Tomorrow’s inventors and scientists are today’s curious young children — as long as those children are given ample chances to explore and are guided by adults equipped to support them. This report aims to better understand the challenges to and opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning as documented in a review of early childhood education research, policy, and practice and encourages collaboration between pivotal sectors to implement and sustain needed changes. The report provides key recommendations for education leaders, researchers, and policymakers across the country to improve opportunities for children to become confident learners in science, technology, engineering and math.
STEM Starts Early: Grounding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education in Early Childhood
McClure, E. R., Guernsey, L., Clements, D. H., Bales, S. N., Nichols, J., Kendall-Taylor, N., & Levine, M. H. (2017). STEM starts early: Grounding science, technology, engineering, and math education in early childhood. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.
Parent Engagement Practices Improve Outcomes for Preschool Children
Bierman, K., Morris P., and Abenavoli R. Parent Engagement Practices Improve Outcomes for Preschool Children (February 2017). Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Children begin learning at home before they ever reach the classroom, but many families face barriers to providing high-quality early educational opportunities. This study outlines a number of research-based strategies to bolster parent engagement in ways that improve child outcomes. Two key findings: (2) Promoting home learning activities and effective teaching strategies can foster early learning and improve school readiness; and (2) Strengthening parent-teacher partnerships can boost academic and social-emotional skill development and promote academic success.
Child and Parenting Outcomes After 1 Year of Educare
Yazejian, N., Bryant, D. M., Hans, S., Horm, D., St. Clair, L., File, N. and Burchinal, M. (February 8, 2017), Child and Parenting Outcomes After 1 Year of Educare. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12688
Educare is a birth to age 5 early education program designed to reduce the achievement gap between children from low-income families and their more economically advantaged peers through high-quality center-based programming and strong school–family partnerships. This study randomly assigned 239 children (< 19 months) from low-income families to Educare or a business-as-usual control group. Assessments tracked children 1 year after randomization. Results revealed significant differences favoring treatment group children on auditory and expressive language skills, parent-reported problem behaviors, and positive parent–child interactions. Effect sizes were in the modest to medium range. No effects were evident for observer-rated child behaviors or parent-rated social competence. The overall results add to the evidence that intervening early can set low-income children on more positive developmental courses.
The Best Teachers for Our Littlest Learners? Lessons from Head Start's Last Decade
Kaplan, M. and Mead, S. The Best Teachers for Our Littlest Learners? Lessons from Head Start's Last Decade. (2017) Bellwether Education Partners: Washington, D.C.
This paper traces the evolution of Head Start Workforce policies over 50 years and detail how shifts in the broader early childhood landscape, especially state-funded pre-k programs, have influenced these policies. Based on this analysis, the authors make five recommendations: (1) Provide equitable compensation and benefits to Head Start teachers; (2) Include Head Start in state initiatives to build the early childhood workforce; (3) Develop systemic approaches to improve preparation for early childhood teachers; (4) Continue to support high-quality, ongoing, job-embedded professional development for Head Start teachers; and (5) Make Head Start a vehicle for promoting innovation in early childhood teacher preparation, support, and development.
Kids Today: The Rise in Children’s Academic Skills at Kindergarten Entry
Bassock, D. and Latham, S. Kids Today: The Rise in Children’s Academic Skills at Kindergarten Entry. Educational Researcher Vol. XX No. X, pp. 1-14 (February 2017). Washington, D.C.: American Educational Research Association.
Private and public investments in early childhood education have expanded significantly in recent years. Despite this heightened investment, we have little empirical evidence on whether children today enter school with different skills than they did in the late nineties. Using two large, nationally representative data sets, this article documents how students entering kindergarten in 2010 compare to those who entered in 1998 in terms of their teacher-reported math, literacy, and behavioral skills. Our results indicate that students in the more recent cohort entered kindergarten with stronger math and literacy skills. Results for behavioral outcomes were mixed. Increases in academic skills over this period were particularly pronounced among Black children. Implications for policy are discussed.
The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects
Deborah A. Phillips, Mark W. Lipsey, Kenneth A. Dodge, Ron Haskins, Daphna Bassok, Margaret R. Burchinal, Greg J. Duncan, Mark Dynarski, Katherine A. Magnuson, and Christina Weiland (April 20, 2017). The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects. Brooking Institution and the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.
A Pre-Kindergarten Task Force of interdisciplinary scientists reviewed the evidence on the impact of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, and what research can tell us about what works and what doesn’t. Among their key findings is that while all kids benefit from preschool, poor and disadvantaged kids often make the most gains. Children who are dual-language learners show relatively large benefits from pre-K education — both in their English-language proficiency and in other academic skills. Part of what may render a pre-K classroom advantageous for a poor student or a child learning English is the value of being immersed among a diverse array of classmates. Not all preschool programs are alike; features that may lead to success include a well implemented, evidence-based curriculum and an emphasis on the quality and continuous training of pre-K teachers.
Early Reading Matters: Long-term Impacts of Shared Bookreading with Infants and Toddlers on Language and Literacy Outcomes
Cates, Carolyn; Weisleder, Adriana; Dreyer, Benard; Johnson, Matthew; Seery, Anne; Canfield, Caitlin F.; Berkule Johnson, Samantha; and Mendelsohn, Alan L. Reading with children starting in infancy gives lasting literacy boost: Shared book-reading that begins soon after birth may translate into higher language and vocabulary skills before elementary school. (May 2017) American Academy of Pediatrics.
This research study shows that reading books with a child beginning in early infancy can boost vocabulary and reading skills four years later, before the start of elementary school. Book-reading quality during early infancy, in particular, predicted early reading skills while book-reading quantity and quality during toddler years appeared strongly tied to later emergent literacy skills, such as name-writing at age 4. The results highlight the importance of parenting programs used in pediatric primary care that promote shared book-reading soon after birth, such as Read Out and Read.
Do academic preschools yield stronger benefits? Cognitive emphasis, dosage, and early learning
Bruce Fuller, Edward Bein, Margaret Bridges, Yoonjeon Kim, Sophia Rabe-Hesketh, Do academic preschools yield stronger benefits? Cognitive emphasis, dosage, and early learning, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Volume 52, September–October 2017, p. 1-11, ISSN 0193-3973, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2017.05.001.
