Volume 12, Issue 18

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hot Topics

September means back to school for millions of American families, but many preschool-age children will not have the opportunity to step into the classroom this year. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called attention to this in Back to School Q & A, noting that “among 4-year-olds in the US, fewer than three in 10 attend a high-quality preschool program.” The Center for American Progress has also issued a new brief on the impacts of sequestration on enrollment in early childhood education programs, specifically highlighting that “[i]n the Head Start program alone, sequestration is costing tens of thousands of jobs and denying our youngest and most vulnerable citizens the benefits of a high-quality early learning program.”  

The District of Columbia’s pre-K programs, which provides universal pre-K access to 3- and 4-year-old residents, has been garnering media headlines lately. Conor P. Williams of the New America Foundation hails the program’s success in a Washington Post opinion piece, and points to current Mayor Vincent Gray for promoting its expansion. At the same time, discussions are raging on the new proposed accountability measures for public pre-K providers in DC charter schools, which make up a substantial portion of DC pre-K sites. Education blogger and DC Public Charter School Board member Sara Mead addresses some concerns with the measure.

A recent study published in Science, which found that ratings given to pre-K programs using Quality Ratings and Improvement Systems (QRIS) were not indicative of how prepared a child was for school, has highlighted the complicated issue of measuring pre-K quality. QRIS have become a high-profile tool to provide policymakers, educators, and parents with information about early learning programs, but often do not measure the factors most likely to influence achievement. The study did note that quality of teacher-child interaction had an impact on student learning, though as Sara Mead notes, “[o]ne reason that many states focus on simple input indicators and do not include interaction measures in their QRIS, is that the latter are a lot cheaper and easier to assess than the former.” While measuring input is important for setting a baseline, more in-depth examinations of program quality and outcomes are crucial. NIEER’s State of Preschool Yearbook collects information on program standards for state-funded pre-K, but also highlights the importance of conducting regular evaluations of programs; a recent NIEER policy report shows that in the 2011-2012 school year, only 43 percent of programs had conducted a recent evaluation for both program quality and child outcomes.

A new Australian study reports that children who stutter occasionally in the years before school do not suffer impaired cognitive and social development, though the US-based Stuttering Foundation warns parents that these are only early results from a small study. Stuttering is one of many health and wellness concerns parents of preschool-aged children may bring to their pediatricians; CLASP has recently highlighted new resources from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) meant to help schools and Head Start programs connect families to health insurance for their children. Preschool programs themselves play an important role in the health and development of students, as explored in a recent NIEER policy brief.

Children’s education paths are influenced by a number of factors outside the classroom, with income increasingly becoming a strong predictor of academic performance. As The Hechinger Report explored, there is a widening gap in performance between low- and middle-income children as compared to high-income children, to the extent that underprivileged children are now almost four years behind their wealthier peers in achievement. NIEER and CEELO explored inequities in access to, and quality of, early learning programs for children in the United States in a recent webinar; the full recording is now available online.


The ZERO TO THREE Policy Center has released updated State Baby Fact Sheets, which provide information about infants and toddlers in each state.

This report from American Institutes for Research (AIR) explores the impact of Transitional Kindergarten in California, which provides an additional year of kindergarten to California’s youngest students.

UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute recently opened a new Professional Development Center to provide teachers, administrators, researchers, and PD professionals with a wide array of resources on child development and education, including workshops, free courses, and conferences through both online instruction and in-person events.

At the National Center for Research on Early Child Education's Quality Improvement Meeting, CSCCE Director Dr. Marcy Whitebook delivered two presentations, both of which are now available online: Taking Stock: The Early Childhood Higher Education Inventory and Supportive Environmental Quality Underlying Adult Learning in Early Childhood Settings. She also presented new tools developed by the CSCCE designed to inform policy development and quality improvement planning: one focuses on the early childhood higher education landscape and the other on work environments that support teacher practice and development.

This 2013 report considers early childhood education and child care (ECEC) in Canada during the period 2011-2012, using cross-Canada and longitudinal data, focusing largely on regulated child care.

A new website for parents includes Quality child care in focus: What parents should look for, a new video designed for parents of young children in Canada. While the website focuses on child care in Canada, the film is useful for all parents who are researching options as it "shows and tells" the elements of good quality center-based child care that parents should look for, including regulation, health and safety, physical environment, programming, staffing, and relationship with parents.

This new report from CLASP presents information from a recent state survey of child care licensing, subsidies, and quality improvement policies.

This report presents findings from the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012 (NHES:2012), which collects information on children’s participation in relative, nonrelative, and center-based care arrangements. It also includes information from parents about important factors in choosing a care arrangement, as well as parents’ participation in various learning activities with their children.  

