Volume 12, Issue 19

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hot Topics

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH) and the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics hosted a National Summit on Hispanic Early Learning this week, featuring a who's who of early education experts. Eduardo Padron, Chair of the Commission; Martha Kanter, Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Education; and Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education, were among others attending. Full video of the event can be seen on Miami-Dade College's YouTube channel. NIEER Director Steve Barnett was a panelist on "What Works: Evidence-Based Programs and Practices." A presentation to complement the panel discussion is now available online. The presentation notes that Hispanic children have the largest achievement gaps at kindergarten entry, as well as the lowest rates of access to preschool, though studies show Hispanic children make large gains in high-quality pre-K.

Access is not the only concern; children who are Dual Language Learners (DLLs) may require additional attention beyond expanded enrollment opportunities. NIEER researcher Alexandra Figueras-Daniel explores these issues in a policy brief and provides recommendations for expanding early learning opportunities for Hispanic children. NIEER also provides guidance for state pre-K programs to ensure their programs serve the needs of these students. In a recent Huffington Post piece, Sylvia Peunte, Executive Director of the Latino Policy Forum, called for locating more early childhood programs in Latino neighborhoods, using a community-based model, and ensuring that linguistic competencies are central to how we define quality. Conor P. Williams blogged at the New America Foundation about “Correcting Pernicious Myths About Dual Language Learners,” calling attention to the Foundation for Child Development’s recent brief deconstructing these myths. Calls for an increased focus on DLL students in the early grades are echoed by recent research from Penn State finding that bilingual individuals may develop a higher level of mental flexibility than people who only speak one language. The U.S. Department of Education is requesting guidance on targeting research to improve academic achievement of such students, including young students, as one area of potential future study. Comments from the public can be submitted until October 9, 2013. This attention to Hispanic early learners from multiple angles is encouraging, as David Lawrence, who leads the Children's Movement of Florida, noted during his panel appearance at the National Summit, "It's about everyone's child. Never about those children, whomever they may be."

The detrimental impact of inequity of income and public school experience is all over the news this month. James J. Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a Nobel Laureate in Economics, wrote recently for The New York Times on the value of investing in high quality preschool to reduce educational and other inequities for low-income children in the US. “There is no trade-off between equity and efficiency, as there is for other social programs, “ says Heckman. “Early investment in the lives of disadvantaged children will help reduce inequality, in both the short and the long run.” A new report from Educational Testing Service describes the existence and impact of increasing segregation and inequity in public schools, and the impact of segregation by income on increasing the achievement gap. Diane Ravitch examines the effects of vouchers, charter schools, and other policy decisions, on equity and outcomes in public schools in her book Reign of Error. A blog from the New America Foundation discusses the challenging issues involved in public school inequity and inequality in K-12 education; an earlier post highlights pre-K access and quality considerations. NIEER and CEELO recently hosted a webinar exploring these issues of equity in access to pre-K.  It’s not just in the US either: A recent report from the Unicef Office of Research addresses the global nature of inequity. Understanding Governance of Early Childhood Development and Education Systems and Services in Low-Income Countries concludes that “equitable access to quality early childhood services (ECS) can reduce the impact of risk factors and improve outcomes.”

September conjures the image of teary-eyed parents sending their children to the first day of kindergarten; that may be universal, but not all kindergarten experiences are equal for children. The availability of any public kindergarten program varies significantly by state as seen in this interactive map from the Children’s Defense Fund and this in-depth database from the Education Commission of the States. The Washington State Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to make full-day kindergarten available to all students by 2017 as part of their responsibility to fund basic education. The state has increased funding to expand access, prioritizing those districts with the highest rates of students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunch. Kindergarten participation rates also differ significantly based on a number of demographic figures, as explored in a new brief from Child Trends. A recent study in Ontario, Canada adds to the body of research suggesting that full-day kindergarten is important to prepare children for first grade. While efforts to expand access and funding to provide full-day kindergarten to more children are commendable, policymakers must be sure that they are investing in quality programs.