This study found that preschools that focus on academics provide substantial gains to black students from low-income families, as well as benefits to students from middle-class families. The study defined an academic-oriented preschool as one where teachers "focus time on classroom activities that foster oral language, preliteracy, and math skills." The researchers followed a nationally representative sample of 6,150 children born in 2001 from birth to age 5 and found that the benefits of attending a preschool that focused on academics carried on through kindergarten. Students who began attending preschool between the ages of 2 and 3 received more benefits than children who starting attending at age 4. It also found that the amount of time spent in preschool each week mattered. Black children received substantial benefits from attending a full-day program, while white students received the same benefits from a half-day.
Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium- and Long-Term Educational Outcomes
Dana Charles McCoy, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, Greg J. Duncan, Holly S. Schindler, Katherine Magnuson, Rui Yang, Andrew Koepp, Jack P. Shonkoff. Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium- and Long-Term Educational Outcomes. Educational Researcher, Vol 46, Issue 8, pp. 474 - 487. First Published November 15, 2017.
Despite calls to expand early childhood education (ECE) in the United States, questions remain regarding its medium- and long-term impacts on educational outcomes. Researchers used meta-analysis of 22 studies conducted between 1960 and 2016 to find that on average, participation in ECE leads to statistically significant reductions in special education placement and grade retention and increases in high school graduation rates. These results support ECE’s utility for reducing education-related expenditures and promoting child well-being. The findings contrast with other research, such as on the federal Head Start program and on Tennessee's preschool program, that have found that the behavioral and academic benefits of those programs fade over time. The Head Start and Tennessee studies, however, examined child outcomes a few years into participants' elementary school years. This analysis took a longer view; many of the studies tracked children into high school and beyond.
A Randomized Control Trial of a Statewide Voluntary Prekindergarten Program on Children's Skills and Behaviors through Third Grade
Lipsey, M.W., Farran, D.C., & Hofer, K.G. (2015) A Randomized Control Trial of a Statewide Voluntary Prekindergarten Program on Children's Skills and Behaviors through Third Grade (Research Report). Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, Peabody Research Institute.
A multi-year study Tennessee's prekindergarten program for children from low-income families shows that children started off school strong, but by kindergarten were generally indistinguishable academically from comparable peers who did not enroll in the program. By 3rd grade the children who attended pre-K were performing worse on some academic and behavioral measures than similar classmates who were never in the program. Both groups — the children who attended the Tennessee program, as well as the children who did not — were lagging behind national norms. All the children in the study come from low-income families and often attend low-performing public schools that may experience high student mobility, difficulty recruiting and retaining high-performing teachers, and insufficient resources to build on any pre-K gains. The quality of the individual prekindergarten classrooms may also be a factor in why the children performed so poorly in the tests, researchers said.
Examining Teacher Effectiveness Between Preschool and Third Grade
Herzfeldt-Kamprath, R. and Ullrich, R. (January 2016). Examining Teacher Effectiveness Between Preschool and Third Grade. Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress.
This report examines the consistency of children’s access to effective teachers between preschool and third grade—as well as how that access differs by a child’s race/ethnicity and socio-economic status — within three broad factors of teacher effectiveness: qualifications, attitudes, and environment. The analyses presented utilize two nationally representative data sets: the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort, or ECLS-B, and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11, or ECLS-K: 2011. Results support that the factors that contribute to effective teaching are inherently interconnected and typically accessed at lower rates by African American and Hispanic children, as well as children from low-income households. Furthermore, access to effective teachers varies between the prekindergarten year and the kindergarten through third, or K-3, grades because the standards, expectations, and supports for teachers are different for these two systems. The authors offer policy suggestions to improve Prer-K to Grade 3 alignment and access to quality teachers.
How Much Can High-Quality Universal Pre-K Reduce Achievement Gaps?
Friedman-Krauss, A.; Barnett, W.S.; and Nores, M. (April 5, 2016) How Much Can High-Quality Universal Pre-K Reduce Achievement Gaps? Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress.
The study, conducted by the National Institutes for Early Education Research, determined that universal high-quality preschool could reduce the achievement gap at kindergarten entry in math by 78 percent for Hispanic students and 45 percent for African-American students. The gap in reading would be virtually eliminated for both groups, the analysis found. Students from low-income families would also close the gap with higher-income families by 27 percent in math and 41 percent in reading. Establishing a high-quality universal pre-K program is a critical first step toward creating equity in access to early education and ensuring that all children begin kindergarten with an equal opportunity to succeed.
The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States
Wechsler, M., Kirp, D., Tinubu Ali, T., Gardner, M., Maier, A., Melnick, H., & Shields, P. (2016). The road to high-quality early learning: Lessons from the states. Palo Alto: Learning Policy Institute.
This report describes and analyzes how four states — Michigan, West Virginia, Washington and North Carolina — have built high-quality early education systems. These states share a common commitment to advancing foundational elements of a quality preschool education and have relied on common overarching strategies. Their experiences provide important insights into how best to leverage resources and develop policies and practices to improve and expand early learning opportunities. Key lessons include: prioritize quality and continuous improvement; invest in training and coaching; coordinate the administration of birth-through-grade-3 programs; combine multiple funding sources to increase access and improve quality; and create broad-based coalitions and support.
Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction: A Literature Review
Drummond, K., Holod, A., Perrot, M., Wang, A., Munoz-Miller, M., and Turner, H. (August 2016) Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction: A Literature Review. Washington, D.C.: American Institutes for Research. Prepared for: Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, U.S. Department of Education.
This literature review provides a summary of policies, programs, and practices that have the potential to help students sustain the positive effects of preschool as they progress from kindergarten through grade. The review focuses on two specific approaches: (1) preschool and K–3 alignment, and (2) differentiated instruction in kindergarten and first grade.
The effects of Tulsa’s CAP Head Start program on middle-school academic outcomes and progress.
Phillips, Deborah; Gormley, William; Anderson, Sara. The effects of Tulsa’s CAP Head Start program on middle-school academic outcomes and progress. Developmental Psychology, Vol 52(8), Aug 2016, 1247-1261 Article dev_52_8_1247.
