Measuring Child Outcomes in the Early Years


By W. Steven Barnett, PhD, Shannon Riley-Ayers, PhD, & Jessica Francis, PhD

As our nation increases public and private investments to support the care and education of young children, there is increased concern about how specific public policies affect children before they enter primary school. This desire to establish cause and effect and to estimate the magnitude of benefits to children’s learning, development, and wellbeing (LDWB) puts increased technical demands on assessment (discussed below). In addition, causal attributions require more than simply describing children’s development over time, it requires rigorous research methodologies that warrant strong causal inferences.

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), partner to CEELO, was commissioned by OECD to provide a scholarly discussion paper that presented the pros and cons of various methods of and instruments used for reporting on international data of children’s cognitive and social outcomes. This report draws from the work for that paper to provide information to inform decision-making regarding the assessment of young children’s LDWB for state and national assessments designed to inform early childhood education (ECE) policy and practice. We include “wellbeing” because ECE should not merely be a means to improve a young child’s future success in school, or even life, but should enhance the child’s current quality of life. The primary focus here is on the preschool years. As there are many, many assessments available, this report does not review all of the individual assessments. Several much broader reviews with exhaustive compendia are already available such a publication from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (Snow & Van Hemmel, 2008). Instead, we describe and illustrate each of the general approaches from which policy makers can choose.

Source: Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes

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Every Student, Every Day: A National Initiative to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism


Chronic absenteeism—or missing at least 10 percent of school days in a school year for any reason, excused or unexcused—is a primary cause of low academic achievement and a powerful predictor of those students who may eventually drop out of school. An estimated five to seven and a half million students miss 18 or more days of school each year, or nearly an entire month or more of school, which puts them at significant risk of falling behind academically and failing to graduate from high school. Because they miss so much school, millions of young people miss out on opportunities in post-secondary education and good careers.

Chronic absenteeism is also an equity issue, and it is particularly prevalent among students who are low-income, students of color, students with disabilities, students who are highly mobile, and/or juvenile justice-involved youth—in other words, those who already tend to face significant challenges and for whom school is particularly beneficial. Moreover, chronic absenteeism is often confused with truancy, which can lead to disproportionate suspensions and expulsions from school and inappropriate referrals of students and families to law enforcement.

In response and in support of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (MBK), the U.S. Departments of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Justice (DOJ) are launching Every Student, Every Day: A National Initiative to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism to support coordinated community action that addresses the underlying causes of local chronic absenteeism affecting millions of children in our Nation’s public schools each year. We believe that when a diverse coalition of local stakeholders work together to engage and support students who are chronically absent, youth and family outcomes of entire communities can be dramatically improved. In short, we believe chronic absenteeism in communities is a solvable problem.

ED, HHS, HUD, and DOJ, as part of the Every Student, Every Day initiative, are pleased to release the following resources:

  • Dear Colleague Letter to States, School Districts and Community on the need to reduce chronic absenteeism by at least 10% each year.
  • Every Student, Every Day: A Community Toolkit to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism. This Toolkit offers information, suggested action steps, and lists of existing tools and resources—including evidence-based resources—for individuals, leaders, and systems to begin or enhance the work of effective, coordinated community action to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism, including actions steps for:
    • Youth
    • Parents and Families
    • Mentors and Volunteers
    • School District Superintendents and Staff, and School Personnel
    • Early Learning Providers
    • Health Care, Public Health & Human Service Agencies & Providers
    • Public Housing Authorities
    • Juvenile Justice and Law Enforcement
    • Homeless Services Providers
    • Mayors and Local Government
    • Community, Faith-Based, and Philanthropic Organizations
  • White House Fact Sheet that includes additional details on Every Student, Every Day, including information on upcoming activities, technical assistance, and events.
  • Every Student, Every Day: A Virtual Summit on Addressing and Eliminating Chronic Absence. The U.S. Department of Education, Attendance Works, Everybody Graduates Center and United Way Worldwide invite you to attend Every Student, Every Day: A Virtual Summit on Addressing and Eliminating Chronic Absence on Nov. 12. This online summit will outline key steps that states, districts and communities can take to improve student achievement by monitoring and reducing chronic absence. Featuring two of the nation’s premiere experts on absenteeism: Johns Hopkins researcher Bob Balfanz and Attendance Works Director Hedy Chang, this virtual summit will:
    • Explain the importance of looking beyond average daily attendance rates to identify students who are missing so much school that they are falling behind academically.
    • Share strategies that work for improving attendance and achievement, including positive messaging, family outreach, student incentives and mentoring programs.
    • Highlight the importance of engaging community partners, such as, health providers and criminal justice agencies.

Balfanz and Chang will also introduce school district leaders who are using these strategies to improve attendance and achievement. The summit is hosted by the United Way Worldwide.

Source: US Department of Education

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Impact Findings from the Head Start CARES Demonstration: National Evaluation of Three Approaches to Improving Preschoolers’ Social and Emotional Competence


Head Start CARES Classroom-based Approaches and Resources for Emotion and Social skill Promotion is a national demonstration that tests the effectiveness of three program enhancements designed to improve preschool childrens social-emotional competence. The project also examines the support systems e.g., professional development model, technical assistance, monitoring that are needed to implement the enhancements as designed within diverse Head Start classrooms across the country. This report describes impacts of the CARES demonstration, focusing on outcomes during the spring of the preschool year in: 1 teacher practices; 2 classroom climate; 3 children’s behavior regulation, executive function, emotion knowledge, and social problem-solving skills; and 4 children’s learning behaviors and social behaviors. The report also explores possible impacts on pre-academic skills during preschool and social-emotional and academic outcomes during the Kindergarten year. All three enhancements had positive impacts on teacher practice and on children’s social-emotional outcomes during the preschool year, although in varying degrees and not necessarily in the expected ways.

Source: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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So What do I do Now? Strategies for Intensifying Intervention when Standard Approaches Don’t Work

4/29/2014 3:00 pm ET

Register now for NCII’s next webinar on Tuesday April 29th, 2014 from 3:00 – 4:15 pm ET. The webinar, So What do I do Now? Strategies for Intensifying Intervention when Standard Approaches Don’t Work, will be presented by Dr. Sharon Vaughn of the University of Texas Austin and Dr. Rebecca Zumeta of NCII. In the webinar, Drs. Vaughn and Zumeta will discuss approaches to intensifying academic interventions for students with significant and persistent needs. The presenters will address four categories of practice for intensification, with an emphasis on combining cognitive processing strategies with academic learning. Special educators, school psychologists, interventionists, classroom teachers, and school and district leaders are encouraged to attend. Click here to register.

Source: National Center on Intensive Intervention

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Alison Gopnik: What do babies think?

“Babies and young children are like the R&D division of the human species,” says psychologist Alison Gopnik. Her research explores the sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making that babies are really doing when they play.

Source: TED

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