Recent Highlights from Our Research and Policy Library

Below are highlights from our most recent acquisitions. Research Connections scans its newest acquisitions, focusing on those from key organizations and journals, to identify resources to feature here.

How does child care subsidy use vary for children with and without special needs?

Patterns and predictors of childcare subsidies for children with and without special needs
Sullivan, Amanda L., 05/01/2018

One goal of childcare subsidies is to increase access to quality childcare for families of low-income, thus supporting child and family wellbeing, but subsidies may not equally benefit children with and without special needs. This study examined patterns and predictors of subsidy use among children with disabilities or delays relative to children without special needs. A nationally representative sample of approximately 4050 young children from families of low-income was drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. We examined subsidized care receipt at ages nine months, two years, and four years using descriptive analyses and multivariate logistic regression. Results suggest young children with special needs utilize childcare subsidies at significantly lower rates than their peers without disabilities. Mothers' marital status, work status, education, and age, along with child's race and number of siblings were significant predictors of subsidy use. We discuss implications for policy implementation and multisector collaboration to support the early care and education of young children with special needs. (author abstract)

How do children's repeating patterning and spatial skills predict later math knowledge?

The roles of patterning and spatial skills in early mathematics development
Rittle-Johnson, Bethany, 01/01/2018

Because math knowledge begins to develop at a young age to varying degrees, it is important to identify foundational cognitive and academic skills that might contribute to its development. The current study focused on two important, but often overlooked skills that recent evidence suggests are important contributors to early math development: patterning and spatial skills. We assessed preschool children's repeating patterning skills, spatial skills, general cognitive skills and math knowledge at the beginning of the pre-kindergarten year. We re-assessed their math knowledge near the end of the school year, with complete data for 73 children. Children's repeating patterning and spatial skills were related and were each unique predictors of children's math knowledge at the same time point and seven months later. Further, repeating patterning skills predicted later math knowledge even after controlling for prior math knowledge. Thus, although repeating patterning and spatial skills are related, repeating patterning skills are a unique predictor of math knowledge and growth. Both theories of early math development and early math standards should be expanded to incorporate a role for repeating patterning and spatial skills. (author abstract)

How do children's executive function skills, visual-motor integration, and mathematics achievement co-develop from prekindergarten to first grade?

Stability and instability in the co-development of mathematics, executive function skills, and visual-motor integration from prekindergarten to first grade
Nesbitt, Kimberly Turner, 01/01/2018

Correlational and short-term longitudinal studies both demonstrate significant associations between children's executive function skills and visual-motor integration and their mathematics achievement in early childhood. Our current understanding of the development of these skills in early childhood is limited, however, by a lack of clarity concerning whether the associations between them are causal in nature or could be explained by other unmeasured stable characteristics shared among the constructs. Using a latent state-trait approach, we examined the development of executive function skills, visual-motor integration, and children's mathematics achievement from the beginning of prekindergarten to the end of first grade (N = 1138). Findings of stability and instability in relative rankings in children's skills across four time points suggest that children's growth in mathematics skills is a product of both persistent unmeasured stable influences and time-specific effects of prior executive function skills and visual-motor integration. Specifically, visual-motor integration related to subsequent mathematics achievement and executive function skills in prekindergarten, and executive function and mathematics achievement were bidirectionally related through first grade, even when accounting for stability in each construct. These results suggest that future experimental research should consider executive function skills and visual-motor integration as well as specific mathematics skills as potential targets for early mathematics instruction. (author abstract)

How does the use of whole-child versus math- or literacy-focused curricula in children's preschool classrooms affect their school readiness skills?

Boosting school readiness: Should preschool teachers target skills or the whole child?
Jenkins, Jade Marcus, 01/01/2018

We use experimental data to estimate impacts on school readiness of different kinds of preschool curricula -- a largely neglected preschool input and measure of preschool quality. We find that the widely-used "whole-child" curricula found in most Head Start and pre-K classrooms produced higher classroom process quality than did locally-developed curricula, but failed to improve children's school readiness. A curriculum focused on building mathematics skills increased both classroom math activities and children's math achievement relative to the whole-child curricula. Similarly, curricula focused on literacy skills increased literacy achievement relative to whole-child curricula, despite failing to boost measured classroom process quality. (author abstract)

How do child care subsidy recipients interpret their experiences of the child care subsidy system?

