December 17, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 50

The NIEER Newsletter will be on hiatus until Jan. 7, 2022. Happy holidays!

HOT TOPICS

CityHealth’s 2021 Annual City Assessment

Ten of the nation’s largest cities received a gold medal from CityHealth recognizing their efforts in 2021 to create opportunities for residents to live healthy, full lives. CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, rated the policies of 40 cities in all, with more than 90% receiving a medal. CityHealth said it assesses cities on nine tried-and-tested policies, including high-quality, accessible pre-K, and earned sick leave. NIEER conducted the analysis of city pre-K programs for CityHealth. Click here to see how a city near you fared.

Research on Supporting P-3 Dual Language Learners

Results of a study of a large-scale expansion of the Sobrato Early Academic Language Model (SEAL) are now available. SEAL is a preschool through third grade whole-school approach to developing language, literacy, and academic skills, with English learners and native English speakers learning together. An earlier evaluation of SEAL found significant benefits for student achievement, teacher practice, and home literacy activities. Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Equity for English Learners and the Wexford Institute conducted a five-year evaluation of the SEAL replication model. The study focused on implementation, teacher development, and student outcomes. Findings, presented in 12 briefs to maximize usability, are available here.

How Preschool Programs Can Better Promote Health

A policy brief from Nemours’ Children’s Health highlights the crucial role of early childhood education in promoting health and wellness, and offers key recommendations for how the federal government can create lasting advancements in the ECE sector. These include: evidenced-based professional development programs for ECE providers; stronger nutrition supports in ECE; and systems to support obesity prevention and children’s healthy development through cross-state learning and collaboration.

“The recent historic child care investments from Congress and the Executive Branch should be paired with additional policy changes and further targeted investments to support children’s healthy development,” the paper concluded. Read it here.

Child Care and Pre-K are Strategic Economic Investments: Impact on Employment and Earnings

Hannah Guevara, policy research associate for the First Five Years Fund, blogged about how high-quality early learning and care increases employment and earnings, benefiting families in the short term and children in the future. “It is clear that investing in child care and preschool creates multigenerational impacts that can dually help parents increase their employment and income and set up the future workforce for success,” Guevara wrote. Read more here.

NAEYC Shares Reflections from Practitioners on Educating Young Children during the Last Two Years

For the current issue of NAEYC’s Voices of Practitioners, contributors from various backgrounds and experiences reflected on what they have learned while educating young children during the pandemic and other crises over the past two years.

NIEER ACTIVITY

NIEER’s W. Steven Barnett appeared as an expert witness in Pennsylvania’s school funding lawsuit, William Penn School District et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Education et al.  Barnett testified in Harrisburg on Dec. 13 and 14. Highlights from his testimony on the benefits of high-quality pre-K for economically disadvantaged young children and the policies that support high-quality pre-K are available here.

ECE RESEARCH

Your Child Missed Learning the Alphabet Today: A Randomized Trial of Sending Teacher-Written Postcards Home to Reduce Absences

When teachers of young children wrote parents notes about the academic content covered on days their children missed school, absenteeism declined more than 8% in two urban school districts, researchers reported.

In the study that involved 5,552 students in preschool through second grade, school staff sent parents postcards detailing the number of days their child had missed, along with a handwritten note from the teacher summarizing the academic material covered during the absence.

The results provided evidence that a postcard intervention “designed and implemented by schools” could reduce absences. The study was conducted by: Zachary Himmelsbach, Jihyun Rachel Lee, David Hersh, Lisa Sanbonmatsu and Thomas J. Kane of Harvard University; Dana Weisenfeld of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; and Douglas O. Staige of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Read the abstract here.

Cultural Diversity in the Australian Early Childhood Education Workforce: What Do We Know, What Don’t We Know and Why Is It Important?

Researchers found little data on cultural diversity in the Australian early childhood education workforce, despite anecdotal reports that the sector has a highly multicultural workforce. Read the abstract here.

Self-regulation Mediates the Relations between Family Factors and Preschool Readiness

A study exploring associations between family factors, children’s self-regulation, and preschool readiness in southern China found self-regulation to be directly linked to children’s social competence, learning dispositions, and ability to follow classroom rules.

Children in families with higher levels of routines had better self-regulation; family routines and authoritative parenting, however, “did not directly relate to children’s preschool readiness,” wrote researchers in China. They found no “interactive effect” between family socioeconomic status (SES) and self-regulation.

The study involved 661 preschoolers from five preschools. The findings “underscore the importance of considering the joint influences of children’s self-regulation, family routines, parenting styles, and family SES in shaping children’s readiness for preschool,” wrote authors Sha Xie of Shenzhen University and Hui Li of Shanghai Normal University. Read the study here.

Understanding the Relationship between Preschool Teachers’ Well-Being, Interaction Quality and Students’ Well-Being

Early childhood education teachers with more positive than negative feelings had students with fewer emotional and behavioral problems, a study found.

Researchers in Chile investigated the relationship between teachers’ emotional balance and burnout, the quality of teacher–child interactions and children’s well-being. The study involved 28 teachers and 593 3- and 4-year-olds.

They found that teacher affective balance, and not the degree of teacher burnout, “was associated with fewer emotional and behavioral problems in children.”

“The well-being of educational staff should be an important focus of preschools and schools,” concluded researchers Marigen Narea, Ernesto Treviño, Catalina Miranda, and Javiera Gutiérrez-Rioseco of Pontificia Universidad; and Alejandra Caqueo-Urízar of Universidad de Tarapacá. Read it here.

OPPORTUNITIES