PreK for All in a Changing Landscape: Recap of the NYC Research Symposium 12/6
The New York City Early Childhood Research Network held its first Research Symposium on Friday, December 6, 2019 to highlight insights from eight studies that investigate the implementation of New York City’s PreK for All program.
The day opened with remarks from Dr. Jacqueline Jones, CEO and President of the Foundation for Child Development. The Research Network was born from the Foundation’s deep commitment to bridging research, policy, and practice to build knowledge about quality improvements in ECE that facilitate effective childhood development system.
The first panel focused on early childhood quality. Researchers revealed examples of high-quality early learning and effective practice in both school- and community-based PreK for All programs and across communities in NYC and pointed to opportunities to expand access to those practices throughout the system. Some of the main take-away messages include:
- PreK for All located in community-based organizations and schools have different strengths: “CBOs offer a wider array of services to families, provide more of them on site, and are open more hours and schools have higher average CLASS scores than CBOs.” National Center for Children and Families study
- “A gender-balanced workforce will offer young children a broader range of models to support their healthy gender identity development but less than 3% of all preschool and kindergarten teachers are self-identified men.”Borough of Manhattan Community College study
- Seven core principles of Culturally & Linguistically Responsive, Developmentally-Appropriate Practice include: “(1) All children can learn; (2) Young children’s learning is varied; (3) young children are active and multimodal meaning makers; (4) young children’s language practices are diverse, fluid, and flexible; (5) young children’s sociocultural contexts are assets and valuable resources for learning; (6) young children learn and develop within the context of caring and reciprocal relationships; and (7) young children are critical thinkers and inquirers.” The City College/Teachers College study
- To support dual language learners, “sites that systematically collected information about families, integrated students’ cultural/language backgrounds into the life of the classroom, and engaged families in their children’s language and literacy development had higher indicators of quality across CLASS dimensions of Emotional Support, Classroom Management, and Instructional Support.” The Fordham University study
During the second panel that focused on professional learning, researchers showed there are opportunities to strengthen both the formal and informal ways that early childhood educators engage in professional learning. Across the presentations, researchers emphasized that strong leadership and organizational capacity are vital to foster meaningful professional learning. Highlights from the panel included:
- “Most leaders make frequent visits to classrooms needing strong supports (62% visit at least once a week), and most report that visits are at least 15 minutes” and the support they offer most frequently addresses “social and emotional development.” National Center for Children and Poverty and the Center for Culture, Race, and Equity study at Bank Street.
- Coaches and job-embedded program support staff “spend much of their time providing technical assistance” but there is an opportunity to consider “how might the “other” category of time use be reduced?” National Institute for Early Education Research study
- An analysis of early childhood educators’ advice-seeking and knowledge dissemination found that “having more colleagues to ask for advice matters for ECE teachers’ experience of efficacy, satisfaction, accomplishment, and commitment.” NYU Steinhardt College of Education’s research
- Research on early childhood educators’ use and understanding of authentic assessments emphasized that educators be “innovative in their responses to change” and “engage in a reflective process that enables them to construct their own conceptions of appropriate practice(s) and culturally responsive teaching.” Hunter College of Education research
Shannon Rudisill, Executive Director of the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, closed out the day. Remarking on the Research Network’s unique model, she said: “You’ve established a relationship between researchers and policymakers to have important conversations, allowing you to question assumptions around efforts and spending in order to build a better early childhood system.”
This work is made possible thanks for the generous support from our funders who see the value in research-practice-policy partnership: The Foundation for Child Development, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Early Childhood Partners NYC, and the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation.