Delivering Of Effective On The Early Childhood Promise .


Deliveringon thePromiseCEMERÉ JAMES , Vice President, Policy, NBCDIIHEOMA IRUKA , Sr. Research Fellow, NBCDIChief Research Officer, HighScope Educational Research FoundationDecember 2018of EffectiveEarlyChildhoodEducation

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARYThe National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) launched the“Delivering on the Promise of Effective Early Childhood Education forBlack Children: Eliminating Exclusionary Discipline and Concentrating onInclusion” national campaign in 2017. This initiative is designed to dismantlethe foundation of America’s preschool to prison pipeline: the rising rates of suspensionsand expulsions in early childhood education (ECE). Through this initiative, NBCDI issupporting advocates and policymakers nationally who are seeking to ensure equalaccess to education for all young children by eliminating suspensions and expulsions inearly childhood education and implementing positive discipline practices.More than 250 preschoolers are suspended or expelled daily.i Data indicates that as many as 8,710, 3- and4-year-old children may be expelled from or pushed out of public preschool or prekindergarten classrooms(administered in public schools) annually—a rate nearly three times that of students in kindergarten through12th grade.ii In child care centers, expulsion rates are 13 times what they are in kindergarten through 12thgrade.iii Exclusionary discipline has no place in learning environments; all children deserve to experienceinclusive and affirming, high-quality education.Disproportionate suspensions and expulsions for Black children in early childhood education underscorewidespread injustice and racial inequality in our early childhood education system. Data from the U.S.Department of Education Office for Civil Rights demonstrates that Black children are being systematicallydenied access to early education at the most critical period in their development. Key points from the CivilRights Data Collection include several on preschool suspension: Black children represent 19 percent ofpreschool enrollment, but 47 percentof preschool children receiving oneor more out-of-school suspensions. Incomparison, white children represent 41percent of preschool enrollment, but 28percent of preschool children receivingone or more out-of-school suspensions. Black boys represent 19 percent of malepreschool enrollment, but 45 percent ofmale preschool children receiving one ormore out-of-school suspensions. Black girls represent 20 percent offemale preschool enrollment, but 54percent of female preschool childrenreceiving one or more out-of-schoolsuspensions.iv2Today’s education system is not delivering on thepromise of high-quality early childhood education.Children pushed out of education spaces are notexperiencing the positive outcomes of high-qualityeducation. The result of which is lasting negativeimpacts on their academic engagement and success inlife. State-by-state analysis performed by AttendanceWorks demonstrates that students who miss moreschool than their peers consistently score lower onstandardized tests, a result that holds true at everyage, in every demographic group, and in every stateand city tested.v Research also shows suspensionsand expulsions for young children leads to childrenexperiencing: less engagement and connection withpeers and teachers; more disciplinary action later intheir academic career; higher rates of drop out or failout in high school; and higher rates of incarcerationlater in life.viDELIVERING ON THE PROMISE OF EFFECTIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Based on a 2016 research study brief entitled, “Do EarlyEducators’ Implicit Biases Regarding Sex and Race Relate toBehavior Expectations and Recommendations of PreschoolExpulsions and Suspensions?”, the Yale Child Study Centershared findings that implicit bias plays a significant role inschool discipline and the disproportionate exclusionarypractices for Black students specifically. “The tendency tobase classroom observation on the gender and race of thechild may explain why those children are more frequentlyidentified as misbehaving and, hence, why there is a racialdisparity in discipline,” notes Dr. Walter S. Gilliam, directorof The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development andwww.nbcdi.orgSocial Policy and associate professor of child psychiatry andpsychology at the Yale Child Study Center.viiThe kind of bias Gilliam’s study illustrates can be seenacross school systems at various education levels—the one constant is Black children receive harsherpunishments than White children for similar behavioror significantly lesser offenses. Punishing children byexcluding them from learning deprives them of highquality educational environments and policymakersand advocates seeking to address the disparities inacademic outcomes for Black children must addressdisproportionate discipline.3

