December 3, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 48


Closing the Leadership Gap: 2021 Status Update on Early Childhood Program Leadership in the United States

Researchers at the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership released a brief that summarizes state policies on program leadership. Closing the Leadership Gap: 2021 Status Update on Early Childhood Program Leadership in the United States is a follow-up to a 2017 report on the status of early childhood leadership in all 59 and Washington, D.C.

Researchers examined five policy levers that “identify the minimal qualifications for administrators in child care licensing standards, state administrator credentials, principal licensure, quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS), and state-funded Pre-K programs.”

The 2021 examination found little change in the national picture since 2017, but reported benchmarks within state policy rubrics revealed small changes in requirements “suggesting subtle movement toward increased professional qualifications and supports for early childhood program leaders.”

Contact Teri Talan at the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership to report any errors in state data or to provide additional information about a state’s policies on professional preparation and ongoing support for leaders of early childhood education and education programs. Input will be used to update the L.E.A.D. Early Childhood Clearinghouse database.

Partnership for Pre-K Improvement Toolkit

Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington created a resource for improving equitable access to high-quality pre-K. The Partnership for Pre-K Improvement (PPI) Toolkit guides state leaders, researchers, and advocates “from the initial stages of building partnerships and creating a shared vision for high-quality equitable pre-K through securing the resources and policies needed to design and implement specific, effective, and measurable continuous quality improvement efforts.” The toolkit is organized into three phases. The second, Assess the System, includes a tool developed by NIEER’s Ellen Frede, Lori Connors-Tadros, and Tracy Jost.

View the toolkit here. Register here to attend a free webinar on how to use the toolkit. The webinar will be held Wednesday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. PST (2-3 p.m. EST).

Kids Share 2021: Outreach Toolkit

Pandemic relief legislation led to an unprecedented increase in federal spending on children, though the investment was a modest fraction of the more than $5 trillion total increase in new federal spending, the Urban Institute reported.

In the 15th annual edition of Kids’ Share, Urban Institute researchers tracked federal spending on children from 1960 through 2020, and projected spending through 2031, providing a view of public expenditures from the nation’s initial responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study found that while federal expenditures per child were significantly higher in 2020 than in prior years, the share of federal outlays invested in children fell to 7.4 percent — down from roughly 9 percent in recent years.

Explore the chartbook to learn more about how federal spending on children has evolved, as well as how Urban Institute experts expect spending to change over the next decade.

2022-2023 SRCD U.S. Policy Fellowship Programs Call for Applications

The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) is seeking applicants for its prestigious SRCD U.S. Policy Fellowship Programs for the 2022-2023 academic year. The goals of the federal and state post-doctoral fellowship programs are to:

  1. Provide fellows with firsthand experience in federal or state policymaking, implementation, and evaluation;
  2. Provide federal and state executive branch agencies and Congress greater access to research expertise on a diverse range of child development topics to enhance evidence-based policy development, implementation, and evaluation.
  3. Build a network of experts that bridge developmental science, federal and state policymaking, and practice.

The online application portal for both programs opened Dec. 1. The deadline to apply for the federal policy fellowship program is Jan. 4, while Jan. 24 is the deadline for the state policy fellowship program. Click here to learn more about the federal policy fellowship and apply, and here for the state policy fellowship program.


The Foundation for Child Development last week released a new resource, Getting it Right: The Conversation Guide for Preparing the Next Generation of Implementation Researchers.

NIEER’s Milagros Nores and Sharon Ryan contributed to the publication’s companion piece, Getting it Right: Using Implementation Research to Improve Outcomes in Early Care and Education, released last year. Ryan was a featured speaker for the Getting it Right roundtable webinar hosted yesterday by the foundation. View a recording of the webinar here.


