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.

What were early educators' experiences in a new graduate program focused on leadership development?

Redefining leadership: Lessons from an early education leadership development initiative
Douglass, Anne, 07/01/2018

This study examined how experienced early educators developed as change agents in the context of a leadership development program. Unlike in many other professions, experienced early educators lack opportunities to grow throughout their careers and access the supports they need to lead change in their classrooms, organizations, the profession, and beyond. This qualitative study brings a relational and entrepreneurial leadership theory lens to its analysis of the experiences of 43 early educators as they co-created pathways forward as leaders for change. The study defines leadership as a process of influencing change to improve early care and education, and not reserved just for those with a formal leadership position. Results show how educators came to see themselves as leaders and pursued different paths to making change and driving improvement. The study offers a new conceptual mapping of a leadership development ecosystem for supporting educators' capacity to identify as leaders as well as lead improvement and innovation. The paper concludes with lessons learned and recommendations for strengthening the leadership infrastructure to support early educator leadership for change and innovation. (author abstract) For additional resources check out Research Connections' resource list on leadership development for center-based child care and early education program directors

What are the classroom language environments of low-income dual language learner preschoolers?

Variations in classroom language environments of preschool children who are low income and linguistically diverse
Sawyer, Brook E., 04/01/2018

This study aimed to (a) provide an in-depth description of the frequency and type of language interactions that children who are low income and/or dual language learners (DLLs) experience in their classrooms and (b) examine whether differences exist in children's language experiences based on children's DLL status and level of English proficiency. Using the Language Interaction Snapshot, we observed 4 focal children in each of 72 early childhood classrooms: 1 monolingual English-speaking child (i.e., non-DLL), 1 Spanish-dominant DLL child, and 2 bilingual Spanish-English DLL children. Findings indicated that both lead and assistant teachers predominantly spoke in English and implemented few evidence-based language practices. Children spoke more often to peers than to teachers. Little variation was noted in the quality of the language environment for children based on their DLL status or language proficiency. Practice or Policy: Results suggest clear directions for professional development (PD). PD must include both lead and assistant teachers and should focus on evidence-based language strategies for facilitating children's language development, including how to effectively teach DLLs. Teachers may also benefit from PD that supports the use of small-group activity and peer strategies. (author abstract)

What is the relationship between children's development of approaches to learning and their gains in science knowledge?

Approaches to learning and science education in Head Start: Examining bidirectionality
Bustamante, Andres S., 07/01/2018

Recent national focus on early childhood science education highlights the need for research on early science, particularly with children from low-income families, as science is the lowest performing school readiness domain in that population. Given this achievement gap, the Office of Head Start has emphasized the development of children's domain-general skills, such as approaches to learning, because they help children succeed in the classroom regardless of academic content area. Recent research suggests a unique relationship between early science and approaches to learning, in that approaches to learning predicts gains in science readiness more so than math or language readiness. This study further explored this relationship by examining the potential bidirectionality between science and approaches to learning. Results obtained from hierarchical linear modeling suggest a significant bidirectional relationship, such that residualized change approaches to learning across the school year predicted gains in science across the year, and residualized change in science across the year predicted gains in approaches to learning across the year. These results suggest that development of children's approaches to learning relates to gains science knowledge, and that gains in children's science knowledge relates to the positive development of approaches to learning across the school year. This study provides support for future research examining the potential of science interventions to serve as a context for developing approaches to learning skills that will in turn help children engage in quality science learning. Such research would leverage the bidirectional relationships between these two constructs and could be a step in the national attempt to narrow the science and school readiness achievement gaps. (author abstract) For additional resources check out Research Connections' resource list on science in early care and education

How did kindergarten teachers' beliefs about school readiness change from 2000 to 2013?

While kindergarten has changed, some beliefs stay the same: Kindergarten teachers' beliefs about readiness
Hustedt, Jason T., 01/01/2018

Kindergarten has become increasingly academically oriented, and U.S. kindergarten teachers are increasingly called upon to implement policies that require assessment and promote accountability. However, little recent research has focused on kindergarten teachers' beliefs about kindergarten readiness. The authors examined teachers' beliefs related to what entering kindergartners should be able to do, and beliefs about using assessment data, based on results from statewide surveys of Delaware kindergarten teachers conducted in 2000 (N = 171), in 2011 (N = 185), and again in 2013 (N = 257). Chi-squared tests were employed to investigate potential changes in teacher beliefs over time. Results show that kindergarten teachers increasingly prioritize assessment information across all broad domains of development at kindergarten entry. However, when ranking specific readiness skills, they continue to believe that nonacademic skills are most important. These findings suggest that though policies promote an academic emphasis in kindergarten, teachers, as policy enactors, take a more nuanced view and continue to recognize nonacademic skills as a key component of kindergarten readiness. This has potential implications for early care and education programming, teacher preparation programs, and teachers' practices in kindergarten classrooms. (author abstract)

What does the research literature tell us about career pathways in early care and education?

