Volume 12, Issue 13

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hot Topics

High-quality early education plays a role in healthy child development, along with important factors including family engagement, health, and safety. To that end, the communities in which children live can make a vital difference in their development. The 2013 edition of the Annie E. Casey’s Foundation KIDS COUNT report found promising signs of recovery in measures of child well-being nationally after the turmoil of the recession as well as is many state-level reports. KIDS COUNT particularly focuses on the need for investment in early education, noting that “when the community partners with parents to promote healthy early childhood development, we all benefit.” Partnerships extend beyond parents and classrooms to familiar community institutions, including libraries and museums. A new report from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) highlights the importance of “informal learning” opportunities at libraries, museums, and zoos in reaching children of all income levels, while noting that often these institutions are not “at the table” in developing early learning programs hand-in-hand with schools.

As NIEER highlighted in a recent policy brief, one in 7 children entering kindergarten speaks a language other than English. How can parents, administrators, and teachers ensure that Dual Language Learners (DLLs) get the supports they need to get the most out of early childhood education? A recent ethnographic study of one Head Start classroom found that free play among Spanish- and English-speaking children provided opportunities to support language learning. As noted by Conor Williams of the New America Foundation, these small-scale results were in line with a recent report from the Center for Early Care and Education Research-Dual Language Learners (CECER-DLL) which highlighted that allowing DLL students to continue using their native language at school, rather than immersing in an English-only environment, benefits social development skills. A new practice-oriented summary of research on effective early education for DLLs from Claude Goldenberg, Judy Hicks, and Ira Lit provides a four page “must read” complement to the NIEER brief for those responsible for practice and policy.

A startling 75 percent of young Americans are ineligible for military service, but federal investment in preschool can help turn that around, according to a new report released by Mission: Readiness. Young Americans are frequently found ineligible for service because they do not have a high school diploma or they score too low on the military’s entrance exam. Retired military leaders have highlighted increased early education funding as a “national security imperative” to address these academic gaps early. The report also estimates that the Obama Administration’s Preschool for All proposal could add two million more high school graduates nationally. The Administration also recently released state-by-state fact sheets looking at the potential federal funds available to states to serve children through preschool, home visiting, and Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships. As NIEER has written before, military service has historically been a path to the middle class, but too few students have the early support they need to realistically pursue this goal.

A recent study of the eating habits of children found that the eating habits of preschoolers, such as whether they ate while watching television, is just as important as what kind of food they eat. The study,  published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, used questionnaires filled out by parents on children’s eating habits, dietary intakes, and supplements and found that eating habits were more highly related to serum levels of non-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, a key predictor of future cardiovascular health, than was actual food intake. Early childhood education programs can play an important role in fostering lifelong healthy eating habits in children, as discussed in a recent NIEER brief on early childhood health.

With several early education bills already introduced in Congress, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced her intention to introduce a bill for high-quality preschool with Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Robert Casey (D-PA.), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in line with the Obama administration’s proposed Preschool for All plan. Senator Murray further championed the need for Congressional action on early education at a Senate Budget Committee hearing, urging leaders to “prioritize the kinds of policies that encourage broad-based economic growth in the future, and also help families right now.”


This five-part series of fact sheets from The Center for the Study of Social Policy addresses important concepts for parents to know about early childhood and their role in their children’s healthy development. 

These fact sheets from the Office of Head Start’s National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness address issues related to English language learners. Designed for providers and parents, the series is available in English and in Spanish

New on nieer.org

Wondering what NIEER is up to these days? Check out our new section devoted to current projects, which provides a listing - with descriptions and contact - of all NIEER’s current grants and ongoing studies: http://nieer.org/about-nieer/current-nieer-projects.

CEELO Update

CEELO logoCEELO held its first annual National RoundTAble on June 5-6 in San Francisco. The meeting brought together early childhood specialists and other State Education Agency representatives to discuss research and best practice to improve states’ knowledge about and use of early childhood comprehensive assessment systems, including teacher evaluation and formative assessment in the early years of the learning continuum.  The meeting provided opportunities for dialogue with peers and experts on critical policy issues impacting state policy and practice for young children birth through third grade. Materials from the meeting are available on the CEELO website.