Long-Range Impact of a Scale-up Model on Mathematics Teaching and Learning: Persistence, Sustainability, and Diffusion

Investigating how best to scale up classroom interventions in the field of science, technology, engineering and math, researchers reviewed a series of studies on an early mathematics scale-up model that was based on learning trajectories. Julie Sarama and Douglas H. Clements of the University of Denver found that the scale-up model “showed impressive sustainability with teachers,” increasing their use of intervention tools and “their fidelity to high-quality instruction.” However, they noted “persistence of the effects on individual children’s trajectories of learning is difficult to achieve, and support for children must be maintained through elementary school.” Read the abstract here.

Early Childhood Distance Learning in the U.S. During the COVID Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities

Early childhood education teachers across the U.S. who taught virtually in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic reported numerous challenges, according to an analysis of survey results by University of Oklahoma researchers.

Among the struggles ECE teachers faced were: low levels of participation by children and families; limited developmentally appropriate ways to engage children; a lack of skills and knowledge for online teaching; insufficient technological support; and unreliable internet.

The study analyzed open-ended responses from 529 ECE teachers across 46 states who reported teaching virtually. The study, written by Timothy G. Ford, Kyong-Ah Kwon, and Jessica D. Tsotsoros, is available here.

The Relation between Teacher and Child Race, Teacher Perceptions of Disruptive Behavior, and Exclusionary Discipline in Preschool

A study examining the connection between race and discipline in preschool found that both white and Black teachers reported using exclusionary discipline practices more frequently with children who were not their same race.

The research involving 349 preschoolers and 144 teachers found “teacher and child race were associated with teachers’ ratings of children’s disruptive behavior and reported use of exclusionary discipline practices.”

White teachers rated Black children as having “more intense” behavior problems, while Black teachers rated white children as showing less improvement in their disruptive behavior.

“We found that the combinations of teachers’ and children’s races were indeed associated with teachers’ ratings of children’s behavior,” wrote Sarah C. Wymer and Amanda P. Williford of the University of Virginia and Catherine M. Corbin of the University of Washington. Read the study here.

Neglected Validities: A Diagnostic Look at the State of Early Childhood Assessment

As important as scientifically-based assessments of children’s growth and development are, researchers found that only a fraction of early childhood assessment reviews provided evidence on all key sources of validity outlined in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.

Researchers examined 404 reviews published in the Mental Measurement Yearbook between 2001 and 2017. They found only a small percentage of them provided evidence on all sources of validity.

“Response processes and consequences of testing are the most neglected sources of validity evidence,” they wrote. “The findings indicate that calls for scientifically-based assessment in early childhood have out-paced the development and validation of such measures.”

The study was conducted by Katherine M. Barghaus, John W. Fantuzzo, and Kathy Buek of the University of Pennsylvania, and Dominic F. Gullo of Drexel University. Read it here.

Children’s Early School Attendance and Stability as a Mechanism through Which Homelessness Is Associated With Academic Achievement

Children who were homeless as babies and toddlers were more likely to have high absenteeism in elementary school, and the experience impacted their school performance in math, researchers found. Children who attended school more regularly performed better on the math portion of their third grade school assessment, compared with children with high absenteeism.

The study involved children of young mothers in Massachusetts, with data collected six times between 2008 and 2017.

“Supporting families and children early (i.e., before they begin pre-kindergarten) will be key in ensuring that young children who experience homelessness are successful in educational environments,” wrote Lauren E. Stargel of the University of Colorado and M. Ann Easterbrooks of Tufts University in Massachusetts. They suggested “promoting school attendance as one avenue to support academic achievement” for children who experience homelessness. Read the study here.


CityHealth 2021 Annual Release Webinar

Learn about CityHealth’s 2021 annual medals and hear from city and public health leaders about local policies that are improving health and equity in their cities. Wed., Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. ETRegister here.


Early Childhood Education and Health, University of Oklahoma

Early Childhood Education and Advanced Quantitative Analysis Skills, University of Oklahoma

Assistant or Associate Professor of Child Wellbeing and Health, University of Oklahoma

Program Director, Early Childhood Policy Fellowship, Bank Street College of Education

Executive Office on Early Learning, Director

Coordinator of the Early Childhood, University of Connecticut