This Campbell systematic review examines the evidence on the correlation between teacher qualifications and the quality of early childhood learning environments, as measured by the Environment Rating Scale (ERS). The review summarises findings from 48 studies with 82 independent samples. The studies had to be comparative or correlational and report either an overall quality scale or an environment rating scale.
Overall, the review suggests that higher teacher
qualifications are positively associated with classroom quality in early
childhood education and care (effect size = +0.20). The review also suggests a
positive correlation between teacher qualifications and classroom quality on a
number of subscales, including:
structure – focusing on the schedule, time for free play, group time and
provisions for children with disabilities (ES = +0.22).
– this relates to fine motor, art, music/movement, blocks, sand/water, dramatic
play, nature/science, maths/number, use of digital technologies, and promoting
acceptance of diversity (ES = +0.20).
and reasoning – encouraging children to communicate, use language to
develop reasoning skills, and the informal use of language (ES = +0.20).
The researchers conclude that while there is evidence for
the relationship between teacher qualification and classroom quality as
measured by the ERS, further research is also needed into the specific knowledge
and skills that are learned by teachers with higher qualifications that enable
them to complete their roles effectively. It is important to note also, that
while higher quality in early childhood education and care may lead to improved
outcomes for children, we cannot assume that this is the case.
relationship between teacher qualification and the quality of the early
childhood education and care environment (January 2017), Campbell Systematic Reviews, Volume 13, Issue 1.
Evidence for Learning in Australia has published an evaluation report of a randomised controlled trial of MiniLit, a small group, phonics-based programme for struggling Year 1 readers. The intervention is targeted at the bottom 25% of pupils struggling to read, and focuses on improving pupils’ literacy in five areas: phoneme awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
The programme involved struggling readers from Year 1
classes in nine Australian primary schools located in New South Wales, and
consisted of 80 one-hour lessons delivered four to five days per week over 20
weeks. The lessons were delivered in school outside of regular lessons by
teachers to small groups of up to four pupils. A total of 237 pupils
participated, of which 119 were allocated to the MiniLit intervention group and
118 to the control group. Pupils in the control group received the school’s
usual learning support for struggling readers, which could include whole-class
approaches and/or support programmes for struggling readers.
Overall, there was no evidence that MiniLit had any
additional impact on pupils’ reading at 12 months, measured using the York
Assessment of Reading Comprehension – Passage Reading (YARC-PR) tests compared
to pupils receiving usual reading support (ES = -0.04). However, there were
some positive effects for reading accuracy (ES = +0.13) and reading rate (ES =
+0.06). There was also evidence of improvement in foundational reading skills
at six months, particularly letter sound knowledge, which was also sustained at
The researchers point out, however, that the findings were
dependent on the quality of the MiniLit lessons which were provided to pupils. Schools
were limited to 20 weeks’ duration, and in many cases, teachers reported that this
length was not sufficient to complete the programme for all groups. They suggest
that improving how MiniLit is implemented may lead to more positive outcomes;
however, this requires further evaluation to determine.
Learning impact fund: Evaluation report (2019). Independent report prepared by the Murdoch Children’s Research
Institute and the University of Melbourne for Evidence for Learning
A study published in AERA Open looks at the long-term effects of the INSIGHTS programme – a social-emotional learning intervention that supports children’s ability to self-regulate by enhancing their attention and behaviour management.
Between 2008 and 2012, a total of 22 elementary (primary) schools from three New York City school districts were randomly assigned to participate in the INSIGHTS programme or to an attention-control condition (an after-school reading programme). A previous study found that the INSIGHTS programme reduced children’s disruptive behaviour and increased behavioural engagement by the end of first grade (Year 2). This study uses administrative data for those pupils to examine whether receiving the intervention in kindergarten and first grade (Years 1 and 2) had any impact on provision of special education services or grade retention (whether pupils had to repeat a year) by the end of fifth grade (Year 6). The study also considers whether impacts varied for low- versus high-income pupils.
