Volume 11, Issue 21

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hot Topics

NBC News has once again put the spotlight on educational issues with its 2012 Education Nation Summit. Streaming from the New York Public Library, the summit included panels and interviews with educators, policymakers, government officials, education advocates, and presidential candidates. This year, the summit also featured a student town hall moderated by MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry and a teacher town hall moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. A wide variety of topics were covered during the summit, including several that affect the early grades, such as Common Core standards, early literacy, the Educare model of early childhood education, and dual language learners. Posts on Education Nation’s blog, The Learning Curve, continue to explore these issues.

In the September/October 2012 issue of Boston Review, the magazine is focusing on early interventions, with a particular look at how they affect American equality. Nobel laureate and economics professor James Heckman wrote the lead essay in which he explains how investing in early childhood education will reduce wealth inequality and promote social mobility, concepts that NIEER has promoted in the past. The magazine’s website also boasts a number of responses to Heckman’s piece from thinkers as diverse as Charles Murray to Geoffrey Canada, as well as a final counter-response from Heckman.

Bridge Magazine in Michigan is currently running its series on state-funded pre-K, Michigan’s Forgotten 4-Year-Olds. The multi-part series looks at “how 30,000 Michigan kids who qualify for free pre-school are not getting the education they need, due to inadequate state funding, logistical hurdles and poor coordination of services.” Though Bridge Magazine is supported by The Center for Michigan (a “think-and-do” tank in the state), its exploration of barriers to enrollment, funding struggles, and difficulty in program coordination are an important read for pre-K advocates and administrators no matter what state. Meanwhile, a study of Michigan’s state-funded pre-K program released results earlier this year from a matched-comparison design following children from preschool through high school. The findings include that state pre-K participants were less likely than their peers to be held back later in their school career and were more likely to graduate from high school.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) recently released its 2013 guide to effective social and emotional learning program in pre-K and elementary school. The guide provides a framework for evaluating the quality of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs in classroom-based settings. While SEL sometimes get buried in discussions of more academic subjects in early education and elementary schools, research finds that good social-emotional learning helps kids to regulate their emotions and build relationships, all of which can contribute to improved academic outcomes. CASEL rates SEL programs that specifically address the pre-K grades in a number of areas, including how the programs are used in the classroom; whether it is promoted in settings outside of the classroom (school-wide, family, and community); and the use of assessment tools to track student progress.


This article in the journal Child Development examines the lives of immigrant Latino and Asian families as compared to native-born Caucasian families, noting the diverse set of practices that support social-emotional, language and literacy, and other healthy development in young children.

This report from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and Zero to Three is an update to their 2008 report Building on a Promise, which recommended ways states could expand access to Early Head Start services to include more eligible children and families. In this new report, the authors examine the progress states have made since then to supplement Early Head Start and support early learning services for infants and toddlers.

This brief from the National Center for Children in Poverty analyzes the standards for educational outcomes present in state’s quality rating improvement systems (QRIS) as well as in state’s early learning guidelines, which often inform QRIS.

The Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy address the issue of quality in this policy brief, examining the elements of high-quality preschool education programs and providing recommendations for achieving quality.

The National Governor’s Association (NGA) released a new white paper with recommendations for states aligning early childhood education programs with early elementary school grades, with an eye towards the Common Core State Standards.

NIEER Activities

NIEER was recently announced by the federal Department of Education as a recipient of $1.4 million in grant funds annually for 5 years to establish the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO). CEELO will “provide technical assistance and identify, synthesize, and disseminate research-based practices and emerging promising practices … in order to increase the number of children from birth to third grade who are prepared to succeed in school.” The 23 Comprehensive Centers announced by the Department will, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, will “help low-performing schools and districts close the achievement gap … [and] provide valuable support of the administration's P-12 initiatives to ensure that every child is able to receive a high-quality education.” NIEER will be working with the Education Development Center and the Council of Chief State School Officers as well as Dr. Sharon Ryan of the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education.

Late last month, NIEER Director Steven Barnett was part of a panel speaking on the PBS segment American Graduate Day. Joining Jumpstart President/CEO Naila Bolus, actress Bridget Moynahan, and teacher/education advocate Michael Yarbrough to discuss the importance of early education for American prosperity, Dr. Barnett noted on air, “If we provide high-quality preschool education, preschool by itself can increase the graduation rate in a disadvantaged community from 50 percent to two-thirds.” Part of the segment can be viewed on Jumpstart’s YouTube channel. This week Jumpstart set out to achieve another world record for the number of children and adults reading the same book on the same day.


Saturday, October 6, 2012 to Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fort Lauderdale, FL – The theme for this year's National Black Child Development Institute conference is “Fulfilling the Promise:  Our Children Deserve the Best.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 8:00am

Los Angeles, CA - This one-day conference aims to provide participants with a critical look at the role of early childhood education in boosting the economy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 3:00pm

This webinar will examine how observational tools are used to improve teacher effectiveness in pre-K through third grade classrooms.

Sunday, October 28, 2012 to Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Portland, OR - At this conference, participants will learn about evidence-based best practices in the education field.

Saturday, November 3, 2012 - 9:30am

New York, New York - This conference will examine bilingualism from a variety of perspectives including education, psychology, and linguistics.

