February 26, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 8

HOT TOPICS

NIEER Survey: Inequalities in Lost Learning Opportunities and Social Emotional Impacts from Pandemic

Children ages 3 to 5 have lost important learning opportunities to the pandemic, according to a nationwide NIEER survey. Preschool participation declined nearly 25% from pre-pandemic levels, and in-person rates were even lower. Children in poverty were just 1/3 as likely to receive in-person preschool education than others as late as December.

Parents reported negative impacts on employment and earnings and difficulties getting work done due to the difficulties of early care and education. At-home learning support declined. For example, only 71% of parents reported reading to their children three or more times per week, down from 85% before the pandemic. Not surprisingly with parents stressed, routines disrupted, and other impacts of the pandemic, parents also reported rates of social-emotional problems one and a half to two times normal.

The survey revealed other problems, suggesting that many young children with disabilities were not being identified for services while services to those identified suffered, as well, and that preschool programs still struggled to get meals to all the eligible children they served.

The report, authored by Steven Barnett and Kwanghee Jung, is available here. The online survey was conducted in December with a nationally representative panel. Funding for survey development and administration was provided by the PNC Foundation and the Foundation for Child Development. NIEER first surveyed parents about the pandemic’s impact on preschool education in the U.S. in the spring. Visit nieer.org to view the findings.

Call for Applicants to Research Scholars Program

The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families’ Research Scholars Program for 2021 will award $10,000 stipends to one or two scholars interested in pursuing research into one of the center’s priority areas. Scholars will work with a mentor on an existing center project and be part of a collaborative research team.

The program is open to emerging scholars, ranging from advanced doctoral students (those with “ABD” status) to early career scholars (up to 5 years post Ph.D.), interested in pursuing research focused on Hispanic families and children. Applications are due by 5 p.m. EST on March 31. Get more information here.

NIEER ACTIVITIES

GG Weisenfeld Authors PDG B-5 Guidance

NIEER’s GG Weisenfeld coauthored a brief that assists states in developing or revising their Program Performance Evaluation Plan. The plan is a requirement for Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) grantees. Read the brief here.

NIEER OPENINGS

ECE Policy Research Professor – Open Rank

NIEER 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.

ECE RESEARCH

How Much Does the Pre-K CLASS relate to Children’s Readiness in School Skills?

Researchers set out to determine how and when a widely used tool for measuring the quality of preschool classrooms relates to children’s outcomes. They reviewed 27 studies conducted over the past five years on the association of Classroom Assessment Scoring System-Preschool (Pre-K CLASS) with child outcomes.

The Pre-K CLASS assesses classroom quality in three areas of teacher-child interactions: instructional support, emotional support, and classroom organization. The study found instructional support scores have the greatest relationship to children’s outcomes. “Technical assistance to teachers and professional development providers focused on this domain could have the most impact for improving children’s outcomes,” the study concluded.

The study was conducted by Nikki Aikens, Tutrang Nguyen, and Jessica F. Harding of Mathematica. Read the study here.

A Meta-Synthesis of Caregivers’ Experiences Transitioning from Early Intervention to Early Childhood Special Education

Researchers Sarah N. Douglas of Michigan State University, Hedda Meadan of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Hannah Schultheiss of Western Michigan University conducted a qualitative meta-synthesis to summarize caregivers’ experiences during their child’s transition from early intervention to early childhood special education. Findings “provide important insights into the challenges parents face and the supports that facilitate a smooth EI to ECSE transition as well as clear research to practice gaps that persist,” they wrote. Read the abstract here.

Prevalence and Factors Associated with Eyeglass Wear Compliance among Preschoolers from Low-Income Families in San Francisco, California

Researchers found that nearly three out of four preschoolers from low-income families who were given eyeglasses for vision problems wore their glasses consistently throughout a school year. “These findings suggest that programs involving school-based screening and eyeglass delivery may lessen disparities in accessing pediatric vision care,” they wrote.

The study, conducted during the 2017-18 school year, involved 188 children ages 3 to 5 from 51 Head Start preschools in San Francisco, California. The preschoolers had failed vision screenings and received free eyeglasses. It found that “baseline uncorrected visual acuity was significantly associated with consistent eyeglass wear.”

The research was conducted by: Sabhyta Sabharwal of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts; April Nakayoshi of San Francisco Partnerships for Children’s Vision; and Christopher R. Lees, Sandra Perez,  and Alejandra G. de Alba Campomanes of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Read the abstract here.

Effectiveness of Scaling Up a Vocabulary Intervention for Low-Income Children, Pre-K through First Grade

Researchers reported success in scaling up a vocabulary intervention across 39 classrooms, pre-K through first grade, in a large metropolitan area. The 21-week intervention used a structured adaptation of the World of Words that allowed teachers some autonomy. It involved a shared book reading about science topics and used “cross-cutting concepts and vocabulary within taxonomic categories to build knowledge networks,” they wrote. “Fidelity was largely maintained, with significant standardized gains in language and vocabulary for pre-K children,” according to researchers Susan B. Neuman of New York University, Preeti Samudra of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, and Katie Danielson of the University of Portland in Oregon. Read the abstract here.

EVENTS

Play Then and Now: A Narrative Study of Early Childhood Teachers’ Play Histories and Practices, Thursday, March 4, 7-8 p.m. Register and learn more here.

OPPORTUNITY

Bilingual (Spanish/English) Postgraduate Associate, Zigler Center in Child Development & Social Policy