April 16, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 15

THE STATE OF PRESCHOOL 2020

Release Date Set for 2020 The State of Preschool Yearbook

The 2020 edition of The State of Preschool Yearbook is scheduled for release on Monday, April 19.

With preschool on the national political agenda, the 2020 Yearbook addresses three key questions:

  1. How much progress has the nation and each state made toward high-quality pre-K for all?
  2. How has the pandemic impacted pre-K programs and policies?
  3. How should states and the federal government respond to current problems and long-term needs?

The Yearbook explains how the COVID-19 pandemic threatens state-funded preschool programs and worsens inequality in access to high-quality preschool, and how the federal and state governments can work together to ensure every 3- and 4-year-old receives a high-quality, full-day preschool education. Get alerted when the Yearbook is published here.

NIEER ACTIVITIES

The Pandemic has Wreaked Havoc on Preschoolers. This Plan Could Help Reverse the Effects.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic created chaos in schools around the world, the United States had a preschool problem. Fewer than one in three 3- and 4-year-olds were served by publicly funded programs, too many of which failed to meet research-based standards for high-quality approaches. The pandemic made things worse.

A recent report by NIEER’s W. Steven Barnett and Kwanghee Jung quantifies some of these ill effects. It’s based on a nationally representative survey conducted in December of 1,000 parents of children ages three to five not yet in kindergarten. Given that research has extensively demonstrated the positive, long-term impact of high-quality preschool programs, these pandemic-related setbacks have the potential to harm a generation of children if not immediately addressed. Read the article here.

INFANT/TODDLER CARE

Poll: NJ Working Parents Continue Facing Child Care Challenges amid Pandemic

A new online statewide survey conducted by The Fairleigh Dickinson Poll, with support from The Nicholson Foundation, provides up to date information from New Jersey’s parents on their use of infant-toddler child care and how their needs for and use of care have been impacted by the pandemic. The survey was conducted February 5-21, 2021 with 781 adults with children under age 3. Initial results of the survey can be found here.

NIEER IN THE NEWS

Editorial: Universal preschool should pay for itself in the long run

A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial advocating universal preschool cites NIEER’s recent report outlining a plan for achieving that goal within 30 years, with the federal government partnering with state and local governments to share costs. The editorial has since appeared in Yahoo! News, the Toledo Blade, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Kenosha News, Bedford Gazette, Bradford Era, The Buffalo News, Havasu News-Herald, Johnson City Press, West Hawaii Today, Courier-Times, and Sun-Sentinel.com. Read the editorial here.

ECE RESEARCH

Examining Teacher Preparation for CodeRelated Reading Instruction: An Integrated Literature Review

Researchers reviewed 27 studies examining teacher preparation programs for code-related reading skills and found the contention the programs are inadequate in that area may not be accurate. “We caution against considering the issue of teacher preparation settled, and we offer recommendations for teacher preparation programs and directions for future research.

Laura S. Tortorelli of Michigan State University, Sarah M. Lupo of James Madison University and Barbara C. Wheatley of Eastern Mennonite University found flaws in the studies, published between 2001 and 2020. They said the studies relied largely on “quantitative multiple‐choice assessments that privileged linguistic content knowledge over pedagogical and situated knowledge. The body of research was constrained by narrow definitions of science and knowledge, repetition across studies in methods and data sources, limited samples that overlooked diversity in preservice teachers and elementary contexts, and methodological problems.” Read the abstract here.

How Much Variability Is There in Children’s Experiences with Different Educators?

When early childhood education and care educators with similar styles of interacting with children were grouped in a classroom, quality was higher. That was one of the findings of a study out of the University of Toronto. Researchers set out to determine how much variability there is in the interaction styles of educators who work in the same classrooms, and what characteristics are associated with differences in the ways that educators in the same classroom interact with children. The study involved 172 full-time educators from 86 classrooms.

Researchers Megan Vincett, Michal Perlman, Sharon Pauker, and Jennifer Jenkins suggested that considering educator-level variance is important when conceptualizing and measuring quality. Read the study here.

Learning through Everyday Activities: Improving Preschool Language and Literacy Outcomes via Family Workshops

Researchers found that preschoolers whose families went through five, two-hour literacy workshops “showed statistically significantly greater literacy growth in print and word awareness and comprehension than peers whose families did not participate in the workshops.”

Researchers Kathryn L. Roberts of Wayne State University in Michigan and Shana E. Rochester sought to build literacy learning into families’ daily routines. Participating parents reported “increased literacy interactions in the home, particularly in the areas of read-alouds and writing opportunities.” Read the abstract here.

Measures Matter: A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Educational Apps on Preschool to Grade 3 Children’s Literacy and Math Skills

While thousands of education apps are marketed, there’s little evidence of their effectiveness. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis synthesizing the outcomes of studies that evaluated the impact of education apps on young children’s math and literacy skills.

They found apps have positive effects on those skills, but that the effects are larger in studies involving preschoolers compared to children in kindergarten through third grade. The meta-analysis also found larger effects in studies that used researcher-developed outcomes rather than standardized outcomes, and studies measuring constrained skills.

“Our findings suggest that the next generation of research on educational apps needs to improve both the internal and external validity of findings, evaluate effectiveness at much larger scale, use multiple outcome measures of student learning, and determine whether apps confer lasting benefits on a wider range of skills,” they wrote. “We encourage the field to move beyond the broad question — do apps work — to the more targeted question: How and under what conditions do high-quality educational apps support children’s early literacy and math skills?”

The research was conducted by James Kim, Joshua Gilbert and Charles Gale of Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and Qun Yu of Boston College. Read the study here.

Preschool Physical Activity and Fitness Predicts Conceptual, Verbal and Perceptual Skills at School

Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness in 147 kindergarteners was positively associated with conceptual and perceptual skills in first grade, researchers found. Fitness and physical activity did not, however, predict verbal abilities a year later. Sedentary behavior, meanwhile, negatively affected conceptual skills in first grade. The study was conducted by Kirkke Reisberg, Eva-Marie Riso and Jaak Jürimäe of the University of Tartu in Estonia. Read the abstract here.

OPPORTUNITIES

Chief Executive Officer, Children’s Institute