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The Effects of Teacher Professional Development on Children’s Attendance in Preschool

Summary by: Jonathan Seiden

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What was this study about?

When children are absent from early childhood education (ECE) at centers and preschools they are unable to fully realize the positive effects ECE can have on their lives. Younger children and those from families with lower income are more at risk for absenteeism and may benefit most from ECE. Therefore, efforts to reduce absenteeism could have greater-than-average benefits for these students.

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Unpacking the Treatment Contrast in the Head Start Impact Study: To What Extent Does Assignment to Treatment Affect Quality of Care?

Summary by: Elizabeth Hentschel

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Attending high-quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs can lead to positive child outcomes across multiple developmental domains including cognitive and social-emotional. Children from low-income families rarely have access to high-quality ECCE – less than one quarter attend center-based childcare rated as high-quality. The National Head Start (HS) Program is one affordable (free) option to low-income families, but data from 2006 find that only 40% of National Head Start Programs are considered high quality. This study seeks to understand if children who were randomly selected and offered an opportunity to participate in Head Start enroll in higher quality ECCE than they otherwise would have.

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Promoting Parents’ Social Capital to Increase Children’s Attendance in Head Start: Evidence From an Experimental Intervention

Summary by: Samantha Batel

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Increasing attendance in early childhood education is a national goal

Head Start is the nation’s largest federally funded early childhood education program for children from low-income families. This type of programming, which is a central policy lever for expanding opportunity, can only be effective if children attend regularly. However, there is no systematic evidence on whether or why strategies to improve attendance are effective. 

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Iterative Design and Pilot Testing of the Developing Talkers Tiered Academic Language Curriculum for Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten

Tricia A. Zucker, María S. Carlo, Susan H. Landry, Saba S. Masood, Jeffrey M. Williams, Vibhuti Bhavsar

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Can Developing Talkers improve academic vocabulary?

Yes, according to a rigorous study conducted in Texas with young students who were mostly English learners (ELs, 63%). Students who participated in a 26-week shared reading program, which taught academic vocabulary and asked inferential comprehension questions, learned more sophisticated words compared with students who did not (see bar chart below). This study shows that an intervention can cause children as young as pre-kindergarten (pre-k) and kindergarten to learn more academic words. This extends past research on direct instruction to academic level words. Developing academic level language in the earliest grades aligns with modern learning guidelines that view rigorous classroom discourse as foundational to college and career readiness.

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Parasympathetic Function: Relevance and Methodology for Early Education Research

Summary by: Lindsay Gomes

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The definition of school readiness in the contexts of educational research, practice, and policy has changed considerably over the past 60 years. After a long period of prioritizing academic skills (e.g., letter-shape knowledge), many researchers now emphasize the extent to which young children can control their emotions and behaviors as key to school readiness. This capacity is commonly referred to as self-regulation, which is often defined in terms of volitional, cognitively-mediated processes such as executive functions. In this paper, we assert that understanding children’s parasympathetic function is essential to providing a holistic understanding of self-regulation in the classroom and for informing how the classroom environment can be tailored to most effectively promote young children’s development.

What is parasympathetic function and why is it important?

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Varying States of Head Start: Impacts of a Federal Program Across State Policy Contexts

Maia C. Connors & Allison H. Friedman-Krauss

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Head Start increases low-income children’s access to high-quality preschool.

Attending high-quality preschool is associated with stronger cognitive and social-emotional skills, especially for low-income children. We know from previous experimental research that Head Start, a federally funded and regulated program, is an important source of high-quality preschool for low-income families nationwide. But Head Start programs do not have the capacity to serve all eligible families that want to attend. Most low-income children are cared for at home or attend other preschool programs that are regulated by individual states rather than the federal government. Child care licensing regulations are the primary way that states set quality standards for most preschool programs. Beyond basic health and safety regulations, the rigor of quality standards set by states’ licensing policies varies widely.

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Improving the general language skills of second-language learners in kindergarten: a randomized controlled trial

Kristin Rogde, Monica Melby-Lervåg, & Arne Lervåg

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There are increasing numbers of children whose first language differs from the predominant language of instruction in their school. Entering school where the language of instruction is a student’s second language is associated with undesirable social, educational, and economic outcomes. This study investigates the efficacy of an intervention aimed at improving second-language skills of kindergarteners.

How did we test the intervention?

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Quality Preschool for Ghana Program Improves Teacher and Student Outcomes

Sharon Wolf, J. Lawrence Aber, Jere Behrman & Edward Tsinigo

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Preschool teacher training program improves classroom quality and child outcomes in Ghana

Children around the world are attending preschool more than ever before. But many preschools are poor quality and children are not learning. Ghana, a lower-middle income country in West Africa, has been at the forefront of expanding access to preschool and adopting a progressive- child-centered curriculum.

Yet, preschool quality remains poor and most teachers have not been trained in the national curriculum. 

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