The Building Blocks of High Quality Early Childhood Education Programs

Transcript

1 CALIFORNIA POLICY BRIEF The Building Blocks of High-Quality Early Childhood Education Programs By Marjorie Wechsler, Hanna Melnick, Anna Maier, and Joseph Bishop When it comes to early childhood education programs, quality is critical. High-quality preschool gives children a strong start on the Abstract path that leads to college or a career. Research shows that all children This brief identifies important elements of high-quality early benefit from high-quality preschool, with low-income children and childhood education programs as 1 A substantial number of studies English learners benefiting the most. indicated by research and professional standards. These include: demonstrate the benefits of high-quality pre-k programs. These include long-term research on Perry Preschool, the Abecedarian Project, and • Early learning standards and curricula that address the whole the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, as well as ongoing studies of the child, are developmentally preschool programs in Tulsa and Boston and New Jersey’s Abbott appropriate, and are effectively implemented. Preschool Program, among others. Economists also have shown the • Assessments that consider children’s benefits of early education investments, which generate approximately academic, social-emotional, and 2 $7 for every dollar invested. However, the potential of preschool can physical progress and contribute to instructional and program planning. only be realized if programs are of high quality. Well-prepared teachers who provide • engaging interactions and classroom This brief summarizes the substantial body of research on environments that support learning. programs demonstrating positive results, as well as the • Ongoing support for teachers, professional standards for early education, identifying important including coaching and mentoring. elements of quality. It focuses on factors that contribute to • Support for English learners and students with special needs. meaningful teacher-child interactions. These findings hold • Meaningful family engagement. particular interest to California. Of the state’s one million Sufficient learning time. • 3 preschool-aged children, 493,877 live in or near poverty. Low- • Small class sizes with low student- income children are most likely to benefit from high-quality pre-k, teacher ratios. pointing to the need for California to improve the overall quality of • Program assessments that measure structural quality and classroom 4 its early learning system. interactions. • A well-implemented state quality rating and improvement system. The Building Blocks of Quality These high-quality building blocks Comprehensive early learning standards and curricula should be at the forefront in revising High-quality programs have curricula that are based on California’s early childhood education system. comprehensive early learning standards, address the whole child, are developmentally appropriate, and are effectively implemented. External reviewers According to professional standards, high-quality pre-k programs are This brief benefited from the insights based on early learning standards that address multiple domains of and expertise of two external reviewers: David Kirp, the James D. development—academic, social-emotional, and physical—to ensure Marver Professor of Public Policy at children are growing in all the ways that enable them to be healthy and the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley; 5 They also implement developmentally appropriate ready for school. and Scott Moore, Executive Director of curricula, which emphasize guided learning opportunities that are Kidango. We thank them for the care and attention they gave the report. Any remaining shortcomings are our own. | 1 LEARNING POLICY INSTITUTE BRIEF CALIFORNIA POLICY

2 6 language-rich and hands-on. Research finds that students who are engaged with content in deep ways while developing conceptual understanding are better able to develop skills in specific areas, such as math 7 However, a curriculum must be well implemented if it is to be effective. Strong or language development. preservice teacher preparation and in-class coaching for teachers increase the likelihood that curricula will 8 be used effectively. Appropriate child assessments High-quality early childhood education programs assess the whole child. The National Research Council endorses the importance of using well-planned and effective assessments of children in early learning classrooms in order to improve instruction and program planning. These assessments should encompass the whole child—academic, social-emotional, and physical—and should 9 For example, many be part of a coherent system of educational, medical, and family support services. states have adopted the research-backed Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment, which prompts teachers to collect observational data ranging from children’s physical and social-emotional development to their 10 These data can be used to track children’s progress over time and plan instruction literacy and math skills. tailored to students’ strengths and needs. Professional knowledge and skill Strong programs ensure that staff know how to support children’s learning and development. Nearly all programs with a track record of success, including the public preschool programs in Tulsa, Boston, New Jersey, and Michigan, require their lead teachers, who not only instruct children but manage 11 the classroom, to have a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in early childhood education. Studies have found that teachers’ specialized knowledge about child development and instruction for young 12 children is particularly important. Both the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council recommend that states align qualifications for educators of children from birth to age eight, with all lead 13 Well-prepared teachers teachers having a bachelor’s degree and specialization in early childhood. have the knowledge and skills to provide engaging interactions and classroom environments to support children’s learning. A strong teacher preparation pipeline can help ensure a sufficient supply of qualified teachers. When New Jersey expanded its preschool program, for example, it created multiple pathways to licensure, including more teacher preparation programs, a post-baccalaureate degree for teachers with bachelor’s degrees in other fields, and scholarships for current early educators to gain greater knowledge and skill. California employed a similar strategy when Head Start teacher qualifications were raised and was able to maintain 14 Retaining high-quality staff is also important, and increasing compensation for a diverse workforce. early learning providers can reduce turnover, as well as attract high-quality candidates. Teacher turnover 15 in early education is high, with low compensation a primary factor in teachers’ decisions to leave. Ongoing support for teachers Coaching and mentoring can improve teaching quality. Strong early education systems support teachers throughout their career by providing coaching and mentoring. While research is in the early stages, coaching appears to be linked to improved student-teacher 16 One study in Washington interactions, less teacher burnout, and increased teacher retention in the field. State, for instance, showed that programs that offered coaching had significantly lower teacher turnover, as 17 Coaching is integral to many programs that show strong results. For example, well as higher quality ratings. both Boston’s and Michigan’s demonstrably effective public preschool programs employ county- or district- based coaches who work one-on-one with teachers and with entire staffs. | 2 BRIEF CALIFORNIA POLICY LEARNING POLICY INSTITUTE

3 Support for Diverse Learners High-quality early learning programs meet the needs of all students, including English learners and students with special needs. Research is clear that preschool has positive academic effects for English learners, who make academic 18 Native Spanish speakers who participated in gains equal to or greater than those of other preschoolers. Tulsa’s preschool program or Head Start, for instance, progressed more in their language development by 19 the end of kindergarten than non-English learners. One way to accelerate English learners’ development may be to provide some instruction in their home language. A study of pre-k programs in 11 states showed that native Spanish speakers’ reading and math scores improved more when they received more 20 instruction in their native language, particularly when their teacher was caring and supportive. Many long-term studies show that preschool can reduce the likelihood that a student will need to 21 Emerging evidence also suggests that preschool participate in costly special education programs. may have particularly positive effects for students who have already been identified as having special needs. For example, a large study showed that three-year-olds with special needs who enrolled in Head Start had reduced inattentive behavior, fewer learning problems, and better teacher-child relationships 22 There is some evidence that inclusion programs, in which by first grade than similar non-participants. students with special needs learn alongside their peers, benefit students more than programs that pull 23 them out of the classroom. Meaningful family engagement High-quality programs engage families in meaningful ways. Positive family-program connections have been linked to greater academic motivation, grade promotion, and socio-emotional skills across all types of young children, including those from diverse ethnic and 24 socioeconomic backgrounds. Research finds that high levels of family engagement often result from strong program-family partnerships characterized by trust, shared values, ongoing communication, 25 For example, one study on the impact of mutual respect, and attention to the child’s well-being. program-family partnerships for Early Head Start showed program families were more likely to support 26 Professional standards their children’s development and literacy skills than families not in the program. state that exemplary early learning programs promote acceptance of all families by incorporating parents as role models and by celebrating the cultures of all families. They also strive to work with families in 27 ongoing, collaborative goal setting for children. Sufficient time Children benefit from more learning time, including year-round programs over multiple years. 