Recent Highlights from Our Collection

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.

What policy strategies can state legislators use to support high-quality early learning?

A fair start: Ensuring all students are ready to learn
Weyer, Matt, 01/01/2018
Denver, CO: National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved from

The framework designed by SPREE members and described in this report can be used by state legislators to identify a priority area for redesign as part of a larger cohesive vision for pre-K through third grade (P-3) education in their states. Each of the five principles in the SPREE Framework seek to provide a coherent set of strategies to enhance early learning outcomes and provide options to fit a state's unique political and economic context. SPREE members encourage policymakers to keep equity in mind during their policy discussions and subsequent actions. The other principles within the SPREE framework include P-3 program quality, governance, family and community engagement, and educator preparation. Within each principle is a series of actionable strategies to create systemic enhancements in P-3 education. Existing state-level policies are then presented to provide real-world examples and to serve as models for policy discussion and potential action. (author abstract)

How are county governments coordinating and sharing services to support early childhood development?

Counties care: County service sharing for early childhood development
Harris, Jonathan, 12/01/2017
Washington, DC: National Association of Counties, Counties Futures Lab. Retrieved from

This report shows different ways that counties provide high-quality services to children and families by sharing service provision with partners. The analysis examines the role of counties in ECD, challenges and the relationship with the state and federal governments around ECD. The ECD programs featured in this report work to break cycles of multigenerational poverty and prepare the youngest generation for future academic and economic success. The case studies feature Dakota County (Minn.), Idaho North Central Public Health District, Cuyahoga County (Ohio), Durham County (N.C.) and Bedford County (Pa.); these counties showcase just a few examples of how counties across the nation are caring for their most vulnerable residents. (author abstract)

What can state education boards do to improve early childhood education?

The role of state boards in improving early childhood education
Hao, Winona, 01/01/2018
(Education Leaders Report Volume 4, No. 1). Alexandria, VA: National Association of State Boards of Education. Retrieved from

Current state policies are not adequate to support high-quality ECE. Yet there are many opportunities for state boards to improve ECE policy in their states. This report discusses the ongoing and potential work in several areas of state board authority: child care, Head Start, ECE standards and guidelines, assessment, teacher workforce, leader workforce, and financing. These areas range from those in which few state boards have authority (e.g., child care) to those where many have a fair bit of leverage (e.g., teacher licensure and qualifications). (author abstract)

What do recent state studies tell us about quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) validity?

Validation of the quality ratings used in quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS): A synthesis of state studies
Tout, Kathryn, 12/01/2017
(OPRE Report No. 2017-92). Washington, DC: U.S. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. Retrieved from

The purpose of this report is to compile and analyze findings from 10 validation studies examining ratings of early care and education (ECE) programs participating in state Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS). The availability of recent research results addressing similar questions in 10 different states offers a rare opportunity to synthesize findings across multiple contexts and discuss the implications for design, implementation, and future research on state ECE quality initiatives. The report is intended to update state administrators and other stakeholders about the effectiveness of current QRIS quality ratings in distinguishing meaningful levels of quality. The report also addresses issues of interest to researchers conducting evaluations of quality initiatives. (author abstract) Check out Research Connections' policy brief on the measurement of training and technical assistance in QRIS studies

What are the characteristics of Head Start children and families who experience homelessness?

Head Start children and families experiencing homelessness: Trends, characteristics, and program services
United States. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Human Services Policy, 09/01/2017
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Human Services Policy. Retrieved from

This brief provides a descriptive picture of Head Start children and families who experience homelessness and the kinds of services Head Start programs offer them. In this brief, "homeless" includes those who are literally homeless (living on streets, in cars, in shelters, or in other places not meant for habitation), as well as those who are "doubled-up" (multiple families share a unit intended for a single family due to economic hardship, loss of housing, or a similar reason). Data sources include the Head Start Program Information Report (PIR) and the 2009 cohort of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES 2009). (author abstract) Additional information on accessing the Head Start Program Information Report (PIR)and 2009 Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) data used in this report can be found on Research Connections

What are child care providers' perspectives on offering nutrition education?

