March 6, 2020 – Volume 19, Issue 9

Hot Topics
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation last month to create an early childhood trust fund. Launched with a general fund appropriation of $320 million and to be sustained by the surplus of two revenue sources, the fund will begin making distributions to support early childhood programming in fiscal year 2022, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
Across the 50 states, a new study finds little alignment between state expectations for children’s literacy and mathematics learning and pre-k teacher certification requirements in those domains. According to the authors “the majority of certificates did not provide detailed information about what teachers are required to learn about literacy or mathematics in their coursework to become certified to teach preK.” Particularly worrisome is the potential that the limited state requirements may indicate to teacher preparation faculty and future teachers that math is not important for pre-K. The study suggests directions for improving state policy.
NIEER Activities
NIEER Research on KEA Policies Published in Early Education and Development
Early Education and Development recently published research by NIEER’s GG Weisenfeld, Karin Garver, and Kate Hodges examining how federal funding policies may have influenced states’ kindergarten entry assessment (KEA) policies.
Forty-one states and the District of Columbia implemented a KEA for at least one year between 2001 and 2018, but not all used a comprehensive tool to assess a child’s learning and development upon entering kindergarten. The NIEER team’s findings suggest “federal funding is correlated with a state’s development of a KEA.”
For more information or to request a copy of the research, please contact GG Weisenfeld.
NIEER Delivers Presentations at CCSSO Meeting
Lori Connors-Tadros and GG Weisenfeld presented at the 2020 Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)’s State Collaborates on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) annual meeting in New Orleans this week.
Connors-Tadros shared best practices in identifying resources needed to expand access to quality pre-K. She also shared the recent Ensuring Adequate Resources for Expanding High Quality report. Weisenfeld presented findings from her research with NIEER colleagues Karin Garver and Kate Hodges on kindergarten entry assessments (KEA) and also facilitated a discussion with nine states currently reviewing their KEAs and K-3 assessment policies.
ECE Resources
Researchers examined the long term impacts of Smart Start and More at Four, finding “significant positive impacts of funding for each program on reading and math test scores and reductions in special education placement and grade retention.”
Examining the impact of Total Physical Response on English vocabulary teaching to kindergarten students in Physical Education and Play, researchers report the program “was more effective, fun and motivating for Kindergarten students in learning English vocabulary than traditional foreign language teaching methods.”
Researchers investigated if parents’ physical activity and sedentary behavior was related to their young child’s physical activity or sedentary behavior when they were either together or apart. “Parents’ behavior was positively related to their young child’s behavior when they were together, but the relationship was not present … or weaker … when apart,” according to the researchers. They suggest parents engaging in active physical activity “in the presence of their child was important for [the]young child’s [physical activity].”
Researchers found children in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings where they could move freely between indoor and outdoor environments were less sedentary and spent more time in physical activity compared to programs where they couldn’t. They suggest “offering a free routine and increasing time spent in outdoor environments could … promote physical activity and reduce sedentary time among children.”
Researchers reexamined a report finding that the association that early math predicts later reading was stronger than the association that early reading predicts later math. “Larger paths from math to reading than from reading to math in previous related analyses are not causally informative,” according to the researchers.
Early Milestones Colorado identifies “promising opportunities” for Ideal Learning expansion in public programs in a new report, noting that “no Colorado state policy expressly prevents (nor promotes) Ideal Learning programs, systemic, perceptual, and accountability barriers functionally impede adoption of these programs in public settings.”
Early Education News Round-up
The week’s key stories on early childhood education. Read now.
Consensus Draft of Decision Cycle 7+8 and Releasing the Unifying Framework, March 9, 2020, 2:00 – 4:00 PM ET. The Power to the Profession Task Force shares the final draft of Decision Cycle 7+8, also available in Spanish. The document outlines recommendations related to a supportive infrastructure and shared accountability for the early childhood education profession.
March 10, 2020, 12:00 – 3:30 PM ET, New America will host Moving Beyond False Choices for Early Childhood Educators. This event is the culmination of a two-year project to elevate diverse perspectives on the most challenging issues facing the early childhood education profession – what lessons we’ve learned from confronting these challenges and how we can move forward. You can join in person or watch online.
The American Federation of Teachers will host a webinar to release the findings from the International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study, March 12, 2020 at 11:00 AM ET. The study assesses the social-emotional and cognitive skills of five-year-old children in England, Estonia, and the United States, including factors positively and negatively associated with these children’s early development and learning.
STEM Briefing – Early + Math, March 26, 2020, 2:00 – 3:00 PM EST. Leading researchers and funders discuss best practices in providing productive early mathematics instruction for learners of all abilities.