DELIVERING ON THE PROMISE OFEARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FRAMEWORKNBCDI’s Delivering on the Promise Framework: addressing the suspensionand expulsion crisis requires reforms in early childhood education systemsdesigned to improve the overall quality of education and advance racialequity. To deliver on the positive outcomes that are possible through highquality early childhood education, early childhood education systems must eliminateexclusionary discipline, address racial bias and provide inclusive, affirming early learningenvironments. This issue will not be solved with a quick fix designed to place tightercontrols on child behavior or solely placing the onus on educators to change theirclassroom practices without supports, coaching and professional development. To bringabout real change, policymakers and advocates must move away from viewing thisissue as a problem with child behavior, individual educators, or programs. Exclusionarypractices are symptoms of broader systemic inequality in early childhood education.Young Black children do not have equal access to well-funded early childhood educationprograms with educators that are equipped to provide positive, developmentallyappropriate guidance and inclusive learning environments for all children.Because addressing this issue will require systems-level changes, NBCDI developed solutions generated inpartnership with a broad group of experts from the field, including advocates, practitioners, administrators,elected officials and parents/caregivers with expertise in various aspects of early childhood education.Eliminating suspensions and expulsions across all early learning settings, including public preschools, charterschools, Head Start, private programs and licensed home-based programs with mixed funding stream willrequire a comprehensive approach involving early education administrators, center directors, educators, healthand mental consultants, professional development providers and coaches, community stakeholders andparents and caregivers supporting systems-level reforms with enhanced supports for programs and educators.RECOMMENDATIONS described in detail throughout this paper include:Studies indicate that Black children are lesslikely to be enrolled in high-quality, culturallyaffirming early learning environments.viii Aspolicymakers and early childhood educationadministrators are striving to change systemsto respond to the needs of all children, thispaper provides a clear vision for everydayexperiences that are denied to Black children.4RACE GAPS IN PRE-K QUALITY0.30Standardized quality score (mean 0)1. Ensure all children have accessto the following Core Elementsof Affirming, Inclusive EarlyLearning ource: Analysis of data from the National Center for Early Development and Learning.DELIVERING ON THE PROMISE OF EFFECTIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

TABLE 1.Family-SchoolPartnershipParents/caregivers and educators work collaborativelyto ensure children are fully engaged in the learningenvironment. Educators value the role of parents/caregivers as the primary teachers for children.Culturally-ResponsivePracticeChildren receive positive, affirming messages abouttheir race and identity that are woven into thecurriculum and pedagogy.High-Expectationsof ChildrenEducators have high-expectations of the learningcapacity of all children and communicate highexpectations through their engagement with children(children experience the opposite of implicit bias).Social-EmotionalLearningChildren learn how to engage with their teachers andpeers, manage their emotions and respond to guidancefrom educators who understand.DevelopmentallyAppropriatePedagogy withPositive GuidanceChildren engage in and know the rules and routinesfor typical classroom activities and receive proactivereminders. Educators proactively engage children inpositive engagement designed to model and teachappropriate behavior.Trauma-InformedCare and ServicesChildren who have experienced trauma receive services andinterventions to help them process and heal their trauma.www.nbcdi.orgThe tendency tobase classroomobservation on thegender and raceof the child mayexplain why thosechildren are morefrequently identifiedas misbehaving and,hence, why there isa racial disparity indiscipline.WALTER S. GILLIAM5

