Volume 12, Issue 11

Friday, May 17, 2013

Hot Topics

Last month, NIEER gave a detailed look at preschool education access, funding, and quality standards in all 50 U.S. states. Then early this month, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released an issue brief about the United States’ standing on similar measures of preschool enrollment, investment, and quality compared to other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The CAP report shows the United States trailing many other nations, ranking 26th in 4-year-old children’s preschool participation for instance. An infographic from CAP provides a clear and concise visual of how the U.S. ranks on the various metrics studied. In a related issue brief, CAP outlined one of the ancillary benefits of investing in high-quality early childhood education - the importance of such services for working parents. An upcoming documentary to be aired on PBS and entitled “The Raising of America” will go into further details about the early childhood education and care policies and practices in the United States and how these compare to other countries; a video preview of the documentary is available now.

A new study from researchers out of the University of Virginia and Stanford University found that “redshirting” of kindergartners is more rare than is commonly perceived. Redshirting, a term usually used for student athletics in college, refers in the case of early education to the parental practice of delaying children’s attendance in kindergarten by a year in order for the children to be more mature and/or more academically ready when entering elementary school. The controversial practice has received a lot of national media attention in the past, with some outlets noting that nearly 20 percent of incoming kindergarteners are already 6 years old. Not true, says the authors of this new study, who found that redshirting practices occur for only 4 to 5.5 percent of children.

The federal Head Start program has been in the news lately for a variety of reasons. Education Week notes how sequestration is affecting programs throughout the nation, including cuts to staff and slots for children. Meanwhile, a new study published in the journal Child Development found that Head Start programs that employed a broader curriculum covering behavioral and social development as well as academics resulted in better outcomes for those children when they reached kindergarten compared to their other Head Start peers. Finally, the New America Foundation analyzed budget documents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, discovering that while only 50 percent of Head Start preschool teachers are required to hold a bachelor’s degree, 62 percent held at least a BA by fiscal year 2012.

The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced that they will hold a new Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) competition, as well as about $120 million put aside for a second round of Race to the Top-District. Another approximately $370 million will be dedicated to grants for states investing in early learning, including the six states - California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin - that received only 50 percent of their awards in the first competition. Proposed selection criteria for winners and other details are posted in the Federal Register.


This report from ReadyNation analyzes the findings from a survey on the support for early childhood education in the business community. 

This toolkit from First Five Years Fund offers pre-K advocates with various resources for promoting the importance of preschool education.

This fact sheet from Zero to Three and 211 LA County offers a case study of Los Angeles’s successful early childhood developmental screening and care coordination system. 

This series from the Office of Head Start’s National Center on Health provides parents and caregivers with important information on healthy living to promote children’s growth and development. 

New on nieer.org

The latest report from this NIEER study, which began in the 2005-2006 school year, found that the Arkansas Better Chance program had modest but meaningful long-term effects for children who participated, including significant positive effects on children’s receptive vocabulary and math through grade 2 and on literacy through grade 3. The authors also found that children who attended the pre-K program were less likely to have been retained by the end of third grade those who did not attend any pre-K, which can be seen as an early indicator of the program’s effect on school success.

These slides were presented by NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett at a Congressional briefing designed to highlight findings from the latest State Preschool Yearbook and explore its policy implications.

NIEER Activities

Yesterday, NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett, along with NAEYC’s Deputy Executive Director Adele Robinson, moderated a panel for a Congressional briefing. Sponsored by LAUP, NIEER, and NAEYC, the briefing examined local models of quality early childhood education and care services and the role the federal government plays in bolstering such programs. Panelists at the event included Dawn Kurtz of LAUP, Philip Acord of Children’s Home, and Ronelle Nathaniel of Acelero Learning. Video of the event is available on LAUP’s web site

NIEER Associate Director of Research Milagros Nores presented at the "Creating a Pipeline to Preschool: Moving Paterson Children to Success" conference in Paterson, NJ. Dr. Nores's presentation focused on Hispanic children's access to preschool and the benefits of attending high-quality pre-K education programs, particularly for English language learners. Other presenters at the event included Paterson Superintendent Dr. Donnie W. Evans, Assistant Superintendent Susana Person, Advocates for the Children of New Jersey Cecelia Zalkind, 4Cs Passaic County Executive Director Anthony Dinizo, and Annie E. Casey Foundation Senior Vice President Ralph Smith. 

NIEER Assistant Research Professors Alissa Lange and Kimberly Brenneman presented a poster at the American Education Research Association's annual conference in San Francisco. The poster, entitled "Impacts of a Science and Math Professional Development Project for Pre-K Teachers of Dual-Language Learners (DLLs)," summarized findings from the SciMath-DLL project's first two years. This National Science Foundation-funded study develops and evaluates professional development supports for teachers around science, math, and teaching dual-language learners. The poster outlined challenges to the implementation of high-quality professional development, such as limited educator time to engage in coaching activities, and how these challenges have been addressed (e.g., creating electronic methods for reporting). Improvements in teacher practice, such as more focused lesson planning, and in the SciMath-DLL program itself, such as higher quality workshop approaches, were also highlighted. A related paper was presented at the Society for Research in Child Development meeting in Seattle, Washington as part of a symposium entitled, "Improving Children's Mathematical Development: Teacher Professional Development as Key."

NIEER Senior Research Fellow Cynthia Lamy wrote a compelling article for Educational Leadership that examines the role preschool plays is combating poverty. 

