May 27, 2022 – Volume 21, Issue 21


Mourning the Loss of Innocent Children and Teachers Killed in Uvalde, Texas


In a statement released Thursday, the National Academy of Education shared their grief over the loss of 19 children and two teachers in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas this week. The statement includes research on the prevalence of school shootings and gun violence in the U.S., including that 27 school shootings have occurred to date in 2022 and that 653 children and teens have been killed by gun violence in 2022.


“The shooting of 19 innocent children and two teachers is horrendous. We know the fears that this most recent school shooting raises for the children and school community in Uvalde, as well as for all parents, children, and educators across the country. We recognize the bravery of teachers and staff who sought to protect these innocent young children. Our hearts ache,” they wrote. Read the full statement here.


Widely-Used Measures of Pre-K Classroom Quality


Measures of pre-K classroom quality are necessary to shape high-quality learning environments, yet assessments currently in use have strengths and limitations. “When used in isolation, these measures may unintentionally hold back progress critical to closing gaps in early learning quality, equity, and opportunity,” according to University of Michigan researchers Christina Weiland and Paola Guerrero Rosada.


In the brief Widely-Used Measure of Pre-K Classroom Quality, Weiland and Guerrero Rosada examined the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-3 and ECERS-R) and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) Pre-K. While the tools create a common language and identify areas for teachers’ growth, among other benefits, they fail to measure individual learning experiences and are somewhat weak predictors of children’s learning gains in pre-K, they wrote. The brief includes suggestions of other measures and future directions for measurement tools. Read it here.


Investing in Infants: The Lasting Effects of Cash Transfers to New Families


Giving families money when their children are infants relates to higher earnings for those children as adults, higher school grades, and a higher likelihood of graduating high school, according to a new publication. In Investing in Infants: The Lasting Effects of Cash Transfers to New Families, the authors compared children born in December and January, taking advantage of the Jan. 1 birthdate cutoff for U.S. child tax-related benefits. They found families experiencing increased liquidity in the child’s first year of life because of their birthdate have children who experience more positive academic and earnings outcomes. “Our results suggest that transfers to poor families may be especially effective after the birth of a child,” the authors concluded. “Perhaps by providing a financial cushion during a period of high stress, these transfers result in persistent increases in family income.” Read the full study, by Andrew Barr, Jonathan Eggleston, and Alexander A. Smith, here.


Special Series: The State of Preschool Yearbook 2021


The Hunt Institute and NIEER will host a webinar on Tuesday, May 31 focused on using the recently released State of Preschool Yearbook 2021. NIEER’s Steve Barnett and Allison Friedman-Krauss will highlight Yearbook findings and how the Yearbook can be used to inform preschool policy including addressing the impacts of the pandemic on public preschool. Joining them will be: Libby Doggett, an early learning expert and consultant; Lauren Jenks-Jones, Oklahoma State Department of Education;  Patricia Lozano, Early Edge California;  Pamela Truelove-Walker, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education; Katie Walden, MomsRising; and Robin Wilkens, National Association of State Leaders in Early Education Vice President and New Jersey Department of Education. Register here.



Purposes, Places, and Participants: A Systematic Review of Teacher Language Practices and Child Oral Language Outcomes in Early Childhood Classrooms

Early childhood educators can support children’s oral language development by tailoring strategies to specific settings, according to researchers who evaluated 54 studies on teacher language practices.

The researchers identified four strands of teacher language practice types: conceptual talk, interactive talk, linguistic features, and management and literal talk. Using conceptual talk during shared book-reading and elicitations during play and small group settings are examples of tailored strategies. 

The systematic review was conducted by Elizabeth Burke Hadley of the University of South Florida, Erica M. Barnes of University at Albany, State University of New York, and HyeJin Hwang of the University of Minnesota. Read the abstract here.

Play, Problem-Solving, STEM Conceptions, and Efficacy in STEM: An Introduction to the STEM in Early Childhood Education Special Issue

A special issue of Education Sciences explores research on STEM curricula development in early childhood education. The ten articles cover the themes of play and authentic problem-solving, children’s conceptions of STEM professionals, and early childhood educators’ efficacy in STEM.

“It is critical to consider how important play, puzzles, and everyday experiences are in STEM instruction,” editors Beth L. MacDonald, Tofel-Grehl, and Kristin A. Searle of Utah State University wrote in the issue introduction. “To promote equitable access to STEM, findings from these studies demonstrate young children’s need to imagine themselves engaging with these activities and see themselves represented.” Access the issue here.

Influences of Gender and Socioeconomic Status on Children’s Use of Robotics in Early Childhood Education: A Systematic Review

Children’s gender and socioeconomic status relates to their robotics-based learning, according to a systematic review of studies published between 1984 and 2021.

The researchers found that boys enjoyed interacting with robotics more than girls, and that children from low-income families and those whose parents had limited education had poor experiences in robotics-based learning. The study was written by University of Hong Kong researchers Jiahong Sua, Weipeng Yang and Yuchun Zhong. Read the abstract here.