March 4, 2022 – Volume 21, Issue 9

HOT TOPICS

Alabama Pre-K Ensures Quality for a Brighter Future

Research finds that participation in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K (FCPK) program is associated with substantial gains in math, early literacy, and socio-emotional, physical and cognitive domains and in the long-term with increased achievement, better attendance, less grade repetition and fewer disciplinary problems among other benefits. In an op-ed, Alabama Secretary of Early Childhood Education Barbara J. Cooper sets out these findings and explains what has been done to ensure Alabama’s First Class pre-K gets the desired results.

Administered by the state’s Office of School Readiness, the program now serves more than 42 percent of four-year-olds compared to only 2 percent when it began. In NIEER’s State of Preschool 2020 Yearbook, Alabama met 10 of 10 quality standards benchmarks during the 2019-20 school year (as it has done consistently). Read Alabama’s state profile here.

Differences in State COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates for School Teachers and Childcare Professionals

Less than half of states that required COVID-19 vaccination or routine testing for teachers required the same for child care professionals, according to a new research letter published this week in JAMA Pediatrics.

According to the researchers, 11 states (including Washington D.C.) issued executive branch directives requiring that teachers either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or routinely tested. Only five of these states (Connecticut, Washington D.C., Illinois, New Jersey, and Washington) included childcare professionals in their mandates. No states included childcare professionals alone.

The study, written by Kavin M. Patel, Saad B. Omer, and Walter Gilliam of Yale University, can be accessed here.

 ECE RESEARCH

One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Profiles of Isolated Children in Early Childhood

Researchers identified four profiles of young children isolated from peers, concluding supports for isolated children should be individualized to better address their needs.

 

Researchers found four subgroups of isolates in their sample of 1,275 children from preschool to grade three: low executive function, victimized and low social skills, aggressive and victimized, and average. Those in the first two categories “demonstrated significant increases in their executive function, and the strength of their increase was significantly stronger than children with other isolate profiles,” they noted. Still, isolated children with lower skills in the fall “tended to remain at the relatively lower level of skills in the spring,” they wrote.

 

The study, conducted by Jing Chen of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and Hui Jiang, Laura M. Justice, Tzu-Jung Lin and Kelly M. Purtell of The Ohio State University, can be accessed here.

 

Simulating Employment and Fiscal Effects of Public Investment in High-Quality Universal Childcare in the UK

 

Investment in free, universal and high-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) in the United Kingdom would ultimately either pay for itself or come close, while building numerous short- and long-term societal benefits, an economist concluded. The paper simulated the likely fiscal and employment effects of universal ECEC.

 

While universal ECEC would require investments of five to 10 times current spending, socio-economist Jerome De Henau of The Open University finds it would largely “pay for itself.” Short term, it would foster children’s well-being and social and cognitive development, provide adults employment, and reduce gender inequalities in earnings. Long term, universal ECEC would increase economic productivity “through better education, social skills and greater ability to adapt to fast-changing technology-driven labour markets.” It would also offer opportunities for improved quality of life for all and social cohesion, he contended. Read the paper here.

 

Influences on the Dietary Intakes of Preschool Children: A Systematic Scoping Review

Researchers in the United Kingdom examined 246 studies related to the determinants of what preschoolers in developed countries eat, finding most studies focused on influences at the parental level, followed by influences at the individual level. They argued a greater focus on interactions between factors and across ecological levels is needed moving forward in order to better understand what influences preschool children’s dietary intake.

“The effects of more distal public health initiatives are likely mediated and moderated by factors at the individual parent/child level. Individual children do not exist within silos and complex interactions between ecological levels mean that interventions may have different effects for different children in different circumstances,” wrote Megan Jarman, Katie Edwards, and Jackie Blissett of Aston University. Read the study here.

Review of the Research Evidence on Early Childhood Education and Care in Refugee Contexts in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Refugee children in low- and middle-income countries who attended early childhood education and care programs showed improvements in early cognitive, literacy and numeracy skills, language and communication, motor skills, hygiene practices, social competence and emotional development, according to researchers who conducted a review of the research.

 

While their literature review found a scarcity of research in the field, the identified studies all pointed “in the direction of benefits of ECEC for children’s wellbeing and their developmental outcomes.” The review, written by Katharina Ereky-Stevens and Iram Siraj of University of Oxford in England and Kimberley Kong of the Universiti Sains in Malaysia, is available here.

 

Children’s Engagement in Quebec Childcare Centres: Progression from 3 to 5 Years Old and Predictor Variables

By age 5, most children in Quebec’s childcare centers became more engaged. Canadian researchers identified three engagement profiles at ages 3 and 5, and found “over 80% of children, regardless of profile at age 3, transition to the medium engagement profile by age 5.”

 

Maude Roy-Vallières, Julie Lachapelle, Lise Lemay and Nathalie Bigras of the Université du Québec à Montréal, and Caroline Bouchard of Université Laval wrote that engagement “is a distinct construct from the wider educational quality concept, modulated by child-specific characteristics.” Read the abstract here.

 

 OPPORTUNITIES