Volume 17, Issue 15

Hot Topics

Empowering the Profession

The NAEYC-led Power to the Profession collaboration recently invited comments on draft recommendations for early education policy affecting young children and those who educate them.

A controversial recommendation sets an AA degree as the entry-level qualification for teachers of children under age five, in contrast to recent research-based calls for a BA. While some see the AA degree as an entry ramp, others see it as a disservice to children and the profession.

A Caucus response from the Asian Interest Forum, Black Caucus Interest Forum, Diversity and Equity Education for Adults Interest Forum, Latino Interest Forum, and Tribal and Indigenous Early Childhood Network warns that inequitable professional opportunity results in inequitable access to quality teachers among children of color.

The Caucus notes that nearly 50 percent of the ECE workforce is comprised of low-income women of color “who have helped raise other people’s children at the expense of their own,” adding that “assuming educators of color will not seize the opportunity of professional development is insulting.”

They dismiss the P2P Task Force recommendations as providing “a pat on the head and a participation medal for those on the bottom,” calling instead for “an equitable structure for moving diverse talent to the top—because that is what all of our children need. The bar must be raised…”

“We do not expect the Task Force to solve systemic racism,” the Caucus states. “We do expect the Task Force to acknowledge it and lead with a vision for how the profession can solve inequities in opportunity that create deep inequities within its ranks.”

The Foundation for Child Development also raised concerns, warning “early educators must elevate the profession to ensure that these—and future—resources are put to the best use: delivering the best outcomes for children.”

The national organization of state pre-K administrators, NAECS-SDE, voiced a common concern that economics–not early education–is behind the recommendation. Noting that most states already require lead teachers to hold a BA—and more are moving in that direction—state policymakers argue the increased costs of adequate pay for better trained teachers should not drive the profession’s vision for the future.

“Compensation…should remain a focus but we shouldn’t use the excuse that we can’t afford to professionalize the field knowing the knowledge and skill needed to meet the needs of all children in any setting,” according to NAECS-SDE. “Every child deserves to be taught by a highly qualified educator every day, and these educators deserve professional support and recognition, including adequate compensation commensurate with their responsibilities and qualifications.”

We invite you to follow NIEER on Twitter @PreschoolToday and Facebook at Preschool Today. Please share your social media handles so we can connect.

This infographic illustrates changes in state-funded pre-K enrollment from the first State of Preschool report in 2002 through 2015-16. Look for the new annual report on our website Wednesday April 18, during the NAEYC Week of the Young Child.

NIEER Activities

Mark your calendars and set your alarm clocks for 12:01 AM Wednesday April 18—when NIEER publishes The State of Preschool 2017 report.

The State of Preschool is the only national report detailing funding, enrollment and quality for state-funded preschool programs nationwide (now including Guam), based on data from a general survey funded by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

This year’s report, based on 2016-17 data, highlights changes since 2002, when NIEER began tracking state pre-K, and includes a special section on policies affecting Dual Language Learners, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Recent changes in federal policy—including ESSA—make it clear that progress in early education depends more than ever on the states,” said NIEER Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett. “Our report highlights which states invest best in their young children and which leave too many children behind.”

NIEER is proud this year to be partnering with Save the Children Action Network, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, and CCSSO President Carey Wright, Mississippi education superintendent for a media briefing highlighting the important role quality preschool plays in helping children succeed in school and beyond.

CEELO Update

In advance of its sixth annual Roundtable for state early childhood specialists, CEELO will be hosting a series of webinars  designed to share expert content that will be a focus of the conference. Webinars are free and open to anyone interested. Topics include:

Early Learning Opportunities in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) | Thursday, April 26, 2018 – 3:00-4:30 Eastern | REGISTER HERE

The Roundtable is collaboratively planned by CEELO, NAECS-SDE and national technical assistance partners. Learn more about the 2018 Roundtable here.

Please note: the Equitable Early Learning webinar has been moved to May 15 3-4 pm Eastern.  No need to re-register but feel free to register now if you can participate after all!



In a new article in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, researchers assessed impact of scheduling multiple periods of outdoor free-play on the time children spend in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) while attending childcare. Researchers found that average daily minutes of MVPA in care was significantly greater at follow-up among children in the intervention group as well as the percentage of time spent in MVPA in care per day.