2. Implement systems-level reforms tosupport the Core Elements of Affirming,Inclusive Early Learning Settings.Every element of our early childhood educationsystems—from funding levels to professionaldevelopment programs—should be designedto ensure that all children experience affirming,inclusive early learning settings. This paperprovides recommendations for systems-levelreforms with a racial equity framework. Allagencies and entities that engage with youngchildren and families (health, education, familysupports) must recognize their role in supportinginclusive and affirming learning environmentsand advancing racial equity. NBCDI recommendspolicymakers and advocates focus on thefollowing core system changes: Licensing Standards: Child care licensingstandards set the minimum acceptable health,safety and program standards for the legaloperation of child care programs. To make progresson the issue of suspensions and expulsions,minimum standards should be designed tosupport positive interactions between educatorsand children and between parents and children.Licensing standards should be used to keep groupsizes small and educator to child ratio at a levelthat will allow educators to provide attention andpositive guidance to all the children.6 Professional Development and Training Standards:Research compiled in the last twenty yearsunderscores two essential findings: 1) high-qualityearly childhood education programs are essential forpositive child outcomes, and 2) education and trainingfor practitioners are key to providing high-qualityearly childhood education.ix Black children must haveaccess to early childhood educators and leaders whoare prepared to effectively engage culturally andlinguistically diverse (CALD) children and their familiesin learning environments that are free of racial bias. Quality Assurance Systems and OngoingContinuous Improvement: Many states havetaken a systemic approach to measuring andimproving quality by creating Quality Rating andImprovement Systems (QRIS) and sharing ratingpublicly with parents.QRIS could be used to advance racial equity and addressdisparities in discipline by incorporating quality indicatorsthat are most critical for children of color. These indicatorsinclude: Family-School Partnership; Culturally-ResponsivePractice; Social-Emotional Learning; DevelopmentallyAppropriate Pedagogy with Positive Guidance; Traumainformed Care and Service; and Discipline Policies andData. QRIS should also be used to incentivize the CoreElements of Affirming, Inclusive Early LearningSettings (identified above in Table 1) designed toeliminate reliance on suspensions and expulsions andensure all children learn in positive, culturally-responsiveearly childhood education programs.DELIVERING ON THE PROMISE OF EFFECTIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Wraparound Supports and Mental HealthServices: By suspending or expelling Blackchildren at high rates, early childhood educationsystems are choosing to push them out insteadof educating them and providing critical, holisticsupports. Through wraparound supports, mentalhealth services and trauma-informed care, earlychildhood education programs can advance equityby ensuring that each child and family has accessto services designed to meet their unique needs.When implemented effectively, wraparoundsupports create pathways to success for everychild. Comprehensive systemic changes to combatthe suspension and expulsion crisis must addressdisparities in access to wraparound supports andmental health services for Black children and families.Research has shown that Black children and adultsare less likely to receive high-quality mentalhealth services.x Data Development and Monitoring: Aspolicymakers and early childhood educationadministrators implement legislative or regulatorychanges to reduce or eliminate suspensions andexpulsions or address disparities in discipline, dataon the frequency and type of disciplinary actionsmust be used to measure the effectiveness of thesepolicy changes. Through data collection, advocateshave learned that preschool suspension andexpulsion occur at alarming rates, are associatedwith negative developmental and educationaloutcomes and have disproportionately affectedBlack boys and girls, contributing to racialdisparities in access to educational opportunities.Comprehensive data collection and analysis atthe state and local level is critical to continuing toraise awareness, drive progress on suspensions andexpulsions in early childhood settings and trackprogress on reducing incidences.www.nbcdi.org7

