Volume 17, Issue 18

Hot Topics

Worthwhile Work

This week teachers and early childhood education advocates marked Worthy Wage Day—an annual effort focusing attention on underfunding of early childhood education and low wages paid to early childhood educators across the US.

Statistics compiled by The American Federation of Teachers indicate 45 percent of the preschool teaching workforce earns less than $15 an hour, with a median hourly wage above $15 in just 12 states. Wage increases for pre-K teachers failed to keep pace with inflation last year—and in 24 states the wage actually decreased, according to AFT.

In conjunction with the #WorthyWage movement, the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley released The Workforce Data Deficit: Who It Harms and How It Can Be Overcome, calling for collection of workforce data.

NIEER has partnered with CSCCE on a series of reports addressing compensation parity between equally qualified pre-K teachers and kindergarten and elementary school teachers.

Teacher Compensation Parity Policies and State Funded Pre-K Programs by NIEER Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett and Research Project Coordinator Richard Kasmin, compared teacher compensation in state-funded pre-K programs, based on data collected for the 2015 State of Preschool Yearbook. A separate report explored how states and cities are striving to close the wage gap.

Generally, pre-K teachers with a bachelor’s degree or higher can expect to earn $10,000–$13,000 less per year than colleagues teaching slightly older children, even if they work in the same building, according to our analysis.

Our review found 10 states have parity policies for lead pre-K teachers that address salary, benefits, and payment for professional development and planning time. Only four states have compensation parity policies for pre-K assistant teachers. Of the 44 states with state-funded prekindergarten, 24 have no compensation parity policies at all for teachers or assistants.

As K-12 teachers across the country rally for increased education funding to benefit teachers and their students, let’s not forget those who teach our youngest children, all too often at the lowest pay.

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

NIEER Activities

Allison Friedman-Krauss, co-author of both The State of Preschool and The State(s) of Head Start reports, is also an author of the recently published New Findings on Impact Variation From the Head Start Impact Study: Informing the Scale-Up of Early Childhood Programs in AERA Open.

Since 1965, the federal Head Start program has provided comprehensive services to low-income preschool children and their families across the United States in an attempt to “narrow the gap” between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers. The newly published study “tells a critical story regarding for whom and under what circumstances Head Start is effective at improving children’s access to high-quality ECCE and their school readiness.”

“The national scope of the HSIS (including 351 Head Start sites in 22 states) allowed us to uncover the ways in which characteristics of a Head Start site—including the state policy context, the urbanicity of the neighborhood, or the proportion of DLL children served—matter to the impacts of assignment to and attendance in Head Start,” the article states. “With regard to impacts on children’s ECCE experiences, we found that, overall, the offer of Head Start successfully moved children from home-based settings into high-quality center-based care (primarily Head Start) but that it altered children’s care experience the most (in terms of enrollment in formal care and the quality of that care) in states with less rigorous child care licensing regulations. The quality of Head Start, too, appears to vary more in states with less-rigorous regulations, suggesting that the combination of federal standards and state policy context may be important to ensuring a system of uniformly high-quality ECCE.”

NEW on Preschool Matters Today blog

Extracting Success in Pre-K Teaching

When designed and implemented well, professional learning can help pre-K teachers develop the knowledge and competencies needed to best serve their young students. But what constitutes high-quality professional learning?

New America’s report, Extracting Success in Pre-K Teaching: Approaches to Effective Professional Learning Across Five States, identifies the components associated with effective professional learning based on the research.  One of the five examples is the NIEER developed Sci-Math DLL program led by NIEER’s Alissa Lange now at East Tennessee State University.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) is partnering with NAECS-SDE and national technical assistance partners to host the sixth annual Roundtable conference for state early childhood specialists June 6-8 in Austin TX.

So far, more than 100 registrants from 35 states are attending. Early bird registration is available until May 8. The registration fees in all categories will increase $50 following that date. 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!


Food Insecurity and Family Well-Being Outcomes among Households with Young Children

In a new Journal of Pediatrics article, researchers examined the relationship between household food insecurity and a variety of family well-being variables, based on data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. Researchers found that household food insecurity was related to poorer maternal physical health, increased depressive symptoms and use of harsh discipline strategies, and greater frequency and negativity of conflict between parents. Associations were strongest and most consistent when children were preschool aged.