The findings suggest that pupils in the INSIGHTS programme
were less likely to receive special education services between kindergarten and
fifth grade (p < .05). In addition, low-income pupils enrolled in
the INSIGHTS programme were also less likely to receive special
education services between kindergarten and fifth grade compared with
low-income children enrolled in the attention-control condition (p <
There were no effects of INSIGHTS on grade
retention up to the end of fifth grade and this did not vary according to
effects of social–emotional learning on receipt of special education and grade
retention: Evidence from a randomized trial of INSIGHTS (August 2019), AERA Open, DOI. 10.1177/2332858419867290
Projections estimate that by 2030, children with English as an Additional Language will comprise 25% of US students, 77% of whom will speak Spanish. Yet there is little evidence-based research addressing what works in literacy for the Spanish-speaking population. Trisha Borman and colleagues recently reported the first-year results of a randomised study of Descubriendo La Lectura (DLL), an individually administered Spanish literacy programme for first graders (Year 2) struggling with literacy in their native Spanish, examining its effects on both Spanish and English literacy.
DLL incorporates the research-proven
practices of 1:1 tutoring, using a student’s native language to improve their
second language, intervening early (in first grade), using data to track and
guide progress, professional development, research-proven practices, and
Subjects were first-grade students in
22 schools in 3 states, statistically matched at baseline and randomly assigned
to receive DLL either in the 2016 school year (experimental group, n=78), or
the 2017 school year (delayed treatment control group, n=74). Students
qualified for DLL if they spoke Spanish at home and scored below 25% on the IdO
(a test that assesses literacy). Students were also pretested and post-tested
using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and Logramos (the Spanish equivalent
of the ITBS). The experimental group received 30-minute lessons daily with
students and teachers meeting 1:1, progressing at their own pace until they
qualified to leave the programme and were post-tested. This process took 12-20
weeks, depending on the student.
Results favoured the DLL group, with statistically significant effect sizes on the Spanish Logramos averaging +0.55 (p<.001). On the English ITBS, the mean effect size was +0.17, which was not significant. There were larger positive outcomes on measures made by the developers. The programme will continue to be studied in two subsequent cohorts.
Source: Addressing Literacy Needs of Struggling Spanish-Speaking First Graders: First-Year Results From a National Randomized Controlled Trial of Descubriendo la Lectura (July 2019) AERA Open
trials of “nudge” approaches, where, for example, students are encouraged via a
series of text messages to apply for financial support for college, have shown
positive results. These trials have involved a few thousand students, but could
the approach be scaled up to state or national level?
A working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research reports the results of two large randomised controlled trials that collectively reached over 800,000 students in the US. Kelli A. Bird and colleagues tested the impact of a national and state-level campaign to encourage students (average age 18.6 years) to apply for financial aid for college, with multiple treatment arms to investigate different potential mechanisms and approaches.
found no impacts on financial aid receipt or college enrollment overall or for
any student subgroups. There was no evidence that different approaches to
message framing, delivery, or timing, or offers of one-on-one advice, affected
the efficacy of any of the campaigns.
researchers suggest three reasons why the scaled-up approach may not have been
Most previous studies involved a local partner with closer connections
to and knowledge of the students. Local partners may know something important
about their students and students may react differently to messages from organisations
in their communities.
A global scale-up results in messaging content that is more generic and
less personalised to students.
The students in this study may have had better information about the
financial support available to them than previous cohorts, so the intervention
made less impact.
Source: Nudging at Scale: Experimental Evidence from FAFSA Completion Campaigns (August 2019) NBER Working Paper No. 26158
an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, more than 4,000 refugee children entered
Florida’s school system, most of them in four school districts. What impact did
their arrival have on existing students in those schools?
In an article in the Journal of Labor Economics, David Figlio and Umut Özek draw on student-level administrative data from Florida that provides detailed information on all students enrolled in a public school between 2002–3 and 2011–12. These include reading scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) and maths scores for students between grades 3 and 10 (Years 4-11), as well as a wealth of student characteristics.
Using data from the year before the earthquake, and the two years after, they found that there was a neutral to positive impact on the children already in the schools. In particular, in the spring of 2010, each percentage point increase in refugee concentration was associated with 0.6%–0.7% of a standard deviation increase in reading test scores, 0.3%–0.4% of a standard deviation increase in maths test scores, and 0.2–0.6 percentage points fewer disciplinary incidents. They found that these results — neutral or slightly positive impacts — were consistent across sub-groups of students (by age, place of birth, race/ethnicity, spoken language, and socio-economic status). The researchers caution that these results are not necessarily generalisable, since, for example, Florida has one of the most equitable school funding distributions in the US and, with a substantial existing population of Haitian immigrants, may have systems and approaches in place that helped to mitigate any potential impact on local students.
Source: Unwelcome Guests? The Effects of Refugees on the Educational Outcomes of Incumbent Students (July 2019) Journal of Labor Economics