A study using longitudinal data from the British National Child Development Study found that adverse childhood experiences are associated with a higher risk of early death, supporting conclusions found from an earlier study. The study found that men and women who suffered adversity in childhood, including suffering from neglect, parental separation, or having a family member in prison were more likely to die before age of 50 than those who had not. Toxic stress can have lasting impacts on children and, in the short-term, can serve as a barrier to healthy development and learning.  The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University provides numerous resources documenting the impacts of such stress and recommendations for prevention and remediation. High-quality center-based learning experiences can help children cope with such stress, as highlighted in a recent NIEER brief, particularly when coupled with supports like parenting programs and home-visiting, to reduce toxic stress in the home. Children in center-based settings are not immune from harm, however, as crime and national disasters too often can pose a danger. An annual report from Save the Children examines state-by-state policies on emergency preparedness policies, and called for a renewed focus on basics like evacuation plans, strategies for communicating with parents, and routinely practicing emergency plans with students.


A new report from the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation explains how the two agencies hope to realize the full potential of their education research and development investments through a more systematic development of knowledge. The report describes six types of research studies that can generate evidence about increasing student learning. For each type, the report describes the purpose and the expected empirical and/or theoretical justifications, types of project outcomes, and quality of evidence.

The Early Childhood Data Collaborative provides a series of success stories: case studies on state data systems, as a resource for states developing their own data collections models and frameworks. Vermont recently added a report on their Early Childhood Data Reporting Systems (ECDRS). More details about their Building Bright Futures: Early Childhood Data Reporting System are available here; they are launching September 23rd.

In this article, which appeared in the July/August 2013 edition of Exchange Magazine,  Marcy Whitebook and Rory Darrah examine four-decades of progress working toward the rights, raises, and respect for early childhood educators.

The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy) has released a new report on IDEA Part C and Part B 619 data systems, summarizing results of a 2013 survey of state agency staff about the current status of their state data systems, priorities for improvement, and areas where the states would like technical assistance. Information on their recent conference Improving Data, Improving Outcomes, including access to a range of excellent resources, is available here.

NIEER Activities

Beginning with Volume 7, Number 1, this journal is co-edited by Young Lee, President of the Korea Institute of Child Care and Education (KICCE) and NIEER Director Steven Barnett. The journal explores several areas of early childhood education and child care in several countries, including an article tracking changes in state-funded preschool in the United States from NIEER’s Steven Barnett and Megan Carolan. The full journal can be accessed online here.

NIEER Director Steven Barnett was a panelist at the National Summit on Hispanic Early Learning, hosted by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, on September 18, 2013 at Miami-Dade College. This presentation is a complement to the discussion on the disparities in pre-K access and quality for young Hispanic learners, as well as the importance of dual language learning, that occurred at that event.

CEELO Update

CEELO and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center will host a webinar “Focus on Formative Assessment” on October 9. Due to schedule conflicts, this has been rescheduled from its original October 2 date. Those who were already registered are still signed up for this session. You can register online here.

This case study by The Finance Project, in partnership with Children’s Aid Society, highlights the benefits of community schools from an economic vantage point. Using the concept of a social return on investment (SROI), the report demonstrates a compelling way to measure and communicate the impact of community schools that provide social, health, and education services to children and families. This case study highlights two community schools in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City that produced positive gains in academics, attendance, and an increased level of family engagement. With tight budgets and a heavy emphasis on outcomes, community schools can be worth pursuing.Measuring Social Return on Investment for Community Schools, A Case Study 


PreK-3rd: Challenging Common Myths About Dual Language Learners

This updated report from the Foundation for Child Development, authored by Linda M. Espinosa, Ph.D., dispels common misconceptions regarding the development of young Dual Language Learners (DLLs) and offers useful recommendations on how to support young DLLs.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm

Story retelling is a powerful strategy for teachers, coaches and administrators who must help children meet standards. In fact, story retelling is a standard in the Common Core State Standards for kindergarten and in many state early learning standards. Join national early childhood experts Cate Heroman and Carol Aghayan for an engaging, lively session about story retelling. During this webinar, you will learn what story retelling is and why it is an important.  You will also find out how story retelling skills develop over time and the key role teacher-child interactions play in scaffolding and guiding literacy learning.  

Friday, September 27, 2013 -
9:00am to 1:00pm

The forum focuses on the importance of linking health professionals with professionals in early childhood programs serving children birth to three years to build better outcomes for our youngest children. Panels feature community health professionals, early childhood program directors, nurses and early intervention specialists. Registration is limited.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 -
2:30pm to 4:00pm

Tthe National Governors Association is releasing "A Governor's Guide to Early Literacy: Getting All Students Reading by Third Grade." This webinar will provide an overview of NGA's policy recommendations that are critical for a comprehensive state strategy for improving early reading proficiency. In addition, participants will learn about on-the-ground initiatives that focus on 3 of the policy levers covered in the report: early care and education, family engagement, and educator preparation and professional development.