Sunday, November 4, 2012 to Wednesday, November 7, 2012

State College, PA - This conference examines theories behind early childhood education, focusing on a wide range of underpinning concepts, including those that are frequently marginalized in the field.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 to Saturday, November 10, 2012

Atlanta, GA - This early childhood education conference offers hundreds of presentations and exhibits to the tens of thousands of educators that attend.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 to Friday, November 9, 2012

St. Louis, MO - This international Parents as Teachers conference provides participants with the opportunity to network with each other and learn from workshops and presentations.

Friday, November 16, 2012 to Saturday, November 17, 2012

Melbourne, Australia – The theme for the CEIEC "Honoring the Child, Honoring Equity 12" conference is "Troubling truths: bridging divides for equity."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 to Saturday, December 1, 2012

Los Angeles, CA - This training institute will provide attendees with the latest information on early childhood policy, practice, and science.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 3:00pm

This webinar will explore issues related to child assessments in preschool through third grade, including case studies from schools and districts with comprehensive assessment systems.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 3:00pm

This webinar examines the preschool through third grade approach and how to build a comprehensive infrastructure to support that continuum.

Friday, March 1, 2013 to Saturday, March 2, 2013

Denver, CO - This conference will explore a variety of issues related to early childhood education and care.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 to Saturday, March 23, 2013

Clearwater, FL - At this conference, attendees will participate in workshops providing information on best practices for supporting children's social-emotional development.

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, October 5, 2012
(NBC Latino)

At a preschool in Miami, children under 5 are studying the anatomy of pineapples through science, reading stories in smart tables, learning the dimension of shapes and doing garden sales to practice their math, all while juggling with two languages: English and Spanish. Exploration Station preschool is one of the few preschools nationwide to completely implement a STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in its curriculum at the end of last year.

Thursday, October 4, 2012
(The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA)

Joining a growing chorus, officials of two education groups said Tuesday they want a bigger voice in designing Louisiana’s revamped pre-kindergarten system.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012
(Orlando Sentinel)

While language skills are indeed crucial elements in a child's academic success, the strongest indicators of long-term success in school and life are social-emotional skills. These skills include self-regulation, task persistence, problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Monday, October 1, 2012
(The New York Times)

When engaged in what looks like child’s play, preschoolers are actually behaving like scientists, according to a new report in the journal Science: forming hypotheses, running experiments, calculating probabilities and deciphering causal relationships about the world.

Friday, September 28, 2012
(U.S. Department of Education)

One center will be established in each of the following areas: standards and assessment implementation, great teachers and leaders, school turnaround, early learning, college and career readiness, innovations in learning, and building state capacity and productivity.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
(The Town Talk, Alexandria, LA)

Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration wants to shift $20 million in hurricane recovery dollars for hurricanes Gustav and Ike to fill in budget gaps in the state's free preschool program for at-risk students.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
(Oakland Tribune)

A report published in 2008 by Columbia University's National Center for Children in Poverty found that children who missed 10 percent or more of their kindergarten year were the lowest-achieving group in first grade. A 2011 Applied Survey Research study of 600 children in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties found that poor attendance in kindergarten and first grade may erase many of the benefits of preschool, even among those who started kindergarten with strong skills. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
(Education Nation on NBC)

At least 25 states now mandate at least one formal assessment during kindergarten. Many local school districts require their own tests as well, starting just a few weeks into the academic year.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
(MLive.com / Bridge Magazine)

But Michigan’s state-funded preschool enrollment fell considerably over the past decade. Michigan was one of only five states to record enrollment drops from 2002 to 2011, with 4,410 fewer 4-year-olds in classrooms, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
(MetroFocus blog at WNET, NY)

In two vastly different parts of New York, innovative strategies are being tested that will prepare children for school before they are even of school age. In Chemung County, on the Pennsylvania border near Binghamton, the county is spending $400 per birth on early childhood education. In New York City, officials are have announced two early education initiatives to take effect in the 2013-14 school year.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
(Learning the Language blog at Education Week)

Illinois requires some of its publicly funded preschool programs to provide either bilingual or English as a second-language instruction to students who are ELLs, a policy it adopted four years ago and one still considered to be groundbreaking for young English-learners.

Monday, September 24, 2012
(Wisconsin State Journal)

A majority of Wisconsin’s child care programs are earning only two out of five stars under the state’s new rating system, a mark likened to a “D” grade by a state administrator who oversees the program. Providers can move up the rating scale by increasing the education level of staff, professionalizing their business operations, improving curriculum and better engaging with parents.

Sunday, September 23, 2012
(Centre Daily Times, State College, PA)

What government should do is strive to invest its limited resources in areas where positive results can be seen, in areas where the investment could generate a ripple of savings elsewhere. One of those areas is education, including early-childhood education.

Sunday, September 23, 2012
(The Oregonian)

But Oregon has never had a reliable picture of how many 5-year-olds arrive primed to learn and how far behind the others are.  That will change next fall, when every entering kindergartner will be screened on letter names and sounds, basic counting and addition, and behaviors that lead to school success, such as paying attention and trying hard.