April 15, 2022 – Volume 21, Issue 15


State Policies Shape the Racial and Ethnic Diversity of the Prekindergarten Workforce

State policies play a big role in shaping the racial and ethnic diversity of pre-K educators. In an essay for The Learning Curve at The Urban Institute, Erica Greenberg and Grace Luetmer explore the ways in which the varied minimum requirements across differing early care and education (ECE) sectors and states may influence the pre-K workforce through shaping its racial and ethnic composition.

Linking National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) data to state qualification requirements, the researchers demonstrate that pre-K educators are more likely to be people of color in states that require more education and training for center-based educators. Additionally, they found pre-K educators were more than 6 percentage points less likely to be Hispanic or Latina in states with an additional year of required education and training for pre-K educators.

The authors discuss options including making entry requirements consistent across sectors, building career ladders across ECE, and equalizing compensation. To read more see the post on The Learning Curve and the full essay here.

Racial Disparities in Preschool Access: Differences in Enrollment and Quality Within and Between Two State Programs in Pennsylvania

Black children in Pennsylvania have less access to high-quality preschool providers, according to a new report by Penn State researchers. The report, Racial Disparities in Preschool Access: Differences in Enrollment and Quality Within and Between Two State Programs in Pennsylvania, was published by the Center for Education and Civil Rights.

The researchers compared enrollments in Child Care Works (CCW), a child care subsidy program for low-income families, and Pre-K Counts (PKC), a state-funded pre-kindergarten program also targeting low-income families. They found substantially more Black than White children are enrolled in CCW, and that within CCW, a higher percentage of White than Black children were enrolled with a preschool provider with a higher rating on the state’s quality rating system. In addition, within PKC, White children were more likely than Black children to be enrolled with a provider with the highest quality rating. Read the report, written by Karen Babbs Hollett and Erica Frankenberg, here.

In Memoriam, Dr. John D. Bransford

Dr. John D. Bransford was a cognitive psychologist who advanced our understanding of learning and teaching. His work significantly influenced the early childhood field.  To commemorate his passing, we recommend revisiting some of his work including:

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn. NAP.

Bransford, J. D., & Schwartz, D. L. (1999). Rethinking transfer: A simple proposal with multiple implications. Review of Research in Education, 24(1), 61-100.

Darling-Hammond, L., & Bransford, J. (Eds.). (2007). Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do. John Wiley & Sons.                                                                                                                


Self-regulation and Early Writing: A Longitudinal Examination from Preschool through First Grade

Writing skills in preschool were concurrently related to preschool self-regulation and predicted later self-regulation, but preschoolers’ self-regulation didn’t predict later writing achievement, researchers found. The longitudinal study examined associations between self-regulation and writing over three years. 

“Increased engagement in writing requires being focused and juggling many cognitive–linguistic skills and may enhance productive learning-related behaviors in the classroom,” Georgia State University researchers Cynthia Puranik and Hongli Li wrote. Read the study here.

Quality of Teacher–Child Relationships: An Exploration of its Effect on Children’s Emergent Literacy Skills

Researchers in Greece examined how teachers’ and preschoolers’ perceptions about their relationships influence children’s literacy skills, finding “teacher-child closeness and children’s age were positively associated with children’s receptive language skills.” Teacher-child dependency, however, was negatively associated.

The study involved 913 children and 114 kindergarten teachers in 72 preschool centers. The results “highlight the importance of supportive teacher–child relationships and their impact on child’s language development,” wrote Anastasia Vatou and Vasilis Grammatikopoulos of International Hellenic University, and Athanasios Gregoriadis and Nikolaos Tsigilis of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.  Read the abstract here.

Robot Programming versus Block Play in Early Childhood Education: Effects on Computational Thinking, Sequencing Ability, and Self-Regulation

Robot programming was better at teaching computational thinking (CT), sequencing ability and self-regulation to kindergarteners than block play, researchers in China found.“Our findings suggest that a six-week coding curriculum with the support of programmable robotics can be age-appropriate for kindergarteners and enhance their early coding skills and CT,” they wrote.

Of the 101 children in the study,  the 54 in the robot programming group experienced bigger gains in sequencing ability than the 47 in the block group. The study was authored by: Weipeng Yang of The Education University of Hong Kong; Davy Tsz Kit Ng of the University of Hong Kong; and Hongyu Gao of Capital Normal University. Read it here.

Preschool Children’s Observed Interactions with Teachers: Implications for Understanding Teacher-Child Relationships

Preschool children displayed little conflict with teachers but did not engage in many one-on-one conversations with them either, according to a new study focused on dyadic teacher-child interaction patterns in preschool classrooms.

The researchers measured the interactions of an ethnically and racially diverse sample of 767 preschool children; they found most children displayed low-to-moderate levels of positive engagement with their teacher. “Given the benefits of a strong teacher–child relationship, particularly for children coming from low-income communities, these results highlight that teachers need more support to engage with individual children in more positive and child-directed interactions,” the researchers concluded. Read the full study, written by Ann Partee, Pilar Alamos, Amanda Williford, and Jason Downer, here.

Relation between Executive Function and Early Language and Literacy Development in Bengali, Chinese, and Hindi

Executive function (EF), the group of mental processes that control skills for goal-directed behavior, was positively associated with oral language and literacy among preschool girls across three Asian countries, researchers found. The study involved 700 girls ages 3 to 6 living in both rural and urban communities in Bangladesh, China and India.

Among the three EF components of working memory, shifting and inhibitory control, University of Hong Kong researchers Stephanie W.Y. Chan and Nirmala Rao found inhibitory control was significantly associated with oral language, while working memory was significantly associated with literacy. Read the abstract here.