Volume 17, Issue 6

Hot Topics

Early Intervention

A new study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics indicates a two-minute questionnaire for parents can enhance detection of autism among toddlers, enabling early intervention at a crucial stage of development.

Researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School developed the Psychological Development Questionnaire (PDQ-1), which demonstrated an 88 percent likelihood of correctly identifying which of the youngsters who screened positive per the questionnaire had autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Researchers screened a diverse population of nearly 2,000 low-risk children, age 18 to 36 months through a network of cooperating pediatric practices in New Jersey.

The PDQ-1 questionnaire asks parents about behaviors such as whether the child points or gestures to show interest or get attention, responds to their name, enjoys playing peek-a-boo, speaks in phrases and relates to others.

Children with low PDQ-1 scores received comprehensive developmental evaluations to determine whether they were on the autism spectrum. Results detected individuals with autism from all socioeconomic communities who had not come to professional attention.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has urged pediatricians to screen all children for ASD at 18 and 24 months, yet only half of all children are screened at that age.

Nearly 441,000 preschool-aged children—about 3 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds, were enrolled in special education in 2015-16, according to The State of Preschool 2016.

“Diagnosis of autism can only be accomplished through comprehensive evaluation by a professional,” researchers noted. “Effective screening is but the first step toward diagnosis. If we want to improve early detection, easy-to-use and reliable autism screeners need to be widely used.”

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New on Preschool Matters Today! Blog

The Solution for the Workforce Dilemma is the Public Schools

Albert Einstein is credited with exclaiming “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” I think most of us who follow the early care and education field (ECE) would agree that neither wages nor education have changed substantially in 25 years. According to the Early Childhood Workforce Index from 2016, only 35 percent of center-based teachers have a Bachelor’s degree or higher and 65 percent of lead teachers in these same programs earn less than $15 an hour….

Given that most Americans seemingly are in agreement that we ought to have an educated and compensated workforce, why are so few preschool teachers well educated or compensated?

NIEER Activities

NIEER Founder and Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett will present “What does quality Early Childhood Education look like?” as this year’s Andrus Lecture at Boise State University. The lecture, hosted by The Andrus Center for Public Policy, is an annual forum “for thoughtful and timely consideration of public affairs.”

The topic reflects the policy center’s belief that “the time is right to revisit and reevaluate the state’s conversation about early learning.”

Idaho does not have a state-funded preschool program but the state does provide other investments in early education. The state invests $200,000 TANF dollars to support 200 additional slots in Head Start. In 2015, a group of early childhood leaders from across the state convened to organize an Early Childhood Steering Committee. Idaho recently received a three-year grant from the Kellogg Foundation to build support for pre-K in the state, according to The State of Preschool 2016.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently shared The Development and Home Environments of Low-Income Hispanic Children: Kindergarten to Third Grade, a report from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families. The study from September 2017 found low-income Latino children have the social skills needed to succeed in their early elementary years, yet struggle to overcome other challenges, helping identify where interventions might effectively promote academic success.


Early Childhood Education Report

A study released this week by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education describes both progress and challenges in Canadian public early education—a similar story to the inequity facing families across the U.S.

Provinces and territories spent almost $11.7 billion on educational programs for young children and more than half of Canadian preschoolers attended an early childhood program. “It’s mainly a good news story,” the report states, “depending on where you live in Canada” as funding, quality and access vary among provinces.

Established in 2011,  the Early Childhood Education Report is released every three years to evaluate the quality of provincial/territorial early years services against a 15-point scale. Results are populated from detailed profiles. The report focuses on five categories with benchmarks forming a set of minimum criteria for quality programming.

From Flawed Design to Misleading Information: The U.S. Department of Education’s Early Intervention Child Outcomes Evaluation

This American Journal of Evaluation article raises questions about an evaluation design adopted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to evaluate the performance of early intervention (EI) for young children with developmental delays and disabilities. It focuses on OSEP’s requirement that states use a single group pre–post comparison design to evaluate the impact of EI on child outcomes. The article also provides a data-based illustration of the evaluation design’s limitations in distinguishing child progress that is due to EI services from changes associated with other factors. The report’s authors conclude that “It is a matter of concern when large, federally funded programs are evaluated using designs that produce misleading information.”