This sixth annual report from Save the Children provides a state-by-state look at the readiness of child care facilities and K-12 schools to meet basic standards for protecting children during emergencies, such as requiring all regulated child care settings to have written plans for evacuation and relocation, for family reunification following an emergency, as well as a specific plan to assist children with disabilities, and those children with access and functional needs.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, an early childhood advocacy group of law enforcement professionals, released a new report which found that investing now in high-quality early childhood education and home visiting could significantly reduce future law enforcement costs.

CEELO Update

Wednesday, October 2, 3:00-4:30 EASTERN

Jointly sponsored by CEELO and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center, this web-conference will engage state early childhood specialists, early childhood leaders, and national experts in a dialogue about how to best support formative assessment processes. The information is critical as states prepare for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC), implement its components, and engage in activities to improve the quality of teaching and learning through supporting formative assessment processes. The October 2  Formative Assessment Webinar will kick-off an ongoing peer-learning community supported by CEELO and ECTA.  For more information and to register, click here.

Each week, CEELO shares a Featured Resource covering its focus areas in educating children from birth to third grade.

Synthesis of IES Research on Early Intervention and Early Childhood Education

This report from the Institute for Education Statistics, authored by Karen E. Diamond, Laura M. Justice, Robert S. Siegler, and Patricia A. Snyder, compiles finding from research grants on early intervention and education that have been funded by the National Center for Education Research and National Center for Special Education Research since June 2010. The report presents evidence on classroom environment, instructional practices, measuring children’s skills, and professional development.

Education Commission of the States’ Kindergarten Database

This online database provides data from primary sources outlining state policies on 11 kindergarten issues commonly addressed by state policy, including compulsory school age, kindergarten entrance age, minimum hours required for kindergarten, kindergarten readiness assessments, curriculum, ratios, and more. Users can search each topic, or can search by state, to find relevant information on current state policy.

In an ongoing effort to provide responsive and relevant technical assistance, CEELO frequently updates its Products page, which features Policy Briefs, Fast Facts, Webinars, and Presentations. Be sure to visit frequently for new resources, such as:

Fast Facts: Support for Preparing Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant Applications and Funding to Support State Curriculum Alignment Project


Tuesday, September 10, 2013 -
12:00pm to 6:30pm

The U. S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) will hold an RTT-ELC Technical Assistance Planning Workshop to review technical and logistical aspects of the RTT-ELC competition in depth. States will have an opportunity to ask questions. While registration for the in-person session is now closed, states can participate in a livestream of the event. Prior registration is not required for the online streaming version; participants can view it here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm
The Census Bureau will release annual survey data about poverty, income, health insurance, housing, employment, and much more on September 17 and 19.  At the same time, Congress will be grappling with decisions to cut human needs programs further, or to protect them.  You can use the new information to show the extent of need in your state or community, and why Congress should invest, not cut.  This webinar will show you how.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013 -
3:00pm to 4:30pm

Jointly sponsored by CEELO and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center, this web-conference will engage state early childhood specialists, early childhood leaders, and national experts in a dialogue about how to best support formative assessment processes.

Date has been changed to OCTOBER 9.

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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 12:00pm

The University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) and Curry School of Education will be offering a free, 4-week, online course on Effective Classroom Interactions. This course will focus on supporting early childhood teachers to offer emotionally supportive classroom interactions. It builds from the successful work of CASTL in developing and testing professional development models that promote positive changes in teachers’ practice.

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, September 6, 2013
(Education Week)

For more than two decades, Congress and the states have poured billions of dollars into a huge child-care block grant program, with the aim of helping low-income parents join or return to the workforce. Now, as part of a long-stalled effort to renew the program, Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate are hoping to add a new a twist: an emphasis on the quality and safety of the programs children are entering.

Thursday, September 5, 2013
(Woodbridge Patch (Virginia))

He laid out a fairly simple platform: All children should have access to early childhood education no matter their socioeconomic background, and kindergarten through 12th-grade curriculums need more investment so that they can build upon and reinforce skills learned in preschool, like dual language development.

Thursday, September 5, 2013
(Naperville Sun (Chicago))

"Children who attend high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not," says NIEER (National Institute for Early Education Research) Director W. Steven Barnett.

Thursday, September 5, 2013
(The Seattle Times (Opinion))

The crucial debate is: What does it take to achieve high-quality preschool at scale, across an entire city?

Thursday, September 5, 2013
(The Inquirer)

Buono, a state senator from Middlesex County . . . said she would prioritize education in her budgets, as opposed to Christie, who cut $820 million in school aid in his first year in office. Despite the fact that some of those cuts directly affected early childhood education, the state spends more money on pre-K than any other in the country, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. It ranks 16th in the nation for the percentage enrollment of 4-year-olds and second for 3-year-olds, the institute said.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
(Eye on Early Education (Blog))

Specifically, Ed Blog asked that the candidates: “Tell us how you see early childhood education fitting into the larger education pipeline and what you have been able to do in your career to expand or improve or raise awareness about early childhood care and education (for children from birth through age five). Since every candidate has been in some position of power in his/her career already, please do not focus on what you WILL do, but what you HAVE done.”

