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Preschool and Child Care

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.

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

Lesaux, Nonie K. PreK-3rd: Getting Literacy Instruction Right. New York: Foundation for Child Development, 2013.
This brief outlines the elements of strong PreK-3rd literacy instruction including: what high-quality instruction looks like,what supports enable teachers to carry out strong literacy instruction, and what policies enable schools to carry out strong PreK-3rd reading instruction. High-quality, coordinated PreK-3rd literacy instruction expands children’s cognitive capacities, develops language and vocabulary, and prepares them to read advanced texts. These skills provide a sturdy foundation for school success and expanded life opportunities.

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.

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.

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.

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

Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., White, B. A. B., Ou, S.-R. and Robertson, D. L. (2011), Age 26 Cost–Benefit Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Early Education Program. Child Development, 82: 379–404.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

This document discusses a research study focused on the emergent writing skills of young children. Investigators Cynthia Puranik and Christopher Lonigan found evidence to support the developmental progression of emergent writing skills. The findings also indicate that children as young as three years old have advanced knowledge of writing their own names when compared with other writing tasks. Implications of these findings include the recommendation that teachers should facilitate young children’s development of writing skills, using a differentiated approach to instruction.
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Chicago Sun-Times | October 24, 2014
Johnston Sunrise (Warwick, RI) | October 24, 2014
"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo