Volume 12, Issue 15

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hot Topics

Child care, the second largest item in American parent’s budgets, can cost more than a year of in-state tuition for one child and up to the annual median rent rate for two children, says an article from The Daily Beast. While $10 billion in federal funding is available to assist low-income families with such costs, only one in every six eligible children actually receives this funding, and no program is geared to provide child care for middle class families. This article comes on the heels of a new report from advocacy group First Focus, which highlights the benefits of high-quality pre-K for children of all economic backgrounds, but notes that “with a limited supply of publicly funded pre-K and the high cost of high-quality private pre-K, many children are being left out.” A New York Times business column has called for increased government investment in parenting supports, while a Bloomberg editorial has dubbed child care “the most neglected area of U.S. public policy for children.” A working paper from NIEER Director Steve Barnett and Associate Director of Research Milagros Nores found striking differences in children’s early education enrollment by family income.

A new study by researchers at the Frank Porter Graham Institute found that two well-known interventions for young children with autism, as well as high-quality classroom instruction independent of a specific model, benefits preschoolers with autism. While the report found some differences in students instructed with the LEAP and TEACCH models, children in both groups demonstrated reduced autism severity and improvement in fine motor skills and communication. As noted by Christina Samuels on an Education Week blog, the fact that similar benefits were seen in students receiving high-quality instruction, independent of a specific model, suggests what is essential: “an orderly classroom environment, well-trained teachers and positive interactions between children and adults, may be more important for children with autism than instruction using any particular treatment model.” A new synthesis of research from the Institute for Education Sciences highlights methods and practices that have been shown to be successful in providing high-quality early education for both special and general education preschoolers.

In response to fears over a “crack baby epidemic” in the 1980s, researchers in Philadelphia launched a long-term study of children born to mothers who used the drug while pregnant. The study followed 224 children, half of whose mothers had used crack cocaine, from low-income families. Researchers expected to find that in utero crack cocaine exposure had long-term health and development consequences, but actually discovered that "poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine," according to lead researcher Hallam Hurt. These findings highlight the importance of focusing on health outcomes for young children in disadvantaged communities as well as the importance of providing high-quality early childhood education to children in poverty.

While most conversations on early education investment center on state-level programs or possible federal investments, cities and districts are increasingly taking an active role in these efforts. A new report from the National Governor’s Association provides guidance on building principal capacity to focus on early learning programs while superintendents in Washington band together to spearhead pre-K to third grade alignment efforts. Highlighting the unmet need of New York City parents seeking pre-K, the Comptroller’s office recommended increased funding to make public preschool in the city truly universal for 4-year-olds and expand it to include 3-year-olds as well.

The Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services are seeking peer reviewers for the recently announced round of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant competition. The Departments are seeking individuals with extensive experience and expertise in early learning and development. Details of this opportunity as well as the online application are available here.

Resources

This brief from First Focus and the Foundation for Child Development (FCD) explores the opportunities and challenges in the current safety net system for families and children.

This updated report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation follows up their 2010 report highlighting the need to improve children’s early literacy skills to have them reading on grade level by grade 3.

This report from the Migration Policy Institute explores three strategies to increase early academic success of children of immigrants: pre-K expansion, health improvements, and family-school partnerships.

This brief article written by Marcy Whitebook for the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research explores trends and progress in credentials and compensation for early education teachers.

CEELO Update

The Council of Chief State School Officer's Summer Institute was held in Kohler, Wisconsin from July 22-23, 2013. CEELO Senior Project Director, Lori Connors-Tadros facilitated a dialogue with the Chiefs, Deputies, and other participants on the goals of CEELO and critical issues chiefs are facing in ensuring children birth through 3rd grade are successful in school.  Sessions at the Summer Institute focused on implementation of teacher evaluation systems, ESEA waivers, and other topics.

The meeting workbook and presentations are available online

 

Thursday, August 22nd, 3 – 4:30 (EDT)

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) will sponsor a webinar  on equitable access to quality pre-k on August 22nd from 3 – 4:30 p.m. (EDT).  Access to quality preschool in the US is highly unequal, despite the efforts of public policy to target disadvantaged children.  In part this is because targeted programs are low in quality and are not designed to reach high need populations as well as policymakers assume.  In addition, uneven state policies exacerbate inequality. Inequality in opportunities to attend quality pre-K is a particular concern for African American and Hispanic children, and for children of parents with low levels of education.