28 While some part- Research shows that more daily instructional time can yield bigger benefits for children. day programs have shown strong results, most of the highly effective programs provide full-day preschool. Full-day preschool appears to be particularly effective for low-income children. An evaluation of the long-term impact of the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, for example, showed that children attending the program for a full day scored better on measures of social-emotional development, math and reading skills, and physical 29 A national evaluation of Head Start also health than similar children attending the program part day. 30 suggests that children who enrolled in the program full day performed better in reading and math. Attending preschool for more than one year can also benefit children. While children appear to reap the greatest benefit from their first year in a program, most studies find that children who attend preschool for 31 two or three years do better than those who attend for one year. A recent study of the Chicago Child- Parent Centers, for instance, showed that children who enrolled at age three and stayed for two years were less likely to need special education services and less likely to commit crimes later in life compared 32 with children who started preschool at age four. | 3 BRIEF CALIFORNIA POLICY LEARNING POLICY INSTITUTE

4 Appropriate class size and teacher-student ratio The most successful preschool programs have small class sizes and low teacher-student ratios. Having fewer students in a classroom and more staff facilitates high-quality interactions between teachers and children. Although there is little research on the optimal number, a class size of 20 with a 33 Programs that student-to-staff ratio of 10:1 is the largest acceptable by general professional standards. have shown very strong child outcomes, including Perry Preschool and New Jersey’s Abbott Preschool Program, have class sizes with low student-to-staff ratios. Perry Preschool capped classes at 12 students, with two teachers per class. New Jersey’s Abbott Preschool Program allows for a maximum of 15 students per classroom, also with two staff members. While California is one of only eight state-funded preschool programs that do not specify a maximum class size, it requires a student-to-staff ratio of 8:1. Comprehensive program assessments Exemplary early childhood systems assess program quality in terms of both structure and classroom interactions. Structural features and classroom interactions are important indicators of program quality. Traditionally, assessments of program quality primarily have relied on structural measures such as the National Institute for Early Education Research’s 10 benchmarks of quality, which include indicators like class 34 Recent research highlights the importance of also including measures size and teacher qualifications. of the quality of educational experiences, such as the nature of child-teacher interactions and the types 35 A review of the literature finds inconsistent evidence of learning activities in which children engage. that structural quality features alone lead to improved child outcomes. However, a structural quality element such as small class size can facilitate learning when it is paired with high-quality teacher-child 36 interactions, leading to improved outcomes for children. Quality rating and improvement systems Many states use a QRIS to improve the quality of early education programs. A quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) establishes quality standards and supports continuous improvement efforts. It can provide the basis for states to build a well-supported system that includes the quality building blocks this brief describes. An emerging body of research examining the design and implementation of QRIS standards finds mixed evidence linking QRIS rating levels to child outcomes, and the degree to which a QRIS is well implemented appears to be a critical factor in achieving positive 37 These systems are designed to specify quality, provide a basis for program accountability, outcomes. and support program improvement. That support can take the form of technical assistance, such as on- site coaching or consultation; financial incentives, like tiered child care subsidy reimbursement rates and quality improvement grants; and workforce supports, like wage subsidies or scholarships for teachers 38 Forty states have adopted a statewide quality rating and improvement pursuing higher education. 39 system. California is one of three states in which the counties develop and manage a QRIS. Implications for California The research and professional standards presented in this brief identify elements of early education programs that contribute to strong academic and social-emotional outcomes for children. California, like all states, must determine a funding strategy for its early childhood investments. One cost model of high-quality programming estimates a range of $8,521 per child for a class of 20 children to $10,375 per child for a class of 15 children enrolled in a full-day, year-round program led by a teacher with a bachelor’s 40 degree in early childhood education. However, states typically cover only a portion of the costs, as early education programs combine funding from a variety of federal, state, and local sources. Additionally, the per-child cost of high-quality programs varies depending on specific program features and regional cost- of-living differences. | 4 BRIEF CALIFORNIA POLICY LEARNING POLICY INSTITUTE

