February 19, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 7


TODAY: ITC@NIEER Presents ‘5 Things We Know and 5 Things We Don’t But Should’

The Infant and Toddler Policy Research Center at NIEER presents “5 Things We Know and 5 Things We Don’t But Should” today, Friday, Feb. 19, at 1:30 PM ET. The hourlong webinar is a conversation about child care and education for infants and toddlers in New Jersey.

Dr. Arturo Brito, executive director of The Nicholson Foundation, will moderate the event. Panelists include Dr. Allison Friedman-Krauss, ITC@NIEER; Natasha Johnson, New Jersey Division of Family Development; Dr. Beverly Lynn, Program for Parents, Inc.; Cecilia Zalkind, Advocates for Children of New Jersey. Dr. Steven Barnett, NIEER, will provide concluding remarks.

Register here. ITC@NIEER produces research and research-based technical assistance and policy analysis to inform national, state, and local policies on child care that enhances the education and development of infants and toddlers.

Diversity and Selectivity in Teacher Prep Programs Should Not Be Mutually Exclusive Standards, New NCTQ Study Concludes

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) this week released data and analysis examining both the academic admissions requirements and diversity in enrollments at 1,256 of the nation’s elementary teacher preparation programs. The “Teacher Prep Review: Program Diversity and Admissions (2021)” highlighted 198 programs that earned high marks for both diversity and selectivity. That’s out of 420 programs that earned high marks for diversity, the study noted. “The new NCTQ data make it abundantly clear: teacher preparation programs can both excel in selective admissions and in contributing to teacher diversity,” according to a NCTQ press release announcing the results.


NIEER’s Steven Barnett to Appear on Education Week

NIEER Senior Co-Director and Founder Steven Barnett will be a guest for Education Week’s “A Seat at the Table,” a live online talk show hosted by Peter DeWitt, Ed.D. The episode will explore what new developments in early-childhood education mean for school and district leaders, and what the pandemic has meant for early-childhood learning more generally. Register here.

Milagros Nores Discusses Family Engagement on Leaders for Literacy Podcast

NIEER Co-Director for Research Milagros Nores discussed family engagement and research findings regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and early childhood education as a recent guest on the podcast, “Leaders of Literacy.” Listen here.

Jim Squires Discusses Leadership for Arizona Department of Education

NIEER Senior Research Fellow Jim Squires recently delivered two keynotes addresses on leadership for the Arizona Department of Education.


ECE Policy Research Professor – Open Rank

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers Graduate School of Education is seeking a non-tenure track research professor (open rank). Please join our multidisciplinary group of researchers and policy experts to conduct and communicate research designed to stimulate policymaking. Our research informs policy to support high-quality, effective early childhood education from infancy through the primary grades. We collaborate with a network of local, state, national and international leaders to design, conduct and disseminate rigorous research, evaluation and policy analysis. Use your ECE conceptual knowledge and research expertise to partner with elected and appointed officials as well as philanthropic partners to improve young children’s learning, development and well-being. For a full job description and to apply, click here.

Research Project Manager

NIEER is seeking a research project manager to support current and emerging projects in early childhood research. Minimum requirements include a master’s degree in early childhood education or related field, or an equivalent combination of education and/or experience, plus a minimum three years of experience in a research environment. Only applications submitted via Rutgers University’s employment website will be considered. For a full job description and to apply, click here.


Early Childhood Suspension and Expulsion: A Content Analysis of State Legislation

Researchers examined legislation in 12 states addressing exclusionary discipline in early childhood education settings, finding that most bills recommended reducing or banning expulsion in publicly funded preschools. Based on their review, the researchers made recommendations to support future legislative initiatives on the issue: “identify developmentally-appropriate, evidence-based practices that curtail exclusionary discipline as well as its disproportionate impact on young boys of color; expand the scope of the legislative protections; incorporate mandates related to funding and enforcement; collect data; and include stakeholders when crafting and evaluating legislation.”