Dr. Steven Barnett, Principal Investigator of CEELO and Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), and Dr. Milagros Nores, Associate Director of Research at NIEER,  will present data that looks at how pre-K program quality varies by child and family characteristics and how states can ensure that disadvantaged children have greater access to high quality early learning opportunities.  

Registration information will be available soon on www.ceelo.org.

Calendar

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 -
10:00am to 11:30am

Save the Date! The New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative will host a panel discussion on a recently released paper on using student achievement data to evaluate early grade teachers. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 -
8:00am to 12:00pm

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Center for American Progress, in partnership with Ready Nation, are hosting a forum to discuss early childhood education and the importance of building a strong foundation for life-long academic success.

Monday, August 5, 2013 -
3:00pm to 4:00pm

ReadyNation will host a webinar on the importance of beginning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in early education as well as the advocacy efforts of the business community to do so.

Thursday, August 22, 2013 -
3:00pm to 4:30pm

Access to quality preschool in the US is highly unequal despite the efforts of public policy to target disadvantaged children.  Inequality in opportunities to attend quality pre-K is a particular concern for African American and Hispanic children, and for children of parents with low levels of education. Dr. Steven Barnett, Principal Investigator of CEELO and Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and Dr. Milagros Nores, Associate Director of Research at NIEER,  will present data that looks at how pre-K program quality varies by child and family characteristics and how states can ensure that disadvantaged children have greater access to high quality early learning opportunities.  

Friday, October 11, 2013 -
8:00am to 5:00pm

The Center for Early Education Evaluation at HighScope will hold its Second Annual Conference for Early Childhood Research and Evaluation on the theme "Working Together Toward a Common Goal: Using Research to Inform Practice and Practice to Inform Research." The conference is now accepting paper submissions.

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
(Michigan Radio)

State lawmakers recently approved a huge expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program. That's the state's preschool program for 4-year olds at risk of being under-prepared for kindergarten. More money for preschoolers was one of the main initiatives in Governor Snyder's State of the State speech last January. And the Legislature was listening, because that $65 million increase represents a 60% expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
(Rural Education Blog at Education Week)

Most rural Americans support preschool programs to prepare low-income students for school as a way of strengthening rural communities, according to a new survey. Eighty-five percent of rural voters surveyed in the Great Plains, Midwest, and Southeast said they strongly supported or somewhat supported preschool programs as a way to boost the rural and small-town economy in a survey conducted by the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
(Politics K-12 Blog at Education Week)

President Barack Obama used a high-profile speech on the nation's economic future today to bolster his administration's case for investing in education programs. This will be a hot issue as Congress crafts the spending bills for fiscal year 2014, which starts on Oct. 1. Those spending bills will give lawmakers an opportunity to stop "sequestration"—a series of across-the-board cuts to federal education spending slated to go into effect.

Thursday, July 18, 2013
(On Special Education Blog at Education Week)

A comparison of two well-known interventions for young children with autism, LEAP and TEACCH, has found that both of them produce gains among students during the school year—and so does high-quality classroom instruction that is not tied to any particular model. The findings suggest that common elements of good classroom instruction, including an orderly classroom environment, well-trained teachers and positive interactions between children and adults, may be more important for children with autism than instruction using any particular treatment model.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
(The Star Tribune )

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised Minnesota’s investment in early education on Tuesday, but said there’s still a ways to go to make sure all students get it — not just in Minnesota but across the country.

Monday, July 15, 2013
(The Washington Post)

Children who attend preschool do better in kindergarten than those who stay at home with their parents or relatives, according to a national report.

The federal data, which focused on children who entered kindergarten in 2010, showed that those who had some preschool experience the year before kindergarten at a child care center or a home-based program with a non-relative did better on math and reading assessments than the 15 percent who were cared for by a relative and the 21 percent who were at home with parents.

Sunday, July 14, 2013
(The Washington Post)

The Virginia Star Quality Initiative is aimed at assessing and improving quality in early-childhood programs and helping parents make more-informed choices about where they leave their children for eight hours or more a day. Dozens of states, including Maryland as well as the District, have developed similar systems.

Limited government funding has largely been focused on making preschool affordable and accessible so that parents can work, not on providing the best learning environment, said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.