Thursday, October 3, 2013 -
1:00pm to 2:00pm

This webinar will showcase San Antonio, Texas, highlighting how the city has followed a pre-k to third grade approach to reshape early childhood and family support services.  Speakers will share lessons and specific examples about the collaborative systems they have built to provide high quality, complementary and connected educational opportunities for children from prekindergarten through third grade.

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 20, 2013
(The Bismarck Tribune)

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has released new standards for early childhood education in the state. This is the first time the state has had pre-kindergarten standards. The impetus for the new standards really came from the early childhood education providers in the state, said Tara Bitz, the early childhood admiinistrator for DPI. The standards are aligned with early learning guidelines, the Headstart framework and kindergarten standards within the state.

Friday, September 20, 2013
(New Jersey 101.5)

It’s a staggering statistic. More than 646,000 children in New Jersey lived in families earning too little to meet their needs in 2012. That’s a 19 percent increase since 2008, according to new U.S. Census data. That means an additional 118,000 children in the state lived in families earning less than $47,000 a year for a family of four.Nearly one-third of all New Jersey children lived in low-income families last year. “This is alarming. As our state digs out of the economic downturn, it’s pretty clear that families that were already struggling are struggling even more to recover,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

With the government just days away from a potential shutdown amid the budget crisis, members of Congress took a playful approach to defending early childhood education, which has been targeted during past spending cuts. On the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning,  a handful of  Senators played a giant game of chutes and ladders with parents, kids, and advocates for early learning. . . . . Only about 28% of 4-year-olds attended state-funded preschool programs in 2012, the Rutgers University’s National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) reports. Early childhood education, advocates say, not only benefits a child’s intellectual development, social skills, it has an impact on the rest of their lives.

Thursday, September 19, 2013
(PR Newswire)

The Children's Defense Fund's analysis of new state data released by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that child poverty rates remain at record highs and Black, Hispanic and children under six suffer the most. Only two states (Texas and Illinois) experienced significant decreases from 2011. Child poverty rates actually increased in three states (New Hampshire, Mississippi and California) and remained at 2011 levels for the remaining 45 states.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

If elected mayor, State Representative Martin J. Walsh said today, he would expand early education access so that all 4-year-olds can attend preschool in the Boston Public Schools. . . . .“The foundation of Boston’s future success and economic viability is our schools,” Walsh said in a statement. “We need to build on the current strengths of our school system, but we face some tough changes. As mayor, I will create a broad, long-term collaborative effort to ensure the highest quality public education system for every single child in every neighborhood of Boston.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spending cuts on child care subsidies for poor families have contributed to the closure of more than 80 child care centers in Kentucky and as many as 25,000 children could be dropped from the program in the next year, advocates said Wednesday. "We're in a lose, lose, lose, lose situation" said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, a nonprofit group that advocates for children. Brooks told the state legislature's Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare that child care centers have closed in every region of the state since cuts to the child care assistance program began in April.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
(ShelbyNews.com (Indiana))

In 2012, the National Institute for Early Education Research estimated that if Indiana were to set up a preschool program, it would need to spend $4,130 per child. The same study said that Indiana's neighbors do not have a problem spending on early childhood education. Ohio spends approximately $3,900 per child to enroll 5,700 students in a statewide preschool program with a total cost to the state of $22 million. Kentucky spends more than $3,300 per child to enroll more than 22,000 students with a cost of $75 million. Illinois, on the other hand, spends more than $3,400 per child with a total enrollment of more than 83,000 students and a total cost of $289 million.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
(The Missouri Times)

Gov. Jay Nixon announced $400,000 in money for renovations at the Jefferson City Day Care Center today as part of a larger announcement across the state that will provide money to 10 early childhood education projects in Missouri.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
(The Washington Post)

The D.C. Public Charter School Board has approved a revised evaluation tool for preschools that is one of the first efforts in the country to tie the success of early learning programs to the academic performance of their students.The original proposal prompted an outcry from parents who were concerned that the emphasis on academic testing could lead to a narrowing of what children learn in preschool.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
(KPCC Radio (California))

The Los Angeles Unified School District is considering spending new state money for disadvantaged kids to restore preschools and other early education programs to set them on the right path from the start. "Studies show that early childhood education is impactful in terms of making sure that children that come from at-risk neighborhoods that are low-income benefit appreciably from having the foundational skills that are imparted in early ed," said Kim Patillo Brownson, a member of L.A. Unified's new ad-hoc early education committee and Director of Educational Equity at the Advancement Project.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
(Early Ed Watch Blog at the New America Foundation)

[A] growing field of study links chronic absenteeism in the early years to diminished academic outcomes in later grades, leading to an increased likelihood of both lower test scores and dropping out before graduation. 

