February 25, 2022 – Volume 21, Issue 8

HOT TOPICS

10 Ways the Biden Administration Can Advance Equity for Young Learners Today

The Children’s Equity Project, in collaboration with the National Black Child Development Institute, outlined ways the Biden administration can advance equity for young learners. Released this month, 10 Ways the Biden Administration Can Advance Equity for Young Learners Today, describes actions the executive branch can take to promote equity in early learning now, and prepare a foundation for “the possibility of a much improved, universally accessible system.”

Developed by a team of nine experts, the recommendations are broad. They include: requiring the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services to update equity policies, and to mandate inclusion of an actionable equity plan for all early education federal funding requests; fixing gaps in federal data to better understand equity in learning settings; and developing research agendas that address inequities and their historical roots. Read the report here.   

Meeting Families’ Needs: Attendance Rates in Full-Day vs. Half-Day Pre-K

When more full-day pre-K options are available to families, pre-K enrollment and attendance rates increase, according to a brief released this week. Meeting Families’ Needs: Attendance Rates in Full-Day vs. Half-Day Pre-K summarized the results of two studies that included analyses of pre-pandemic data (2013-17). The findings showed initiatives that opened more full-day pre-K slots in Chicago led to a greater likelihood of students enrolling in full-day programs. Student attendance rates also improved, particularly for Black students.

“These studies provide additional, rigorous evidence that access to full-day pre-K matters for attendance rates, especially for students with historically lower attendance rates,” wrote Stacy B. Ehrlich, Elaine M. Allensworth, and Jessica Tansey of the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. “Full-day pre-K is more expensive for K-12 districts to offer than half-day pre-K, but the benefits are clear, especially for students who face more barriers to regular attendance.” Read the brief here.

Rebalancing: Children First

A working group of scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution argues that public investments to children should be substantially increased by rebalancing existing federal expenditures as reported in Rebalancing: Children First.

In 2019, 9 percent of the federal budget was spent on children, while 45 percent was spent on adults through Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, according to the report. Rebalancing spending toward children would improve their lives. The group found significant agreement for proposals including increasing the generosity of the Earned Income Tax Credit and providing a broader system of support for child education and health.

“The working group believes that stability — in resources and relationships — is the foundation for a healthy American childhood,” they wrote. Read the report here; a one-page summary is available here

 ECE RESEARCH

An Ecological Perspective on Early Educator Well-Being at the Start of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the well-being of early childhood educators, according to the results of a large survey in Massachusetts conducted in the spring of 2020 by Harvard University researchers Emily C. Hanno, Madelyn Gardner, Stephanie M. Jones, and Nonie K. Lesaux. Three in five of the 666 respondents agreed the pandemic affected their mental well-being, and more than 25 percent agreed it changed their physical health. Nearly half of the respondents indicated the pandemic affected their financial situation.

The sample included educators from community-based centers, family child care, Head Start, and public school prekindergarten programs. Those in family child care and community-based centers were more likely to report they experienced economic consequences. Family child care teachers, however, were less likely than other providers to agree that the pandemic had caused stress or had impacted their mental or physical well-being. Read the study here.

Home Learning Environment and Cognitive Development during Early Childhood Education

Researchers found that the Home Learning Environment (HLE), a measure of learning opportunities adults provide children in the family context, was associated with cognitive development in Brazilian preschoolers.They used data from a longitudinal study conducted between 2017 and 2018, involving 2,700 children from a random sample of 46 schools.

The study by Mariane Campelo Koslinski, Felipe Macedo de Andrade and Tiago Lisboa Bartholo of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Renata Corrêa Gomes of Stanford University, and Blenda Luize Chor Rodrigues of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro can be read here.

​​Selecting Educational Apps For Preschool Children: How Useful Are Website App Rating Systems?

Highly rated apps for preschoolers are more likely to be educational than low-rated ones, but that doesn’t guarantee they’re good at supporting children’s early skill development, researchers in the United Kingdom found.

The study examined the highest- and lowest-scoring apps for preschoolers on two popular rating websites, Common Sense Media and Good App Guide. “Website rating systems can accurately distinguish between apps with high and low educational potential,” they wrote. However, an analysis found shortcomings in the high-scoring apps’ support of early skills development, especially in language.

The researchers urged website rating systems to assess “quality of feedback, adjustable content, social interactions, storyline and a more fine-grained analysis of language in their assessments,” wrote Gemma Taylor, Joanna Kolak, and Eve M. Bent of the University of Salford and Padraic Monaghan of Lancaster University. Read the study here.

School Readiness Losses During the COVID-19 Outbreak. A Comparison of Two Cohorts of Young Children

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on preschoolers’ school readiness skills development, according to the results of a large study of four-to-six-year-old Uruguayan children: 34,355 who attended preschool from 2018-19 prior to the pandemic, and 30,158 children who attended preschool in 2019-2020.

The researchers found that the cognitive and motor skills of children were the most negatively impacted by the pandemic, followed by attitudes toward learning. Skill losses were less pronounced for children attending the most privileged school districts, and more pronounced for children who were struggling at age four. Access the study, conducted by researchers at the Universidad de la República at Montevideo, here.

RESOURCES

Wages, Benefits, and Incentives for the Early Care and Education Workforce

The Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Early Childhood Development has shared the following resources for early care and education professionals. The resources contain more information about the latest research on wages, compensation and benefits for early childhood educators, and strategies for recruiting and retaining a high-quality workforce. Featured resources include:

 OPPORTUNITIES