August 6, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 31


High-Quality Early Childhood Assessment: Learning From States’ Use of Kindergarten Entry Assessments

As of 2021, 38 states have implemented kindergarten entry assessments (KEAs) — more than a fivefold increase in 10 years. When designed and implemented well, these assessments can support high-quality equitable learning by guiding instruction and supporting whole child development. And when continuing into the elementary grades, KEAs can provide educators and policymakers with an understanding of how children are progressing over time. However, when poorly designed or misused, KEAs can foster poor teaching practices and exacerbate inequity.

A new Learning Policy Institute report and brief examined prior research on assessing young children, highlighting promising state and district examples and practices of how KEAs can support high-quality, equitable learning. These resources provide policymakers and educators insight for choosing high-quality assessments, understanding the implications of different assessment choices, and effectively using KEAs as part of strong statewide early learning assessment systems.

State of Preschool Yearbook Data Now Online

Survey data from the 2020 State of Preschool Yearbook, covering the 2019-2020 school year, is now available at nieer.orgAppendix A contains state-by-state preschool program data beyond what is found on the state profile pages. Topics include state supports for Dual Language Learners and preschoolers with disabilities, teacher compensation parity, and enrollment breakdowns. This year’s report also includes information on how state-funded preschool programs responded to and were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. Other appendices cover Head Start data, U.S. Census population data, and pre-K special education enrollment. Read more here.

NIEER Early Childhood Workforce Survey Available in Spanish

NIEER’s survey seeking input from the early care and education workforce is now available in Spanish. The survey’s aim is to inform the design of a future nationwide, state-representative survey of paid workers in early care and education for children birth to age 5. Results from the future survey will help shape policy decisions made by state and federal early childhood education policymakers.

NIEER wants input from the broadest possible representation of the workforce in designing the survey: we want to hear not only from teachers and assistants, but also from administrators, coaches, speech and language therapists, and other support staff. We are asking every organization that connects with even a part of the workforce to share this information:

  • We seek input from everyone working with children under age 5 to inform the design of a future nationwide, state-representative survey of the ECE workforce. This is an opportunity to express your opinion about what policymakers should know about and from those who educate and care for young children. Your input will influence advice on the scope and content of the survey. Answers are completely anonymous. Please click here for the short 11-question survey to tell us what you want policymakers to know about the early childhood education workforce.

En español:

  • Buscamos la opinión de todos los que trabajan con niños menores de 5 años para informar el diseño de una futura encuesta representativa a nivel nacional de la fuerza laboral en primera infancia. Esta es una oportunidad para expresar su opinión sobre lo que los legisladores deben saber acerca de quienes educan y cuidan a niños pequeños. Su opinión influirá en decisiones sobre el alcance y el contenido de la encuesta nacional. Las respuestas son completamente anónimas. Haga clic aquípara ver la breve encuesta de 11 preguntas y decirnos qué desea que los legisladores sepan sobre la fuerza laboral de primera infancia.


Academics of the Early Primary Grades: Investigating the Alignment of Instructional Practices from Pre-K to Third Grade

Researchers found that pre-K instructional practices “were significantly misaligned from those used in kindergarten through third grade.” The study, involving 1,095 students in 179 pre-K through third-grade classrooms, identified two-thirds of kindergarten classes as “highly academic” and noted kindergarten practices aligned with those used in grades 1-3. The Ohio State University researchers Laura M. Justice, Hui Jiang, Kelly M. Purtell, Tzu-Jung Lin and Arya Ansari reviewed teachers’ grouping practices, academic content and teaching methods. Read the abstract here.

Improving Early Childhood Measurement: Findings from the Early Learning Network Using Measures that Capture How Young Children Spend Their Time

A team of early learning researchers from six U.S. institutions investigated how children spent their time in pre-K and kindergarten classrooms, finding that learning experiences varied among children in the same classroom, and by race, ethnicity, gender and family income.

The Early Learning Network also found that pre-K and kindergarten experiences are “distinctly different” and that there’s mixed evidence as to whether time-based measures predict gains in early learning skills. The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, involved pre-K and kindergarten students in Boston, Massachusetts, Ohio, North Carolina, and Fairfax County, Virginia. Researchers observed classroom processes, tracking how much time individual children or groups of children spent on various activities, the content of instruction, and the instructional format. In some cases, the frequency with which children experienced different types of dialogue, such as open-ended questions and multiple-turn exchanges, was also measured. Read the research brief here.

Solutions for Latent Growth Modeling Following COVID-19-Related Discontinuities in Change and Disruptions in Longitudinal Data Collection

A new article provides resources for researchers whose work examining patterns of change over time was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “An overview of latent growth model LGM notions, LGMs with discontinuities, and solutions for studies that had to cancel or delay data collection waves are discussed and exemplified using simulated data,” wrote Charlie Rioux, Zachary L. Stickley, of Todd D. Little of Texas Tech University. Read the abstract here.

The Role of the Home Literacy Environment for Children’s Linguistic and Socioemotional Competencies Development in the Early Years

Home literacy environment predicted socioeconomic competencies in 2- to 4-year-olds over the course of a year, German researchers found. “Children’s HLE was a significant predictor of children’s socioemotional competencies and problem behavior via linguistic abilities,” they wrote.

Based on the longitudinal study that involved 137 children, researchers concluded “children’s socioemotional development can profit from a high-quality home environment from an early age.” The study was authored by Astrid Wirth and Frank Niklas of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, and Simone C. Ehmig of the German Reading Foundation. Read it here.

Does Social Capital Flatten the Social Gradient in Early Childhood Development? An Ecological Study of Two Provinces in Canada

Better child outcomes were linked to higher levels of social capital in a study involving communities in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario. “Higher levels of social capital flattened the income gradient in language and cognitive development in both provinces,” researchers in Canada reported. The study examined whether the willingness of neighbors to keep children safe and having adults serve as role models moderated the relationship between neighborhood income and developmental outcomes for kindergarteners. It was authored by: Anita Minh, Lisa Ritland, Barry Forer, Monique Gagné and Martin Guhn of the University of British Columbia; Simon Webb, Eric Duku and Magdalena Janus of McMaster University; Marni Brownell of the University of Manitoba; and Nazeem Muhajarine of the University of Saskatchewan. Read the abstract here.


Celebrating Multilingualism: A Virtual Launch Event, Sept. 2, 1:00 p.m. ET, hosted by Early Edge California


Policy and Program Director, Building Bright Futures