Higher achievement test scores and lower rates of grade repetition for children who attended a New Jersey universal preschool program persist through 10th grade, according to new NIEER research published this week in Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
Among children who attended a high-quality universal preschool program in low-income urban communities, scores on statewide achievement tests were higher in language arts and literacy, mathematics, and science. They also identified a significant reduction in students being held back a grade.
Positive effects on achievement were stronger for children who attended the program for two years beginning at age 3. Estimated effect sizes were about .15 SD for children who attended one year and .30 SD for those who attended two years.
The ‘Abbott’ preschool program was developed under a state Supreme Court mandate to provide a thorough and efficient education for children in 31 communities with high concentrations of poverty. It embodies many of the features scholars believe increase the likelihood of persistent positive effects for children. NIEER’s Steven Barnett and Kwanghee Jung, the study authors, suggested these make have worked in concert to produce larger persistent achievement gains compared to some other programs. The study contributes to evidence that large-scale, publicly-funded preschool programs can produce lasting benefits when properly designed, funded and implemented. Read it here.
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Canada’s federal financial plan for post-pandemic rebuilding calls for extraordinary investment in a nationwide early learning and child care system, recognizing it as an extension of public education.
The federal government will spend almost $30 billion (for about one-tenth the population of the United States) over the next five years, and provide permanent ongoing funding, according to the 2021 budget. The effort aims to reduce fees for parents with children in regulated child care by 50% outside of Quebec, which already has reduced fees.
Having learned from Quebec’s experience, the national effort will focus on supporting quality and “ensuring the needs of early childhood educators are at the heart of the system,” according to the Budget 2021 press release. In the U.S., research on the impacts of Quebec’s initial rapid expansion of low-cost child care in 1997 has been cited to oppose new investments. By contrast, Canada used the lessons from Quebec’s experience to design a better system that avoids past mistakes and capitalizes on successes.
Two brief articles on Canada’s plan should be of particular interest to those thinking about new directions for the United States. The University of Toronto’s Kerry McCuaig provides deeper explanation of Canada’s new Early Learning and Care Budget here. She offers more insights in an article for Preschool Matters Today here.
Researchers in Spain identified associations between the physical activity levels of preschoolers and their outdoor school environment. After reviewing studies, they determined “greater availability of a wider variety of portable play equipment, presence of certain fixed playground equipment, and presence of open spaces” favored physical activity levels. The study was conducted by Marta Terrón-Pérez, Javier Molina-García, Vladimir E. Martínez-Bello and Ana Queralt of the University of Valencia. Read the abstract here.
Soon-to-be early childhood educators held positive attitudes toward inclusion, according to a review of 16 studies conducted over 20 years. Researchers Seon Yeong Yu and Eunjin Cho of the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that early childhood preservice teachers “had mixed feelings toward their preparedness for working with children with disabilities, especially those children with severe disabilities or challenging behaviors.” Most of the studies they reviewed involved surveys or interviews. Read the abstract here.
Children in families who speak Spanish at home benefitted from preschool supports for dual-language learners, a study found. Supports were associated not only with greater Spanish expressive vocabulary skills at the end of preschool, but quantitative reasoning skills assessed in English, according to researchers.
Noting that quantitative reasoning is a critical school readiness skill, “these results provide additional evidence that supporting home language has value beyond just the development of the home language itself,” the researchers wrote. Teachers didn’t need to speak the home language for the supports to work, they noted.
The study was conducted during the 2017-18 academic year and involved 312 children from Tulsa, Oklahoma public preschools that serve low-income families. The researchers were: Anne Partika, Anna D. Johnson, and Deborah A. Phillips of Georgetown University; Gigi Luk of McGill University in Canada; April Dericks of the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa; and the Tulsa SEED Study Team. Read it here.
A survey of 506 Irish parents conducted a year ago during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown found that most of their children, ages 1 to 10, experienced negative impacts, but some parents reported silver linings.
Children missed playing with friends and classmates and the routine of early childhood care, preschool and school, the researchers reported. The closure “resulted in tantrums, anxiety, clinginess, boredom, and under-stimulation,” they wrote. However, some parents noted the lockdown afforded children more time to play by themselves and with siblings, and to spend time outdoors, providing a break from routine.
The study was conducted by Suzanne M. Egan, Jennifer Pope, Mary Moloney, Clara Hoyne and Chloé Beatty of the University of Limerick. Read it here.
Applying two evidence-based school readiness interventions simultaneously — one for teachers, the other for parents — didn’t demonstrate an additive effect for boosting social-behavioral or academic skills among at-risk 3- to 5-year-olds.
The study replicated a 2017 randomized control trial with a twist: the pre-K interventions were provided remotely. The virtual interventions “increased targeted teacher and parent behaviors” as had the in-person interventions, the researchers noted.
They reported both studies found larger social-behavioral effects than academic effects for children. For the adults, the effects were larger in the remote study, they wrote. In spite of the increased convenience of the online interventions, “parent attrition remained fairly similar across studies and was substantial.”
The study was conducted by: Susan H. Landry, Tricia A. Zucker, Mike A. Assel, Cheryl Varghese, and April Crawford of the Children’s Learning Institute at McGovern Medical School in Texas; Janelle J. Montroy and Edward G. Feil of the Oregon Research Institute; and Hsien-Yuan Hsu of the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Read it here.