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The NIEER blog reporting on research, policy, and practice

Preschool Matters Today

Data Literacy is More Than Just Test Results: Why it is Important in Early Childhood Education


April 14, 2017
Ellen B. Mandinach, Ph.D.

Data have been used in education for many years. Good teachers and administrators have been using data to inform their practice and make decisions. Why is data use important? Because it is no longer acceptable for educators to solely use anecdotes and gut feelings to make decisions. Educators need hard evidence. To that end, there…

Boosting Language and Literacy Experiences in K-3 for DLLs


April 6, 2017
Alexandra Figueras-Daniel

Attending high-quality preschool yields significant academic benefits for the rising population of young dual language learners (DLLs) in the US. Research  has indicated that when Hispanic children attend high-quality preschool centers, their kindergarten readiness skills significantly exceed those of children who did not attend. The recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Consensus Report (2017) describes effectively educating children who are learning English as…

Giving Young Students a Bigger Slice of the Pie (Chart)


March 17, 2017
Shannon Riley-Ayers, Ph.D., Sharon Ryan, Ed.D., Alexandra Figueras-Daniel, Ph.D. and Vincent J. Costanza, Ed.D.

Ever ask a child what they did in school? Often the reply is “Nothing” or “I don’t remember.” Or, maybe, “Stuff.”  You just can’t rely on young students to explain what they learned, how they learned it or if lessons are appropriate. So as scholars and policymakers, we have set out to answer the question…

Better Together


March 16, 2017
GG Weisenfeld

When I first started out as a classroom teacher, I remember feeling isolated because of the minimal contact I had with my colleagues. Eventually, I found my way to a school where I had a mentor, collaborative teaching sessions, and professional development. Had I not found that opportunity to ask questions, brainstorm solutions, and learn…

Seeing the Forest for the Trees


March 9, 2017
by Shannon Riley-Ayers, Ph.D.

Seen any good movies lately? I recently joined a group of pre-service and graduate students in education at Centenary University to watch School’s Out . The film takes the viewer into the “Forest Kindergarten,” an outdoor school for four- to seven-year-olds in northern Switzerland. Students are outdoors every day, regardless of the weather, and explore and play for most…

Cities are leading the way to innovation


March 3, 2017
W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D. and Ellen Frede, Ph.D.

High-quality early education is one of the best investments we can make with public dollars: an effective weapon against academic failure, high school dropout, crime and poverty and for a healthier, more academically, socially, and economically successful future. No wonder then, cities–with both high aspirations and stubborn problems–are taking up arms. More than 50 years…

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…