Researchers suggest that scheduling multiple periods of outdoor free-play could be considered for broader dissemination as a strategy to increase child physical activity in child care centers. These and other findings are discussed by the authors.


In a new study in Maternal and Child Health Journal, researchers assessed state licensing regulations restricting screen media use for children under 24 months old in early care and education (ECE) centers and family child care homes. They compared those regulations to a national screen time standard. Twenty-four states had regulations limiting screen media use for children under 24 months of age in ECE centers, and 19 states had regulations limiting screen media use in family child care homes.

Researchers suggest that many states lacked screen media use regulations for ECE. They recommend that states should consider adding screen media use restrictions for children under 24 months.


In a new study in Infant and Child Development, researchers conducted a meta‐analytic review to provide a summary of the characteristics of social problem-solving instruction in preschool settings. They also examined the effectiveness of interventions that include a social problem-solving component in decreasing externalizing behaviors and increasing social competence among preschoolers.

Researchers examined both preschool‐based and home‐based reports of behavior and social competence for the meta‐analysis. Authors identify common characteristics of preschool interventions that include social problem solving and provide evidence for the efficacy of these interventions in reducing externalizing behaviors and increasing social competence in preschoolers.


In a new article in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, researchers examined academic growth trajectories of children who attended Head Start over two years during the period between Head Start entry and kindergarten, and whether those growth trajectories differed by children’s dual language learning status. Researchers compared three groups of children (Spanish-English bilinguals, Spanish-English emergent bilinguals [EBs], and English monolinguals).

Researchers found that bilinguals entering Head Start with English proficiency showed similar developmental trajectories in vocabulary and math to those of monolinguals. EBs entering Head Start with limited English proficiency had the lowest baseline skills in both vocabulary and math. Gaps in math between EBs and monolinguals narrowed by kindergarten. However, the initial vocabulary gaps generally persisted over time. Finally, there was no difference between bilinguals and EBs in their Spanish vocabulary development. Authors suggest that additional resources and instructional support be provided EBs, especially in their vocabulary development.


In a new article published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, researchers identified thresholds on the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS–R) that are associated with preschool-aged children’s social and cognitive development using a large, nationally representative sample. They note that states establish ECERS-R thresholds to inform high stakes decisions.

Researchers found a leveling-off effect once classrooms achieved a score of 3.4 on the overall ECERS-R composite score. The researchers observed no additional improvements to children’s social, cognitive, or language outcomes with higher composite scores. ECERS-R subscales that focused on teaching and caregiving processes, however, did not show leveling-off effects, while those associated with the physical environment did. Authors conclude that the ECERS-R may be limited to certain score ranges or subscales for discerning associations with children’s outcomes.


West Virginia University

West Virginia University is seeking a Clinical Assistant Professor in Child Development & Family Studies to coordinate and grow the Child Development and Family Studies (CDFS) Online Program (https://lshd.wvu.edu/cdfs/online) and contribute to online and campus-based undergraduate CDFS programs.

The individual who fills this position will teach online and face-to-face courses in CDFS and provide course advising and mentoring to students in the online CDFS major. CDFS Online major coordination will include accreditation, marketing, recruiting, curricular development, and course scheduling. This position also will contribute to CDFS accreditation, articulation agreements, and program development across campus-based and online programs.

Preference will be given to applicants with a background in early childhood development and education; applicants with experience/familiarity in accreditation (NAEYC; CAEP) are preferred. However, individuals with experience in all areas of child development will be considered. Start date is August 10, 2018. Click here for details.


Creating Caring and Culturally Responsive Classrooms for Students in PreK to Grade 3

Webinar 11 am Pacific Time
Tuesday April 24

The Children’s Institute, REL Northwest, Northwest Comprehensive Center and CEELO are sponsoring a webinar exploring strategies to create culturally responsive and emotionally supportive pre-K–grade 3 classrooms for children from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.

The webinar will feature Dr. Sharon Ritchie, national researcher and principal investigator for the FirstSchool initiative, who will discuss strategies for using classroom observation data to motivate change, guide professional development efforts, and engage in collaborative inquiry to improve teaching practices in pre-K–grade 3 classrooms and creating culturally responsive classrooms in which all students feel like they belong and are competent, valued, and safe.

Ritchie will be joined by two elementary school principals, who will discuss how these research-based strategies can work in schools and classrooms.

Early Education News Roundup

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

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Empowerment, State of Pre-K and Free Play