten Entry: An Analysis of Eight State Programs” was among the 10 most read education research articles published in 2018. See other popular articles here.

The NIEER study finds a variety of state-funded pre-K programs prepare children for kindergarten but recommends states raise classroom
quality to encourage deeper language development leading to greater long-term gains. Participation in these preschool programs resulted, on average, in broad gains in children’s learning at kindergarten entry in literacy, math and language. Literacy improvements – recognizing letters, for example – were almost uniformly large. Estimated effects on math were moderate and estimated effects on language (vocabulary, comprehension) were smallest.

State of Babies Yearbook: 2019

New research from Child Trends and Zero to Three finds that the state in which a child is born and spends the first three years of life has a significant impact on their future health, well-being, and success. The research compiles and examines more than 60 policies and indicators related to infant and toddler well-being to rank states by how effectively they support children during their first three years.

Building a unified system for universal Pre-K: The case of New York City

A study recently published by ScienceDirect examined the empirical example of a policy initiative to provide high-quality universal pre-k (UPK) in New York City, in context of states increasing funding to expand access to preschool typically through use and coordination across multiple settings in both public schools and private community-based organizations.

Inheriting a mixed-delivery system for UPK provision, NYC employed substantial resources to increase and align quality across programs in different settings and with varied auspices. Comparing program and classroom data, the analysis identified significant variation by program setting and auspice that appears to have roots in systemic obstacles that are common beyond the city.

Frequency of Instructional Practices in Rural Prekindergarten Classrooms and Associations with Child Language and Literacy Skills

A recent study in Early Childhood Research Quarterly examined the relationship between classroom practices of rural publicly funded pre-K programs and child literacy and language gains in pre-K. Researchers analyzed teacher-child language exchanges, children’s engagement in domain-specific learning activities, and the use of different types of activity settings were examined in 63 classrooms for 455 children living in six rural counties in the Southeastern United States.

The researchers report teacher-child language exchanges were positively related to expressive language. They also found sound-focused activities were positively related to phonemic awareness and small-group settings were positively related to literacy outcomes.

Developmental Trajectories of Conduct Problems and Cumulative Risk from Early Childhood to Adolescence

A new paper in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence explored variations in trajectories of conduct problems between ages of 3 and 14 years, and associated child, family and socio-economic risk factors from ages 9 months to 14 years. The study was based on data from a nationally representative longitudinal study of children born between 2000 and 2002 from the UK Millennium Cohort Study.

The researcher reported findings indicate different influences and processes may explain diverse pathways of conduct problems. They offer insights into who and what might be targeted and when might be the most effective developmental window for intervention.

Early Childhood Student-Teacher Relationships: What is the Role of Classroom Climate for Children who are Disadvantaged?

A new study in the Early Childhood Education Journal focused on the relationship between classroom climate and the development of the student-teacher relationship for young children at-risk. The study included 93 early educators and 267 children from low-income backgrounds who were experiencing developmental concerns in the areas of language, cognition or social-emotional development.

Researchers found classroom emotional support predicted the development of the student-teacher relationship. Children in classrooms characterized by higher levels of emotional support experienced greater improvement in their overall relationship with the teacher, greater closeness in the relationship, and greater decreases in conflict in the relationship relative to peers in less emotionally supportive classrooms. Researchers also report classroom organization and instructional support were not found to predict changes in the student-teacher relationship in this study.

Assessing the Effects of Second Step: A Program Evaluation of a Pilot Implementation

A new study in the International Journal of Business Management and Commerce examined the impact of the Second Step curriculum on improving social competence skills and reducing problem behaviors. The study was based on data from 48 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 4 across three of five elementary schools in a district.

Researchers found that social competence as measured by teacher ratings of student behavior was reduced significantly between time 1 and 3 of the study. Also, researchers report a significant reduction in the number of office disciplinary referrals for the experimental group, with little change for the control group. Study authors suggest their findings support the continued validation of the Second Step program with a multi-ethnic sample and the effects of program sustained after post-intervention.

ESRC, on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) invites grant applications focused on Early Childhood Education in low and middle income country contexts that will inform Early Childhood Education (ECE) policy and practice.

Funding has been allocated from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) for large-scale collaborative grant proposals across different stakeholders and disciplines. All proposals will have to make a clear case for how they comply with Official Development Assistance (ODA) guidelines.


2019 Child Care Works Summit

April 3-4, 2019
Sheraton Pentagon City
Arlington VA/Washington DC

Child Care Aware® of America is hosting a Child Care Works (CCW) Summit offering Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency staff, child care providers, family advocates and other partners a full day of trainings and sessions followed by our annual Day on the Hill event.

CCAoA provides scholarships for parent and family advocates to come to Washington, D.C., and to share their powerful stories with lawmakers during the annual Day on the Hill. Register here

Early Education News Roundup

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

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