August 18, 2023 – Volume 22, Issue 33

HOT TOPICS 

Unveiling Montessori Education: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis 

A new quantitative synthesis summarizes research on the impacts of Montessori programs in preschool and elementary grades. Although there is substantial variation in results across studies, the study finds substantial positive effects on achievement and modest positive effects on social development but not on executive functions, creativity, or motor development. Limitations include; a relatively small number of studies examining effects in domains where significant average effects were not observed, inconsistency in the comparison curricula, and a lack of information on the relative strength of training provided to teachers in Montessori and comparison classrooms. These findings suggest prioritizing additional research on Montessori in preschool at a larger scale and with alternatives representative of the curricula most often. 

Elevating Teaching Quality: The Power of Evidence-Based Professional Development 

With teacher shortages widely reported, policymakers have turned their attention to bringing more teachers into the classroom by lowering qualifications requirements or bringing former teachers out of retirement. Any policy that results in teachers entering the classroom less prepared should be accompanied by strong professional development. A new study finds that an evidence-based professional development program focused on enhancing interactions and improving relational and intentional pedagogy resulted in higher quality and better outcomes for children. 

In Case You Missed It   

Quality in New Jersey’s Abbott Preschool Program: A Closer Look Across the Years 

A recently released research brief highlights the trajectory of quality in pre-K Abbott classrooms from 2003 to 2017, as gauged by the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scales (ECERS). The authors call for a thorough statewide evaluation and an invigorated system that underpins both longstanding and recent educational initiatives based on the study results. A related fact sheet can be found here. 

Read the full report. 

NIEER ACTIVITY 

🌟 Exciting Opportunity Alert! Join Our Team as Co-Director for Administration and Grants! 🌟  

Are you a seasoned professional with a knack for HR processes, grants management, and strategic leadership? Look no further! In this role, you’ll: 

✅ Keep HR processes on track – from hiring to promotions. 

✅ Collaborate with program staff and PIs to secure funding. 

✅ Skillfully manage grants and contracts post-approval. 

✅ Lead in strategic planning, policy formulation, and implementation. 

If you’re ready to make a meaningful impact and drive our mission forward, we want to hear from you! Apply now 

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CHILD CARE AND EDUCATION POLICY WEEKLY FEATURE 

Longitudinal Research and Early Years Policy Development in the UK 

As interest in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and early intervention has grown globally, driven by a desire to enhance children’s development and boost parental, especially maternal, employment, the UK has historically lacked a unified approach to ECEC. It was not until post-1998, influenced by pivotal studies like “Sure Start” and the “Effective Provision of Pre-School Education,” that significant policy shifts occurred. The author suggests that both Labour and Conservative governments have contributed to these reforms, culminating in increased governmental investment in ECEC. This evolution in the UK underscores the importance of research-driven policymaking in championing the value of early education. This paper presents the outcomes of important longitudinal studies that have contributed to substantial policy changes in ECEC in the UK. 

Read the study. 

ECE RESEARCH 

Positive Early Childhood Experiences and School Readiness among United States Preschoolers 

A study analyzing national data from 2016-2020 on children aged 3-5 investigated the impact of positive early childhood experiences (PECEs) on school readiness, considering the potential influence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Findings revealed that children exposed to PECEs, which include nurturing relationships, home learning opportunities, and stable environments, were more likely to be prepared for school regardless of their ACE exposure. Specifically, children with moderate to high PECEs were likelier to be “healthy and ready to learn.” These associations remained consistent across various demographics and types of ACEs. The results emphasize the importance of enhancing PECEs to ensure optimal child development, even in the presence of early life adversities. 

Read the report. 

Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Social and Emotional Learning Program among Preschool Children in Japan: An Experimental Cohort Study 

Recent research emphasizes the crucial role of social skills, including emotion regulation and teamwork, in warding off school maladjustment. In response, an innovative Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) program called “Fun FRIENDS” was introduced in two Japanese kindergartens in 2022, benefiting 115 children aged 4-5 years. This program, grounded in a cognitive-behavioral approach, consists of 10 weekly sessions designed to fortify resilience, manage anxiety, and boost confidence. Preliminary findings indicate children in the program exhibited marked progress in self-control and cooperation, outpacing their counterparts in control groups. The study suggests that such SEL programs, when applied universally in early education, hold significant promise in enhancing essential social skills and preventing school challenges. 

Read the report. 

Closeness and Conflict in Teacher-Child Relationships in Preschool: The Role of Child Personality Types 

An Austrian study has discovered significant links between child personality types and their rapport with preschool teachers. The research, involving 163 children across 65 preschool classes, revealed that teachers felt less close to children termed ‘overcontrollers’ and ‘undercontrollers’ compared to ‘resilients.’ Additionally, ‘undercontrollers’ experienced more relationship conflicts with teachers. Given the importance of strong teacher-child bonds for development, the study recommends adopting social-constructivist methods like scaffolding, emphasizing personality’s role in educator training, and implementing stress-reducing interventions for teachers to improve these relationships. 

Read the report. 

The Self-Efficacy of Preservice Teachers in STEM Pedagogical Content Knowledge 

In today’s dynamic educational environment, STEM education stands out for its role in nurturing essential 21st-century skills, preparing students for the global challenges ahead. A pivotal study recently highlighted the profound connection between a teacher’s self-efficacy and their STEM pedagogical knowledge. Specifically, teachers with greater confidence in their abilities showcased deeper STEM teaching expertise. This revelation emphasizes the need for teacher training to strengthen both educators’ confidence and their specific STEM teaching skills, especially as the world leans increasingly on STEM solutions, according to study authors. 

Read the report. 

OPPORTUNITIES AND JOB OPENINGS  

Co-Director for Administration and Grants, NIEER 

Prenatal to Three Policy Impact Center: Several Positions 

Harvard Center for the Developing Child: Special Assistant to the Faculty Director 

SchoolHouse Connection: Early Childhood Senior Program Manager