The study was conducted by: Alysse Loomis of the University of Utah; Annie Davis and Christina Padilla of the Georgetown Center for Child and Human Development; Gracelyn Cruden of the Oregon Social Learning Center; and Yonah Drazen of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Read the abstract here.

Parent-child Interactions Longitudinally Mediate the Association between Shared Literacy Activities and Emergent Literacy and Oral Language Skills

A new study found that parent sensitivity and positive regard along with child engagement and sustained attention during parent–child interactions contributed to children’s literacy outcomes. Prior research on the home literacy environment mostly looked at quantity of word exposure, noted Christine Meng, a doctoral candidate in educational leadership at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, a nationally representative sample, Meng found “direct effects of shared literacy activities on emergent literacy and oral language outcomes.” Read the abstract here.

Household Food Insecurity and School Readiness among Preschool-Aged Children in the United States

Preschoolers who live with food insecurity demonstrated less school readiness than children from food-secure households, researchers found. The study involved data on 15,402 children ages 3 to 5 from the 2016-2018 National Survey of Children’s Health.

“Both mild and moderate-to-severe food insecurity are associated with an increase in needing support or being at-risk” in each of four school readiness domains: early learning skills, self-regulation, social-emotional development, and physical health and motor development, they wrote. Only 1 in 4 preschoolers in food-insecure households were on track across all four readiness domains, compared to 47% of children in food-secure households, the study found. Dylan B. Jackson of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, Alexander Testa of The University of Texas at San Antonio, and Daniel C. Semenza of Rutgers University–Camden conducted the study. Read the abstract here.

How to Help Young Children Ask Better Questions?

Young children asked more effective questions to reach a solution when provided simple supportive strategies. “The current study represents a first step toward a more formal approach to understanding and supporting active learning interventions for preschool-aged children,” the authors wrote.

Investigators supported children’s categorization performance in a hierarchical version of the 20-questions game. An investigator arrayed images of 16 monsters in front of a child. The child’s goal was to identify which kind of monster turns on a music machine by asking as few yes/no questions as possible.

By providing object-related features, “children asked more effective questions, targeting higher category levels and therefore reaching the solution with fewer questions,” the researchers wrote. “Our results indicate that early difficulties with question asking are rooted in young children’s limited ability to identify categorical features that can be used to ask effective constraint-seeking questions.”

The study was authored by: Azzurra Ruggeri of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Technical University in Germany; Caren M. Walker of the University of California, San Diego; Tania Lombrozo of Princeton University; and Alison Gopnik of the University of California, Berkeley. Read the study here.

What Predicts Legislative Success Of Early Care And Education Policies?: Applications Of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing in a Cross-State Early Childhood Policy Analysis

Soojin Oh Park and Nail Hassairi of the University of Washington in Seattle used big data analysis to identify factors in U.S. early care and education state legislation that proved effective. In examining content and priorities of 2,396 ECE bills from the 50 states between 2015 and 2018, they found that a bill’s sponsor could be a strong predictor of success: Highly effective legislators who previously passed five or more ECE bills had an extremely high probability of sponsoring their legislation to enactment regardless of topic,” they wrote. “Our work provides empirical support for the importance of choosing a primary bill sponsor with a solid track record of legislative effectiveness.”

Bills addressing the topics of health and human services, fiscal governance, or expenditures had a better likelihood of passing than those focused on prekindergarten, child care and revenues. “Finance-related ECE legislation, especially regarding ‘revenues’ (who will pay) is a hard sell,” they noted.

“We conceptualize policy text as an untapped potential for strengthening evidence-based policymaking and propose several extensions of the findings to build a new area of inquiry in early childhood policy,” they concluded. Read the study here.


Post-Doctoral Associate, University of Minnesota Medical School, Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health

University of Virginia, Professors of Education (Associate/Full), Endowed Chairs in Early Childhood Education and Education and Neuroscience

University of Virginia, Professors of Education in Education Policy and Applied Research Methods