Researchers conclude that food insecurity is associated with significant decreases in family health and well-being. They suggest that screening for families experiencing or at-risk for food insecurity and then connecting them with resources can improve family health and well-being.

Origins of Mother-Child Reminiscing Style

In a new article in Development and Psychopathology, researchers examined the role of maternal depression, maternal sensitivity, and maternal mind-mindedness, as well as child factors of joint attention, attachment security, and language on mother-child reminiscing about a positive (happy) and a negative (scared) event at 44 months. The authors note that maternal elaborative reminiscing supports preschool children’s autobiographical memory, self-concept, and emotion understanding.

Maternal depression did not uniquely predict mother-child reminiscing. Rather, maternal sensitivity, children’s joint attention, and language uniquely predicted children’s elaborations about the scared event at 44 months. Maternal sensitivity uniquely predicted mothers’ elaborations about the scared event at 44 months. Researchers suggest that mothers who are more sensitive in early interactions may later be better at engaging their children when reminiscing about negative emotions. Researchers further suggest that their findings have implications for the design of interventions targeted at supporting mothers to engage in elaborative reminiscing with their preschool children.

Reciprocal Associations Between Electronic Media Use and Behavioral Difficulties in Preschoolers

In a recently released article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, an Open Access Journal, researchers explored relationships between preschoolers’ use of electronic media and age, gender, and socio-economic status. They also investigated time trends and examined reciprocal longitudinal relations between children’s use of electronic media and their behavioral difficulties.

Analyses revealed that older vs. younger children, as well as children from families with a lower vs. higher socio-economic status, were more often reported to use electronic media. Researchers found that baseline usage of computer/Internet predicted more emotional and conduct problems at follow-up, and baseline usage of mobile phones was related with more conduct problems and hyperactivity or inattention at follow-up. Peer relationship problems at baseline, interestingly, increased the likelihood of using computer/Internet and mobile phones at follow-up. Researchers suggest that preschoolers’ use of electronic media and their behavioral difficulties are mutually related over time.


Positive and Negative Emotionality at Age 3 Predicts Change in Frontal EEG Asymmetry Across Early Childhood

Researchers have found that depression can be characterized by both low positive emotionality (PE) and high negative emotionality (NE), as well as asymmetries in resting electroencephalography (EEG) alpha power. In a new article in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, researchers examined associations between both temperamental PE and NE with resting EEG asymmetries in young children and whether this association changes as a function of development.

Researchers suggest from their findings that early temperament is associated with developmental changes in frontal asymmetry. Additionally, the combination of both low PE and high NE predicts the development of the pattern of frontal symmetry that is associated with depression.

Maternal Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy and Childhood Growth And Overweight: Results From a Large Norwegian Prospective Observational Cohort Study

In a new article in BMJ Open, researchers examined the association between maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and the child’s weight gain and overweight risk up to eight years, using a prospective nationwide pregnancy cohort in Norway. Researchers report that compared with pregnant women with low caffeine intake, women with average high, and very high caffeine intakes had an increased risk of their child experiencing excess growth in infancy. In utero exposure to any caffeine was associated with higher risk of overweight at age three years and five years. For very high exposures, the association persisted at eight years.


Heising-Simons Foundation

The Heising-Simons Foundation (Foundation) invites nominations and applications for the position of Early Education Program Officer (Program Officer). Reporting to the Education Program Director, the Program Officer will have the unique opportunity to design, implement, monitor,
and evaluate a new portfolio of grants related to educational improvement and equity, which may include a specific focus on dual language learners, low-income children, and children of color.

Screening of complete applications will begin immediately and continue until the completion of the search. Inquiries, nominations, referrals, and applications should be sent in confidence to: www.imsearch.com/6582


High-Quality Instruction Birth Through Third Grade

3 pm Eastern
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

In advance of its sixth annual Roundtable for state early childhood specialists, CEELO is 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. Register here

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: Worthy Wage, Roundtable, Caffeine