This study presents evidence pertinent to current debates about the lasting impacts of early childhood educational interventions and, specifically, Head Start. A group of students who were first studied to examine the immediate impacts of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Community Action Project (CAP) Head Start program were followed-up in middle school, primarily as 8th graders. Using ordinary least squares and logistic regressions with a rich set of controls and propensity score weighting models to account for differential selection into Head Start, we compared students who had attended the CAP Head Start program and enrolled in the Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) as kindergarteners with children who also attended TPS kindergarten but had attended neither CAP Head Start nor the TPS pre-K program as 4-year-olds. CAP Head Start produced significant positive effects on achievement test scores in math and on both grade retention and chronic absenteeism for middle-school students as a whole; positive effects for girls on grade retention and chronic absenteeism; for white students on math test scores; for Hispanic students on math test scores and chronic absenteeism, and for students eligible for free lunches on math test scores, grade retention, and chronic absenteeism. We conclude that the Tulsa CAP Head Start program produced significant and consequential effects into the middle school years.
Recent Trends in Income, Racial, and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry
Sean F. Reardon, Ximena A. Portilla (August 2016 ). Recent Trends in Income, Racial, and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry, American Educational Research Association (AERA) Open, DOI: 10.1177/2332858416657343,
This study found that low-income kindergarten students have reversed the trend of growing academic achievement gaps between them and their higher-income peers. Academic achievement gaps grew from the 1970s to the 1990s, but from 1998 to 2010 the gaps shrank 10-16%. During this time frame, the White-Hispanic kindergarten readiness gap and the White-Black gap each dropped. Researchers attributed the improved preparedness, in part, to low-income parents spending significantly more time reading to their children, taking them to museums, and introducing them to educational games on computers. Despite the narrowing of these readiness gaps, they remain large and, in fact, progress is so slow that at the rate that improvements are occurring, it will take at least 60 years for disparities to be eliminated.
Impact of North Carolina's Early Childhood Programs and Policies on Educational Outcomes in Elementary School
Dodge, K. A., Bai, Y., Ladd, H. F. and Muschkin, C. G. (2016), Impact of North Carolina's Early Childhood Programs and Policies on Educational Outcomes in Elementary School. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12645
Researchers studied nearly 1 million North Carolina students who attended state-funded early childhood programs between 1995 and 2010, and followed them through fifth grade. The study found that early childhood programs in that state resulted in higher test scores, a lower chance of being held back in a grade, and a fewer number of children with special education placements. Effect sizes grew or held steady across years. Positive effects held for both high- and low-poverty families, suggesting spillover of effects to nonparticipating peers. When the researchers broke the students down into subgroups by race and income, they found that all of those groups showed gains that held over time.
The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program
Garcia, J.L., Heckman, J.J., Leaf, D.E., and Prados, M.J. The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program white paper (December 11, 2016). University of Chicago, Department of Economics: Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group (HCEO).
This paper estimates the large array of long-run benefits of an influential early childhood program that worked with children from infancy to age 5, targeted to disadvantaged children and their families. The researchers studied the effects of the 1970s-era Carolina Abecedarian Project (ABC) and a largely similar project called Carolina Approach to Responsive Education, jointly referred to as ABC/CARE. The cost of the ABC/CARE interventions were substantial — an estimated $18,500 per child per year in 2014 dollars. But the rate of return for ABC/CARE was about 13 percent when researchers looked at the participants' improved health, IQ, education, and decreases in their involvement in crime, as well as the increased labor participation of the mothers whose children were a part of the program.
State(s) of Head Start
Barnett, W.S. and Friedman-Krauss, A.H. (December 2016) State(s) of Head Start. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
State(s) of Head Start is the first report to describe and analyze in detail Head Start enrollment, funding, quality, and duration, state-by-state. The report focuses on the 2014-2015 program year but also provides longitudinal data beginning with the 2006-2007 program year. Despite the fact that Head Start is a federally funded, national program, the report reveals that access to Head Start programs, funding per child, teacher education, quality of teaching, and duration of services all vary widely by state. This report’s findings underscore the need for greater coordination between Head Start and state and local government agencies to build high-quality early learning programs with widespread reach and adequate funding. The authors call for an independent bipartisan national commission to study the issues raised in this report and develop an action plan to ensure every eligible child in every state has an equal opportunity to benefit from Head Start.
Case Studies of Schools Implementing Early Elementary Strategies: Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service, Case Studies of Schools Implementing Early Elementary Strategies: Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction, Washington, DC, 2016.
To explore how educators might build on and sustain the positive effects of preschool, this study examined two types of strategies that preliminary literature searches revealed as promising practices to support children’s learning in early elementary school: (1) aligning instruction from preschool through grade 3 (referred to as P–3 alignment) and (2) differentiated instruction. To explore how educators use these two strategies, this study conducted a systematic literature review followed by case studies of five programs that used one or both of these two strategies. Key findings: (1) All five case study programs aligned instruction across grades by aligning or coordinating standards, curricula, instructional practices, and professional development; three sites also used aligned assessments. (2) Common elements of P–3 programs included the use of professional learning communities, coaches, parent engagement, and play-based or student-initiated learning. (3) Teachers in all five programs reported using strategies to accommodate students’ different skill levels, including modifying assignments, adapting learning materials, providing different levels of support, or using small-group instruction. (4) All five programs focused on increasing students’ vocabulary, oral language, and social-emotional skills.
Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation
Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academies of Science (April 2015) Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Washington, DC
Children are already learning at birth, and they develop and learn at a rapid pace in their early years. This provides a critical foundation for lifelong progress, and the adults who provide for the care and education of young children bear a great responsibility for these children’s health, development, and learning. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) were commissioned to explore the implications of the science of child development for the professionals who work with children birth through age 8. In this report, the committee finds that much is known about what professionals who provide care and education for children need to know and be able to do and what professional learning supports they need. However, that knowledge is not fully reflected in the current capacities and practices of the workforce, the settings in which they work, the policies and infrastructure that set qualifications and provide professional learning, and the government and other funders who support and oversee these systems. The report offers recommendations to build a workforce that is unified by the foundation of the science of child development and early learning and the shared knowledge and competencies that are needed to provide consistent, high-quality support for the development and early learning of children from birth through age 8.
Literacy app improves school readiness in at-risk preschoolers
Neuman, S.B., New York University (April 19, 2015). Literacy app improves school readiness in at-risk preschoolers. Science Daily.
Using mobile apps in preschool classrooms may help improve early literacy skills and boost school readiness for low-income children. "Guided use of an educational app may be a source of motivation and engagement for children in their early years," said the study's author. "The purpose of our study was to examine if a motivating app could accelerate children's learning, which it did."