CEELO Update

CEELO logo“Opening the Doors to Inclusion” was the theme of the 2013 National Early Childhood Inclusion Institute sponsored by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on May 13-15. Participants ranging from direct service providers, program administrators, higher education, professional development specialists, and policymakers gathered to learn, share, and advance full inclusion as an idea whose time is long overdue. Jim Squires, Senior Fellow at NIEER and CEELO, presented Promoting a Culture of Inclusion for Birth–Third Grade Systems Within State and Local Education Agencies at the conference. Designed as a facilitated discussion, Dr. Squires assisted the group in understanding the implications of a birth–third grade framework for inclusion to identify drivers, barriers, strategies, and supports to advance a culture of full inclusion across state and local education agency policies, practices, and institutional values. Participants concurred that shared, committed values pervasive throughout any system are essential ingredients needed to advance inclusion.

Last month, the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands’ Early Childhood Education Research Alliance and the Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes co-hosted an online event on the research around implementing early learning standards. State early education policymakers, teachers, researchers and education consultants heard from researchers Catherine Scott-Little and Melissa van Dyke and representatives from Connecticut's Department of Education about the challenges states face and the successes they’ve made in implementing their early learning standards. You can view the slides, read the transcript, access all resources and view the webinar by visiting the web site

The Reading Corner is a project of the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE). State specialists and invited guests read literature pertinent to their work in early childhood development and education; contribute comments on periodicals and shorter readings; and gather in web conferences to explore recently published books in facilitated discussions. This Reading Corner - in which participants will discuss The Pre-K Debates: Current Controversies and Issues edited by Edward Zigler, Walter S. Gilliam, and W. Steven Barnett - will be held in partnership with CEELO. If you haven’t registered yet, please consider joining us on May 20 for a lively discussion. Registration will remain open until noon ET on the 20th.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013 to Thursday, June 27, 2013

For the first time, the Birth to Three institute will be offered as a virtual professional development experience rather than a physical conference.

Sunday, June 9, 2013 to Wednesday, June 12, 2013

San Francisco, CA - This conference will focus on examining developmentally appropriate practices in the context of early childhood education and care programs.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 to Thursday, June 27, 2013

St. Louis, MO - This conference will feature panels and presentations from renowned experts to examine educational research and policy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 to Saturday, November 23, 2013

Washington, DC - Attendees of this conference will be given opportunities to examine best practices in early childhood education, learn the latest research findings, and network with their peers.

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, May 17, 2013
(The Columbus Dispatch)

[State Sen. Peggy Lehner] said 5,700 students are currently in public preschool; Gov. John Kasich has proposed raising that to 6,200. An additional 30,000 are in Head Start programs that Lehner said vary greatly in quality. But 130,000 more are eligible because they are in households making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013
(Early Years blog at Education Week)

Twenty states now use student performance in the early grades to assess teachers, yet current evaluation systems don't provide an accurate picture of what's happening in the classroom, asserts a study released today by the Washington-based New America Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to promote equity, access and excellence in education.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
(The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA)

Proposals to tie public funding to student performance and issue letter grades to Louisiana’s public and private early childhood education programs are finding easy passage through the Legislature.

Monday, May 13, 2013
(The Star-Ledger)

While most of New Jersey’s elementary school districts offer full-day kindergarten, at least 114 districts still offer half-day only, according to the state Department of Education. The Assembly Education Committee approved a bill that would create a task force to explore full-day options.

Friday, May 10, 2013
(KATV TV, Little Rock, AR)

Two new studies on a state funded pre-K program show Arkansas is beginning to shrink the gap between low-income children and other children.  The Rutgers University study found Arkansas Better Chance students had improved scores in vocabulary and math through the second grade and in literacy through the third grade than students who did not attend ABC.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
(Education Week)

At the same time that educators are trying to figure out how to use technology best, others are saying that evidence suggests that there's little need to introduce technology to young learners because it crowds out more appropriate activities.

Sunday, May 5, 2013
(Springfield News-Leader, Springfield, MO)

As Springfield’s interest in expanded preschool ramps up, Missouri is making a significant push to promote early childhood education.  State Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said catapulting the state’s education out of the middle of the pack into the top 10 will require improved kindergarten readiness, among other things.

Sunday, May 5, 2013
(The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC)

Children who participate in these programs are more likely to graduate from high school, hold a job considered semi-skilled or higher, attain a four-year degree and earn more as adults. And that is good for our businesses and our state’s economy.  Key to these economic outcomes are two critical factors: the quality of the programs and access to the programs.

Saturday, May 4, 2013
(Pensacola News Journal, Pensacola, FL)

Florida’s VPK program would be much more effective if funding was doubled, the school day was longer and teachers were required to have four-year degrees, said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at New Jersey’s Rutgers University.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
(The Blade, Toledo, OH)

States are spending less on prekindergarten programs that prepare children for school and learning. This trend must be reversed, or the nation will continue to see dramatic and growing gaps in the achievement scores of affluent, middle-class, and poor students.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013
(The Columbus Dispatch)

Like much of the nation, Ohio has slashed enrollment and funding in public preschool for children in low-income families, according to a report released yesterday.  State aid for preschool dropped by more than a half-billion dollars in the 2011-12 school year, the largest one-year drop ever, according to a study by the National Institute for Early Education Research, which has tracked state pre-kindergarten programs since 2002.

Monday, April 29, 2013
(The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC)

North Carolina had one of the best pre-kindergarten programs in the country in 2011-12, but it also experienced one of the nation’s biggest drops in enrollment, according to a report released Monday.