Researchers Princess-Melissa Washington-Nortey, Fa Zhang, Yaoying Xu, Amber Brown Ruiz, Chin-Chih Chen and Christine Spence of Virginia Commonwealth University conducted a comprehensive review of the impact of social interaction on language development among preschoolers who are English language learners. Their evaluation was based on 10 studies published between 2008 and 2019. According to the researchers, their findings reveal that children can engage in complex speech while interacting with peers despite their limited language capabilities. They noted, however, that “the nature and frequency of interactions, as well as the unique skill sets of communication partners may affect their development of relevant language skills.”
Margaret Burchinal of the University of Virginia and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill colleagues Kylie Garber, Tiffany Foster, Mary Bratsch-Hines, Ximena Franco, and Ellen Peisner-Feinberg examined whether early care and education (ECE) models should include more specific types of ECE experiences in an effort to expand definitions of ECE quality. The study involved 366 children from rural counties in a southeastern state attending 63 randomly selected state-funded prekindergarten classes.
The researchers report that: “(1) different ECE dimensions related to gains in different outcomes; (2) ECE quality measures based on observing the selected experiences of individual children provide as strong or stronger associations with child outcomes than do ratings of teacher-child interactions; and (3) it may be necessary to measure experiences of individual children if those experiences are likely to vary markedly among children in the same classroom.”
Researchers Vi-Nhuan Le of NORC at the University of Chicago, Diana Schaack and Kristie Kauerz of the University of Colorado Denver, Marina Mendoza of the Denver Preschool Program, and Stephanie Stout-Oswald of the University of Denver examined outcomes of the Denver Preschool Program (DPP), which publicly funds preschool for 4-year-olds.
They found “DPP participants were more likely to read at grade level and less likely to be retained or to be chronically absent than their similarly-situated non-DPP peers.” They noted that “the absolute magnitude of the effect sizes for reading achievement and chronic absenteeism ranged from 0.21 to 0.28, and were considered substantively important.”
Researchers Sophie Nicole Cave and Sophie von Stumm of the University of York, United Kingdom, say education researchers are underutilizing vast social science data amassed over decades from British longitudinal population cohort studies. They explain the benefit of secondary data analysis for educational science, and provide researchers a guide of what’s available. Cave and von Stumm identify eight studies from the past 40 years that collected scholastic performance data during primary and secondary schooling: (1) Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents And Children (ALSPAC), (2) Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), (3) Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education Project (EPPSE), (4) Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), (5) Born in Bradford (BiB), (6) Next Steps (LYSPE1), (7) Understanding Society (US), and (8) Our Future (LYSPE2).” Study participants, born between 1989 and 2010, were subject to follow-ups at least once and as many as 68 times over seven to 29 years, according to the article.
For each of the eight studies, Cave and von Stumm provide summaries, review the assessed variables and describe the process for accessing the data. They say they hope to “encourage and support education researchers to widely utilize existing population cohort studies to further advance education science in Britain and elsewhere.”
David M. Blau of The Ohio State University reviewed studies of universal preschool programs in Europe that found they have “substantial short- and long-run benefits to disadvantaged children, but relatively modest benefits to more advantaged children.” Blau said the results may have implications for preschool policy in the U.S., where there is “little reliable evidence on the medium and long run effects of universal preschool programs.” Universal programs are open to all age-eligible children. Targeted preschool programs, which are limited to children from lower-income families, have been intensively studied in the U.S., and demonstrate “substantial beneficial impacts on child development and subsequent adult outcomes for disadvantaged children.”