Note an upcoming AUCD webinar with study authors: “Early Intervention and Preschool Child Outcomes Evaluation: A Closer Look” on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 3 – 4:30 p.m. ET

How States Fund Pre-K

State funding of preschool has increased 47 percent in the past five years, with one study concluding the US will see a net benefit of at least $83.3 billion—in reduced grade retention, students qualifying for special education and other factors—for each cohort of 4-year-olds attending preschool. But the mechanisms states use vary widely, along with discrepancies in income requirements for participation, how many students can be enrolled and other factors that, in turn, limit quality preschool experiences for all students.

This Education Commission of the States policy brief, drawing from current state examples, summarizes and explains revenue streams available for funding quality pre-K programs. Editor’s note: Washington state does not fund a universal preschool program. Washington, D.C. provides universal pre-K, ranking first in access nationwide for both 3- and 4-year-olds. 

Generalized trust predicts young children’s willingness to delay gratification

Past research indicates that young children’s willingness to delay gratification predicts a range of positive social, cognitive, and health outcomes. In a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, researchers examined the relationship between generalized trust and children’s willingness to delay gratification.

Authors found that trust plays a role in delaying gratification even when children had no information about the individual who is promising a future reward. Authors suggest that their findings build on recent research that suggests there is more to delay of gratification than just cognitive capacity.

Preschool Executive Control and Internalizing Symptoms in Elementary School

A new study in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology examined the relationship between executive control in preschool and subsequent depression and anxiety symptoms in elementary school. Researchers found that poorer preschool executive control was significantly associated with both greater depression and anxiety symptoms in elementary school, controlling for a variety of background variables.

Authors suggest that poor executive control may be an important risk factor for the development of internalizing psychopathology in childhood. Authors suggest that interventions focusing on the promotion of executive control, particularly in preschool, may hold promise as a potential target in psychopathology prevention.

Promoting the development of resilient academic functioning in maltreated children

A recent study in Child Abuse & Neglect examined patterns of developmental trajectories of language development and academic functioning in children who have experienced maltreatment. Researchers examined how maltreatment type and timing of abuse explained variation in developmental trajectories and the extent to which individual, relationship, and community protective factors promoted the development of resilient language/academic functioning trajectories.

Authors suggest that despite early adversity, it is possible for a maltreated child to achieve competent academic functioning. Authors identify possible avenues for intervention and suggest that the methodology employed in the current study makes a unique contribution to the field of child development research.

Promoting honesty in young children through observational learning

In a new paper released in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, researchers examine whether honesty can be promoted in children by allowing them to observe a peer’s display of honest behavior. Findings suggests that verbal feedback alone was sufficient to reinforce honest behavior.

Researchers also suggest that young children’s observations of the social consequences of others’ socio-moral behavior can help them to guide their own behavior. These and other findings, authors suggest, point to new strategies for promoting honesty in young children.

CIRCLES: A Culturally Appropriate Curriculum for American Indian Preschool Children

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) recently released the first book in a new curriculum series grounded in evidence-based practices and principles with a strong focus toward Native culture and language preservation.

Using this curriculum approach, teachers are encouraged to implement a variety of teaching strategies to support American Indian learners while paying attention to child observation to inform instructional practices. Nearly three decades of work with American Indian preschool children and families has contributed to and shaped this unique curriculum approach.


Child Trends Seeking Research Analyst

Child Trends invites applications for a Research Analyst position for quantitative aspects of research projects involving vulnerable families, including families with experience in the child welfare and criminal justice systems.

The analyst will take part in the creation and development of new projects, prepare research designs and protocols, oversee and participate in data collection activities, and take a lead role in analysis and writing. Click here for a full position description and information on how to apply.


AERA Annual Meeting

April 13-17, 2018
New York City
Exhibition Hall New York Hilton Midtown

The AERA Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of scholars in the field of education research. It is a showcase for ground-breaking, innovative studies in a diverse array of areas—from early education through higher education, from digital learning to second language literacy. It is where to encounter ideas and data that will shape tomorrow’s education practices and policies, and where to connect with leading thinkers from the U.S. and around the world.

Several NIEER faculty will be presenting and participating in discussions and panels on topics including providing high-quality early education from pre-K to third grade, literacy assessment, STEM in early ed, and dual language learners.

The 2018 Annual Meeting, with an expected attendance of more than 17,000, will feature over 2,800 sessions. Early Bird registration ends March 11, 2018.

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: Early Intervention, Canadian Pre-K and Idaho