Early Education News Roundup

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
(The Hechinger Report)

Despite the research showing its potential benefits, state legislatures across the nation cut funding for early education as their economies slumped during the Great Recession. As the economy begins to improve, many states are again investing in pre-K programs.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
(The Birmingham News)

Gov. Robert Bentley spoke at Leeds Elementary School today to announce 93 grants totaling $7.3 million that will expand that access....The grants will expand Alabama's First Class voluntary pre-k program to more schools, preschools, child care centers, Head Start locations, and other new and expanding pre-k sites across the state. Grants were awarded based on several criteria including local needs, local demand and high quality standards at the new and expanding pre-k sites.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
(The New York Times)

The State Senate and Assembly unanimously approved a bill last week that would require audits of every special-education prekindergarten contractor by 2018.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
(The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA)

The study was prepared for Iowa’s Department of Education by the American Institutes for Research, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.  It compared the academic performance of students who attended the state’s preschool program to those who had not. The report focused on a single class of students — those children enrolled in 2007-08, the program’s first year.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
(The Kansas City Star)

Missouri education officials are recommending that early childhood programs use a system developed in California to assess whether children are ready to enter school.  The state Board of Education has no mandatory assessment tool for early childhood education.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013
(The State)

S.C. First Steps uses “questionable statistics” to show it helps children succeed in school, over- and underfunded various county partnerships and has poor participation by its governing board, according to a state audit released Tuesday.

Monday, June 17, 2013
(The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Each year, New Jersey spends billions of dollars on public education for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. New Jersey has long recognized that quality preschool leverages that substantial investment, especially for low-income families.

Monday, June 17, 2013
(Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Nevada is one of six states awarded a National Governors Association grant and technical assistance to improve early childhood education.  The state will receive $25,000 and have access to education experts who will discuss ways to improve.

Friday, June 14, 2013
(Knoxville News Sentinel)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam probably could go ahead and agree to accept federal money to provide pre-kindergarten classes to an additional 7,861 children.  However, given skepticism about the pre-K program, the governor is wise to await the results of a study by Vanderbilt University, if time is not a factor in accepting the funds.

Thursday, June 13, 2013
(The New York Times)

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, about one-third of students enrolled in state-financed preschool programs attend classes conducted outside the public schools.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
(The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS)

The bad news is that Mississippi remains the only state in the South without a state-funded early children education program. Only eight states nationwide do not invest in some form of early childhood education, and only 11 states don’t have a state-funded prekindergarten program.

Saturday, June 8, 2013
(Grand Forks Herald)

The North Dakota Legislature passed a measure allowing local districts to create preschool using funds from the school budget, provided funds are not removed from the kindergarten program, said Tara Bitz, state administrator for the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction Early Childhood Education.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013
(The Columbus Dispatch)

The White House said that if Ohio agreed to kick in $10.3 million, the federal and state money would provide preschool during the first year to 12,628 children from low- and moderate-income families in the state.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013
(Public News Service)

The bill, the Early Care and Education Initiative, would provide $75 billion over the next 10 years to expand pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-olds, fueled by the theory that better performance in school over the long run is a smart investment in any child's future.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013
(The Times-Picayune)

Legislation to set up more stringent standards for pre-kindergarten and day-care center programs has died after the bill became a political volleyball in wrangling surrounding the state budget. The bill would have implemented Act 3, the least controversial portion of Gov. Bobby Jindal's education overhaul passed last year.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013
(Boise State Public Radio)

In the U-S, 40 states offer pre-kindergarten programs.  Idaho is not one of them.  Here, about one third of three and four year olds attend a public or private preschool.  But none attend one that’s funded or sanctioned by the state. However, that does not stop some school districts from offering pre-k programs of their own.