Impact of North Carolina’s Early Childhood Initiatives on Special Education Placements in Third Grade
Muschkin, C., Ladd, H., Dodge, K. (February 2015). Impact of North Carolina’s Early Childhood Initiatives on Special Education Placements in Third Grade . Washington, D.C.: CALDER: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.
This study examined the community-wide effects of investments in two early childhood initiatives in North Carolina (Smart Start and More at Four) on the likelihood of a student being placed into special education. The researchers took advantage of variation across North Carolina counties and years in the timing of the introduction and funding levels of the two programs to identify their effects on third-grade outcomes. They found that both programs significantly reduce the likelihood of special education placement in the third grade, resulting in considerable cost savings to the state. The effects of the two programs differ across categories of disability, but do not vary significantly across subgroups of children identified by race, ethnicity, and maternal education levels.
The Power of a Good Idea: How the San Francisco School District Is Building a PreK-3rd Grade Bridge
Nyhan, P. (2015). The power of a good idea: How the San Francisco school district is building a prek-3rd grade bridge. Washington, DC: New America Foundation.
This report tells the story of the San Francisco Unified School District's transformative shift to a PreK-3rd grade approach in an effort to shrink the achievement gap. The district rethought its approach to PreK-3 by strengthening its public pre-K program, aligning curricula, professional development, assessments, and even classroom layouts. The district's successes and struggles over the last six years have much to teach other school districts in California and around the nation.
Early Grade Teacher Effectiveness and Pre-K Effect Persistence
The researchers utilized data from a public pre-K evaluation in Tennessee, matched with school administrative records and data from a new teacher evaluation program, to examine the interaction between pre-K participation and a factor that is as elusive to measure as it is universally accepted as vital to student outcomes — teaching quality. The researchers found that students who had attended a state-funded preschool and subsequently had a highly rated 1st grade teacher performed better than children who had a highly rated teacher, but did not attend a state-supported preschool. Analyses indicate a small positive interaction between teaching quality and state pre-K exposure on some but not all early elementary cognitive measures, such that better teaching quality in years subsequent to pre-K is associated with more persistent positive pre-K effects.
One Step at a Time: The Effects of an Early Literacy Text Messaging Program for Parents of Preschoolers
Benjamin N. York and Susanna Loeb (November 2014). One Step at a Time: The Effects of an Early Literacy Text Messaging Program for Parents of Preschoolers. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 20659.
In this study, researchers evaluated the effects of READY4K!, a text messaging program for parents of preschoolers designed to help them support their children’s literacy development. The program targets the behavioral barriers to good parenting by breaking down the complexity of parenting into small steps that are easy-to-achieve and providing continuous support for an entire school year. Results showed that READY4K! positively affected the extent to which parents engaged in home literacy activities with their children. Increases in parental activity at home and school translated into student learning gains in some areas of early literacy. The widespread use, low cost, and ease of scalability of text messaging make texting an attractive approach to supporting parenting practices.
Subprime Learning: Early Education in America Since the Great Recession
Guernsey, L., Bornfreund, L., MccCann, C., and Williams, C. Subprime Learning: Early Education in America Since the Great Recession, New American Foundation, January 21, 2014.
Starting with 2009 as our baseline, the authors examined objective indicators across the birth-through-eight age span that pertain to student achievement, family well-being, and funding. We also provide subjective but research-based assessments of policies for improving teaching and learning and the creation of more cohesive systems. The aim is to provide a clearer picture of where America stands today by highlighting what is improving, in stasis, in flux, imperiled, or ignored. While bright spots are visible in some states, funding has fluctuated wildly, millions of children still lack access to quality programs, the K–3 grades have received little attention, and achievement gaps in reading and math have widened between family income levels. Meanwhile, child poverty rates have shot up.
Same, Different and Diverse: Understanding Children Who Are English Language Learners
Bank Street College and Education Development Center, Inc. (2014) Same, Different and Diverse: Understanding Children Who Are English Language Learners, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start, National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness.
One third of the children enrolled in Early Head Start and Head Start are Dual Language Learners (DLLs). They are a diverse group who have different languages, experiences, strengths, and gifts. Recent research points out the similarities among ALL young children — those who are leaning one or several languages (e.g., children are born with natural capabilities for language and for learning); differences between children growing up with one language (monolinguals) and children who are DLLs (e.g., children may learn some ideas such as counting, in one of their languages but not the other); and diversity among children who are DLLs (e.g., individual differences of temperament, interests,etc.). Early Head Start and Head Start programs can best support the school readiness for Dual Language Learners when they understand each child's unique characteristics and needs.
The Magic of Words
Susan B. Neuman and Tanya S. Wright (Summer 2014) American Educator, Vol. 38, No. 2, American Federation of Teachers.
From the beginning of schooling, children from various socioeconomic groups differ greatly in their vocabulary knowledge; those from high-income families tend to know many more words than those from low-income ones. Research shows that certain practices for teaching vocabulary — an important building block for learning — such as making connections among words and repeatedly exposing students to content-related words, can accelerate young children's oral vocabulary development, regardless of family income.
Beyond "Subprime Learning": Accelerating Progress in Early Education
Laura Bornfreund, Clare McCann, Conor Williams, and Lisa Guernsey (July 2015). Beyond "Subprime Learning": Accelerating Progress in Early Education. Washington, D.C.: New America Foundation.
This report urges education policymakers to put more focus on teaching and learning in the early years and continue that work up through third grade. States and the federal government must do more to foster real teaching and learning, which means structuring policies to put a priority on promoting language-rich interactions between children and adults. The authors also proposes new policies related to Head Start, dual-language learners, elementary school principals, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).
Kindergartners' Skills at School Entry: An Analysis of the ECLS-K
Sara Bernstein, Jerry West, Rebecca Newsham, and Maya Reid (July 15, 2014) Kindergartners' Skills at School Entry: An Analysis of the ECLS-K Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.
Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 data set, this brief examines the school readiness and abilities of beginning kindergartners across several academic and behavioral areas and highlights those areas where attention before kindergarten might benefit all children, as well as help close the gaps between more- and less-advantaged children. The brief reports that 44 percent of children enter kindergarten with one or more risk factors based on their home environment; these risk factors are incrementally associated with lower school readiness scores for children than for those with no such circumstances; and despite an increase in programs to level the playing field by giving disadvantaged children opportunities for preschool education, these gaps persist.
