September 25, 2020 – Volume 19, Issue 37


Massive reductions in kindergarten enrollment reported this fall—preschool enrollment also falls

An AP story reports that urban school districts are experiencing large declines in the percentage of students enrolling in preschool and kindergarten—with kindergarten enrollment drops of 14 percent in Los Angeles and 37 percent in Nashville, for example.

“Among preschool-age children, participation rates plummeted in the spring, as programs closed and children stopped attending,” the AP writes in referring to NIEER’s recent report on preschool learning during the pandemic.

Steve Barnett, NIEER senior co-director and founder, says it’s been a challenge for families to educate their preschool children after the pandemic forced public pre-K programs to close.

“When that falls apart, parents are not going to be able to fill the gap,” said Barnett as quoted by the AP. “The people who are dependent on free public education as equalizers can’t make up the difference when left on their own.”

The nationwide University of Oregon RAPID-EC survey found that 17 percent of families were holding their children back from kindergarten, while the overwhelming majority are “doing it all” meeting the care and education needs of their young children at home all day while managing all of their other responsibilities including remote learning for school-age children as well as work.

New COVID-19 Resources from Research Connections

Research Connections has new webpages with links to COVID-19 resources “related to COVID-19’s impact on child care and early education” and “to individual state and multi-state COVID-19” publications. NIEER’s COVID-19 webpage offers links to many online resources for state early childhood administrators, publications on how individuals states are responding to the pandemic, and NIEER’s own COVID-19 guidance.


State Specialists: This Year’s Survey Arriving Soon

State early childhood education officials will soon receive an email from NIEER linking to the 2020 State of Preschool Yearbook survey.

This year’s supplemental section is about COVID-19’s impact on state-funded preschool programs.

This year’s survey submission deadline is October 30, 2020.

We are grateful to states and territories for their active and vital participation in our yearly survey of state-funded preschool programs.

NIEER’s 2020 State of Preschool Yearbook is generously supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the PNC Bank Foundation.


PreK to 3rd Grade Reopening: State Plans and Implementation

NIEER’s GG Weisenfeld will present an overview of her study of state guidance for reopening preschool programs at PreK to 3rd Grade Reopening Plans and Implementation in States, September 29, 2020. Dr. Weisenfeld will also moderate a discussion on transitioning into school, potential missed learning in the spring, and creating a culture of collaboration in the remote learning context. The event is sponsored by CCSSO and is open to its Early Childhood Collaborative members. The session is part of CCSSO’s Early Childhood Education Collaborative with 16 states represented by leaders in early learning at state education agencies.

Evaluating West Virginia’s Universal Pre-K Program: Fourth Year Longitudinal Outcomes

NIEER’s Milagros Nores and Kwanghee Jung will discuss their research into the initial impacts of West Virginia’s at-scale universal pre-k program at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management’s 42nd Annual Fall Research Conference. Their panel, Impacts of Contemporary Public Pre-k Programs on Short- and Medium-Term Learning Outcomes, is scheduled for November 11, 2020, 12:00 PM.

NIEER, Arizona Business Leaders Discuss ECE

NIEER’s GG Weisenfeld and Karin Garver recently participated in a panel with retired Petsmart CEO Phil Francis and Arizona business leaders about how high-quality early childhood education provides a foundation for success in later life and benefits the economy.


Implementation of a School Physical Activity Policy Improves Student Physical Activity Levels: Outcomes of a Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial

Sixty minutes of daily physical activity helps children’s “healthy growth and development,” but schools haven’t done an especially good job at implementing their physical activity policies. Researchers from the University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Hunter New England Population Health, and Queensland University of Technology studied an intervention to assess its effectiveness at supporting the implementation of a physical activity policy.

Spatial Thinking: Why It Belongs in the Preschool Classroom

Teachers can help preschool children develop spatial thinking skills by adopting several key practices, according to researchers from University of Delaware, Temple University, The Brookings Institution, Ohio State University, and University of Maryland. Teachers can use “more spatial language with children,” increase their use of gesture,” encourage children “to engage with more spatial toys such as blocks and puzzles,” “use more spatial gestures when talking about spatial topics,” encourage children to “use their hands when engaging in spatial problem solving,” and “use the classroom creatively by hiding objects and challenging children to use navigational strategies and spatial language to uncover objects.”

Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Classroom-Wide Social–Emotional Interventions for Preschool Children

How well do “classroom-wide social–emotional interventions” improve “the social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of preschool children”?

Li Luo, PhD, Brian Reichow, PhD, Patricia Snyder, PhD, Jennifer Harrington, MA, and Joy Polignano report that “Overall, the results of the meta-analyses showed moderate improvements in social competence, emotional competence, and challenging behavior.” However, they suggest “interventions with a family component generally” performed better at “increasing social competence and decreasing challenging behavior of preschool children” and that the person delivering “the intervention might be an important factor.”

Sleep Problems in Preschool-Onset Major Depressive Disorder: The Effect of Treatment with Parent-Child Interaction Therapy-Emotion Development

Nearly three-quarters of people “diagnosed with major depression report co-occurring sleep problems, but we know little “about sleep problems in the context of preschool-onset major depressive disorder (PO-MDD).”

Caroline P. Hoyniak, Diana J. Whalen, Deanna Barch, and Joan L. Luby found that “treatment with PCIT-ED [parent–child interaction therapy focused on emotional development] significantly reduced sleep problems … even when controlling for child depression” and that the “reduction was maintained at a 3-month follow-up.”

Executive Functions and Fine Motor Skills in Kindergarten as Predictors of Arithmetic Skills in Elementary School

How well do execution function skills and fine motor skills predict “arithmetic skills in 1st/2nd grade”?

Eva Michel, Sabine Molitor, and Wolfgang Schneider of the University of Würzburg found that while “fine motor skills predicted arithmetic skills,” they no longer did so after adding execution function to the analysis. The authors conclude that “visuospatial working memory and interference control were significant predictors” and their “Findings indicate an important role of EF as predictors of arithmetic skills.”


Policy Research Associate (SSHRA V) / R_00010462, Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

Policy Research Associate (SSHRA IV) / R_00010056, Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

State Policy Research Associate (SSHRA IV) / UT post # R_00008701, Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

State Policy Research Associate (SSHRA III) / UT post # R_00009932, Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

State Policy Research Assistant (SSHRA II) / UT post # R_00009933, Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

Evaluation Research Associate (SSHRA III) / UT post # R_00009817, Child and Family Research Partnership

Senior Evaluation Research Associate (SSHRA IV) / UT post # R_00009816, Child and Family Research Partnership