Volume 11, Issue 1

January 13, 2012

Hot Topics

At his blog Investing in Kids, economist Tim Bartik is devoting January to answering some of the most frequently asked questions on the importance and implementation of early childhood education programs. His responses, which already address the evidence of early education’s success and how long-term benefits are generated, are useful for policymakers and advocates as state and federal legislatures open their 2012 sessions.
Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) released twelve state-specific report cards measuring the progress of grant winners from the first two stages of the Race to the Top competition. While U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised the grantees for making "tremendous strides in this first year," the reports express concerns about delays and challenges facing the states in meeting all their goals. The DOE plans to continue releasing annual progress reports on all phases of Race to the Top, including the Early Learning Challenge. These reports come on the heels of the announcement of the Early Learning Challenge winners, which have generated quite a bit of debate within the early education community, including at NIEER and other organizations. Kudos to the DOE for keeping up the press for accountability.
Adults’ fears of potential injuries are hampering children’s free and unstructured play time at child care centers, and a narrow focus on academics contributes to a reduction in preschoolers' physical activity. So says a recent study published in Pediatrics, based on focus groups with 49 child care providers from 34 centers in Cincinnati, Ohio. The authors express concern about the state of children's play in child care centers, noting that preschoolers are not meeting recommended levels of physical activity. This is further compounded in urban areas where child care centers represent children's only access to playgrounds or other safe places to play. NIEER has noted in the past that play is an effective learning tool for preschool-age children so play should not have to be sacrificed at the expense of academic lessons, but rather should be seen as part of a comprehensive school readiness plan.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

NIEER Assistant Research Professor Alissa A. Lange reviews the book Multifaceted Assessment for Early Childhood Education.
In this timely post, NIEER Director Steve Barnett lays out the arguments for and against universal preschool access.

New on nieer.org

This NIEER working paper looks at factors determining household awareness of and participation in the Florida universal pre-K program.
In this working paper, NIEER presents the results of a study examining what household characteristics are related to participation in Georgia's state-funded preschool education program.

Calendar

January 31, 2012 - January 31, 2012
Garden Grove, CA - This conference will discuss child assessments and outcomes, examining research-based practices.
February 15, 2012 - February 16, 2012
Washington, DC - At this second summit on home-visiting programs, participants will explore the policy and practice behind the topic.
March 14, 2012 - March 16, 2012
Salt Lake City, UT - At this conference, participants will learn about and discuss research and best practices involving the use of technology in early childhood education.
March 25, 2012 - March 27, 2012
San Diego, CA - This conference draws together national and international participants to discuss issues of relevance to family literacy.
March 28, 2012 - March 31, 2012
Washington, DC - This conference will challenge attendees to consider how to provide a positive childhood experience for the youth of the world.
April 12, 2012 - April 14, 2012
Dublin, Ireland - This conference will provide participants with the opportunity to engage in an interdisciplinary discussion about the development of Froebel's educational philosophy.
April 16, 2012 - April 21, 2012
Nashville, TN - This annual conference will feature valuable sessions for all those who work to ensure vulnerable children and families have what they need to succeed in school and life.
April 30, 2012 - May 3, 2012
Greensboro, NC - This conference provides professional development for early care and education leaders dedicated to improving access to and the quality of early childhood programs.
May 10, 2012 - May 12, 2012
Wheeling, IL - This conference provides professional development for early childhood leaders, offering opportunities to validate their work and also explore new and innovative ways to lead successfully.
June 18, 2012 - June 19, 2012
Tallinn, Estonia - This conference will explore research on children's need for undirected time and space for play.

Early Education News Roundup

January 13, 2012
The Sacramento Bee
California educators and childcare advocates are protesting Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to scrap a new program for children who are no longer old enough for kindergarten.
January 12, 2012
Early Ed Watch blog (New America Foundation)
A sluggish economic recovery from the recession, and the expiration of federal stimulus funds, presents more roadblocks to increasing funding for childhood development programs.
January 12, 2012
The Salt Lake Tribune
Education leaders are considering implementing standards outlining what children should know before they enter kindergarten in hopes of helping them be better prepared, but some say the state is creeping into an area where it does not belong.
January 10, 2012
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles County Office of Education was included among more than 130 agencies around the country that did not meet federal performance standards and will now have to compete with other potential providers to receive funding. Head Start is a nearly 50-year-old preschool program for low-income families; about 1 million children are enrolled.
January 10, 2012
The News-Times, Danbury, CT
[Connecticut Gov. Dannel P.] Malloy's call for a more coordinated system does not mandate early childhood education but suggests there should be universal access and benchmarks for all public and private providers to meet.
January 8, 2012
The Times-News, Burlington, NC
During the past year, waiting lists across the state for the Pre-K program have increased just as funding cuts were implemented.
January 7, 2012
North County Times, Escondido, CA
A proposed state budget released last week could derail a two-year kindergarten program for younger students that school districts in North County and throughout the state had been preparing to start this fall.
January 6, 2012
San Antonio Express-News
The city of San Antonio has solved many of the problems with the Head Start program since it took over closer management of it three years ago, according to a federal report released this week. Despite the good news, the city will have to compete for the first time against other agencies to keep managing the $48.8 million program.
January 6, 2012
Exeter News-Letter, Portsmouth, NH
The state budget that passed last year, eliminated funding to the Head Start programs across the state, resulting in a $300,000 total cut.
January 5, 2012
Hartford Courant
Studies show that pre-K has lingering, positive impacts even decades later. But Connecticut ranks a miserable 29th out of 50 states in giving 4-year-olds access to preschool, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
January 5, 2012
The Augusta Chronicle, Augusta, GA
Gov. Nathan Deal said Thursday that he wants to add 10 days to the state's prekindergarten calendar this fall, restoring half the number he eliminated to help save the program in 2011.
January 4, 2012
Chicago Tribune
Potential playground hazards, a focus on classroom learning and boring play equipment have children spending too little time being physically active at daycare, according to a survey of staff members at child care centers in Ohio.
January 3, 2012
Education Week
The nine states splitting $500 million in Race to the Top early-learning grants must now deliver on a slate of ambitious promises to improve the quality of early-childhood education for tens of thousands of low-income children who rely on a patchwork of publicly financed child-care and preschool programs.
January 3, 2012
San Gabriel Valley Tribune, West Covina, CA
At least 200 more area preschools will be rated on Los Angeles Universal Preschool's evaluation system to help parents decide on where to send their children to preschool, and increase accountability for early education programs.
January 3, 2012
The New York Times
Last month, scores of Head Start grant recipients in about 40 states — including those in New York City, Los Angeles, Baltimore and New Haven — were informed that they will be required to reapply for their grants because they do not meet certain administrative requirements.
January 1, 2012
The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS
When it comes to early education, there is agreement on what Mississippi needs: a seamless statewide system, uniform assessments of incoming students, greater investment of state funds. But the challenge will be making those things happen in another tight budget year when, even during flush times, lawmakers wouldn't commit the funds for the cause.

Resources

NAEYC's annual brief covers major state efforts on early care and education policies addressing issues such as governance, special education, health services, and education and care programs for infants through kindergarteners.
This study from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) provides best practices for building effective prekindergarten to third grade systems.
This article from NAEYC's Young Children magazine provides practical knowledge about how teachers' choice of toys and play activities can enhance children's developmental skills across domains including language, fine motor, gross motor, social-emotional, and cognition.
This issue brief from the National Governors Association discusses the role of home-visiting programs in state-funded early childhood care and education systems.