Volume 10, Issue 1

January 7, 2011

Hot Topics

Asking parents to pay to have their kids attend state pre-K is nothing new but it looks like the idea is gaining currency in states grappling with budget woes this year. The Chicago Tribune reports that Governor-elect Terry Branstad is set to propose a program that will expand preschool offerings but will charge parents deemed well enough off to pay for pre-K. Branstad's plan, yet to be announced, would means test parents wanting their kids to attend the state program and employ a sliding fee scale. In Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the ideas lawmakers are discussing include making state pre-K eligibility income-based or charging an annual fee of $500 to $1,000 a year.
Two studies appearing in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine suggest educational partnerships with pediatricians can help disadvantaged parents better prepare their kids for school entry. One study details two interventions — one in which pediatricians teamed up with early childhood educators and parents to foster early literacy and another child development professionals met with children's families during wellness visits to discuss and demonstrate developmentally appropriate play. The other study showed that increases in parent-child activities resulted in less exposure to television and other media.
Fewer children who attend regular formal center- and family-based child care at 1.5 years and 3 years of age were late talkers compared with children who are looked after at home by a parent, or child-caregiver concludes a new study by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The study, which drew on a sample of nearly 20,000 kids, found no relationship between the type of child care at the age of 1 and subsequent language competence, which may indicate that the positive effect of center-based child care first occurs between the ages of 1 to 1.5 years. There were also fewer children who were late talkers among those who attended full-time centre-based child care compared with kids who were in part-time child care at 3 years of age. The article appears in the journal Early Child Development and Care.
Education Week reports that today, a Federal Register notice says the federal government proposes to provide grants for the development of English-language proficiency assessments that are aligned with the national common core standards. These would be granted to consortia of states to create the tests which would complement those already being created for all students aligned with the common-core standards for math and reading. This would move the country toward a more uniform definition of an English Language learner notes Mary Ann Zehr. Comments are due by February 7.
Entergy Corporation received the annual Advocacy Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Edison Electric Institute for its efforts to expand access to quality preschool education programs in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The electric power company began focusing on improving pre-K in 2001 as part of its campaign against poverty, sponsoring research in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi on the benefits of quality preschool programs. Employees worked with state commissions, business groups and advocates for increased state funding for preschool programs. Fifteen of the 30 poorest counties in the nation are in states served by the company.
In The Juggle blog at The Wall Street Journal, Sue Shellenbarger writes about a recent study comparing 200 occupations based on income, environment, stress, physical demands, and job outlook that ranks child care workers at 186. She also notes that few parents can afford the high costs of high-quality care, which causes child care centers to cut labor costs to survive, pushing trained, educated, skilled people out of the profession and resulting in a dearth of quality care.
NIEER Distinguished Research Fellow Dorothy Strickland took part in the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program public input meeting in November. The Striving Readers program is part of the FY 2010 appropriations for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, to provide a comprehensive literacy development and education program to advance literacy skills for students from birth through grade 12. Dr. Strickland's PowerPoint presentation and those of other meeting participants are now available on the U.S. Department of Education web site.


February 5, 2011 - February 8, 2011
Columbus, OH – The theme of this year's professional development conference is "Building a Literacy Future."
March 2, 2011 - March 4, 2011
Salt Lake City, UT – Join educators, researchers, policymakers, and administrators for the first annual Early Education and Technology for Children conference.
April 15, 2011 - April 16, 2011
Denver, CO -- This regional conference will offer workshops covering early childhood education topics relevant to teachers, administrators, researchers, health professionals, and policymakers.
May 2, 2011 - May 5, 2011
Greensboro, NC – The National Smart Start Conference is hailed as the nation's largest conference devoted to early education systems and strategies.

