Volume 16, Issue 8

Hot Topics

To help children, help families

A recently published series of briefs, La Familia: Latino Families Strong and Stable, Despite Limited Resources, explores Latino family life through extensive examination and analyses of data since 2010, finding Latino families have many of the characteristics children need to develop into healthy and successful adults.

A brief titled The Development and Early Home Experiences of Young Latino Boys compares the development and early home environment of Latino boys to those of white boys and Latina girls, from birth to kindergarten entry.

The report finds at preschool age, Latino boys lag behind white boys on all academic measures—math (recognizing numbers, shapes), early reading (letter identification, conventions of print), and language skills—but not on social skills. By kindergarten entry, Latino boys lag behind white boys on math and language, but not on early reading skills, and Latino boys’ social skills were found to be at the same level as white boys’ at this point.

From toddler through K, differences between Latino boys and Latina girls are fewer, not as persistent, and smaller in magnitude than differences between Latino boys and white boys. A few small advantages for Latina girls were found over Latino boys in their early home environment, such as more frequent singing, which promotes language skills, and lower parenting conflict.

The findings suggest that programs and policies aimed at closing the achievement gap among Latinos should target both boys and girls as early as nine months, and include outreach to parents to encourage interactions that support early cognitive and social development.

The report comes in response to My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), a national initiative focused on improving the life conditions of boys of color, and proves once again how improving the lives of children requires enhancing the lives of their families.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Associate Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers Ph.D. will give the keynote address next month during the 2017 Education Information and Resource Center Primary Educators Conference focusing on best practices to support early learners.  
Dr. Riley-Ayers, along with her colleague Rick Falkenstein, Ed.D., CSA, of Kingwood Township Schools, will describe best practices and ongoing research underway in 20 New Jersey school districts implementing an innovative professional development approach. The conference is March 10 at Camden County College. Register here.  

CEELO Update

Pk-3: What Does it Mean for Instruction?

This week, CEELO shared the Society for Research in Child Development report addressing the issues facing school districts seeking to promote continuity in children’s educational experiences as they progress from preschool through third grade in hopes of providing a seamless education that sustains gains made in preschool and leads to better developmental and learning outcomes. 
The report considers ways in which schools might seek to achieve continuity in parents’ and children’s experiences and proposes specific state and district policies and school practices to promote continuous and meaningful learning opportunities. 


The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development

On September 25th 2015, nearly 200 world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious yet not impossible agenda to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities, tackle climate change, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.

Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. The education goal includes access to early childhood development, care and preprimary education. This week, the SDG Academy course on early childhood development was launched, featuring our colleagues Hiro Yoshikawa, Aisha Yousafzai, Jack Shonkoff, Catherine Tamis-LeMonda and Pia Britto.

This 8-week free online course begins Monday Feb. 27, 2017 and draws on cutting-edge developments in neuroscience, psychology, economics and more to explore how policies and programs are shaping the field of early childhood development and helping to achieve the SDGs. Enroll here.

The goal is to place an introduction to programs and policies for children within the broader context of societal development as reflected in the 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Listen to Shakira’s speech at the World Economic Forum explaining the need.

Building our Future: Supporting Community-Based Early Childhood Initiatives

Child Trends has released a new report detailing community-based early childhood programs in Tulsa, OK, Durham, NC, and the state of Oregon, identifying cross-cutting themes and recommending what is needed to sustain and spread early childhood initiatives in other communities. Key lessons include:

  • It is important to use data to document progress toward goals and to guide decision
  • The success of a community-based effort relies, in part, on the broader supports and services at a city, county, or state level
  • To be successful, an initiative has to meet the needs of the community
  • Sustaining a community-based initiative requires intentional, ongoing effort
  • Success requires use of evidence-based programs, innovation, and coordination.

Power to the Profession

On January 17 2017, more than 60 early childhood education leaders gathered at the national headquarters of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to formally commence NAEYC’s Power to the Profession initiative designed to result in a unified framework to define the early childhood education profession.

The seminal report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation released in 2015 by the National Academy of Medicine made the compelling case for the critical work of early childhood educators, the specialized knowledge necessary to implement the science of early childhood development, and the need for greater investments to support the profession. The report also highlighted the fractured and fragmented realities of the early childhood workforce and the negative impact on workforce effectiveness. Power to the Profession was formed in response.

The first working draft for Professional Identity and Boundary can be found here. This version is posted on the NAEYC website and open for public comment. NAEYC is using SurveyMonkey to collect the feedback from the field. You can see the survey here.

Cradle to Kindergarten: A new plan to combat inequality

A newly published book focuses on long-term effects of educational and economic inequalities among US children and families.

Cradle to Kindergarten: A new plan to combat inequality describes the nature of this entrenched inequality, what the most current research tells us about what contributes to it, and what’s known about effective ways of building an infrastructure for opportunity for all American children.

Social and Emotional Learning

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has compiled a series of resources on the importance of supporting children’s social and emotional development so that they can lead healthier, more successful lives.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) provides a foundation for healthy development. It is the process children, youth, and adults go through to develop the skills to engage with others, manage their emotions, show empathy, handle stress, set goals, make responsible decisions, and in the long run to succeed in work and life. Resources collected by RWJF highlight a range of research and cover how teachers, parents, schools and others can all support the social emotional development of young people.

A Glimpse at the 2017 State Policy Horizon: the Executive Branch

The Alliance for Early Success is sharing summaries of what governors and state legislators are saying about early childhood policy, based on submission from Alliance state and national partners. Part One is the Executive Branch and Part Two The Legislative Branch will be available next week.



NIEER is seeking a Research Professor/Co-Director to assume major leadership responsibilities for the development and management of research, development of assessments including assessments of practice, and the provision of professional development and technical assistance relating to systems design and large-scale implementation of early learning initiatives.

To apply, please use this link provided by Rutgers University. Applicants are expected to provide a cover letter, CV, and contact information for three references.

The Flint Early Childhood Partnership

The Flint Early Childhood Partnership is seeking an executive director committed to leading the Partnership in its dual purpose of providing excellent early childhood education and care to children age birth through five and their families, and serving as a catalyst for change in early childhood services in Flint and the State of Michigan. Click here for more information.


Leading Change and Influencing People Peer Learning Forum

April-July 2017 

The US HHS Administration for Children and Families State Capacity Building Center is sponsoring a peer learning forum for emerging state and territory leaders who are seeking to improve their knowledge and skills about leading change and influencing others as part of their contribution to building a strong early learning system. Review the emerging State leaders invitation, application, and syllabus here. Applications due March 17, 2017.

Early Education in the News

ICYMI: Read this week’s key stories on early childhood education issues.

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: La Familia, Teaching Prek-3 and Shakira