Volume 11, Issue 22

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hot Topics

Since its start in 1965, Head Start has provided services to over 27 million at-risk children and their families, providing a center-based early learning experience that extends beyond the classroom to work with families and communities. The Head Start program is no stranger to controversy - NIEER’s Steve Barnett has written extensively on the need to protect investment in Head Start as well as the need to improve its effectiveness. The recent start of recompetition for low-performing Head Start programs at the federal level has further ignited the debate of how to judge the outcomes of this program serving needy children. The fact remains, however, that Head Start serves nearly 1 million children per year and is especially important in states without state-funded pre-K programs, where it is the primary early learning opportunity for children in low-income families. This Head Start Awareness Month is particularly important at a time when Head Start funding could be threatened at the federal level due to sequestration and states have scaled back on their state supplements to the program.

There exists a significant achievement gap between Latino children and other children throughout their school careers. However, a recent review of the literature suggests that the achievement gap in literacy skills between Hispanic children and white children could narrow by 26 percent if preschool education was more widely available and by another 4 to 8 percent if improvements were made to the federal Head Start program. Writing in the journal The Future of Children, Dr. Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University’s School of Social Work notes, “The role of early childhood education and care … was much more important in explaining Hispanic-white gaps in school readiness than in explaining black-white gaps.”

The demand for teachers prepared to work with English language learners (ELLs) in the early years is far outstripping the supply in Illinois, says a survey from the New Journalism on Latino Children project based at the University of California, Berkeley. Although it is estimated that nearly twenty percent of Illinois’s pre-K students are ELLs, less than six percent of the early education workforce has training in teaching English as a second language (ESL). The end result is that some publicly funded preschools have as many as 50 students needing ELL support services for each bilingual teacher available. As NIEER reported in The State of Preschool 2011, Illinois began rolling out extensive bilingual education requirements for state preschool programs in the 2009-2010 school year, and state policy dictates that pre-K teachers meet applicable requirements such as ESL certification by July 1, 2014.

Pediatrics recently included the results of a survey of nearly 1,500 parents of children between the ages of 8 months and 8 years finding that children were exposed to background television almost 4 hours a day each day. Other findings include that exposure to background television was higher than the national average for infants/toddlers and African-American children and that exposure to background TV noise was most highly correlated with televisions being placed in children’s bedroom and TVs being left on when no one was watching any programming. The survey’s findings are significant in that most other studies severely underestimate children’s exposure to television by recording only foreground TV viewing by children at roughly 80 minutes a day. The authors warn about the negative effects of so much exposure to background television, similar to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ warnings about TV viewing in general for young children.

Yesterday the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) announced the upcoming retirement of Executive Director Jerlean Daniel this summer. Daniel has worked at NAEYC for three years; before this she held a variety of roles in academic and policy-related positions. In addition, Dr. Daniel was previously an early childhood education and care practitioner. Her contributions to the field of early education are inestimable, and NIEER applauds her many efforts. NAEYC will begin a nationwide search for a new executive director of the organization.


This issue brief from The Early Childhood Data Collaborative examines states’ applications for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge to discover trends in the early childhood education field as related to state early learning data systems.

This paper from the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy analyzes data on young children from black immigrant families, particularly as relates to family factors that predict early academic skills, revealing that this group differs from both children from other immigrant families as well as black children of native parents.

This report, co-released by First Focus and Save the Children, grades the United States on state and federal policies related to children’s well-being in five key areas: economic security, early childhood education, K-12 education, permanence and stability, and health and safety.

This resource guide from the Harvard Family Research Project includes numerous sources, such as journal articles and research reports, that provide information for families and special educators to work together to ensure the most effective educational experiences for special needs children.

NIEER Activities

High Scope recently held its first annual conference on early childhood research and evaluation as part of its inauguration of the new Center for Early Education Evaluation. The conference was opened by NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett, who spoke on the 50 years of influence from the Perry Preschool Program in his address, "How the HighScope Perry Preschool Study Continues to Inform Research and Evaluation." NIEER Senior Fellow Jim Squires also participated in the event by serving on a panel entitled "Realizing the Common Goal: Early Childhood Intervention, School Readiness, and Grade Retention in the Early Years” along with early education experts Susan Neuman, Ann Kalass, Larry Schweinhart, and Richard Lower.


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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 2:00pm

This webinar hosted by ReadyNation will explore how the business community can provide advocacy efforts for early childhood education and care, particularly focusing on home-visiting programs.

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.

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, October 18, 2012
(Sun Journal, New Bern, NC)

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue Thursday issued an executive order authorizing the expansion of the NC Pre-K program to serve up to 6,300 additional children by Jan. 1, 2013. An estimated 1,000 of those children will be served immediately in Pre-K classrooms across the state.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
(On Parenting blog at The Washington Post)

It’s long been known that early childhood experiences can have a profound affect on later opportunities and life chances. Now, a collection of new studies suggests that those experiences may actually affect the size and workings of the brain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
(The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN)

The core pre-k recommendation is tentatively scheduled for later this month, and will ensure "universal access to prekindergarten for all 4-year-olds in Shelby County, provided by a mix of district-run classrooms, Head Start and private care centers." That would mean adding 2,500 spaces to the existing pre-k program over the next five years at a cost of $3 million a year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
(Learning the Language blog at Education Week)

[T]here are still significant gaps in readiness between Latino children and their white and Asian-American peers before they enter school, especially when it comes to literacy. A 5-year-old program is taking aim at eliminating those gaps by focusing on parenting practices for children from birth to age 5.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
(The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS)

A group of business leaders is asking state lawmakers for $5 million to expand Mississippi Building Blocks, a pilot early childhood education program.  The program has operated over the past four years with about $7 million of mostly private dollars.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
(The Oregonian)

The Washington Department of Early Learning expects a reinstatement of state dollars in its 2013-15 biennial budget, according to Chief Financial Officer Linda Shea.  The focus of more than $2 million in the possible reinstated funds would be maintaining service levels for the state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program.

Monday, October 15, 2012
(The New York Times)

Piggybacking on a recent Bloomberg administration initiative, Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, plans to propose on Tuesday that New York City experiment with an innovative method to help pay for early education. Mr. Stringer, a Democrat who is a likely contender for mayor in 2013, is advocating that the city explore the use of social-impact bonds, also called pay-for-success bonds, to expand access to Early Head Start, which helps pregnant mothers and families with children up to age 3.

Saturday, October 13, 2012
(The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC)

Are we under-investing in our state’s youngest children? A convincing stream of research suggests we might be.

Thursday, October 11, 2012
(The Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Instructors in Flagler and Volusia counties had mixed reactions to the four-part test, which gauges students' math and language skills. Children in the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program will see it at least twice before they complete the state-funded program.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
(The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, LA)

Superintendent of Education John White has delayed plans to give his recommendations for grading Louisiana's fragmented system of publicly funded prekindergarten and early childhood education programs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
(Charleston Daily Mail)

The state recommends requiring a child development associate degree, apprenticeship for child development specialist credential or something similar, [Clayton] Burch said. These parameters mirror the national guidelines proposed by Head Start officials.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
(Education Week)

We have eight years in the life of every child to help him or her get ready for school, thrive in school, and love reading by the end of 3rd grade. The question is: How serious are we about doing this?

Monday, October 8, 2012
(The Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ)

It is not a typical standardized test: There are no groups of 5-year-olds sitting at little round tables, filling in bubbles on answer sheets. But the pilot program, which uses teachers’ observations to gather information on students’ performance, is nonetheless the first step in what could become a statewide assessment of kindergarten students.