January 21, 2022 – Volume 21, Issue 3

HOT TOPICS

Caring for the Children of the World

UNICEF called the COVID-19 pandemic the greatest challenge to children in the organization’s 75-year history in Preventing A Lost Decade: Urgent Action to Reverse the Devastating Impact of COVID-19 on Children and Young People, published last month. While reports released in the busyness of December are often overlooked, this report needs everyone’s attention:

  • Since 2019, 100 million more children have fallen into poverty, a 10-percent increase
  • In 2020, over 23 million children missed out on essential vaccines
  • 50 million children are suffering from wasting, the most life-threatening form of malnutrition, and this could increase by 9 million in 2022
  • In March 2020, school closures affected 1.6 billion children

Even before the pandemic, climate change put an estimated 1 billion children —  nearly half of the world’s children — at high risk for its impacts, while armed conflicts have forced the uprooting of families with children (20 million people were refugees at the start of 2021).

Read more here in a Jan. 19 Preschool Matters Today blog post by Joan Lombardi, an international expert on early childhood development and senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues.

New International Prize: Khalifa International Award for Early Learning

Early education researchers can apply for the recently announced Khalifa International Award for Early Learning in two categories: best research and studies, and best programs, curricula, teaching methodologies and practices.

The international education award, founded in the United Arab Emirates, “is intended to discover and recognize research, programmes, methodologies and advanced teaching practices,” according to the website. Four prizes of $50,000 will be awarded.

NIEER Senior co-Director W. Steven Barnett will serve on the international awarding committee.

Individuals, teams or institutions from any country in the world can apply. Applications must be submitted through the online application link, https://el.khaward.ae/, by March 31. You can also learn about upcoming information sessions at that link.

Questions regarding categories, conditions and candidacy instructions should be sent to: el.info@khaward.ae. Technical inquiries and information regarding the online application system, should be sent to: el.support@khaward.ae.

New Brief Highlights Family and Provider Sentiments about Colorado’s Proposed Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program

Early Milestones Colorado has released a new brief highlighting findings from their survey of families and early childhood education providers about Colorado’s proposed universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) program. Of note in the findings were that two-thirds of early childhood education providers said they were likely to participate in UPK. Additionally, 92 percent of families with a child under the age of five said they would be likely to send their child to UPK if money was not a factor. Read the entire brief here.

NIEER ACTIVITY

Webinar: Universal Childcare: Rhetoric, Realities & Roadmaps

NIEER’s Ellen Frede will serve as a keynote speaker at a Feb. 3 Community Advocates for Young Learners (CAYL) Institute webinar on universal childcare. Frede and two fellow experts in early learning will discuss existing rhetoric, share imagined futures, and outline roadmaps that could lead to universal childcare. The other panelists are:

  • Maurice Sykes, senior associate of the Early Learning Leadership Institute
  • Sia Barbara Ferguson Kamara, chief strategy officer of the DC Early Learning Collaborative

The 4 p.m. EST event is the 12th in the CAYL Catalyst Webinar Series, and will be hosted by Dr. Valora Washington, CEO and president of the CAYL Institute. Reserve your spot here. If you can’t make the session, you can register for the webinar and a recording of the session will be emailed to you.

Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) 2022 Virtual Meeting

This week the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) held its 30th Winter ECE Collaborative meeting (virtually). NIEER’s GG Weisenfeld shared the report she wrote with NIEER senior co-director Ellen Frede, Including Family Child Care in State and City-Funded PreK Systems: Challenges and Opportunities, and facilitated a conversation with Judy Walker from the Maryland State Department of Education and Gwyn Bachtle from the Oregon Department of Education about their states’ experiences integrating family childcare homes into state-funded pre-K.

NIEER’s Lori Connors-Tadros facilitated a cross-state conversation: How to Elevate ECE and Build Capacity within the SEA – Lessons Learned of Successes and Perseverance. Lori shared the findings of the study Effective Offices of Early Learning: Structural Features, Enabling Conditions, and Key Functions in Four States. Richard Lower, with the Michigan Department of Education, reflected on the findings of the study and the impact on the Office of Great Start’s response to COVID-19.

