March 19, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 11

HOT TOPICS

NIEER Report: The Pandemic’s Present and Future Harms to Early Learning

The pandemic’s impact on state budgets and preschool enrollment not only set back early learning this school year but threaten future funding for preschool programs, according to a new report from NIEER.

“The decline in preschool enrollment is troubling on many levels,” said NIEER’s Dr. GG Weisenfeld, the report’s author. “States must act to stabilize state-funded preschool and support children who have missed as much as a year or more of in-person education.”

Funding for preschool is determined by enrollment or attendance in most states. Some have begun addressing potential revenue declines through “hold harmless” policies and a few have even prioritized preschool expansion. Oregon, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, for example, have increased the number of children who have access to preschool during the 2020-2021 school year.

“States can improve enrollment and teaching quality by protecting and increasing funds for preschool,” Weisenfeld said.

While states have taken advantage of federal funding opportunities to temporarily supplement preschool and unexpected pandemic-related costs, Weisenfeld said they need to do more.

“States should plan to support young children who have missed preschool or who only attended remotely, and ensure children with disabilities are identified and receive services to which they’re legally entitled,” she said.

More generally, states need to invest in high quality teaching that meets children’s individual needs. This is especially important because the pandemic-induced spike in children’s social and emotional problems will likely continue into the fall. Read the report here.

 

NIEER OPPORTUNITIES

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 looking for 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 Education Policy Specialist

NIEER is seeking an early childhood education policy specialist to conduct policy analysis and provide technical assistance to state policy makers; our goal is to inform ECE policy and practice at the national, state and local levels. The position also involves helping to obtain funding by contributing to proposals and discussions with potential project sponsors. A master’s degree in public policy or related discipline and a minimum of three (3) years of relevant professional experience are required. Learn more and apply here.

 

ECE RESEARCH

The Role of Length of Maternity Leave in Supporting Mother–Child Interactions and Attachment Security among American Mothers and their Infants

Researchers made the case for universal maternity leave in the U.S based on their study that found the length of leave has a direct impact on the quality of mother-child interactions and an indirect link to a child’s attachment security.

“Overall, this body of work indicates that the mother–child interactions are sensitive to the amount of time a mother has to get to know her child before she returns to work,” Raquel Plotka of Pace University and Nancy A. Busch-Rossnagel of Fordham University wrote. The article was featured on the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy website.

“Since developing quality interactions and forming attachments is a universal need of infants, a universal policy will best address the needs of working American families,” they wrote. Plotka and Busch-Rossnagel recommended an expansion of the Family Leave and Medical Act to cover more workers so “a larger number of infants might be able to benefit from spending more time with their mothers during the first weeks of life.” The study involved 3,850 children born in 2001 from a nationally representative data set, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. Read the article here.

 

Preschool Quality and Child Development in China

A study by Chinese researchers found that young children’s development is linked to preschool quality, and that preschool quality may be particularly beneficial for children living in poor, rural areas. The study involved 681 children ages 4 and 5 from 52 classrooms in Shanghai, China’s biggest city, and in Guizhou province.

“The findings outline the need to improve the design and implementation of preschool education, especially for rural children, who typically grow up in families with lower SES than do other children,” the authors wrote.

The study was conducted by: Yufen Su and Nirmala Rao of The University of Hong Kong; Jin Sun of The Education University of Hong Kong; and Li Zhang of East China Normal University. Read the study here.

 

Data Use for Continuous Instructional Improvement in Early Childhood Education Settings

Early childhood educators are collecting and using data for their instruction practices, but receive inadequate training, a new study found. “While early childhood educators are using multiple types of data to plan their instruction on a daily or weekly basis, most only receive professional development annually, at a very high-level,” researchers wrote.

They recommended early childhood educators receive more support in data collection and use, noting educators may currently be working “with limited confidence in their abilities.”

The article in the Early Childhood Education Journal was written by: Jessica deMonsabert of 9 Story Media Group in New York; Sheila Brookes and Kathy Thornburg of Applied Engineering Management Corporation in Virginia; and Missy M. Coffey of SRI International in California. Read the abstract here.

 

Ensuring Access, Equity and Quality In Early Childhood Education In Bangladesh, China, India And Myanmar: Challenges For Nations In A Populous Economic Corridor

Researchers used national databases to conduct a study of access, equity and quality in early childhood education in Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar, finding large variations in access based on family wealth.

Under a United Nations sustainable development goal, countries are to ensure that all children have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education to prepare them for primary school education. The study found a lack of information on the quality of early childhood education programs in the four countries, and said the nations need to improve the quality of data collected so progress in access to early childhood education can be measured.

The study was conducted by Nirmala Rao and Yi Yang of The University of Hong Kong; Mami Umayahara of UNESCO in France; and Namita Ranganathan of The University of Delhi in India. Read the abstract here.

 

Examining the Factor Structure of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System Toddler (CLASS-T) in Early Head Start and Subsidized Child Care Classrooms

Researchers Krystal Bichay-Awadalla and Rebecca J. Bulotsky-Shearer of the University of Miami found that the Classroom Assessment Scoring System version for toddlers (CLASS-T) was valid for measuring quality in classrooms serving toddlers from low-income, ethnically and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The study involved toddlers in 106 Early Head Start classrooms. Read the abstract here.