Moving Beyond Screen Time: Redefining Developmentally Appropriate Technology for Use in Early Childhood Education
Lindsay Daugherty, Rafiq Dossani, Erin-Elizabeth Johnson, and Cameron Wright (October 2014) Moving Beyond Screen Time: Redefining Developmentally Appropriate Technology for Use in Early Childhood Education. Rand Corporation: Arlington, VA.
Conversations about what constitutes "developmentally appropriate" use of technology in early childhood education have, to date, focused largely on a single, blunt measure — screen time — that fails to capture important nuances, such as what type of media a child is accessing and whether technology use is taking place solo or with peers. Using screen time as the primary measure of developmentally appropriate use has become increasingly inappropriate as new technologies are ever more rapidly introduced and integrated into all aspects of life, and as we learn more about the potential benefits of technology. The authors challenge the traditional emphasis on screen time and discuss how to move toward a more comprehensive definition of developmentally appropriate technology use for young children.
Association of a Full-Day vs Part-Day Preschool Intervention With School Readiness, Attendance, and Parent Involvement
Reynolds AJ, Richardson BA, Hayakawa M, et al. Association of a Full-Day vs Part-Day Preschool Intervention With School Readiness, Attendance, and Parent Involvement. Journal of the American Medical Association 2014; 312 (20): 2126-2134.
In an expansion of the Child-Parent Center Education Program (CPC) in Chicago, a full-day preschool intervention was associated with increased school readiness skills CPC is a school-based public program with strong evidence of benefits. Implemented in the Chicago Public Schools since 1967, the program provides comprehensive education and family services beginning in preschool. Cohort studies have found that participation has helped eliminate the achievement gap in school readiness and performance; reduced rates of child maltreatment, remedial education, and crime; and increased rates of high school graduation and economic well-being. Benefits exceed costs by a ratio of 7 to 1. A scale-up of the CPC program began in 2012 in more diverse communities. The model was revised to incorporate advances in teaching practices and family services and included the opening of full-day preschool classrooms in some sites.
Effects of Reading to Infants and Toddlers on Their Early Language Development
Dunst, Carl J.; Simkus, Andrew; Hamby, Deborah W. (2012). Effects of Reading to Infants and Toddlers on Their Early Language Development. CELLreviews 5(4), Asheville, NC: Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute.
The effects of reading to infants and toddlers were examined in a meta-analysis of six intervention studies including 408 participants. Results indicated that interventions were effective in promoting the children's expressive and receptive language. The benefits of the interventions increased the earlier the interventions were started and the longer they were implemented. Implications of the findings for research and practice are described.
Early Executive Function Predicts Reasoning Development
Richland, L. E., & Burchinal, M. R. (2013). Early Executive Function Predicts Reasoning Development. Psychological Science, 24, 87-92.
New research findings from the University of Chicago and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill demonstrate that children begin to show signs of higher-level thinking skills as early as 4.5 years of age. Using large-scale longitudinal data from the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development study, the authors examined tests children took at age 4.5, when they were in first grade, third grade, and at age 15. Findings showed a strong relationship between high scores among children who, as preschoolers, had strong vocabularies and were good at monitoring and controlling their responses (executive function) to later ability on tests of understanding analogies. Research suggests that executive function may be trainable through pathways such as preschool curriculum, exercise, and impulse control training.
Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-Up
Barnett, W.S., Jung, K., Youn, M. J. & Frede, E.C. (2013) Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-Up. National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers — The State University of New Jersey.
Findings from the latest study of New Jersey's Abbott Preschool Program showed that children in the state's most disadvantaged communities who participated in the preschool program made significant gains in literacy, language, math and science through 4th and 5th grade. The study found larger gains for children who participated in two years of the preschool program. Additionally, participation was linked to lower retention rates and fewer children needing special education. These findings build on previous results from kindergarten entry and second grade follow-up.
PreK-3rd: Getting Literacy Instruction Right
Talking to Children Matters: Early Language Experience Strengthens Processing and Builds Vocabulary
Weisleder, A. & Fernald, A. (2013). Talking to children matters: Early language experience strengthens processing and builds vocabulary. Psychological Science, November 2013 24: 2143-2152.
In this study, researchers explored how the amount of speech directed to infants in Spanish-speaking families low in socioeconomic status influenced the development of children’s skill in real-time language processing and vocabulary learning. Results showed that children who had experienced more child-directed speech were more efficient at processing language. The analyses revealed a cascade of effects — those toddlers who heard more child-directed talk became faster and more reliable in interpreting speech, and it was their superior skill in processing language that then increased their success in vocabulary learning. An important finding was that even within a low-SES group there were substantial differences among parents in verbal engagement with their children and in children's language outcomes.
Emergent Literacy Intervention for Prekindergarteners at Risk for Reading Failure: Years 2 and 3 of a Multiyear Study
Bailet, L.L., Repper, K., Murphy, S., Piasta, S., Zettler-Greeley, C. (2013) Emergent Literacy Intervention for Prekindergarteners at Risk for Reading Failure: Years 2 and 3 of a Multiyear Study, Journal of Learning Disabilities March/April 2013 vol. 46 no. 2 133-153.
This study examined the effectiveness of an emergent literacy intervention for prekindergarten children at risk for reading failure, to replicate and improve on significant findings from Year 1 of the study. Lessons targeted critical emergent literacy skills through explicit, developmentally appropriate activities for prekindergarteners. Hierarchical linear models were used to nest children within center and measure treatment effects on phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, and vocabulary skills. Results indicated significant treatment effects on multiple measures in Years 2 and 3. This study replicated and strengthened findings from Year 1 in demonstrating a positive impact of this intervention for prekindergarteners at risk for reading failure.
Children's Schooling and Parents' Investment in Children: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study
Gelber, A and Isen, A. 2012. Children's Schooling and Parents' Investment in Children: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study (NBER Working Paper 17704).
Parents may have important effects on their children, but little work in economics explores whether children's schooling opportunities crowd out or encourage parents' investment in children. We analyze data from the Head Start Impact Study, which granted randomly-chosen preschool-aged children the opportunity to attend Head Start. We find that Head Start causes a substantial increase in parents' involvement with their children—such as time spent reading to children, math activities, or days spent with children by fathers who do not live with their children—both during and after the period when their children are potentially enrolled in Head Start. We discuss a variety of mechanisms that are consistent with our findings, including a simple model we present in which Head Start impacts parent involvement in part because parents perceive their involvement to be complementary with child schooling in the production of child qualities.
