Multi-year Research Study Data Reveals a Nurturing Environment is Critical for Young Children from Spanish-language Households Learning English
LOS ANGELES - First 5 LA released the latest edition of the Universal Preschool Child Outcomes Study (UPCOS), highlighting the impact quality teachers, nurturing environments and interactive and tailored approaches to learning have on children, in particular for dual-language learners from Spanish-speaking households.
The multi-year UPCOS study covers over a decade of First 5 LA’s investment in Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) preschool programs and has implications in the areas of workforce development, dual language learners, and the quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). The findings underscore the need for multiple education and training opportunities for Early Care and Education (ECE) teachers and caregivers at all levels.
"A key finding shows children who speak Spanish particularly benefit and excel with emotionally supportive teachers.” -Marlene Zepeda, PhD.
In Los Angeles County children under 5 years old are predominantly Latino, and many are dual language learners, suggesting not only the need to recruit bilingual teachers but to help English-only speaking teachers understand how best to support the early child education and development of this population.
“The UPCOS study highlights how components of quality may affect children with different background characteristics differently. A key finding shows children who speak Spanish particularly benefit and excel with emotionally supportive teachers,” said First 5 LA Commissioner Marlene Zepeda, PhD., a former preschool and elementary school teacher, whose current work focuses on dual language learning in Spanish-speaking preschool children. “The study spotlights that a healthy socio-emotional climate in early education environments is a critical building block for young dual-language learners’ future academic achievement.”
One key finding indicates teachers with more years of education and higher levels of teaching permits significantly affect the quality of a child’s learning in his or her formative years before entering kindergarten.
The level of quality affects outcomes in a child’s early learning. For example, Spanish-speaking, dual language learners benefit from nurturing teachers who acknowledge a child’s feelings and emotions. Children in emotionally supportive classrooms exhibit a more expansive and expressive vocabulary in a shorter timeframe. Poor quality hinders a young child’s education development.
More precise ratings of quality result when each classroom is measured individually, as opposed to adding them together and assessing the average level of quality.
"This report highlights how important early education is, especially for dual language learners. We need to make sure all kids are able to start kindergarten ready to learn, and this study shows that for children who speak languages other than English at home, early education is an essential support. We need to make sure all children, dual language learners, have access to these important services,” said California State Senator Ricardo Lara, author of the California Multilingual Education Act, which will give California public schools more control over dual language acquisition programs.
According to the research, the report sheds light on a demand for multiple education and training opportunities for Early Care Education (ECE) teachers and caregivers at all levels.
“This research further validates what’s been learned across the nation: implementing a quality rating improvement system positively impacts children and propels them onto a successful academic path. With our partners, we are striving to increase the number of early learning programs participating in QRIS, so these beneficial outcomes can impact more and more families throughout L.A. County and California,” Scott Hippert, LAUP chief executive officer, said.
In 2004, First 5 LA founded Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) as an independent nonprofit organization with a mission to improve access to, and the quality of, early education for children in Los Angeles County. Since then LAUP has leveraged First 5 LA’s initial allocation of $580 million to help more than 130,000 children in over 800 preschools prepare for success in kindergarten and beyond.
To support, evaluate and learn from this investment, First 5 LA commissioned the Universal Preschool Child Outcomes Study (UPCOS). UPCOS is a multiyear study of LAUP programs and child progress conducted by Mathematica Policy Research in collaboration with First 5 LA and LAUP. The findings and lessons learned from this study have been used to continually improve programs and document outcomes.
To view UPCOS brief, click here.
Guided by research, LAUP works to improve the quality of early learning programs; to strengthen the engagement between the parents of young children and their teachers and caregivers; and to advance public policies that invest in the future of America by putting children first.