5 Clearly states have an interest in ensuring that any investments they make enable strong outcomes that produce the desired benefits of stronger learning and school success, along with savings from reduced needs for special education, grade retention, remediation, or dropping out. As California policymakers consider ways of strengthening the state’s early education system, the building blocks of high-quality early childhood education programs should be at the forefront of their minds. - Marisa Bueno, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Danielle Gon 12 Endnotes zales, Preparing Teachers for Pre-K: What Policymakers (Washington, DC: Pre-K Should Know and Be Able to Do Hirokazu Yoshiwaka et al., Investing in Our Future: The 1 Now, 2008). Evidence Base on Preschool Education, Foundation for http://fcd-us.org/resources/ Child Development, 2013, 13 LaRue Allen and Bridget B. Kelly, eds. Transforming the evidence-base-preschool - http://www.srcd.org/policy-me , Workforce for Children Birth through Age 8: A Unifying dia/policy-updates/meetings-briefings/investing-our-fu - Foundation (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, . ture-evidence-base-preschool 2015), 511–521. 2 Sneha Elango, et al., Early Childhood Education (working - 14 California Head Start-State Collaboration Office. “A Mes paper #21766, National Bureau of Economic Research, , Bridges sage from the California Head Start Association,” From Preschool to Prosperity: 2015); Timothy Bartik, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/bridg - 2011, The Economic Payoff to Early Childhood Education , . es2011winter.pdf http://www.upjohn.org/publications/upjohn-insti - 2014, 15 Marcy Whitebook and Laura Sakai, “Turnover Begets tute-press/preschool-prosperity-economic-payoff-ear - Turnover: An Examination of Jobs and Occupational . ly-childhood-education - Instability Among Childcare Center Staff,” Early Child 3 Public Policy Institute of California, “Child Poverty in 18, no. 3 (2003): 273–293; hood Research Quarterly California,” 2014, http://www.ppic.org/main/publica - Working in Early Care Child Care Services Organization, ; The Annie E. Casey Foundation, tion_show.asp?i=721 and Education in North Carolina: 2012 Workforce Study “Children Who Speak a Language Other Than English at (Chapel Hill, NC: Author, 2012), 19–21, http://www. - http://datacen Home,” KIDS COUNT Data Center, 2015, childcareservices.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/ ter.kidscount.org . WorkforceReport_2012.pdf . , 2. Investing in Our Future 4 Yoshikowa et al., Background Review of Existing Litera - 16 Aikens and Akers, ture on Coaching. 5 Reconsidering Children’s National Education Goals Panel, Early Development and Learning: Toward Common Views 17 Kimberly Boller et al., Seeds to Success Modified Field and Vocabulary (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Test: Findings from the Outcomes and Implementation Office, 1955). Studies (Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, 2010). - US Department of Health and Human Services Admin 6 istration for Children and Families Office of Head Start, Katharine Magnuson, Claudia Lahaie, and Jane Waldfogel, 18 prepared by the National Center for Quality Teaching and - “Preschool and School Readiness of Children of Immi , 2015, Learning, Preschool Curriculum Consumer Report 87 (2006): 1241–1262, grants,” Social Science Quarterly http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/teaching/ doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2006.00426. ; National Association for the Education practice/curricula Michael Puma et al., 19 Head Start Impact Study: Final Developmentally Appropriate Practice of Young Children, (Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Report in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth Human Services, 2010); W. T. Gormley, “The Effects of through Age 8 , 2009, https://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/ Social Oklahoma’s Pre-K Program on Hispanic Children,” . file/positions/PSDAP.pdf 89 (2008): 916–936. Science Quarterly Yoshikawa et al., . Investing in Our Future 7 Margaret Burchinal et al., “Instruction in Spanish in 20 8 Background Review of Nikki Aikens and Lauren Akers, Pre-kindergarten Classrooms and Child Outcomes for Existing Literature on Coaching (Washington, DC: Mathe - Early Childhood Research English Language Learners,” matica Policy Research, 2011). Quarterly 27 (2012): 188–197. 9 Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Board on Testing 21 Greg Duncan and Katherine Magnuson, “Investing in Pre - and Assessment; and Division of Behavioral and Social school Programs,” 27, Journal of Economic Perspectives Early Childhood Assessment: Why, Sciences and Education, no. 2 (2013): 109–132. What, and How , ed. National Research Council, Committee Head Start Impact Study , 8-3. 