30 Year Follow-up Study Shows Benefits of High Quality Early Childhood Care and Education
Campbell, F. A., Pungello, E. P., Burchinal, M., Kainz, K., Pan, Y., Wasik, B. H., Barbarin, O. A., Sparling, J. J., and Ramey, C.T. (2012) Adult outcomes as a function of an early childhood educational program: An Abecedarian Project follow-up. Developmental Psychology.
New findings from the long-running, highly regarded Abecedarian Project, led by the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill show that adults who participated in the high quality early childhood education program in the 1970s are still benefitting in a variety of ways. For example, at age 30, Abecedarian Project participants had significantly more years of education than the control group and were four times more likely to have earned college degrees (23% of participants compared to only 6% of the control group).
Repeated Book Reading and Preschoolers' Early Literacy Development
Trivette, C. M., Simkus, A., Dunst, C.J., Hamby, D.W. (2012). Repeated book reading and preschoolers’ early literacy development. CELL reviews, 5 (5).
The effects of repeated book reading on children's early literacy and language development were examined in this meta-analysis of 16 studies including 466 child participants. Results indicated that repeated book reading influenced both story-related vocabulary and story-related comprehension. Findings also showed that the adults' use of manipulatives or illustrations related to the story, positive reinforcement of children's comments, explanation concerning the story when asked, and open-ended questions to prompt child verbal responses were associated with positive child outcomes. Implications for practice are described.
Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West: Empowering Parents and Educators
Guernsey, L., Levine, M., Chiong, C. Stevens, M. (2012). Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West: Empowering Parents and Educators. Washington DC: The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Digital apps designed to teach young children to read are an increasingly large share of the market, but parents and educators have little to no information about whether and how they work. Produced as part of a collaboration between the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the New America Foundation, and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, this report scans the market of digital products and shares promising practices and programs.
Third Grade Follow-up to the Head Start Impact Study: Final Report
Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (2012). Third Grade Follow-up to the Head Start Impact Study: Final Report Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, D.C.
This evaluation studied children who entered the Head Start program in the fall of 2002. The final report presents impacts on children and families through the children's third grade year, as well as impacts on subgroups of children and families. Researchers examined several developmental areas, including measures of cognitive, social-emotional, language and literacy, and health outcomes. They found that Head Start improved the preschool experience of participating children, but the program had "few impacts on children in kindergarten through 3rd grade." Researchers concluded, that there was little evidence of systematic differences in children's elementary school experiences through 3rd grade, between children provided access to Head Start and their counterparts in the control group.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Early Education Program
Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., White, B. A., Ou, S., & Robertson, D. L. (2011). Cost-benefit analysis of the Child-Parent Center early education program. Child Development, 82, 379-404.
Children who attended an intensive preschool and family support program attained higher educational levels, were more likely to be employed, and less likely to have problems with the legal system than were peers who did not attend the program, according to a study funded by the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The Child-Parent Center (CPC) early education program is a large-scale, federally funded intervention providing services for disadvantaged 3- to 9-year-olds in Chicago. The researchers identified five key principles of the CPC that they say led to its effectiveness, including providing services that are of sufficient length or duration, are high in intensity and enrichment, feature small class sizes and teacher-student ratios, are comprehensive in scope, and are implemented by well-trained and well-compensated staff.
Head Start and the Changing Demographics of Young Children
Golden, O. (2011). Head start and the changing demographics of young children. NHSA Dialog, 14(1).
Head Start and Early Head Start programs have always understood that high-quality services are grounded in a thorough understanding of the children and families in their communities. And the portrait of our nation's children is changing rapidly. Results from the 2010 Census show a dramatic change in the racial and ethnic composition of children, particularly increases in Hispanic and Asian children and declines in white children (and a slight decline nationally in the number of black children). Other recent national surveys show a sharp increase in the proportion of children, and young children in particular, whose parents are immigrants. Based on these trends and recent Urban Institute research, this paper makes four recommendations about how local Head Start practitioners can best meet the needs of today's young children and their families.
Building and Supporting an Aligned System: A Vision for Transforming Education Across the Pre-K-Grade Three Years
National Association of Elementary School Principals. (2011). Building and Supporting an Aligned System: A Vision for Transforming Education Across the Pre-K-Grade Three Years. New York, NY.
Children who attend high-quality pre-kindergarten programs are more likely to graduate from high school, says a report from the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) that calls on states and communities to build an aligned system to support early childhood learning and kindergarten programs. The report addresses the need for kindergarten programs to be included in national standards, noting that "the availability of kindergarten is highly variable, with unstable funding in many districts and parents paying for full-day programs." NAESP recommends 10 action steps for policy makers to improve fragmented early childhood learning.
How Words Can and Cannot Be Learned by Observation
Medinaa, TN, Snedekerc, J, Trueswella, J, & Gleitmana, G. (2011). How words can and cannot be learned by observation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(22), 9014-9019.
"If language experiences are not rich, then where is your interest to retain them?" says Janice H. Im of Zero to Three: the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families. A new study from University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University suggests that understanding basic words may come from a flash of initial insight more than repetition. The study's findings suggest that children build concrete vocabulary by interacting with a complex, rich learning environment, not just repeated exposure to words in isolation.
Starting Out Right: Pre-K and Kindergarten
Hull, Jim. Starting Out Right: Pre-K and Kindergarten. 2011 The Center for Public Education: Alexandria, VA
The report looks at the effect of various combinations of pre-k and kindergarten on third grade reading skills, a key predictor of future academic success. Findings show that children who attend pre-k and half-day kindergarten are more likely to have higher reading skills by the third grade than those who attend full-day kindergarten alone. The impact was greatest for Hispanic children, black children, English Language Learners, and children from low-income families.
Children in Poverty Need Opportunities to Play
Milteer, R. and Ginsburg, K. (2011) The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bond: Focus on Children in Poverty. Pediatrics, 129(1), 204-213.
In a follow-up report to its earlier statement on the importance of play for all children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) looks at specific concerns affecting children from low-income families. For approximately 15 million children living in poverty in the U.S., there are limited opportunities to play and the associated benefits those children could be receiving are also limited.
Developing Kindergarten Readiness and Other Large-Scale Assessment Systems
Snow, K. (2011) Developing Kindergarten Readiness and Other Large-Scale Assessment Systems. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The Center for Applied Research at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has developed new guidance to support states' development and implementation of kindergarten readiness assessment systems.