"They are underpaid and understaffed": How clients interpret encounters with street-level bureaucrats
Barnes, Carolyn Y., 04/01/2018

Scholars have explored the nature and consequences of administrative burden but less is known about how citizens interpret costly encounters with the state. This qualitative study of 85 child care subsidy recipients applies attribution theory from psychology to illustrate how clients develop causal explanations for administrative burden. The findings show that clients either blamed negative experiences on bureaucrats--viewing workers as in control of their behavior, or the bureaucracy--blaming factors related to the subsidy system. In rare instances, clients viewed the bureaucracy as intentionally discouraging claims. We observed some variation by race/ethnicity and study sites. Examining clients' causal explanations of administrative burden helps clarify how clients' interpretation of costly bureaucratic encounters influences future claims, their perceptions of the state, and their political participation. (author abstract)

How did a pediatric clinic-Head Start partnership increase Head Start eligibility screening, referrals and enrollment?

Medical home-Head Start partnership to promote early learning for low-income children
Grant, Abigail R., 01/01/2018

Objective. To improve Early Head Start/Head Start (EHS/HS) screening, referral, and enrollment for children from diverse, low-income communities. Method. Using existing resources, we built a pediatric clinic-Head Start partnership. Key steps included (1) screening protocol and tracking system, (2) a community partner as a single point of referral contact, (3) provider education, and (4) monthly outcome reporting. A pre- and post-cross-sectional study design was used to evaluate outcomes, with medical chart review conducted for all wellness visits among children aged 0 to 4 years pre- and postintervention. Results. The preintervention group included 223 patients. The postintervention group included 235 patients. EHS/HS screening improved significantly after the intervention, rising from 8% in the preintervention period to 46% in the postintervention period (odds ratio [OR] 10.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] [5.9, 19.4]). EHS/HS documented referral rates increased from 1% in the preintervention period to 20% in the postintervention period (OR 18.3, 95% CI [5.7, 93.6]). Thirty-two of the 42 patients in the postintervention group referred to EHS/HS were reached to determine enrollment status. Six children (14%) had enrolled in EHS/HS. Conclusion. With use of existing resources, a medical home-Head Start partnership can build an integrated system that significantly improves screening and referral rates to early learning programs. (author abstract)

How do Latino children's home language and preschool experiences relate to their early elementary academic, behavioral, and social development?

Latino children's academic and behavioral trajectories in early elementary school: Examining home language differences within preschool types
Bachman, Heather J., 01/01/2018

The present study examined early academic, social, and behavioral trajectories from kindergarten to third grade for Latino children from English- or Spanish-speaking homes who experienced public pre-k, Head Start, private center care, or no preschool experience. Using a nationally representative sample of Latino children (N = 3650) from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten 2010-2011 cohort (ECLS-K:2011), associations of home language and preschool experience were examined for trajectories of reading and math achievement, social skills, and externalizing behavior problems. At kindergarten entry, Latino children from English-speaking households attained higher scores in reading and math than children from Spanish-speaking families across public pre-k, Head Start, and no preschool groups. However, these early home language differences greatly diminished by third grade. In contrast, for Latino children who attended private center-based care, home language comparisons were nonsignificant for early reading skills in the fall of kindergarten. By third grade, home language differences were evident among the Latino children who attended private centers, such that children from English-speaking homes scored significantly higher in reading than children from Spanish-speaking homes. Few home language differences were detected in social or behavioral skill ratings at fall of kindergarten or in trajectories within preschool types. Nonetheless, home language differences in externalizing problems grew by third grade among Latino children who had attended Head Start, such that children from English-speaking homes received higher behavior problem ratings from teachers than peers from Spanish-speaking homes. (author abstract)

How well does a new tool measure the teacher decision factors that lead to preschool expulsion?

Teacher decision factors that lead to preschool expulsion: Scale development and preliminary validation of the Preschool Expulsion Risk Measure
Gilliam, Walter S., 04/01/2018

Preschool expulsion is a trending social problem. To date, this is the first study that examines the teacher decision factors behind preschool expulsions. This article presents results of the development and validation of the Preschool Expulsion Risk Measure (PERM). In a 2-phase analysis of the study, we provide evidence for the PERM's reliability and validity in a sample of 352 preschoolers from 88 sites in a New England state. The PERM yielded 4 factors (classroom disruption, fear of accountability, hopelessness, and teacher stress) and demonstrated good internal consistency. The PERM correlated with standardized assessments of children's behavior problems and predicted intervention status (target child vs. random peer) and the probability of expulsion (child considered for expulsion vs. child never considered for expulsion). Classroom disruption predicted intervention status whereas accountability predicted consideration for expulsion. Results support the PERM as a viable tool for assessing the propensity to be expelled. Findings shed light into the decision factors that propel teachers to consider expulsion of a child, which can inform early education programs and policies to address this issue. (author abstract)

To see a complete list of new research, please view Archived New Research.