Menu

Early Literacy Development

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.

Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? The Changing Nature of Kindergarten in the Age of Accountability

Bassok, D. and Rorem, A. (2014). Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? The Changing Nature of Kindergarten in the Age of Accountability. EdPolicy Works, University of Virginia.

Recent accounts suggest that accountability pressures have trickled down into the early elementary grades, and that kindergarten today is characterized by a heightened focus on academic skills. This paper documents substantial changes in kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2006, using two large nationally-representative data sets. Nearly all measures examined changed substantially over this period, and always in the direction consistent with a heightened academic focus. While in 1998, 31 percent of kindergarten teachers indicated that most children should learn to read in kindergarten, in 2006 65 percent of teachers agreed with this statement. Time on literacy rose by 25 percent from roughly 5.5 to 7 hours per week and exposure to social studies, science, music, art and physical education all dropped.

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.

Can Babies Learn to Read? A Randomized Trial of Baby Media

Neuman, Susan B.; Kaefer, Tanya; Pinkham, Ashley; Strouse, Gabrielle (2014) Can Babies Learn to Read? A Randomized Trial of Baby Media, Journal of Educational Psychology, Feb 24, 2014.

Targeted to children as young as 3 months old, there is a growing number of baby media products that claim to teach babies to read. This randomized controlled trial was designed to examine this claim by investigating the effects of a best-selling baby media product on reading development. One hundred and seventeen infants, ages 9 to 18 months, were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Children in the treatment condition received the baby media product, which included DVDs, word and picture flashcards, and word books to be used daily over a 7-month period; children in the control condition, business as usual. Examining a 4-phase developmental model of reading, we examined both precursor skills (such as letter name, letter sound knowledge, print awareness, and decoding) and conventional reading (vocabulary and comprehension) using a series of eye-tracking tasks and standardized measures. Results indicated that babies did not learn to read using baby media, despite some parents displaying great confidence in the program’s effectiveness.

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.

Technology in Early Education: Building Platforms for Connections and Content that Strengthen Families and Promote Success in School

Guernsey, L. (2012). technology in early education: Building platforms for connections and content that strengthen families and promote success in school. The Progress of Education Reform, 14(4), 7-14.

This report looks at trends in digital media use by young children, how to effectively use parents and librarians as partners in early learning, and recommendations for building integrated technology platforms for early education.

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.

Children's Story Retelling as a Literacy and Language Enhancement Strategy

Dunst, C, Simkus, A, Hamby, D. (2012). Children's Story Retelling as a Literacy and Language Enhancement Strategy. CELLreviews 5(4). Asheville, NC: Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute, Center for Early Literacy Learning.

The effects of children's story retelling on early literacy and language development was examined in a meta-analysis of 11 studies including 687 toddlers and preschoolers. Results indicated that children's story retelling influenced both story-related comprehension and expressive vocabulary as well as nonstory-related receptive language and early literacy development. Findings also showed that the use of the characteristics that experts consider the important features of retelling practices was associated with positive child outcomes. Implications for 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.

Increasing Young Children's Contact with Print During Shared Reading: Longitudinal Effects on Literacy Achievement

Piasta, S.B., Justice, S. B., Justice, L. M., McGinty, A. S., & Kaderavek, J. N. (2012). Increasing young children's contact with print during shared reading: Longitudinal effects on literacy achievement. Child Development, 83(3), 810-820.

This study examined the impact of Project STAR (Sit Together and Read) on literacy skills of preschool students. Project STAR is a program in which teachers read books aloud to their students and use instructional techniques designed to encourage children to pay attention to print within storybooks. Results of the study indicated a causal relationship between early print knowledge and later literacy skills.

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.

SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months

Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A. and Weisleder, A. (2013), SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months. Developmental Science, 16: 234–248.

