Volume 17, Issue 5

Hot Topics

Long-term Consequences

A National Institutes of Health study published this week by JAMA Pediatrics provided new evidence that multi-year quality early education, from preschool through third grade, can promote long-term educational success contributing to positive health and economic outcomes well into adulthood.

The study followed nearly 1,400 children through 35 years of age—much later in life than most research tracks early education effects—who participated in the Chicago Child-Parent Center Program providing school-based educational enrichment and family services from preschool to third grade. Participating families lived in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Findings demonstrated a 48 percent higher rate of post-secondary degree completion among those with four to six years in the program.

“Because of its influence on a wide variety of life-course outcomes, educational attainment is arguably the most important long-term outcome of early childhood interventions,” the report states. “Low educational attainment is a major risk factor for all seven health metrics of the American Heart Association, economic disparities, criminal behavior, and mental health problems.”

Even looking only at preschool, participation was associated with enhanced outcomes including more years of education completed, with greater benefits for those whose mothers had not completed high school. “The pattern of benefits was robust,” the report states.

Preschool participants had higher rates of postsecondary degree completion of 15.7% vs 10.7% for earning an associate degree or higher.

Yet duration of participation did make a difference. Compared with fewer years, preschool to second or third grade participation led to higher rates–18.5% vs 12.5% — of earning an associate degree or higher.

“Duration of participation showed a consistent linear association with outcomes,” the report states. “Early childhood interventions are one of the most promising and consequential of all prevention programs…”

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Early Education: Reflecting Back….and Moving Forward

To appreciate the insights from the seminal NASBE report Right from the Start, it is important to reflect on the context of the times. I remember the late 1980s as a period of much debate about education reform, since it was just a few years after publication of A Nation at Risk (1983).

Part of this debate focused on the rising interest in preschool and the appropriate role of public schools in early childhood. It was also a time when both need and demand for child care were increasing. Yet public policy was still just waking up from the slumber caused by the 1971 veto of comprehensive child care legislation; and the concepts of “care” and “education” were still on two separate tracks.

Considering the conflict surrounding competing ideas during that period the wisdom and foresight behind recommendations in Right from the Start are notable. While it is always a challenge to draw a straight line from one event or report to the progress that follows, the NASBE Task Force Report on Early Childhood Education revealed important issues that continue to shape early education policy and practice today.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Senior Co-Director Ellen Frede Ph.D. discussed research and critical state experiences concerning equity and high-fidelity implementation of pre-K in New Jersey during the recent Council of Chief State School Officers summit in Washington, DC.

Dr. Frede’s presentation, Pre-K Effectiveness: Fade-Out, Fading or Catch-Up, included these key lessons for program design:

  • Initial gains must be large & meaningful
  • Structural features (resources) are necessary, but not sufficient
  • Program standards should encompass key features of practice
  • Cost should be determined based on design not designed to fit an arbitrary budget figure
  • Broader policies and practices before, after, and around preschool interact

NIEER Founder and Senior Co-Director W. Steven Barnett Ph.D. also addressed the CCSSO summit, sharing research on different preschool funding schema drawing from national models, highlighting cost of quality and state education infrastructures, and effective state support systems.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) this week shared Building Capacity to Enact Change for Classroom Quality Improvement in New Jersey, a policy brief exploring how the state set out to build the capacity of educators, teachers and leaders through a New Jersey Early Childhood Academy providing teams of administrators and teachers a unique opportunity to learn and share best practices of early childhood education during a series of seminars with renowned researchers and policymakers

This paper describes the rationale and theory of change, identifies the impact on the SEA and LEAs, lessons learned, and concludes with next steps for the SEA.


Reducing Inequality in Childcare Service Use across European Countries: What (if any) Is the role of Social Spending?

In this Social Policy and Administration journal article, the relationships between: (a) spending and childcare use, and (b) spending and inequality in childcare use are examined over 2006-12 using data from 156 countries. Results suggest that more spending leads to higher levels of childcare use but does not appear to directly lead to lower levels of inequality. Instead, the details of subsidy policy matter, whether that policy intervenes on the supply or demand side.

For achieving equity in childcare use, authors suggest, government investment should be specifically designed to lead to an expansion of childcare places across the income distribution. Authors discuss the role of the private market in childcare services provision. These and other findings are discussed.

Addressing barriers to maternal nutrition in low- and middle-income countries: A review of the evidence and programme implications

A recent article published by the Journal of Maternal and Child Nutrition identifies drivers of food choice and consumption during pregnancy and lactation and examines how low- and middle-income countries have addressed maternal nutrition in programs.

Authors note that adequate maternal nutrition is critical from conception through the first 6 months of life to reduce the risk of poor birth outcomes. Authors suggest that nutrition interventions in many low- to middle-income countries generally limit programs to monitoring infants and young children, rather than to women during pregnancy or post-partum.

Barriers to adequate nutrition during pregnancy are identified. Authors recommend tailored, culturally appropriate nutrition education and counselling on diet during pregnancy and lactation. They also suggest monitoring of progress in maternal nutrition be implemented in the countries studied.

Evidence-Based Practices: Providing Guidance for Early Childhood Practitioners

This Journal of Research in Childhood Education article reviews guidelines from professional and government organizations on both evidence-based practices (EBPs) and developmentally appropriate practices (DAPs). Authors provide a framework for how the field of Early Childhood Education might maintain a dual emphasis on both EBPs and DAPs.

Authors maintain EBP has not been clearly defined in early childhood education. They call on researchers, content experts, and practitioners to collectively develop criteria for identifying and evaluating EBPs and DAPs. They provide suggestions for dissemination of these criteria, once developed, in order to help practitioners, develop best approaches for learning and development.

Maternal Support of Children’s Early Numerical Concept Learning Predicts Preschool and First-Grade Math Achievement

The primary goal in this Society for Research in Child Development study was to examine maternal support of numerical concepts at 36 months as predictors of math achievement at 4½ and 6–7 years. Observations of mother–child interactions were used to examine support for numerical concepts.

Maternal support that involved labeling the quantities of sets of objects was predictive of later child math achievement. This association was significant for preschool and first-grade math, controlling for other forms of numerical support, as well as potential confounding factors. The importance of maternal support of labeling set sizes at 36 months is emphasized by the authors.

Dual Language Learners: A National Demographic and Policy Profile

The fact sheets in this Migration Policy Institute series offer a sociodemographic sketch of the DLL population (and comparison to non-DLL peers) at both the national level and in the 30 states with the most DLLs, providing data on age and enrollment, race/ethnicity, income and poverty levels, parental English proficiency and educational attainment, and top home languages spoken in DLL households.

The fact sheets also provide an overview of the policies states have introduced to support DLLs and their families in accessing quality ECEC programs, drawing from an MPI survey of state ECEC agencies.


Tennessee Department of Education

The Tennessee Department of Education is looking for contractors to review and score 2018–19 Voluntary PreK program applications, which must be completed no later than April 4, 2018. Applicants are asked to submit a resume, letter of reference, and letter of interest. Please see solicitation for complete details.

Responses must be submitted electronically to Candace.Cook@tn.gov no later than 5 p.m. CDT, February 6, 2018. 


NASBE Early Ed Twitter Chat

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018
3–4 pm. EDT

Join an early ed Twitter chat hosted by NASBE to discuss early ed achievements since “Right from the Start” to today—and next steps to enhance outcomes for children. Participants include CEELO Senior Project Director Lori Connors-Tadros.

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: Pre-K Consequences, Building Capacity, Twitter Chat