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This post is written by Amy Fain.

A new research study finds children who have received poor childcare are impacted negatively for many years, even after they leave the low quality care environment.  This study looked at 1364 children from varied background and found a similar patterns to their behavior as old as fifteen.   The study was started with the growing concern for so many children being cared for outside the home.   One interesting fact the researcher found was that poor care impacted the children regardless if the care was provided in their home or outside their home.   One important note the researchers did find that the influence of parents and family member were “clearly more important than child care”.

Researchers had speculated that the negative effects of lower-quality care would disappear as the influence of other factors, such as peers, teachers and maturation, overcame the early childhood experience. But in the latest analysis of the data, they discovered that teenagers who had received higher-quality child care were less likely to report engaging in problem behaviors such as arguing, being mean to others and getting into fights. Those who spent more hours in child care of any kind were more likely to engage in impulsive and risky behaviors. And those who received moderately high- or high-quality care scored higher on tests gauging cognitive and academic achievement.

As an early childhood professional I found this research to be very important to support more teacher training, degreed teachers in the classroom and funding to help support the cost of providing high quality early childhood learning environments.

Amy Fain is Professional Development Coordinator at Community Action Project.

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Early Ed Watch, covering the fan-favorites of emerging early childhood research, examines new findings on the “fade-out” effect of early education programs. Studies show that many of the positive academic impacts of a high-quality pre-kindergarten experience fade out over the course of elementary school. Aleksandra Holod and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn investigate why.

Take it away EEW:

The study compared disadvantaged children who attended preschool to disadvantaged children who did not and whose parents were their primary daily caregivers in the years before entering kindergarten. As expected, preschool was linked to higher test scores in reading and math. What’s more, the study showed that those benefits persisted most strongly when low-income children went on to attend relatively low-poverty public schools. The impact was not only significant, but quite large, and appeared for both the reading and math scores of the students in poverty.

That is, if you’re a poor child in a good pre-K program, the experience will only stick with you if you go to a school with fewer poor kids.

Evidence is mounting that  high quality early education may be an essential developmental tool for at-risk children, but it’s not enough. The findings add to earlier research demonstrating greater fade-out effects in schools with poor classroom quality and low test scores. If early education sows the seed for cognitive development, a good elementary school seems to be the water that makes it grow.

But what do we do if we can’t control the schools our children enter?

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As some of you may know, Tulsa Initiative has spent much of the past year exploring the feasibility of offering high-quality employment and training services to CAP families. These types of programs can get pretty expensive prety quickly, and thus there’s been a longstanding debate on the cost-effectiveness of “jobs” programs (see this article by our friend Chris King).

ppv-earnings_differences

Emerging evidence is showing that new workforce models that combine certain essential elements show great promise. Public/Private Ventures has just released a research brief examining the characteristics and outcomes of three successful workforce programs around the country.  Over the 24-month period, they find that participants:

  • increased earnings by 18.3 percent over a control group, with employed participants earning $3,300 more than controls,
  • worked 1.3 more months than the control,
  • were 11 percentage points more likely to work all 12 months in the second year,
  • and worked in jobs that offered benefits (paid sick leave, vacation, health insurance) for 1.5 months longer.

Eight and sixteen seem to be the magic numbers here. Significant effects on earnings and probability of employment first emerge after eight months, once many participants have completed the program, and widen over time after that. At sixteen months, differences between employed participants and employed controls first become significant. This indicates that services first improve initial employability and job security and, over time, lead participants to better jobs that pay more and offer benefits when compared to a control group. Thus, funders need to remember 8 and 16 when demanding results from workforce programs. 

So what is it about these programs that make them more successful than earlier workforce models? (more…)

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A new study in the journal Science found that a confidence-building exercise in the seventh grade lifted the grade point averages of low-performing black students through the end of eighth grade. The New York Times reports

The researchers, led by Geoffrey L. Cohen, a social psychologist at the University of Colorado, had seventh graders in suburban Connecticut schools do the assignment three to five times through that school year. It asked them to choose from a list values that were most important to them — including athletic ability, sense of humor, creativity and being smart — and to write why those values were so important. The students were randomly assigned, within classes, to do the exercise or a control assignment that was not focused on their values.

In previous studies, researchers had found that such exercises reduced stress and the fear of failure in some students. By the end of eighth grade, among black students who were struggling, those who had expressed in writing their most important values had an average G.P.A. that was 0.4 points higher than those who had not. (emphasis mine)

The study found no impact on white students or black students that were already performing well.

The reduction of stress may be particularly crucial, since evidence increasingly points to the damaging effects of stress on the developing brain.

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Early Childhood Watch, an indispensable font of early education research, policy, and commentary, just got back from the conference of the Society for Research in Child Development, and they want to know what you want to know.

Read their blog entry for a list of 10 areas of emerging research and vote on the two that you want to see them discuss. They explore the research and interview the authors for your benefit before the research even gets published. To vote, just post a comment with your articles of choice. (Note to self: pretty nifty way to generate some comments.)

If for some reason you want to help mine win, vote for:

  1. “Do Elementary School Characteristics Influence the ‘Fade Out’ of Preschool Cognitive Gains?” by Aleksandra Holod and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
  2. “Early Academic Outcomes for Children in Family Day Care, Center-Based Care and Public Pre-K Programs,” by Jessica J. De Feyter, Henry Tran, Adam Winsler, Louis Manfra, Laura Bolzani Dinehart, Charles Bleiker, and Sabrina Sembiante

Tulsa Initiative is really interested in how we can help sustain the gains made in CAP’s very high quality early childhood programs. We’re focusing on the physical, social, and economic health of our families because we believe these may endow our children with protective factors that help them succeed throughout K-12. But we also want to understand what it is about the educational system that promotes continued success. I hope these two areas of research will contribute to that understanding. 

Besides, maybe this is a competition I can actually win, unlike my NCAA tournament pool – where I’ve been stuck in 22nd place since the 2nd round.

Anyway, go help them out and vote your favorites.

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Image used under Creative Commons license from flickr user smiling_da_vinci

Image used under Creative Commons license from flickr user smiling_da_vinci

Graduate and upper-level undergraduate students are needed for a survey research project to be completed by Tulsa Initiative this spring. Click here (or the tab at the top) for more details.

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The USA Today reports on a new study to be published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. The study found that poverty impairs brain function in 9- and 10-year-olds nearly as much as a stroke:

A new study finds that certain brain functions of some low-income 9- and 10-year-olds pale in comparison with those of wealthy children and that the difference is almost equivalent to the damage from a stroke.

“It is a similar pattern to what’s seen in patients with strokes that have led to lesions in their prefrontal cortex,” which controls higher-order thinking and problem solving, says lead researcher Mark Kishiyama, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California-Berkeley. “It suggests that in these kids, prefrontal function is reduced or disrupted in some way.”

We knew poverty has a severe impact on early cognitive development, but that the difference is equivalent to a stroke is just shocking to me.

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