Monday, September 16, 2013
(US News (Opinion))

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan just wrapped a back-to-school bus tour touting, among other things, the virtues of high-quality early childhood education. The effort is part of the administration's push to ensure access to high quality care and education for more students, which was one of President Obama's signature talking points during last year's presidential campaign. 

Monday, September 16, 2013
(Motherlode Blog at The New York Times)

A big reason for this turnaround? Universal preschool. Not just pre-K for 4-year-olds, as in Oklahoma’s widely praised program, or for poor children, as President Obama has proposed. Preschool that is (at least theoretically) for everyone, starting at age 3. That’s what we get in D.C.: five days a week, for nearly 10 months a year, from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., my taxes pay for my toddler’s education.

Sunday, September 15, 2013
(The Star-Telegram (Texas))

That shift would begin in Fort Worth schools under a proposed $490 million bond program that includes an estimated $24 million for 82 new pre-kindergarten classrooms at 15 campuses. The additions would allow the district to serve 3,000 more 4-year-olds.

Saturday, September 14, 2013
(The New York Times (Opinion))

Our choice in these difficult economic times is not just whether to spend or cut, but whether to choose knowledge over conventional wisdom. Will we put money in programs that pay off? Quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children are not “entitlements” or bottomless wells of social spending. They foster human flourishing and they improve our economic productivity in the process.

Friday, September 13, 2013
(Think Progress (Blog))

State Senate Democrats in Indiana will soon offer legislation that would create a universal preschool program for the state’s three and four year olds, as well as lower the mandatory school age to five from seven. The cost is hard to estimate, but Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D) said it could be as much as full-day Kindergarten, which is about $197 million a year. 

Friday, September 13, 2013
(Star Tribune (Minnesota))

A growing number of preschoolers have headed to class this fall in St. Paul and elsewhere in Minnesota and, in the eyes of the law, that is an investment worth making. Quality preschool can help prevent kids from becoming career criminals, according to Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows, speaking Thursday as part of a national campaign for $75 billion in new federal funding over 10 years to open preschool opportunities for low- and middle-income children.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Home visits by nurses or other trained health professionals can improve the development of preterm infants, parenting and the home environment, according to a new review of recent research. "Overall the trend did seem to support that it is effective," Dr. Neera Goyal, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children's Hospital Cincinnati Medical Center and the study's lead author, told Reuters Health. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has set aside funding for home visiting programs for at-risk families to improve outcomes for mothers and their babies born prematurely, Goyal and her team note in the journal Pediatrics.

Thursday, September 12, 2013
(Savannah Morning News)

This year marks the 21st anniversary of Georgia’s Pre-K Program recently ranked by the National Institute for Early Education Research as one of the top state programs in the nation, based on quality standards, teacher qualifications and enrollment....While Georgia’s Pre-K Program is extremely important to the child and valuable for the state, we are currently able to serve only 60 percent of the state’s four year olds. Even when we are (hopefully) able to serve all four year olds in the years to come, many children will enter Georgia’s Pre-K already behind. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013
(Indystar.com (Indiana))

Senate Democrats want to create a universal early childhood education program in Indiana and lower the mandatory school age to 5 from 7. . . . Lanane said research shows high-quality pre-K programs result in students who are more likely to graduate from high school, earn a higher income, own a home and be less likely to require remediation or commit crimes. “The benefits are clear,” said Lanane. “We’re one of only 10 states without meaningful pre-kindergarten education.”