22 Puma et al., on Developmental Outcomes and Assessments for Young US Department of Health and Human Services, Adminis 23 - Children, Catherine E. Snow and Susan B. Van Hemel tration for Children and Families, The Scientific Base for (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2008). (Washington, DC: US Department the Benefits of Inclusion Do-Hong Kim, Richard G. Lambert, and Diane C. Burts, 10 of Health and Human Services, 2010): 3–4. - “Evidence of the Validity of Teaching Strategies GOLD® As 24 Sandra L. Christenson, “Families and Schools: Rights, sessment Tool for English Language Learners and Children Responsibilities, Resources, and Relationships,” - The Tran with Disabilities,” Early Education and Development 24 sition to Kindergarten , ed. Robert C. Pianta and Martha J. (2013): 574–595, doi: 10.1080/10409289.2012.701500; Cox (Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 2000), Teaching Strategies, Teaching Strategies GOLD As - 143–177; P. Mantzicopoulos, “Flunking Kindergarten after sessment System: A Technical Summary , 2013, h t t p : // Head Start: An Inquiry into the Contribution of Contextual shop.teachingstrategies.com/content/pageDocs/ Journal of Educational Psychology and Individual Variables,” TS-GOLD-Technical-Summary-2013.pdf . - 95, no. 2 (2003): 268–278; C. McWayne et al., “A Multivar 11 The Impact of Teacher Pamela Kelley and Gregori Camilli, iate Examination of Parent Involvement and the Social and Education on Outcomes in Center-Based Early Childhood Academic Competencies of Urban Kindergarten Children,” Education Programs: A Meta-analysis (working paper, Psychology in the Schools , 41, no. 3 (2004): 363–377. NIEER, New Brunswick, NJ 2007), 5–7. | 5 BRIEF CALIFORNIA POLICY LEARNING POLICY INSTITUTE

6 Margaret Caspe, and M. Elena Lopez, Lessons from National Institute for Early Education Research, 2004), 25 Family-Strengthening Interventions: Learning from http://nieer.org/resources/policybriefs/9.pdf Evidence-Based Practice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family The State of Preschool 2014 W. Steven Barnett, , National 34 Research Project, 2006). Institute for Early Education Research, 2014, h t t p : //n i e e r. . org/sites/nieer/files/Yearbook2014_full3.pdf Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., and Center for 26 Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia 35 Terri Sabol et al., “Can Rating Pre-K Programs Predict University, Building Their Futures: How Early Head Start Children’s Learning?” Science , 6148 (2013): 845-6. Programs Are Enhancing the Lives of Infants and Toddlers Quality Dosage, Thresholds, and Martha Zaslow et al., 36 http://www.mathemati , 2001, in Low-Income Families - Features in Early Childhood Settings: A Review of the ca-mpr.com/~/media/publications/PDFs/buildsumm.pdf . (Washington, DC: Office of Literature, OPRE 2011-5 27 Anne T. Henderson and Karen L. Mapp, A New Wave of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Children and Families, US Department of Health and Connections on Student Achievement (Austin, TX: National Human Services, 2010). Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools 37 Gretchen Kirby et al., “What Do Quality Rating Levels Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 2002); Mean? Examining the Implementation of QRIS Ratings to Joyce Epstein, - School, Family, and Community Partner Inform Validation,” 30 Early Childhood Research Quarterly (Boul ships: Preparing Educators and Improving Schools - (2015): 291–305. der, CO: Westview Press, 2001). Moving Up the Ladder: How Do 38 Aleksandra Holod et al., Barbara Wasik and Emily Snell, Synthesis of Preschool 28 States Deliver Quality Improvement Supports Within Their Dosage: Unpacking How Quantity, Quality and Content Quality Rating and Improvement Systems? h t t p : // , 2015, Impacts Child Outcomes (white paper, Temple University, www.air.org/sites/default/files/downloads/report/Quality- 2015), 4–5. Rating-and-Improvement-Systems-QRIS-Early-Childhood- 29 Arthur Reynolds et al. “Association of a Full-Day vs. Sept-2015rev.pdf . Part-Day Preschool Intervention with School Readiness, http://qris - 39 QRIS, “Current Status of QRIS in States,” 2015, Attendance, and Parent Involvement,” JAMA 312, no. 20 network.org/sites/all/files/maps/QRIS%20Map%2C%20 (2014): 2126–2134. QRIS%20National%20Learning%20Network%2C%20 Christopher R. Walters, “Inputs in the Production of Early 30 www.qrisnetwork.org%20%5BRevised%20February%20 Childhood Human Capital: Evidence from Head Start,” 2015%5D_0.pdf. 7, no. 4 American Economic Journal: Applied Economics Barbara Gault, Anne W. Mitchell, and Eric Williams. 40 (2015): 76–102. Meaningful Investments in Pre-K: Estimating the Per- 31 Wasik and Snell, “Synthesis of Preschool Dosage,” 6–7; Institute for Women’s Child Costs of Quality Programs, , 5. Yoshikowa, Investing in Our Future Policy Research, 2008, http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/ 32 Irma Arteaga et al., “One Year of Preschool or Two: Is It . The model also assumes that the early-care-education Economics of Education Important for Adult Outcomes?” teacher is paid at typical kindergarten-level wages; Figures , 40 (2014): 221-237. Review have been converted from 2007 to 2015 dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Calcula - 33 W. Steven Barnett, Karen Schulman, and Rima Shore, ). http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm tor ( “Class Size: What’s the Best Fit?” (New Brunswick, NJ: 1530 Page Mill Road, Suite 200 Palo Alto, CA 94304 (p) 650.332.9797 1301 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 500 Washington, D.C. 20036 (p) 202.830.0079 www.learningpolicyinstitute.org 6 BRIEF | LEARNING POLICY INSTITUTE CALIFORNIA POLICY

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