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
(The Huffington Post Parents Blog)

In June, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill expanding early childhood education for 900 children. “No other piece of legislation this year was more important,” he said at the time. A broad public campaign to give all 4-year-old children access to quality preschool is bringing together voices from beyond the world of education -- from union leaders to hotel executives. A group of CEOs has made it a 2013 policy priority. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
(The Washington Post)

Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca is heading a lobbying effort by more than 1,000 police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors to convince Congress to enact the Obama administration’s plan to expand preschool to every 4-year-old in the country.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
(The Record/North Jersey.com)

In Hackensack,  summer school now targets a student population that doesn't even do homework: preschoolers. The school district this summer began a program for children entering kindergarten who lagged behind their peers, because they didn't go to preschool, their preschool's standards fell short, or they simply needed extra help. . . . While a summer school program can help, it won't address a lack of, or inadequate, education, said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research. "States need to be playing a bigger role so districts aren't doing this by themselves," Barnett said. "That's why, of course, the president proposed federal support for preschool for all kids."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
(Chicago Sun-Times)

The University of Chicago study, which followed 25,000 3- and 4-year-olds served by Chicago Public Schools preschool programs, found that almost half of 3-year-olds and more than a third of 4-year-olds were chronically absent during the 2011-2012 school year, meaning they missed at least 10 percent of the year.

The more days of preschool a 4-year-old missed, the lower his or her score on CPS’ kindergarten readiness evaluation, specifically for math, letter recognition and social-emotional development. Equally troubling, children who are chronically absent in preschool are five times more likely to be chronically absent in the second grade.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
(The Globe and Mail (Canada))

The findings of an Ontario study of nearly 700 children show that children in full-day kindergarten are better prepared for school, showing strong language development and better communication and social skills, according to the largest study of its kind in the country on all-day learning.

Monday, September 2, 2013
(The Seattle Times)

In all, the state is spending $96.2 million to fund all-day kindergarten at about 44 percent of the state’s elementary schools. A state Supreme Court decision has charged state lawmakers with making all Washington kindergartens full-day by 2017, part of a directive to meet their responsibility to fund basic education. But because the new state money can’t be used to fund capital projects for new classroom space,putting it to use has brought logistical and financial challenges in some cases.

Monday, September 2, 2013
(Tucson Sentinel.com)

Calling the choice of a child care provider or preschool an overwhelming but vital decision, First Things First has launched a website guiding Arizona parents toward the right option for them.

Monday, September 2, 2013

With a $260,000 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Child Care Aware of Missouri recently launched the program Taking Steps to Healthy Sucess, and hope to train staff who oversee 90 day-care centers and 9,000 kids in Missouri this year. 

Monday, September 2, 2013
(The New York Times)

In the last four years, “Sesame Street” has set itself a much larger goal: teaching nature, math, science and engineering concepts and problem-solving to a preschool audience. . . . “They actually are already thinking about these things,” said Kimberly Brenneman, assistant research professor at Rutgers University’s National Institute for Early Education Research and an education adviser for PBS’s “Sid the Science Kid.” Educators, she said, can “create a show that is likely to meet kids where they are, and go a little further.”

Saturday, August 31, 2013
(The New York Times (Opinion))

Something is changing in America. A new interest in early childhood is driven by studies showing how powerfully and permanently children’s brains are shaped when they’re very young, and how the enormous gap between rich and poor children is already in place when they start kindergarten.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
(The Topeka Capital-Journal (cjonline.com))

Head Start programs will serve at least 440 fewer children this year and shed dozens of jobs across Kansas as a result of the federal sequester, a new statewide tally shows.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
(Baltimore Sun (Opinion))

New information about the high costs of quality child care — it can cost as much as a year in college — indicates that middle- and upper-middle-class families are having the same difficulties finding the money to pay for it as the working poor.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013
(The New York Times)

Bill de Blasio has hinged his candidacy for mayor on a bold idea: raise taxes on high-earning New Yorkers to pay for a vast expansion of prekindergarten and after-school programs. Mr. de Blasio has portrayed the proposal as a fast-acting antidote to inequality, and he has won endorsements from prominent experts in education and poverty. But his plan would most likely face several obstacles if he were elected.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
(The Seattle Times (Opinion))

This extensive and persuasive evidence, recently presented to City Council by Rutgers professor Steve Barnett, leads to one conclusion: It is time for Seattle to make voluntary, high-quality preschool available and affordable to all of our 3- and 4-year-old children. It’s the right thing to do for today’s children and for future generations.

Monday, August 26, 2013
(USA Today)

Stuttering is common among preschoolers, but it is not likely to have a negative impact on their temperament, a new study suggests.

Saturday, August 24, 2013
(Washington Post)

Some D.C. parents are protesting a proposal by the city’s public charter school board to rank preschools based largely on how children as young as 3 are performing on reading and math tests.