SECTION 1FCREATING AFFIRMING, INCLUSIVEEARLY LEARNING SETTINGSor decades, high-quality early childhood education has been cast as a way tobridge developmental opportunity gaps for U.S. children across disparate socialand economic levels.xi Yet, the developmental benefits for Black children in theseprograms have been modest, often disappointing,xii and riddled with issues ofimplicit bias and differential treatment. Work from various scholars and, more recently,Gilliam and colleagues (2016), suggests that the implicit bias of teachers may be theunderlying cause for the “pushout” of Black children, especially boys, from early childhoodeducation settings; where Black children are viewed as older and more culpable.xiiiPsychological research consistently documents that implicit racial biases have negative consequences,with Black children being viewed as more culpable,xiv more aggressivexv and subject to harsher schooldiscipline.xvi Because “implicit biases are automatic and unconscious stereotypes that drive people tobehave and make decisions in certain ways,”xvii there is a need for specific tools and support to capture anddocument the interactions Black children have with early childhood educators. These observations needto be subsequently linked to policies and practices that can reduce the biases and differential exclusionarypractices experienced by Black children.Characteristics of Inclusive and AffirmingLearning Environments for Black ChildrenThe interactions children engage in witheducators and other adults (and peers) areimportant in supporting children’s social andemotional development.xviii Research fromwork conducted with Black children and youthsuggests that certain learning environments maybe particularly beneficial and relevant to theirdevelopment and behavior, including:1. Collaborative relationships with families:Numerous studies have shown a stronglink between engaged families, childbehavior and outcomes.xx In addition tobeing engaged in their children’s learningand development, Black parents engage incultural socialization practices that “teachchildren about their racial or ethnic heritageand history; promote cultural customs andtraditions; and promote children’s cultural,racial and ethnic pride, either deliberatelyxix8or implicitly.”xxi When early childhoodeducators and parents are able to work inconcert to create alignment between thehome and school environments, childrenfeel connected to the adults and theenvironment, reducing negative emotionsand behaviors.2. Connections to their home language,traditions and lived experiences:xxiiStudies find that Black children’s languageand learning is primarily through theirinteractions with their “extended family andcommunity, including peers, siblings andother related adults.” This indicates that themechanism to engage children and supporttheir behavior and development mustincorporate their experiences and culture,including their extended community andways of interaction.DELIVERING ON THE PROMISE OF EFFECTIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

3. Fun and engaging learning content thatincorporates children’s racial and ethnic heritagewithin caring, family- and community-typeenvironments:xxiii Interactive, fun and communityand family-type classrooms have been identified asuniquely beneficial for Black children because theyconnect the classroom culture to children’s daily lives.xxivBlack children need the classroom environment tobe active, lively and connected to their current lives,especially through the mechanism of oral storytelling.xxvHowever, Black children are less likely to experiencecongruity between the school and home/communityenvironments, meaning characteristics such as valuingand incorporating rituals and traditions; use of similarmannerisms, interactions, or communication styles;and display of respect toward adults and elders isabsent at school.xxvi4. Interactions that build on their positive racial andself-identity:xxvii Work by scholars shows an affirmativelink between positive racial identity and achievement.Messages regarding self-worth and positive self-identity,combined with messages about racial inequalities wereassociated with positive academic outcomesxxviii andbehavioral markers, such as curiosity and persistence.xxixPositive racial and ethnic attitudes, including racialethnic pride and perception of racial barriers, have beenassociated with Black children’s positive outcomes.xxx5. Warm demanders with high expectations:xxxiEducators who engage in firm and supportiveinteractions with children, also called “warmdemanders,” have been noted as being instrumentalfor Black children’s development. Educators whohave high expectations for children’s behavior andacademic performance, and are direct and clear aboutthese expectations, exemplify this component. Studieshave shown that teachers may provide higher qualityinstruction and positive interactions to children fromwhom they expect more, and in contrast, providelower quality instructions and less positive interactionto those from whom they expect less.xxxii Children theninternalize these cues and expectations and engage(or disengage) based on them.6. Fair, non-judgmental disciplinary practices freeof racial bias and microaggressions:xxxiii Evidence ismounting about the negative impact of suspensionsand expulsions on achievement, especially as it relatesto the discipline gap.xxxiv However, classrooms areplagued by microaggressions.xxxv Microaggressions arebrief, yet routine, verbal, behavioral, or environmentalracial slights. Such microaggressions can be intentional,but they are most often unintentional and the resultof people’s implicit biases, such as assumptions ofBlack children’s lack of intelligence or giftedness, nonacademic orientation and aggressive behaviors.photowww.nbcdi.org9