Career pathways in early care and education
Cheng, I-Fang, 02/01/2018
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, Chief Evaluation Office. Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/asp/evaluation/completed-studies/Career-Pathways-Design-Study/4-Career-Pathways-in-Early-Care-and-Education-Report.pdf

In this report, we describe our findings from research and discussion with experts on (1) the extent to which ECE career pathways approaches exist currently and the nature of career trajectories within the ECE labor market, (2) barriers to ECE workforce advancement that may inhibit development of career pathways approaches, and (3) promising practices intended to promote ECE workforce advancement (these include strategies to better delineate ECE career trajectories in the labor market as well as a few career pathways program- or system-level initiatives). While our analysis does summarize relevant literature, we did not conduct an exhaustive or formal literature review (i.e. with critiques of existing studies' designs, methodologies, data sources, etc.). We conclude with a section on possible research directions to help the fields of workforce development and evaluation, early care and education, and other stakeholders to better understand the potential for career pathways approaches to promote career advancement for low-wage ECE professionals. (author abstract) For additional resources check out Research Connections' resource list on career pathways

How do wages differ for child care workers in for-profit and nonprofit centers?

The overpaid and underpaid: A comparison of labor costs in nonprofit and for-profit service organizations
Zhao, Jianzhi, 01/01/2018

The comparison between nonprofit and for-profit organizations has been a lingering question for scholars and practitioners. This research explores employee wage differentials across sectors using a national sample of child care workforce. After controlling for a range of individual, occupational, organizational, and community factors, this research reports a significant wage premium for nonprofit child care teachers. In addition, this study finds evidence for both the labor donation and property rights hypotheses, but the property rights theory demonstrates comparatively stronger explanatory power. Although individuals with stronger intrinsic motivation are more willing to donate labor for charitable outputs, inefficient management in nonprofits actually sets wage levels over the market level. Overall, the study highlights nonprofits' comparative advantage in employee motivation but disadvantage in efficient management. The findings have implications for public and nonprofit management. (author abstract)

What are the associations among maternal employment, child care supply and demand, and the child care arrangements of diverse groups?

Maternal employment, community contexts, and the child-care arrangements of diverse groups
Ackert, Elizabeth S., 01/01/2018

Integrating family and child data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort with contextual data from the census, this study examined associations among maternal employment, aspects of communities related to child-care supply and demand, and the early care and education arrangements of 4 year olds in Mexican-origin, Black, and White families. Children with employed mothers were more likely to be in informal care arrangements than in early childhood education, regardless of racial/ethnic background. For children in Mexican-origin families, selection into informal care over early childhood education was more likely in zip codes with greater demand for care as measured by higher female employment. Utilization of parent care versus early childhood education was also more likely for children in Mexican-origin and Black families in zip codes with higher female employment. Constraints associated with maternal employment thus hindered children from enrolling in early childhood education, and community contexts posed challenges for some groups. (author abstract)

What measures are available to assess the executive function and other regulation-related skills of young children?

Executive Function Mapping Project measures compendium: A resource for selecting measures related to executive function and other regulation-related skills in early childhood
Bailey, Rebecca, 05/01/2018
(OPRE Report No. 2018-59). Washington, DC: U.S. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/e_mapping_measures_full_document_pjg_508_bluelinksfinal.PDF

The purpose of this Compendium is to provide information about the range of measures available to assess executive function (EF) and other regulation-related skills. The field of EF and other regulation-related research is broad, rapidly-growing, and encompasses many related but distinct skills and competencies (Jones, Bailey, Barnes, & Partee, 2016). The resources provided in this Compendium are designed to help researchers, program staff, child development specialists, and other professionals working in assessment and evaluation identify the measures that are most appropriate for the age, setting, and specific objectives of their work. The EF Mapping Project Measures Compendium aims to do three concrete things: first, align specific EF and regulation-related skills with the measures used to assess them; second, conduct an analysis of similarities and differences across 44 commonly-used measures; and third, compile information about the relevant psychometric properties of each measure. While the focus of this resource is ages 3-6 years old, the Compendium includes measures that span birth to adulthood, to highlight how assessments differ across the life span. The EF Mapping Project Measures Compendium is not a comprehensive or exhaustive list of all measures that assess EF and other regulation-related skills. The Compendium is designed to be illustrative of the types and range of measures that are commonly used, in order to demonstrate and clarify the various approaches to assessing this broad domain. (author abstract)

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