NIEER OPPORTUNITIES

Research Project Coordinator II

NIEER is seeking a Research Project Coordinator II to work closely with our faculty and staff in research and evaluation. Key duties include managing fieldwork across two to three research projects, communicating effectively with research and project partners, and managing and training data collection teams. Applicants must:

  • Be Spanish bilingual, and highly proficient in the use of Spanish in research activities.
  • Have experience with early childhood research, early childhood assessment measures, and preschool classroom observation measures.
  • Possess strong communication and organizational skills, a capacity for independent work, and experience working with early childhood education providers.
  • Have extensive collaborative work experience; decision-making is essential.
  • Have experience in two or more of the following: CLASS, APEEC, CASEBA, and ECERS-3.

If interested, please apply here. Reach out to mnores@nieer.org with questions.

Research Project Coordinator I

NIEER is seeking a Research Project Coordinator I to work closely with our faculty and staff in research and evaluation. The position coordinates major aspects of preschool education research and evaluation projects. Key duties include managing fieldwork across two to three research projects, communicating effectively with research and project partners, planning and carrying out data collection trainings, collaborating in writing reports and proposals, and collaborating in the development and management of eIRB protocols, survey instruments and other research protocols in conjunction with principal investigators. Required qualifications include:

  • Bachelor’s degree, preferably in early childhood education or in policy or a social science (psychology, anthropology, sociology, human development, education).
  • A minimum of two years experience in early childhood research; a masters degree in a related field may be substituted.

If interested, please apply here. Reach out to mnores@nieer.org with questions.

ECE RESEARCH

Does Preschool Children’s Self-Regulation Moderate the Impacts of Instructional Activities? Evidence from a Randomized Intervention Study

A study examining the impact of preschoolers’ self-regulation on academic interventions cast doubt on a causal relationship between self-regulation and academic achievement, Florida State University researchers concluded.

Contrary to what they expected to find, “children’s self-regulation did not have a substantial or consistent influence on the positive impacts of the interventions,” the researchers wrote. The interventions were effective regardless of children’s self-regulation, they noted.

The study involved 184 preschoolers at risk for reading difficulties. It examined two elements of self-regulation, attention and executive function.

“The results of this study provided little evidence that self-regulation moderated the impacts of the interventions and call into question the likelihood of a causal relation between self-regulation and academic achievement,” wrote authors Christopher J. Lonigan, Eric D. Hand, Jamie A.Spiegel, Brittany M. Morris, Colleen M. Jungersen, Sarah V. Alfonso, and Beth M.Phillips. Read the study here.

Widely Used Measures of Classroom Quality are Largely Unrelated to Preschool Skill Development

Two widely used assessments for gauging preschool classroom quality do not predict preschoolers’ school-readiness skills development between fall and spring, according to a new study from researchers at Stanford University in California.

The researchers did find an association between quality of classroom interactions measured by the Early Childhood Environment Rating System-Revised (ECERS-R) and preschoolers’ skill levels in the spring as compared to winter.

“The lack of associations suggests there is a need to move away from merely capturing the average child’s classroom experience, which these global measures do, and instead measure aspects of quality that more directly relate to individual children’s experiences,” the authors wrote.  “We suggest that researchers carefully consider the timing of when classroom quality might have the strongest effect on children’s skill development.”

The study, written by Meghan E. McDoniel, Carrie Townley-Flores, Michael J. Sulik, and Jelena Obradović, is available here.

Callous-Unemotional Traits as an Intervention Target and Moderator of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy-Emotion Development Treatment for Preschool Depression and Conduct Problems

A parent-child psychotherapy focused on preschoolers’ emotional development reduced the incidence of behaviors that predict severe conduct problems, criminality and substance use when untreated, researchers found.

“PCIT-ED effectively reduced major depressive disorder and oppositional defiant disorder in preschoolers, regardless of initial levels of CU traits. Moreover, CU traits decreased from before to after treatment, and this treatment effect was sustained 18 weeks after treatment,” the authors wrote.

The study was written by Meghan Rose Donohue, Caroline P Hoyniak, Rebecca Tillman, Deanna M. Barch, and Joan Luby of Washington University School of Medicine in Missouri. Read it here.

OPPORTUNITIES