Studies from 2017 Everyone Concerned with Early Childhood Policy Should Know
IMPACTS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION ON MEDIUM- AND LONG-TERM EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES
In a paper released in the journal Educational Researcher, researchers report on a meta-analysis of 22 high-quality experimental and quasi-experimental studies conducted between 1960 and 2016. They found that on average, participation in ECE leads to reductions in special education placement and grade retention, and increases high school graduation rates. These results support ECE’s utility for reducing education-related expenditures and promoting child well-being.
DO ACADEMIC PRESCHOOLS YIELD STRONGER BENEFITS? COGNITIVE EMPHASIS, DOSAGE, AND EARLY LEARNING
In a study from the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, researchers who examined the relationship between “academic pre-K” (when teachers spend more time on activities emphasizing language, pre-literacy, and math concepts) and children’s outcomes found positive benefits for children overall.
A REVIEW OF CLASSWIDE OR UNIVERSAL SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL, BEHAVIORAL PROGRAMS FOR STUDENTS IN KINDERGARTEN
An article released in Review of Educational Research provides a synthesis of the existing research on classwide social, emotional, and behavioral programs for kindergarten students. Researchers found that behavioral interventions demonstrated the strongest effects on increasing prosocial behavior and decreasing antisocial behavior. These and other findings are discussed.
STARTING STRONG 2017: KEY OECD INDICATORS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, for the first time, released a report that brings together all of the key Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) indicators in one volume. It provides an overview of ECEC systems and provisions as well as trend data and information on recent reforms in OECD countries. The report examines issues such as access and governance, equity, financing, curriculum, the teaching workforce and parent engagement. Authors identify challenges for improving the ECEC sector.
THE STATE OF PRESCHOOL 2016
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released the latest edition of an annual report profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. NIEER’s yearbook is the only national report on state-funded preschool programs with detailed information on enrollment, funding, teacher qualifications, and other policies related to quality, such as the presence of a qualified teacher and assistant, small class size, and low student-to-teacher ratio.
BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: THE CURRENT STATE OF SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE ON PRE-KINDERGARTEN EFFECTS
A Pre-Kindergarten Task Force of interdisciplinary scientists reviewed the evidence on the impact of state-funded pre-Kindergarten programs. The task force concluded that the continued implementation of scaled-up pre-K programs should be continued as long as it is accompanied by rigorous evaluation of impact. Ongoing innovation in the implementation and evaluation of state-funded programs is recommended. These and other important findings are discussed.
DOES UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL HIT THE TARGET? PROGRAM ACCESS AND PRESCHOOL IMPACTS
The National Bureau of Economic Research released a paper on program access and preschool impacts. Researchers found that universal state-funded pre-Kindergarten programs generate substantial positive effects on the reading scores of low-income 4-year-olds. These and other findings and implications for public policy are discussed by the authors.
A META-ANALYSIS OF CLASS SIZES AND RATIOS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS: ARE THRESHOLDS OF QUALITY ASSOCIATED WITH GREATER IMPACTS ON COGNITIVE, ACHIEVEMENT, AND SOCIOEMOTIONAL OUTCOMES?
In a paper published in the journal of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, researchers used data from a comprehensive database of U.S. early childhood education program evaluations published between 1960 and 2007 to evaluate the relationship between class size, child-teacher ratio, and program effect sizes for cognitive, achievement, and socioemotional outcomes. Researchers report that for classes with child-teacher ratios for class sizes 15 and smaller, one child fewer predicted larger effects. These and other findings are discussed by the authors.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS’ WELL-BEING: AN UPDATED REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
In this Early Childhood Education Journal, researchers identify trends in, and implications of, recent research concerned with educators’ well-being. Researchers found in their review that recent studies address concerns raised in a review of earlier literature, and describe the implications that recent studies have for future research efforts concerned with educators’ well-being.
TEACHER COMPENSATION PARITY POLICIES AND STATE-FUNDED PRE-K PROGRAMS
In a study released by the National Institute for Early Education Research and the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers examined state policies that seek to require the compensation of preschool teachers, particularly for those in state-funded pre-K, to be equivalent to that of their counterparts teaching slightly older children in public elementary schools. Researchers find positive associations between having a state parity policy and pre-K teacher pay.
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Many of us tend to think of leadership as a formal position with a job title, such as school principal or center director. A recent NIEER news item focusing on a new Early Childhood Clearinghouse report, “Closing the Leadership Gap: 2017 Status Report on Early Childhood Program Leadership in the United States,” is a good example. In calling attention to the report, NIEER writes that past efforts to collect data on the early childhood education (ECE) workforce have “overlooked the field’s leaders”—center directors, principals, and family childcare providers.