Income and Education as Predictors of Children's School Readiness
Isaacs, J. and Magnuson, K. (2011). Income and Education as Predictors of Children's School Readiness. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.
Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study — Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), the Brookings Institution recently published a paper that looks at how factors such as family income and maternal education are associated with children's school readiness. The authors find that both factors have a significant influence on children's ability to learn long before they enter the classroom. The paper includes a discussion of the challenges of implementing policies to increase family income and maternal education.
Improving School Readiness and Success for Children
Joyner, S. and Theodore, K. (2011). Improving School Readiness and Success for Children. Austin, TX: Southeast Comprehensive Center at SEDL.
A recent article by SEDL's Southeast Comprehensive Center reviews the significance of school readiness and factors that help young learners prepare for school. School readiness consists of three components: (1) a child's readiness for school, (2) schools' readiness to support the learning and development of every child, and (3) family and community supports and services that contribute to children's readiness. School readiness also requires high-quality preschool and readiness programs, professional development for the early childhood workforce, alignment of early learning guidelines and standards with content standards, coordinated early childhood data systems, and other efforts targeted to address the needs of young children and their families.
Watching Teachers Work: Using Observation Tools to Promote Effective Teaching in the Early Years and Early Grades
Guernsey, L., and Ochshorn, S. (2011). Watching Teachers Work: Using Observation Tools to Promote Effective Teaching in the Early Years and Early Grades. Washington, DC: New America Foundation.
Identifying good teachers is a high priority in education reform, yet the debate rarely focuses on how education might improve if policies were based on teachers' individual interactions with their students. This report argues for improving early education up through the third grade (PreK-3rd) by actually watching teachers in action using innovative observation tools in combination with evaluation and training programs. The report also paints a picture of the dismal state of early education for many children — especially the disadvantaged — who are rarely given access to the kinds of stimulating, content-rich conversations that provide them with the cognitive and social-emotional skills they need to succeed throughout their years in school.
Age 26 Cost–Benefit Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Early Education Program
Using data collected up to age 26 in the Chicago Longitudinal Study, this cost–benefit analysis of the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) is the first for a sustained publicly funded early intervention. The program provides services for low-income families beginning at age 3 in 20 school sites. Kindergarten and school-age services are provided up to age 9 (third grade). Findings from a complete cohort of over 1,400 program and comparison group participants indicated that the CPCs had economic benefits in 2007 dollars that exceeded costs. The preschool program provided a total return to society of $10.83 per dollar invested (18% annual return). The primary sources of benefits were increased earnings and tax revenues and averted criminal justice system costs. The school-age program had a societal return of $3.97 per dollar invested (10% annual return). Findings provide strong evidence that sustained programs can contribute to well-being for individuals and society.
Degrees in Context: Asking the Right Questions about Preparing Skilled and Effective Teachers of Young Children
Whitebook, M. & Ryan, S. 2011. Degrees in context: Asking the right questions about preparing skilled and effective teachers of young children. Preschool Policy Brief, 22. National Institute for Early Education Research, New Brunswick, NJ.
A 2011 policy brief developed jointly by National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) argues that there has been too much focus on debating baseline qualifications such as AA and BA degrees for teachers of young children and not enough focus on the actual education these teachers receive, the support they get for ongoing learning, and the effects of the workplace environment on their teaching practice.
Head Start Impact Study
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (January 2010). Head Start Impact Study. Final Report. Washington, DC.
A study about the impact of Head Start shows that at the end of one program year, access to Head Start positively influenced children's school readiness. However, when measured again at the end of kindergarten and first grade, the Head Start children and the control group children were at the same level on many of the measures studied.
Lifting Pre-K Quality: Caring and Effective Teachers
Fuller, B, Gasko, J, Anguiano, R. (2010). Lifting Pre-K Quality: Caring and Effective Teachers. Children's Learning Institute.
This report focuses on helping pre-K teachers develop skills that matter for early learning. The researchers identified mentoring and training for preschool teachers as important tools to help them enrich their instructional activities in classrooms and boost the early language and preliteracy skills of 3- and 4-year-olds.
Family and Neighborhood Sources of Socioeconomic Inequality in Children's Achievement
Sastry, Narayan, and A.R. Pebley. 2010. "Family and Neighborhood Sources of Socioeconomic Inequality in Children's Achievement." Demography, 47(3): 777-800.
Researchers examined family and neighborhood sources of socioeconomic inequality in children's reading and mathematics achievement using data from the 2000-2001 Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey. The researchers found no inequality in children's achievement by family income when other variables in the model were held constant. Mother's reading scores and average neighborhood levels of income accounted for the largest proportion of inequality in children's achievement. Neighborhood economic status appears to be strongly associated with children's skills acquisition.
Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children
International Reading Association (IRA) & National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). (2009). Learning to read and write: Developmentally appropriate practices for young children. NAEYC: Washington, DC.
Learning to read and write is critical to a child's success in school and later in life. Although reading and writing abilities continue to develop throughout the life span, the early childhood years — from birth through age eight — are the most important period for literacy development. The primary purpose of this position statement is to provide guidance to teachers of young children in schools and early childhood programs (including child care centers, preschools, and family child care homes) serving children from birth through age eight. By and large, the principles and practices suggested here also will be of interest to any adults who are in a position to influence a young child's learning and development — parents, grandparents, older siblings, tutors, and other community members.
Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel
National Center for Family Literacy. (2009). Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.
The National Early Literacy Panel looked at published research concerning children's early literacy skills and reports on which early skills or abilities could properly be said to be the precursors of later literacy achievement.
Disparities in Early Learning and Development: Lessons from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort
Halle, T., Forry, N., Hair, E., Perper, K., Wandner, L., Wessel, J., & Vick, J. (2009). Disparities in Early Learning and Development: Lessons from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study — Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). Washington, DC: Child Trends.
This study suggests that cognitive gaps between poor and middle class children show up as early as 9-24 months — and that income and the mother's education are the two biggest risk factors. The report recommends very early intervention for at-risk kids (starting at birth), as well as initiatives to support high school and college graduation programs for the parents an d professional development for at-home child care providers.
Preschool Curriculum: What's in It for Children and Teachers?
The Albert Shanker Institute (2009). Preschool Curriculum: What's in It for Children and Teachers? Washington, D.C.: The Albert Shanker Institute
A new report from the Albert Shanker Institute outlines developmental accomplishments and instructional practices in four areas of preschool curriculum: oral language, literacy, mathematics, and science. Their recommendations can inform districts struggling to design a preschool program or provide guidelines for program evaluation.