These characteristics are critical to early childhooddevelopment. However, studies indicate that Blackchildren are less likely to be in high-quality, culturallyaffirming early learning environments (see Figure 1below). Based on data from the U.S. Department ofEducation, National Center for Education Statistics,Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort: 25%of African American children were in centers rated ashigh-quality compared to 36% of White children. Thesenumbers are more alarming for home-based programs:0% of African American children were in high-quality earlychild education, compared to 15% of White children.xxxviFIGURE 1.Percentage distribution of quality rating of child carearrangements of children at about 4 years of age, bytype of arrangement and race/ethnicity: urce: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Early ChildhoodLongitudinal Study, Birth Cohort 9-month-Kindergarten Restricted-Use Data File and ElectronicCodebook. Table 57. (December 2010)Implementing Inclusive andAffirming Learning Environmentsfor Black ChildrenBased on the six areas (outlined above) found to supportBlack children’s early development and learning, we havedeveloped a set of recommended strategies and tactics foradoption in early childhood education programs.First, early childhood education systems must ensurethat early childhood educators and leaders are providedwith culturally-responsive training in order to effectivelyteach culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) children.Several things must happen in order to do so, including:xxxvii Developing a culturally diverse knowledge base:this requires that educators be socially conscious;understand the cultural characteristics andcontributions of ethnic groups, including their values,traditions, communication and learning styles; lookat their own attitudes and practices towards diversegroups; have affirming views of students from CALDbackgrounds and see their capacity to learn; and knowhow to incorporate diverse sets of learning strategies,connecting instruction to children’s backgrounds. Designing culturally relevant curricula: this requiresthat educators identify the strengths and weaknessesof curricula for diverse learners, address stereotypesabout particular groups and reinforce positivemessages about diverse children. Demonstrating cultural caring and building alearning community: this requires that educators andchildren be co-creators of the learning environment;learning is integrated and holistic, providing anopportunity for children to learn through differentcognitive, physical and emotional strategies; and bothchildren and teachers feel respected, connected andexperience an inclusive learning environment. Building effective cross-cultural communications:this requires educators to decipher how childrencommunicate and interact to better meet their individualneeds, as well as understand how learners constructknowledge so they can be supported to do so effectively. Delivering culturally-responsive instruction: thisrequires educators to match instructional techniquesand modalities to children’s learning styles; developan array of instructional approaches to meet CALDchildren’s learning styles; and use children’s culturalbackground and experiences to connect learning10DELIVERING ON THE PROMISE OF EFFECTIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