Thursday, September 12, 2013
(The Times-Picayune (New Orleans))

All publicly funded early childhood education programs in Louisiana must start testing students and undergo state evaluations by 2015, the Education Department said Thursday. The announcement comes as the state expands its pilot evaluations of day-care centers, Head Start classes and pre-kindergarten from voluntary status in 15 parishes to mandatory in 64 parishes, and unifies them under a single set of accountability rules.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
(kcrg.com (ABC Iowa))

The national organization "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids" has lined up support from law enforcement to push for more preschool funding. In a report released at a Waterloo news conference, leaders noted that more preschool opportunities early in life might cut Iowa’s prison population by as much as 800. And they estimated that could save state taxpayers as much as $39 million a year.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
(Indonesia Investments)

Last week, the World Bank released a new report titled Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) in Poor Villages of Indonesia: Strong Foundations, Later Success, which highlights innovative, community- based strategies, and the promising outcomes for young children. One of the messages of the report is that investment in the formative years of Indonesian children will have economic benefits in the future.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
(HuffPost Latino Voices (Blog))

The early childhood education advocacy community has been preaching the benefits of preschool and early learning for decades . . . . But we must be sure not to conflate the notions of "Preschool for All" and "one size fits all." 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
(The Washington Post)

Some D.C. charter school leaders are asking the city’s public charter school board to reconsider a proposal to rank preschools based largely on their performance on varying math and reading tests. In written comments to the board, several leaders questioned the validity of comparing schools based on different assessments and said the proposed evaluation tool would have unintended consequences.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
(Saugerties Times (New York))

Studies conducted in Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas, and New Jersey, states which have large-scale preschool programs, have shown tremendous benefits, both academic and financial, for the children who attended preschool as four-year-olds. According to Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, high quality preschool programs have been found “to return as much as ten dollars for every dollar invested, from higher earnings, lower crime, and reduced government costs later in life.”

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, only 45 percent of New York State’s four-year-olds are enrolled in state-funded preschools. Saugerties, like most districts, does not have a preschool program. Parents who wish to reap the benefits of a preschool education for their children have to pay for private school.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
(The Reno Gazette-Journal)

New State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga said the rankings of preschools might be in Nevada’s future. It’s a move that may help change the 50 percent of Washoe County School District kindergarten students who start school behind.

Monday, September 9, 2013

“The cuts in Head Start due to sequestration (budget cuts) could not have come at a worse time for children and families,” says W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. “Head Start has raised quality in the decade since the National Impact Study, and the administration recently began implementing the most ambitious reforms of Head Start to increase effectiveness in its 50-year history.”

Monday, September 9, 2013
(Politico (Opinion))

Unfortunately, we are still not investing enough in early childhood education across the country. Earlier this summer, Congress’s automatic budget cuts shut 57,000 children out of Head Start — a program that has helped prepare millions of low-income kids for kindergarten. We are moving in the wrong direction.

Those in Washington who fight additional investment are ignoring the economic consequences of failing to act. When some congressional Republicans complain of “throwing more money into the nation’s education system,” they should examine the empirical research on early learning.


Monday, September 9, 2013
(Alamogordo Daily News (New Mexico))

New Mexico begins each school year with about 30,000 students in ninth grade. But only about 20,000 of them graduate from high school in four years, Duncan said during a town hall meeting.

He said the problems of failing students and dropouts begin long before high school. That is why the Obama administration wants to spend more than $75 billion to expand prekindergarten education, Duncan told a room jammed with more than 150 supporters of the idea.

Under President Obama's plan, much of the money to expand early childhood education would come from a federal tax increase of 94 cents a pack on cigarettes. States that wanted to tap into the national account would voluntarily join the program and then contribute a portion of the cost for expanding early childhood education.

Monday, September 9, 2013
(Morning Sun (Michigan))

As many as 16,000 more 4-year-olds will be able to attend preschool in Michigan this fall, thanks to a big boost in the state’s early education budget.

Sunday, September 8, 2013
(Las Cruces Sun News)

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is expected to tout the Obama administration's new preschool plan during his visit to New Mexico and other Southwestern states. Duncan is scheduled to stop in Santa Fe on Monday as part of his back-to-school bus tour. One of his topics will be the president's proposal to spend $75 billion over 10 years to provide preschool for all 4-year-olds in the U.S. "We want to stop playing 'catch up' and give more kids educational opportunities," Duncan told The New Mexican (http://bit.ly/1cKdTHT ) in a telephone interview.

Friday, September 6, 2013
(NBC News)

America’s pediatricians are sounding an alarm about what they call “the most important problem facing children in the U.S. today:” childhood poverty, which they say is a serious threat to children’s physical and mental health, and a barrier to their development, achievement, and future.