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The NIEER blog reporting on research, policy, and practice

Preschool Matters Today

Rethinking the Numbers


February 17, 2017
Jim Squires, Ph.D.

There is general agreement on the key features that contribute to high-quality, effective education programs. These features or “ quality standards ” (Barnett et al., 2016) can be viewed as necessary but not sufficient, in part because they are interdependent, one reason that some have referred them as “ essential elements ”  (Minervino, 2015). These research-based elements have found…

Sowing the Seeds for Successful STEM Learning in Early Childhood


February 3, 2017
Elisabeth McClure, Ph.D.

Whether it is gardening, building forts, stacking blocks, playing at the water table, or lining up by height in the classroom, children demonstrate a clear readiness to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning early in life. STEM Starts Early is the culmination of a deep inquiry supported by the National Science Foundation…

Leading in Times of Transition or How to Dance during an Earthquake


January 27, 2017
Jana Martella

State early childhood specialists are experts on transitions. They live and work with varied shifts and moves on a regular basis, planning and adjusting accordingly. Calendars flow through annual budget and legislative cycles each year, and every four years, elections change the shape of those annual progressions. This year those shifts may seem a bit…

Q&A: Federal Early Education Policy


January 20, 2017

Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education, was recently named among the nation’s 75 most influential university-based education scholars by Education Week. Education Week recognized Dr. Barnett for his national leadership on issues of preschool quality and benefits of high-quality early learning opportunities and the influence of his research…

Out of Context: Can Standards Create Better Teaching and Learning Opportunities?


January 12, 2017
Jim Squires, Ph.D.

It may be difficult to pinpoint the origin of the movement toward establishing standards in early education.  Some claim state child care licensing regulations represented the first significant stake in the ground as basic safeguards for young children’s health and safety were established. Others point to defining professional criteria for educators in public schools, broadening  over time to encompass early…

Keeping the “Kinder” in Kindergarten: Developmentally Appropriate Practice in New York


January 5, 2017
Kate Abbott, Ph.D.

Take a moment to think of your most meaningful learning experience as a student. What stands out as having the greatest impact, some lesson you still carry today?  Now, please think of your favorite worksheet. I’m guessing the answer to the first question was perhaps the reason you have dedicated so much of your life…

Understanding Head Start Coverage: Why It’s Less (and More) than You Think


December 16, 2016
by W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D.

Research in the news this week from the Center for Law and Social Policy, and NIEER’s own State(s) of Head Start report, focused on Head Start enrollment and revealed how location and other factors influence opportunity, especially for low-income families and children. These reports also bring to fore common misunderstandings in the way access to early care and education…

State(s) of Head Start: Funding, enrollment and quality are all over the map


December 14, 2016
by Allison Friedman-Krauss, Ph.D.

Research is clear that developmental trajectories in the first five years profoundly influence later success in school and life. That is why it is so important that every child have access to high-quality early learning experiences, especially those growing up in the most adverse circumstances. Head Start is the nation’s most ambitious effort to support…

Building Bridges: Linking Early Learning and Primary School


December 1, 2016
by Shannon Riley-Ayers, Ph.D.

As highlighted by recent reports , today’s system of care and education for our youngest learners is both fragmented and inadequate. Too often, early learning opportunities are undermined by developmentally inappropriate academic expectations that create anxiety, misaligned teaching and learning practices that create confusion and myopic policies that create competition rather than collaboration. Happily, a consensus…

Putting the ‘Every’ in ESSA: How States Can Prioritize PreK to Grade 3


November 16, 2016 FederalState & Local
by Lori Connors-Tadros, Ph.D.

What would it take for “every child to succeed,” as our new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) suggests?  States can choose to use this major federal education legislation, which at its core is intended to address inequities in educational opportunities, to refocus on the early years–birth to third grade.  State forerunners in addressing early learning…