May 6, 2022 – Volume 21, Issue 18


State of Preschool 2021

NIEER’s State of Preschool 2021 Yearbook covers the first school year fully impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yearbook authors Allison Friedman-Krauss and W. Steven Barnett were joined by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice in a briefing, shared in this video-recorded session. Preschool parent Katie Walden of North Carolina also shared her story illuminating why preschool matters.


The current Yearbook illustrates how the pandemic intensified long-standing problems in early childhood education (ECE). It wiped out a decade of progress increasing enrollment in public programs. Recommendations are made for every state to move forward with universal programs or to reach all children in low-income families.


Read the full report here.

Teacher Appreciation? Unworthy Wages: State-Funded Preschool Teacher Salaries and Benefits

What better time to look at preschool teacher compensation than “Teacher Appreciation Week”? According to NIEER’s new report by Alex Kilander, Karin Garver and W. Steven Barnett, many states require teachers in state-funded preschool programs to have the same credentials as kindergarten teachers, but do not provide them with comparable pay and benefits.

Data from the State of Preschool 2021 Yearbook reveal substantial disparities between preschool teachers and their counterparts in K-3. Only four states have policies that require parity in starting salary and the full salary schedule for all lead teachers in state-funded preschool (both public school and nonpublic school settings) with K-3 teachers. Average annual pay gaps between preschool and K-12 teachers for states that could report the information were $13,645 for those in public schools and $26,218 for those in other settings. Read the full report here.

State of Babies Yearbook 2022

The extent to which policies prioritize babies and families varies tremendously across states, according to the State of Babies Yearbook 2022, released this week by ZERO TO THREE. The report documents an increase in families experiencing material hardship, particularly in food security, in the past year. “The immediate effects of the pandemic — shutting down critical social structures, such as child care, school systems, and key segments of the economy — disrupted the lives of all families, but particularly those with young children,” the authors wrote. The full report is available here.


When does 1 + 1 Not Equal 2? The Relative Advantage of Public School-Based Pre-K versus Head Start for Low-Income Children’s Kindergarten Cognitive and Self-Regulatory Skills

Transitioning from Head Start after one year into a publicly-funded pre-K program had greater benefits for children’s academic skills than staying in Head Start an additional year, according to a new study. “Our results provide important evidence about what may be the maximally beneficial sequence for low-income children with regard to early literacy and math learning,” the researchers concluded. Read the abstract here.

Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) as a Kindergarten Predictor of Future Reading in English: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Preschoolers’ and kindergarteners’ success at rapid automatized naming (RAN), a task of quickly naming aloud a list or series of familiar visual stimuli, was a consistent predictor of later reading ability according to researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois. Sean McWeeny, Soujin Choi, June Choe, Alexander LaTourrette, Elizabeth S. Norton, and Megan Y. Roberts recommended that RAN be assessed as part of a battery of screening measures to detect dyslexia and other reading problems in preschool or kindergarten. Read the study here.


Self-regulation in Preschool: Are Executive Function and Effortful Control Overlapping Constructs?

While the constructs of executive function (EF) and effortful control (EC) developed from different areas of research, they showed substantial overlap in preschoolers, suggesting an integrated model of self-regulation, a study found. Researchers in Germany measured EF and EC in 88 preschoolers and found significant correlations between the two. Both constructs relate to the ability to regulate behavior, emotion, and cognition. Read the abstract here.

Exploring the Associations of the Pre-K CLASS with Children’s School Readiness in FACES 2014: Associations for Subgroups and Thresholds of Quality


Using data from the 2014 Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES 2014), researchers at Mathematica found very small correlations between the Pre-K Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) measure of classroom quality and children’s gains in learning and development, and these rarely were statistically significant. Read the full study, by Tutrang Nguyen, Jessica Harding, and Nikki Aikens, here.


Cross-sectional Association of Light Sensor-Measured Time Outdoors with Physical Activity and Gross Motor Competency among U.S. Preschool-aged Children: The 2012 NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey

U.S. preschool-age children spent an average of 95 minutes outside each day, and daily outdoor time was positively associated with physical activity, according to analyses of the 2012 U.S. National Health and Examination Survey National Youth Fitness Survey. The contribution of outdoor time to physical activity was greater among girls than boys, according to authors Soyang Kwon, Meghan E. O’Neill and Adam B. Becker of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Pooja S. Tandon of the University of Washington & Seattle Children’s Hospital. Read the study here.