Early Education News Roundup

January 7, 2011
The Columbian, Vancouver, WA
Gov. Chris Gregoire has several good ideas about reforming public education. Her most dramatic recommendation — consolidating several agencies into one Department of Education — warrants consideration because consolidation often is an effective strategy during tough economic times.
January 6, 2011
The Wall Street Journal
An influential but now-discredited study that provoked fears around the world that childhood vaccinations caused autism was based largely on falsified data, according to an article and editorial published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal.
January 6, 2011
The New York Times
For several years, studies and statistics have been mounting that suggest the culture of play in the United States is vanishing. Children spend far too much time in front of a screen, educators and parents lament — 7 hours 38 minutes a day on average, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year.
January 6, 2011
Paragould Daily Press, Paragould, AR
Research indicates that the most effective way to improve student achievement and close the achievement gap is the establishment of preschools.
January 5, 2011
Wisconsin State Journal
Gov. Scott Walker has set an ambitious, achievable goal for his four-year term: the creation of 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Quality early care and education — from birth to age 5 — is critical to those efforts in several meaningful ways.
January 4, 2011
Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, MA
One key change across both English and math was the addition of standards for pre-kindergarten. Massachusetts is one of the only states in the nation to have a set of expectations for early education and we wanted to ensure those expectations were clearly articulated in the final document since CCSS did not include these standards. The early childhood standards were developed in partnership with the Department of Early Education and Care and providers who work directly with these young children.
January 4, 2011
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
One sure bet this legislative session: Changes are coming that will affect the bottom line for participants in the popular lottery-funded HOPE and pre-kindergarten programs. Lawmakers have been warned that the programs -- collectively serving about 200,000 college students and about 82,000 preschoolers -- have to be scaled back, given forecasts of a $320 million deficit in lottery money to cover the programs' expenses for fiscal year 2012.
January 3, 2011
Asheville Citizen-Times, Asheville, NC
A recent study showed that students in a state-funded pre-K program did significantly better on math and reading tests than students who were not in the program, said John Pruette, director of the N.C Office of Early Learning, which focuses on the state's pre-K programs through third grade and serves at-risk students.
January 3, 2011
Chicago Tribune
Republican Gov.-elect Terry Branstad said Monday he will propose a program expanding preschool offerings but will charge parents who have enough money to finance their children's education.
January 2, 2011
Hattiesburg American, Hattiesburg, MS
The districts collectively make up one of 11 sites in the United States to be the first to utilize the surveys. The surveys will be used to identify the cognitive and developmental skills children attending kindergarten may be lacking when they come to school.
December 27, 2010
Radio Iowa
[Steve] Barnett's research team has evaluated "all the research" on preschool that dates back to 1960 and he says they found the "effects" of preschool don't "ever disappear" throughout elementary, middle and high school — but the effects vary based on the quality of preschool instruction.
December 23, 2010
Milwaukee News Buzz
Wisconsin's dedication to early kindergarten is enshrined in the state's constitution, but the state's success in following that mandate to educate 4-year-olds has risen and fallen for more than a century. This year, however, the state is closer than ever: 85 percent of school districts now offer early kindergarten (called "4K") in Wisconsin, the state Department of Public Instruction announced this week.
December 22, 2010
The Early Ed Watch blog (New America Foundation)
Early Learning Challenge Fund: What looked like a done deal in 2009 became a cliff-hanger in contentious debates over higher education funding, and by the end of March it fizzled, causing disappointment among many early education advocates.


Education Week's 2010 Spotlight on E-Learning brings together a collection of articles with insights on, among other things, growth of online classes, research on the effectiveness of online learning, managing the schedules of virtual classrooms, online professional development, lessons for K-12 from higher education’s online experiences and the cost-effectiveness of online learning.
This brief from Zero to Three discusses how states are disseminating early learning guidelines and educating providers and others on how to incorporate them into practice. In addition, the brief highlights how states are linking the ELGs to quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) and aligning them with other system parts, such as standards for older children. For instance, some states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, require providers participating in a QRIS to use the ELGs at some or all rating levels. Others states provide training on how to use the ELGs through their state professional development systems.