January 13, 2023 – Volume 22, Issue 2


Equitable Access to Early Care and Education in the United States: Call for Papers

Advancing the knowledge base on policy solutions and practices that would improve equitable access to high-quality and affordable early care and education (ECE) is critical. The journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly invites submissions to a special issue addressing ECE access for all families in the United States. NIEER’s co-Director for Research Milagros Nores will serve as a guest editor; submissions are due on or before June 1, 2023. Read the call for papers here.

Impacts of the Four-Day School Week on Early Elementary Achievement

Although researchers found minimal differences in performance on third grade test scores between students who attended elementary school four days a week and those who attended five, they noted differential impacts of the shortened week. Test scores did not show detrimental effects of the shorter week for students from minority and low-income backgrounds but the researchers did find negative impacts on other students. They noted that short elementary school weeks may be particularly detrimental “when instructional time is not adequately maintained.” Read the study here.

A New Vision for High-Quality Pre-K Curriculum: Public Information Gathering Session

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is hosting a public information-gathering session on Jan. 18 from 4:00 – 7:30 p.m. EST. The session is meant to inform the work of the committee A New Vision for High Quality Pre-K Curriculum, a committee convened to research and analyze pre-K curriculum quality. Register for the event here.


Build Equitable Systems for Tomorrow’s Children (BEST) Professional Learning Community

NIEER will host a nine-month peer learning community (PLC) in 2023. The vision of the PLC, Build Equitable Systems for Tomorrow’s (BEST) Children, is for states to create (and improve upon) an equitable system of high-quality early care and education and family support services for young children from birth through early elementary grades. PLC participants will learn with and from each other about how to meet the needs of young children and families through aligned and coherent policy and funding. The PLC will be discussed at the Bright Spots Webinar on Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. EST; a letter of intent is due by Jan. 23. Contact NIEER senior research fellow Lori Connors-Tadros for more information at ltadros@nieer.org.



Direct and Indirect Impacts of Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten on Kindergarten Readiness and Achievement

Children who attended Florida’s voluntary universal prekindergarten program (VPK) in one county scored no better on kindergarten readiness than comparable children who did not attend this program, researchers at the University of Central Florida found. Florida’s VPK for 4-year-olds meets only two of NIEER’s 10 quality benchmarks, the researchers noted. Read the study here.

Learning Experiences Vary Across Young Children in the Same Classroom: Evidence From the Individualizing Student Instruction Measure in the Boston Public Schools

Classroom-level observational measures of young students may mask variations of learning experiences within classrooms, according to a team of researchers who found substantial differences across children in the same classroom and across student subgroups. While measured learning experiences varied across subgroups, these differences did not consistently predict learning gains. Access the study here.

Early Indicators of Bipolar Risk in Preschool Offspring of Parents with Bipolar Disorder

Children who develop elevated risk scores for bipolar spectrum disorder (BPSD) in grade school may be symptomatic in preschool. Researchers assessed children of parents with bipolar disorder in preschool and every two years through about age 10½. They found preschool symptoms, especially irritability, were predictors of school age risk scores and new-onset BPSD. The findings suggest the need for earlier assessment of symptoms in at risk-children and the development of effective early interventions. Access the study here.

It Matters: Early Childhood Mental Health, Educator Stress, and Burnout

A survey of more than 1,400 early childhood educators found that the training they’ve received influences their confidence in recognizing and responding to children’s challenging behaviors and mental health needs, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Denver. Most of the respondents reported having some training and experience in those areas, but “the type of training and range of experiences were variable,” the researchers wrote. Read the study here.

Association of Indoor Dust Microbiota with Cognitive Function and Behavior in Preschool-Aged Children

An international team of researchers who tested dust samples in preschoolers’ homes in Belgium found evidence that the microbial environment may play a role in children’s behavioral outcomes and cognition. The study found fungal diversity may result in less hyperactivity and improved attention and psychomotor speed, while exposure to high airborne microbial loads could relate to poorer behavioral and cognitive outcomes. Access the study here.