Implementing the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics benchmarks for nutrition education for children: Child-care providers' perspectives
Dev, Dipti A., 12/01/2017

Background National childhood obesity prevention policies recommend that child-care providers educate young children about nutrition to improve their nutrition knowledge and eating habits. Yet, the provision of nutrition education (NE) to children in child-care settings is limited. Objective Using the 2011 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics benchmarks for NE in child care as a guiding framework, researchers assessed child-care providers' perspectives regarding delivery of NE through books, posters, mealtime conversations, hands-on learning, and sensory exploration of foods to young children (aged 2 to 5 years). Design Using a qualitative design (realist method), individual, semistructured interviews were conducted until saturation was reached. Participants/setting The study was conducted during 2012-2013 and used purposive sampling to select providers. Final sample included 18 providers employed full-time in Head Start or state-licensed center-based child-care programs in Central Illinois. Main outcome measure Child-care providers' perspectives regarding implementation of NE. Statistical analyses performed Thematic analysis to derive themes using NVivo software. Results Three overarching themes emerged, including providers' motivators, barriers, and facilitators for delivering NE to children. Motivators for delivering NE included that NE encourages children to try new foods, NE improves children's knowledge of healthy and unhealthy foods, and NE is consistent with children's tendency for exploration. Barriers for delivering NE included that limited funding and resources for hands-on experiences and restrictive policies. Facilitators for delivering NE included providers obtain access to feasible, low-cost resources and community partners, providers work around restrictive policies to accommodate NE, and mealtime conversations are a feasible avenue to deliver NE. Providers integrated mealtime conversations with NE concepts such as food-based sensory exploration and health benefits of foods. Conclusions Present study findings offer insights regarding providers' perspectives on implementing NE in child care. Drawing from these perspectives, registered dietitian nutritionists can train providers about the importance of NE for encouraging healthy eating in children, integrating NE with mealtime conversations, and practicing low-cost, hands-on NE activities that meet the food safety standards for state licensing. Such strategies may improve providers' ability to deliver NE in child-care settings. (author abstract)

How do immigrant and nonimmigrant parents' involvement in Head Start differ?

Immigrant parent involvement in government funded early childhood education programming: An examination of FACES
Day Leong, Anne, 01/01/2018

Head Start is a federally funded early childhood education programme that takes a unique 2-generation approach to working with families. Family engagement in early education like Head Start has been shown to improve academic and behavioural outcomes in children, with particular beneficial effects in the children of immigrant parents. This study seeks to explore predictors of involvement in Head Start services among immigrant families. Through an examination of Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) 2009 data, this study uses bivariate and multivariate regression, and Karlson/Holm/Breen (KHB) analyses to determine variables associated with involvement in Head Start services. Results indicate that immigrant and U.S.-born parents do not differ in their levels of involvement in Head Start services. Rather, for both groups of parents, parental education attainment and satisfaction in services predicted levels of involvement. Furthermore, for mothers, the relationship between levels of educational attainment and involvement was fully mediated by mothers' levels of employment. (author abstract) For additional resources check out Research Connections' policy brief on Supporting Parent Engagement in Linguistically Diverse Families to Promote Young Children’s Learning

Can professional development reduce the influence of teacher stress on teacher-child interactions in prekindergarten classrooms?

Does professional development reduce the influence of teacher stress on teacher-child interactions in pre-kindergarten classrooms?
Sandilos, Lia E., 01/01/2018

The present study examines the extent to which participation in a 14-week professional development course designed to improve teacher-child interactions in the classroom moderated the relation between teacher-reported job stress and gains in observed teacher-child interaction quality from the beginning to the end of the intervention. Participants were preschool teachers (N = 427; [mean] age = 42) with an average of 11 years of experience teaching. Teachers reported how intensely they experienced different sources of stress at pre-test only (i.e., prior to being randomized into the treatment condition [course or control]). Teacher-child interactions were measured through classroom observations at pre and post intervention. Results demonstrated that control teachers reporting higher professional investment stress showed fewer gains in observed emotional support relative to control teachers experiencing less professional investment stress. These findings were not evident for teachers in the course condition. Interestingly, teachers with higher professional investment stress showed fewer gains in instructional support in the control condition and greater gains in the course condition, relative to teachers in their respective treatment groups who reported lower levels of professional investment stress. Findings suggest that participation in the professional development intervention had a buffering effect on the negative association between professional investment stress and emotional support. With regard to instructional support, it is possible that teachers' heightened awareness and anxiety over their need to develop professionally may have made them more responsive to an intervention designed to improve practice. (author abstract) For related resources check out Research Connections' resource list on Early Care and Education Workplace Conditions and Teacher Stress

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