It’s true that our workforce is often characterized as teachers, as if program administrators don’t exist. But when we talk about closing the leadership gap in ECE and limit ourselves to those who hold what typically are labeled as leadership roles, we are capping ECE’s potential.
NIEER Founder and Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett contributed to a review of economic benefits of center-based ECE programs recently published by The Journal of Public Health Management & Practice.
Early Childhood Education to Promote Health Equity: A Community Guide Economic Review follows up a recent review by The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) finding that early childhood education (ECE) programs improve educational, social, and health-related outcomes and advance health equity because they increase enrollment of disadvantaged, high-risk children.
The economic review examines how the economic benefits of center-based ECE programs compare with their costs, and indicates that for every dollar invested in the program, there was a return of $4.19 in total benefits.
“ECE programs promote both equity and economic efficiency. Evidence indicates there is positive social return on investment in ECE irrespective of the type of ECE program,” the review states. “The adoption of a societal perspective is crucial to understand all costs and benefits of ECE programs regardless of who pays for the costs or receives the benefits.”
The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) recently released The State of Early Learning in ESSA: Plans and Opportunities for Implementation, a policy brief highlighting promising examples from a range of states, with a chart showing how each state addresses key areas within their ESSA plans.
In addition to this policy brief, CEELO recently published several resources to guide states through their ESSA plan implementation, including:
- a Birth to Grade 3 Indicator Framework
- a guide on opportunities for state leadership,
- a blog series on ESSA and early learning, and
- a compilation of external resources on ESSA and early childhood.
The National Association of State Boards of Education this week published a new issue of its journal, The State Education Standard, focused on early education and ways state policymakers can ensure all children have a strong start. Highlights include:
- Looking Back, Looking Forward: Tracing the Arc of Early Childhood Policy — A 30-year-old NASBE task force on early education still holds water, even as the context and concerns of the field have shifted. Authors: Lori Connors-Tadros at CEELO and Learning Policy Institute’s Madelyn Gardner
- Fully Funding Pre-K through K-12 Funding Formulas — While just 11 states have tried it, inclusion of state-funded pre-K in the school funding formula may well be the best option for extending access to more children. Authors: W. Steven Barnett and Richard Kasmin of NIEER
This policy brief from New Jersey Policy Perspectives outlines economic impacts of current state policies regarding preschool and child care, as well as potential gains from providing universal high-quality preschool. Universal high-quality preschool in New Jersey would enable 10,000 more mothers to enter the workforce, according to the report.
More than 400,000 New Jersey mothers with children under age 6 now struggle to balance child care and their work demands due to lack of adequate child care assistance, the report states. “The state’s early care and education programs help mothers with young kids earn $1.2 billion in wages and generate over $60 million in property and income taxes annually. However, the impacts of universal, high quality preschool would be far greater.”
In total, the report states, universal preschool would help about 200,000 mothers earn $7.5 billion and contribute $400 million in taxes each year.
A recent RAND report identifies 60 SEL programs in K-12 public schools that meet the evidence requirements for ESSA and offers a breakdown of these by outcomes, school level, settings, features, etc. that practitioners can use to adapt programs to their local needs.
Researchers found at least three possible funding streams that could support the implementation of SEL: Title I, improving academic achievement for the disadvantaged; Title II, preparing, training, and recruiting school leaders; and Title IV, 21st Century Schools, aimed at improving educational opportunities for students.
This Child Development Perspectives article explores conceptual and theoretical thinking about the role of father–child relationships in children’s development, asking why fathers are often absent from parenting research. Authors discuss the role fathers play in child outcomes and recommend best practices for assessing father–child relationships and guidelines for research to better address ways fathers influence child development.
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Head Start Association (NHSA) recently published New Early Childhood Coordination Requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): A Toolkit for State and Local Educational Agencies, Head Start Programs, and the Early Childhood Field to help school districts meet new federal requirements regarding partnerships with early childhood education providers to facilitate transitions from preschool to kindergarten.
This U.S. Administration for Children and Families guide is intended to increase researchers’ awareness of existing resources that can help them define variables to support secondary analysis of administrative datasets, summarizing resources specific to early childhood data and providing examples of how to use them. For additional information, check out Research Connections’ Working with Administrative Data resource page.
The federal Early Learning Challenge (ELC) program awarded more than $1 billion in four-year grants to 20 States to implement comprehensive and cohesive high-quality early learning systems. This report summarizes the progress ELC states made since the program began in 2012, including selected examples of key initiatives to refine state QRIS, engage and support families, support the early learning workforce, enhance early childhood data systems, and foster community connections.
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ICYMI: Read this week’s key stories on early childhood education issues.Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Top 2017 Research, Early Ed in ESSA and What About Dads?