Dual Language Learners in the Early Years: Getting Ready to Succeed in School
National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA) (2008). Dual Language Learners in the Early Years: Getting Ready to Succeed in School. Washington, D.C.: NCELA.
This report reviews the literature on getting dual language learners ready for school. Dual language learners are children from 3-6 years old who are learning a second language while still acquiring their first. The report looks at ways in which families, communities, services and schools can work together to get children ready to succeed in the early years of education.
Preschool Education and Its Lasting Effects: Research and Policy Implications
W. Steven Barnett (2008). Preschool Education and Its Lasting Effects: Research and Policy Implications. National Institute for Early Education Research Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
All children benefit from preschool, and increasing the public's investment in effective preschool can have lasting educational, social, and economic benefits. Recommendations for capitalizing on these conclusions include using proven models, training preschool teachers, and working to increase the number of disadvantaged kids attending preschool.
Effects of Preschool Curriculum Programs on School Readiness
Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Consortium (2008). Effects of Preschool Curriculum Programs on School Readiness (NCER 2008-2009). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
The Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research initiative studied the impact of the 14 preschool curricula on five student-level outcomes (reading, phonological awareness, language, mathematics, and behavior) and six classroom-level outcomes (classroom quality, teacher-child interaction, and four types of instruction).
National Evaluation of Early Reading First
Russell Jackson, McCoy, Ann, Pistorino, Carol, Wilkinson, Anna,
Burghardt, John, Clark, Melissa, Ross Christine, Schochet, Peter and Swank, Paul. National Evaluation of Early Reading First: Final Report, U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2007.
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 created the Early Reading First (ERF) program to provide funding to preschools, particularly those that serve children from low-income families, to support the development of children's language and literacy skills. NCLB mandated that the Department conduct an independent evaluation of the ERF program to assess the impact of the program on both children's literacy skills as well as the instructional content and practices in preschool classrooms. Using a quasi-experimental design, the study found that the program had a positive impact on children's print and letter knowledge, but not on phonological awareness or oral language. The program had positive impacts on aspects of the classroom environment and teacher practices that are intended to support the development of language and literacy skills.
Early Literacy: Policy and Practice in the Preschool Years
Strickland, D., Riley-Ayers, S. (2006). Early Literacy: Policy and Practice in the Preschool Years. National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Rutgers University.
Early childhood professionals have long recognized the importance of language and literacy in preparing children to succeed in school. Early literacy plays a key role in enabling the kind of early learning experiences that research shows are linked with academic achievement, reduced grade retention, higher graduation rates, and enhanced productivity in adult life. This report synthesizes the body of professional knowledge about early literacy and offers research-based recommendations.
Early Reading Acquisition and its Relation to Reading Experience and Ability 10 Years Later
Cunningham, A.E., & Stanovich, K.E. (1997). Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later. Developmental Psychology, 33, 934-945.
A group of 1st-graders who were administered a battery of reading tasks in a previous study were followed up as 11th graders. Ten years later, they were administered measures of exposure to print, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and general knowledge. First-grade reading ability was a strong predictor of all of the 11th-grade outcomes and remained so even when measures of cognitive ability were partialed out. First-grade reading ability (as well as 3rd- and 5th-grade ability) was reliably linked to exposure to print, as assessed in the 11th grade, even after 11th-grade reading comprehension ability was partialed out, indicating that the rapid acquisition of reading ability might well help develop the lifetime habit of reading, irrespective of the ultimate level of reading comprehension ability that the individual attains. Finally, individual differences in exposure to print were found to predict differences in the growth in reading comprehension ability throughout the elementary grades and thereafter.
Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children
Hart, B. and Risley, T. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experiences of young American children. Brookes Publishing Company
The landmark longitudinal study of parent-child talk in families. The researchers recorded one full hour of every word spoken at home between parent and child in 42 families over a three year period, with children from seven months to 36 months of age. Follow-up studies by Hart and Risley of those same children at age nine showed that there was a very tight link between the academic success of a child and the number of words the child's parents spoke to the child to age three. See summary
Joint Book Reading Makes for Success in Learning to Read: A Meta-analysis on Intergenerational Transmission of Literacy
Bus, A.G., Van Ijzendoorn, M.H., & Pellegrini, A.D. (1995). Joint book reading makes for success in learning to read: A meta-analysis on intergenerational transmission of literacy. Review of Educational Research, 65, 1-21.
Results of a quantitative analysis of empirical evidence related to parent-preschooler reading support the hypothesis that parent-preschooler reading is related to outcome measures such as language growth, emergent literacy, and reading achievement. Book reading apparently affects acquisition of the written language register.
Always Connected: The New Digital Media Habits of Young Children
Gutnick, A. L., Robb, M., Takeuchi, L., & Kotler, J. Always connected: The new digital media habits of young children. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.
This report by Sesame Workshop and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center takes a fresh look at data emerging from studies undertaken by Sesame Workshop, independent scholars, foundations, and market researchers on the media habits of young children, who are often overlooked in the public discourse that focuses on tweens and teens. The report reviews seven recent studies about young children and their ownership and use of media. By focusing on very young children and analyzing multiple studies over time, the report arrives at a new, balanced portrait of children’s media habits.
From Scribbles to Scrabble: Preschool Children’s Developing Knowledge of Written Language
Puranik, C.S. and Lonigan, C.J. From scribbles to scrabble: preschool children’s developing knowledge of written language (2011) National Institutes of Health.
The Long Term Economic Benefits of High Quality Early Childhood Intervention Programs
Diefendorf, M., & Goode, C. The long-term economic benefits of high quality early childhood intervention programs. NECTAC Clearinghouse on Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education. Chapel Hill, NC: NECTAC.
An extensive body of research indicates that high quality early intervention for at-risk infants, toddlers and young children and their families is a sound economic investment. Studies have found a number of long-term cost savings in terms of decreased grade repetition, reduced special education spending, enhanced productivity, lower welfare costs, increased tax revenues, and lower juvenile justice costs. This mini-bibliography provides a selection of articles, reports, and book chapters that review some of the major findings on this topic. Some of the included studies focus on services for young children with disabilities, although most address early intervention for children who are at risk for adverse developmental outcomes due to poverty and other environmental factors.