objectives, building on what they already know while stretchingthem to the next level. Engaging in self-reflection about attitudes and biases: thisrequires educators to engage in self-inquiry regarding theirbiases, perceptions about and responses to particular groups;how those perceptions and attitudes may have been formed; aswell as how to value the assets CALD children bring to learningrather than viewing them with a deficit mindset.How To Move Towards Culturally-Responsive Practices1. Engage in an anti-bias training or racial equity workshop,which allows one to understand biases and how they may bereflected in interactions with children and their families, as well ascolleagues and community members.2. Commit to racial equity and addressing implicit bias in regularpractice by conducting a cultural-responsive practices assessmentin combination with a continuous quality improvement plan toimprove practices and address biases.3. Conduct a well-check visit with each child’s family, the goalbeing to view the child’s experiences through a family lens (suchas what children see at home or the rituals they experienceduring meals). This is also an opportunity to determine if thereare changes or anticipated changes in the child’s routine.This allows teachers to view children’s behavior differently,recognizing, for example, that a child painting on his shirt isexploring an activity engaged in with his family at home. Theteacher is then able to engage the student in a conversationabout what he was trying to do and connect behaviors to otherlearning activities, rather than respond to what is perceived tobe disobedient behavior.4. Engage and communicate with parents to identify and affirmthe child’s strengths, while also teaching them the skills andbehaviors required to engage in learning. This includes educators’valuing the wealth of knowledge that families have regardless oftheir economic and racial background. For example, educatorscan ask parents if there are ways they want to contribute toclassroom learning, such as being classroom helpers or readers.5. Examine all aspects of the early learning experience, fromgreetings, meal time, the language of instruction, curriculum,assessments and more, to determine if the strengths of allchildren are captured. For example, do the assessments onlyexamine children’s receptive language skills, and not theirexpressive or interpersonal skills.6. Use data to determine whether subgroups of children are notbeing effectively supported, especially Black children and otherhistorically marginalized children.www.nbcdi.orgSecond, early childhood educatorsand professionals need access todevelopmentally-appropriate practicesthat support positive behavior. One suchapproach is positive discipline practices. Witha concentrated focus on positive disciplinepractices, most programs educating youngchildren use reactive approaches, suchas more monitoring and surveillance forproblem behaviors, sanctions for thosebehaviors, increased consistency in staffreactions to displays of antisocial behaviorand accelerated consequences to preventfuture problem behaviors.xxxviii While thesepractices make educators feel secure andin control, they do not foster a positivelearning environment where children receivepositive guidance and educators work toestablish meaningful engagement withchildren. This has led to a focus on school- orprogram-wide positive discipline to createa sustainable and effective behavioralmodification approach. School-wide orprogram-wide positive behavioral supports(PBS) are described “as the broad range ofsystemic and individualized strategies forachieving important social and learningoutcomes while preventing problembehavior.” xxxixEffective use of school-wide PBS ensuresthat other alternatives to discipline areused while keeping in mind the importanceof early childhood education programsas environments of learning, allowing forless reliance on punitive consequences.It provides strategies for schools andeducators to consider alternative disciplineapproaches that don’t exclude childrenfrom learning, especially those with thegreatest need for a high-quality earlylearning environment. Educators andschool leaders must seek ways to mitigateexclusionary discipline practices, includingeliminating practices that create inequitablelearning environments (e.g., neglectingto incorporate children’s culture intoinstruction) and exclusionary disciplinepractices that prevent children fromreceiving full instruction.11

Strategies To EnsurePositive Discipline Practices1. Program-wide discipline systemsthat clearly outline strategiesthat support learning andencourage expected behaviors,including defined teacherexpectations and proceduresfor record keeping anddecision-making.Third, Black children have been found to disproportionately experiencetrauma, emphasizing the need for trauma-informed care. The AdverseChildhood Experiences (ACE) Study,xl initiated at Kaiser Permanente inCalifornia from 1995 to 1997, examined the relationship between childhoodmaltreatment, family stress and outcomes in adulthood. They found thatmore than 50% of adults reported at least one, and 25% reported twoor more childhood exposures. They also noted that a greater number ofexposures increased the likelihood of significant health risk behaviorsinclude; obesity, diabetes, depression, suicide attempts, STDs, heartdisease, cancer, stroke, poor health status, and disease later in life.2. Clearly defined classroombehavior systems across theprogram, with each educatordirectly setting expectations androutines for typical classroomactivities (e.g., how to ask forassistance) and monitoring; eachteacher should have positiveinteractions with children,providing pre-corrections asa reminder.Knowledge about the detrimental impact of ACEs has resulted in moreemphasis on providing trauma-informed care. “Trauma-informed care hasmany facets. It refers to recognition of the pervasiveness of trauma and acommitment to identify and address it early, whenever possible. Traumainformed care also involves seeking to understand the connection betweenpresenting symptoms and behaviors and the individual’s past traumahistory.”xli Trauma-informed care involves the provision of services andinterventions to help the individual process and heal their trauma.3. Individual child support systemsare in place to provide morespecialized, comprehensive andcustomized support for childrenwho don’t respond to wholeprogram/school approaches.These systems are generally teambased and individualized. trauma and how it may impact children’s identity, how they will viewthe world and coping mechanisms;12This type of care is not highly specialized and can be provided in multiplesettings by trained, committed profes

early childhood education and implementing positive discipline practices. More than 250 preschoolers are suspended or expelled daily. i Data indicates that as many as 8,710, 3- and 4-