November 5, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 45


NIEER Research Featured in Early Childhood Research Quarterly

NIEER researchers found preschool classroom instruction focused more on literacy, math and choice, with less time spent in the whole group and transitions, received higher quality ratings.

“Process quality may be dependent on teachers’ decisions on how to structure the day and which content areas to focus on,” wrote Milagros Nores, Allison Friedman-Krauss and Alexandra Figueras-Daniel. “The results suggest that the ECE field should explore measures of quality and classroom process that account for the content and frequency of classroom activities.”

The researchers examined quality ratings and counts of activity groupings, learning content, and pedagogical approaches that children experience in the classroom. The large, predominantly low-income study sample included classrooms in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Click on the link to read “Activity Settings, Content, and Pedagogical Strategies in Preschool Classrooms: Do These Influence the Interactions We Observe?”


Unpacking Pre-K Classroom Organization: Types, Variation, and Links to School Readiness Gains

Researchers examining specific types of classroom organization strategies found that teacher modeling predicted gains in preschoolers’ math skills, while global measures of classroom organization failed to predict gains in math, language or executive function.

The study involved data on 263 children in a large-scale public pre-K program, looking at child-level variation in exposure to teachers’ uses of behavior management, verbal directions, modeling of materials and transitions, and ritual and routine cues.

The results showed teachers’ use of specific types of organization strategies varied across classrooms and across individual children.

The study was authored by: Lillie Moffett, Amanda Weissman, and Christina Weiland of the University of Michigan; Meghan McCormick and JoAnn Hsueh of MDRC; Catherine Snow of Harvard University; and Jason Sachs of Boston Public Schools. Read it here.

Maternal and Paternal Insensitivity, Adaptive Engagement, and School Readiness Skills among Economically Disadvantaged Children: A Dynamic Approach

In a study of low-income families, researchers found that maternal and paternal insensitivity —  “manifested in intrusive, controlling, less contingent, less stimulating, and less warm parent-child interactions” — at age 2 was associated with poorer vocabulary skills in children at age 5.

Researchers examined the interplay of maternal and paternal insensitivity over time and evaluated “whether mothers and fathers similarly or differentially contributed to the development of school readiness skills among economically disadvantaged children.”

They found that paternal insensitivity at age 2 and an increase in paternal insensitivity between ages 2 and 3 were associated with poorer self-regulation at age 5. Meanwhile, lower maternal insensitivity at age 2 contributed to better vocabulary and regulation skills at age 5.

The study was authored by: Wonjung Oh, Su Jung Park, and Ann M. Mastergeorge of Texas Tech University; Hyoun K.Kim of Yonsei University in South Korea; and Lori Roggman of Utah State University. Read it here.

Preschool Behavioural and Emotional Outcomes Associated with Participation in Early Childhood

Two-year-olds in New Zealand who attended early childhood and education (ECE) programs between 20 and 29 hours a week had lower risk of peer challenges at age 4, as rated by their mothers, researchers reported. The study also found that ECE attendance was “protective against the development of later mother-rated emotional challenges.”

Researchers used data on 6,536 children from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study, and mothers completed a questionnaire to measure behavioral outcomes.

The study was written by: Stephanie D’Souza, Sarah Gerritsen and Andrew Gibbons of The University of Auckland, and Tom Stewart and Scott Duncan of Auckland University of Technology. Read the abstract here.

Preschool Executive Functioning and Child Behavior: Association with Learning Prerequisites?

Researchers in Italy assessing executive function (EF) measures that explain school readiness found that behavior observed while a child performed EF tasks was a significant mediator, while daily executive behavior observed at home by parents was not.

The study involved 127 preschoolers tested for response inhibition, working memory, control of interference, and cognitive flexibility. “Accuracy in tasks of response inhibition and working memory explained about 48% of the variability in learning prerequisites while response speed and accuracy in the control of interference and in cognitive flexibility were not significant,” wrote authors Costanza Ruffini and Chiara Pecini of the University of Florence, and Gian Marco Marzocchi of the University of Milan-Bicocca. Read the study here.

How Stable is Program Quality in Child Care Centre Classrooms?

Researchers in Canada found the quality of early childhood and education and care (ECEC) centers varied year to year — even among top-rated programs — and concluded that reducing the frequency of evaluations as a cost-saving move would be detrimental.

Analyses “revealed substantial instability across all types of ECEC centres, although publicly operated centres were somewhat more stable and tended to have higher quality scores,” wrote researchers Petr Varmuza, Michal Perlman and Olesya Falenchuk of the University of Toronto.

Less than 28% of ECEC classrooms that were ranked in the top quartile for quality maintained that standing throughout the three-year study. The study included 1,000 classrooms in licensed child care centers in Toronto.

The researchers found large quality differences between classrooms within ECEC centers, and suggested that classrooms be assessed individually.

There is a movement in the ECEC sector to reduce the frequency of quality assessments for providers that consistently score high over time, as a way of reducing oversight costs, the authors wrote. However, “it is almost impossible to accurately predict the next year’s score from the current year.” They urged assessments be conducted at least once a year. Read more here.