This research revealed both similarities and striking differences in early language proficiency among infants from a broad range of advantaged and disadvantaged families. English-learning infants were followed longitudinally from 18 to 24 months, using real-time measures of spoken language processing. The first goal was to track developmental changes in processing efficiency in relation to vocabulary learning in this diverse sample. The second goal was to examine differences in these crucial aspects of early language development in relation to family socioeconomic status (SES). The most important findings were that significant disparities in vocabulary and language processing efficiency were already evident at 18 months between infants from higher- and lower-SES families, and by 24 months there was a 6-month gap between SES groups in processing skills critical to language development.

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.

Trajectories of the Home Learning Environment Across the First 5 Years: Associations With Children's Vocabulary and Literacy Skills at Prekindergarten

Rodriguez, Eileen; Tamis-LeMonda, Catherine S. (2011) Trajectories of the Home Learning Environment Across the First 5 Years: Associations With Children's Vocabulary and Literacy Skills at Prekindergarten. Child Development 82(4).

A study that looked at the home environments of more than 1,850 children from households at or below the federal poverty line showed that factors such as levels of shared reading, exposure to frequent and varied adult speech, and access to children's books had an impact on school readiness skills. "As a parent, it is never too early to engage your child in learning," said Amber Story, a social psychologist and deputy director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, which funded the study. "This research suggests that the degree to which parents read and talk to their infant; point and label objects in the environment; and provide engaging books and toys when their child is only 15 months old can have long-lasting effects on the infant's language skills years later."

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.

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.

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.

Recognition and Response: An Early Intervening System for Young Children At-Risk for Learning Disabilities

Coleman, M.R., Buysse, V. & Neitzel, J. (2006). Recognition and Response: An early intervening system for young children at-risk for learning disabilities. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, FPG Child Development Institute: Chapel Hill, NC.

Some young children show signs that they may not be learning in an expected manner, even before they begin kindergarten. These children may exhibit problems in areas such as language development, phonological awareness, perceptual-motor abilities and attention, which are considered precursors of learning disabilities in older children. However, under current state and federal guidelines, these children are unlikely to meet eligibility criteria for having a learning disability. This is because formal identification of a child's learning disability generally does not occur until there is a measurable discrepancy between the child's aptitude and academic achievement, often not until the second or third grade. This report describes a method of addressing those warning signs immediately.

The Efficacy of Electronic Books in Fostering Kindergarten Children's Emergent Story Understanding

De Jong, M., & Bus, A. (2004). The efficacy of electronic books in fostering kindergarten children's emergent story understanding. Reading Research Quarterly, 39, 378-393.

A counterbalanced, within-subjects design was carried out to study the efficacy of electronic books in fostering kindergarten children's emergent story understanding. The study compared effects of children's independent reading of stories electronically with effects of printed books read aloud by adults. Participants were 18 four- to five-year-old Dutch kindergarten children in the initial stages of developing story comprehension but beyond just responding to pictures.
Electronic reading produced experiences and effects similar to adult-read printed books. Children frequently interacted with the animations often embedded in electronic stories, but there was no evidence that the animations distracted children from listening to the text presented by electronic books, nor that the animations interfered with story understanding. Findings suggested that children at this stage of development profited from electronic books at least when electronic books are read in a context where adults also read books to children.

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

Getting Reading Right from the Start: Effective Early Literacy Interventions

Hiebert, E.H., & Taylor, B.M. (1994). Getting reading right from the start: Effective early literacy interventions. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

From Amazon.com:
This edited book brings together descriptions of seven literacy intervention programs used by experts to prevent early reading failure in grades K-1. Programs focus on story book reading and writing with attention to word-level strategies, and are developmental, not remedial. Early childhood literacy, diagnosis and treatment of reading difficulties.

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.

Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners

Institute of Museum and Library Services (2012). Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners. Developed in partnership with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

This report calls upon policymakers, practitioners, and parents to make full use of libraries and museums, and the skills and talents of those who work in them, to close knowledge and opportunity gaps and give all children a strong start in learning. The type of learning that occurs in these institutions — self-directed, experiential, content-rich — promotes executive function skills that can shape a child’s success in school and life.

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.
Sign up for our free newsletters about reading
Advertisement
Fresh Delivery!

Today's News Headlines

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald