Volume 12, Issue 22

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hot Topics

Looking for evidence regarding the value of early childhood programs? This was definitely a hot topic for this month. The Alliance for Early Success and Child Trends released a report, The Research Base for a Birth through Eight Policy Framework. It provides details and references on the evidence base regarding early childhood needs and services in the areas of Health, Family Support, and Learning. The Society for Research in Child Development released an education-focused report, Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education, in conjunction with a panel discussion held October 16th. And Ready Nation published a point-by-point response to a recent Wall Street Journal Opinion piece, analyzing some comments about early childhood research, including references to support each point. Investing in Our Future is also one of CEELO’s Featured Resources, highlighted below.

Early education advocates often talk about the gap in “kindergarten readiness” between children from different social and economic backgrounds, but new research indicates significant differences in vocabularies as early as 18 months of age. Researchers at Stanford University had toddlers identify items and found that at 18 months, toddlers in the higher socioeconomic status (SES) group could identify the correct object in about 750 milliseconds, while the lower SES toddlers were 200 milliseconds slower to respond. Children became faster at responding over time, but at 24 months the lower SES children just barely reached the level of processing efficiency that the higher SES children had achieved at 18 months. As lead researcher Anne Fernald explains, "by 2 years of age, these disparities are equivalent to a six-month gap between infants from rich and poor families in both language processing skills and vocabulary knowledge.” The New York Times reported that these findings underscore the need for more high-quality early learning opportunities, citing NIEER’s research on the availability of state-funded pre-K. Lisa Guernsey of the New America Foundation profiled several initiatives focusing on reducing the word gap and encouraging parents to talk to their small children, including Hillary Clinton’s Too Small to Fail campaign, which was also covered in a recent Politico piece on pre-K as a campaign issue. Brookings also blogged on new projects meant to improve children's vocabularies, including using a “word pedometer” to help track language usage in a household.

HighScope Educational Research Foundation, well-known for the influential HighScope Perry Preschool Study, reports that Dr. Larry Schweinhart is retiring from the role of president to become president emeritus. Schweinhart began his work with HighScope in 1975. He became director of HighScope’s Center for the Study of Public Policies for Young Children in 1979 and chair of its research division in 1989. He has served as president of HighScope since 2003.

Dr. Cheryl Polk is moving from San Francisco to lead this important institution in the early childhood field. Dr. Polk most recently served as the executive director of the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund; and was president of the board of directors of Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, and has been a board member of that organization for more than 10 years.

For years, New York state has provided early education through the New York Universal Prekindergarten program, but has not been able to enroll all children whose families have sought the program. The Center for Children’s Initiatives and the Campaign for Educational Equity have co-released a roadmap for New York to expand high-quality pre-K to all 3- and 4-year-olds statewide. The plan includes an eight-year timeline for expanding services, starting in areas with high concentrations of low-income families, as well as building pre-K funding into the K-12 funding formula. As NIEER acknowledged in its blog on the roadmap, the report’s recommendations come not only from rigorous research, but also intensive meetings with education experts. This statewide proposal comes as New York City votes next week in a mayoral race which has focused on prekindergarten and as The Atlantic applauds the education reforms of the exiting Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) launched its Preschool Nation campaign meant to unite advocates for children and early childhood programs into one movement. Individuals can share their version of a Preschool Nation on the website as a story or video; NIEER Director Steve Barnett shared his vision in a video as well on their website describing a Preschool Nation as “where every child has full opportunity to succeed in school regardless of their zip code, their ethnic background, whether their families are immigrants or not, whether their family’s been here 200 years. That’s a Preschool Nation.  What does that mean for the country?  It’s actually the leading edge of school reform, because if we do this we’re going have to change kindergarten, first grade, second grade all the way on up through.” NIEER participated in a “TweetChat” organized by Preschool Nation exploring the basics of preschool as well as another TweetChat this week discussing the importance of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) in early education.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

As the Northeast commemorates the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, NIEER Policy Research Coordinator/CEELO staff member Megan Carolan explores recommendations for preparing child care centers for disasters and resources for helping young children through trauma.

The Campaign for Educational Equity and the Center for Children's Initiatives released their joint report, "Making Prekindergarten Truly Universal in New York: A Statewide Roadmap." In this blog, NIEER Policy Research Coordinator/CEELO Staff Member Megan Carolan reviews the key components of this proposal to expand access to quality preschool in New York state.


The National Governor’s Association has released a Governor’s Guide to having all students reading by 3rd grade.

This annual report from the National Women’s Law Center examines five critical factors that affect the help families can get in paying for child care.

These 90 second videos feature Tim Bartik of the Upjohn Institute addressing frequently asked questions about the evidence on pre-K.

The National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) released a report from a variety of local and national experts exploring the status of black children in America.  The report contains a chapter specifically on early childhood education, from Hakim M. Rashid of Howard University.

This evaluation report discusses findings on the first two years of Full Day kindergarten implemented in Ontario, a program being phased in over five years, from 2010 to 2014.

Seattle is seeking proposals on developing a universal Pre-K program. The questions deadline is November 20; submissions due November 27th. Details are here.

CEELO Update

Jana Martella and Lori Connors-Tadros, project directors of CEELO, attended the U.S. Department of Education's Comprehensive Center Network Project Director Meeting on October 29-29, 2013. The meeting was designed to share best practices and technical assistance resources to build capacity of State Education Agencies to improve teaching and learning. The Comprehensive Center Network, brings together 15 regional centers and 7 content centers aligned to the administration's education reform priorities. CEELO collaborates with the regional and content centers in developing tools, resources, and technical assistance to meet state goals to improve outcomes for young children. 

This resource, Using Alternative Student Growth ​Measures for Evaluating Teacher Performance: What the Literature Says, from the Institute of Education Sciences and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Education laboratory, looks at approaches to alternative methods of evaluating student achievement to measure teacher performance. Currently, the most common method of measuring teacher performance is to use state assessments, but there are many other forms that can distinguish teacher performance, outlined in this report.

This policy brief, Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education,  summarizes the most recent rigorous research on the important role preschool education contributes to student academic growth, as well as social and emotional outcomes. The authors state with confidence and evidence that preschool programs can have a substantial impact on early learning and development for not only low-income families, but also on students from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. High quality preschool education yields more in benefits to society than its initial cost, and studies suggest there is a positive return on investment for a variety of differing preschool programs. This makes the case for supporting quality preschool education for the benefit of our students and for our future.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013 -
2:00pm to 4:00pm

DC LINKs (Leaders Investing in our Nation’s Kids) is a “Community of Practice” that works together in promoting teacher effectiveness and implementing high quality, data-driven early childhood education throughout the Washington, DC area through the framework of Every Child Ready. AppleTree will host two concurrent workshops on Wednesday, November 13 at 2:30 PM to discuss some of the critical challenges early education providers face today: embedding high-quality social-emotional components into a curriculum, and developing vertical alignment between staff in preschool and elementary grades.

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.

Monday, December 9, 2013 -
8:00am to 3:30pm

Join the foremost experts in the field and prominent local practitioners in a discussion about ways to promote developmental and learning outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse children in Maryland.

Monday, May 5, 2014 - 8:00am to Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 5:00pm

The National Smart Start Conference is the nation’s largest conference devoted to early education systems and strategies. The conference provides advanced professional development for early education leaders committed to improving the quality of and access to early childhood services for all children ages birth to five.

Early Education News Roundup

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
(The Washington Post)

The District offers public preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, regardless of income — a step beyond the $75 billion federal program [Secretary of Education Arne] Duncan is pushing, which would provide grants to states that enroll 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. “D.C. is way ahead of where the country is trying to go,” Duncan said.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
(Education Week)

The North Carolina Supreme Court is weighing arguments in a case that will help decide if the state must pay for preschool to bridge achievement gaps—an obligation that some estimates suggest would require making room for more than 60,000 children at a cost of $300 million annually. . . More at Four was launched in 2001, and the program eventually peaked at about 35,000 4-year-olds in 2010-11, at a cost of approximately $170 million a year. It also became one of the best-regarded state-funded preschool programs in the country in the evaluation of the National Institute of Early Education Research, based at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Efforts at improving pre-kindergarten education in Wyoming took a step forward last week when a legislative committee advanced a proposal to create an Office of Early Childhood Education. Members of the Joint Education Committee voted in favor of drafting a bill that would house the new office within the state’s Department of Education. The new office aims to increase collaboration on early education between the Departments of Education, Health, Family Services and Workforce Services.

Monday, October 28, 2013
(The Associated Press via GulfLive.com)

Mississippi was the only state in the South and one of only 11 nationwide with no state-funded preschool program when lawmakers agreed earlier this year to create one, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. At least twice before, lawmakers passed a preschool program but failed to fund it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013
(New York Times Sunday Review Opinion)

Growing mountains of research suggest that the best way to address American economic inequality, poverty and crime is — you guessed it! — early education programs, including coaching of parents who want help. It’s not a magic wand, but it’s the best tool we have to break cycles of poverty. President Obama called in his State of the Union address for such a national initiative, but it hasn’t gained traction. Obama himself hasn’t campaigned enough for it, yet there’s still a reed of hope.

One reason is that this is one of those rare initiatives that polls well across the spectrum, with support from 84 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Republicans in a recent national survey. And even if the program stalls in Washington, states and localities are moving ahead — from San Antonio to Michigan. Colorado voters will decide next month next month on a much-watched ballot measure to bolster education spending, including in preschool, and a ballot measure in Memphis would expand preschool as well.

Friday, October 25, 2013
(Deseret News)

The classroom [at Gerald Wright Elementary School] was one of 12 new public preschool programs added this year in Granite School District through a results-based funding expansion approved this summer by the County Council....Under the county's financing model — similar to one proposed at the state level that failed to gain lawmakers' support — private investors loan funding to the county for preschool services, which is then repaid with interest if the program proves successful at maintaining students at grade level through third grade.

Thursday, October 24, 2013
(US News & World Report (Blog))

While preschool, on the surface, might seem superfluous, filled with running around on the playground and imaginary play, it actually has a powerful and lasting effect on children’s future earnings. The effects are so profound that a free preschool program for disadvantaged children would help reduce inequality and increase overall earnings (and tax revenues). That’s the conclusion of a paper from Nobel Laureate James Heckman, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, and Lakshmi Raut, an economist at the Social Security Administration. “Preschool investment significantly boosts cognitive and non-cognitive skills, which enhance earnings and school outcomes,” they write in a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Thursday, October 24, 2013
(Science Daily)

Previous research has found that some children develop behavior problems at child care centers and preschools, despite the benefit of academic gains. It was never known, however, why some youngsters struggle in these settings and others flourish. The new study indicates that some children may be acting out due to poor self-control and temperament problems that they inherited from their parents.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Two education advocacy groups proposed an eight-year program this morning to establish quality full-day pre-kindergarten programs in all of New York's school systems.

The proposal by the Campaign for Educational Equity and the Center for Children's Initiatives would enable districts to offer two years of full-day pre-k -- for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
(McClatchy Washington Bureau)

Research is in on the importance of early childhood education, but it remains out of reach for many. . . . So people such as Sally Cicotte and YMCAs in low-income communities across the country are doing what they can, with the collaboration of the mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors who take care of babies and preschoolers all day. . . .Kimberly Brenneman, assistant research professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research, said some of the information for caregivers wasn’t necessarily self-evident for someone without a background in child development. For example, she said, when reading a story, it’s important to ask questions to get the child talking and thinking about how the story connects to the child’s world. . . . W. Steven Barnett, the director of the institute, and Cynthia E. Lamy, a senior fellow, wrote in “Closing the Opportunity Gap,” a recent book on education policy, that children in poverty can be 12 to 18 months behind the average child by the time they enter kindergarten. The authors argue that preschool must be high quality, with high standards and good teachers, to have lasting impacts.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
(Kentucky.com Lexington Herald-Leader)

Kentucky has the most restrictive income guidelines and is one of only two states that has a freeze on applications for its child care assistance program for working parents, according to a new report released Wednesday. The National Women's Law Center, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, released its annual report on states' child care assistance programs. The programs are designed to help poor parents pay for child care so they can work or go to school and stay off public assistance programs.

During the recession, states made cuts to child care assistance programs as the economy and tax revenues tanked. But the National Women's Law Center report shows many states are restoring cuts to the program. Kentucky is the exception.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013
(The New York Times)

Nearly two decades ago, a landmark study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than those of less educated parents . . . Now a follow-up study has found a language gap as early as 18 months, heightening the policy debate. . . . In the latest data available from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, 28 percent of all 4-year-olds in the United States were enrolled in state-financed preschool in the 2010-11 school year, and just 4 percent of 3-year-olds. 

The National Governors Association, in a report this month calling on states to ensure that all children can read proficiently by third grade, urges lawmakers to increase access to high-quality child care and prekindergarten classes and to invest in programs for children from birth through age 5. Even these simple principles may be hard to implement, some educators say, because preschool instructors are often paid far less than public schoolteachers and receive scant training. . . . “There is a lot of wishful thinking about how easy it is, that if you just put kids in any kind of program that this will just happen,” said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, referring to the development of strong vocabularies and other preliteracy skills.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Though it’s an issue traditionally loved by the left, pre-K has recently planted itself solidly in the center with more federal, statewide and local Republican and Democratic candidates extolling its benefits and calling for more on the campaign trail....Nearly everyone agrees that more early education is a good idea, said Megan Carolan, policy research coordinator at the National Institute for Early Education Research.

“‘Education reform movement’ can be an explosive term, but pre-K doesn’t necessarily fit neatly into any of those holes,” she said. “It’s a whole different animal.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
(NBC Latino)

While Latinos are the largest minority group in US public schools, they have the lowest enrollment in early education programs.  Although Latino children make up one in four children under the age of 5, less than half of Latino children are enrolled in any early learning program - and not all are part of a good quality program.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
(The CT Mirror)

The state spends millions of dollars every year to send babies and young children to day care centers without monitoring them to determine if they are safe and without requiring that they provide anything of educational value.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is proposing to change this. In the state’s bid for $37.5 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top competition, the administration is asking for money to transform how Connecticut pays for early child care and education.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
(The Times-Picayune (New Orleans))

Stressed pre-school teachers complained Tuesday to state Education [Superintendent] John White about the pressures of implementing Louisiana's new assessment program for publicly funded early childhood centers. They said they are being rushed to evaluate students with a tool that is new to them.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
(mnn.com (Mother Nature Network))
Holly Chute has a message that may surprise a lot of pre-school children across America: potatoes don’t look like French fries.
“It’s amazing how many kids don’t know what a potato looks like,” Chute told a breakout session on Cooking With Kids at the 2013 Georgia Farm to Preschool Summit in September in Atlanta. The summit was the first of many farm to preschool activities that are flourishing across the country with the support of the National Farm to School Network’s Farm to Preschool Subcommittee. The Farm to Preschool Subcommittee was formed in the spring of 2011 as a natural expansion of the National Farm to School Network.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My former colleagues in Congress know I’m not a free spender. But giving our children a good start in life is perhaps the wisest use of taxpayer dollars. I’m not alone in this belief. Nobel Laureate economist James Heckman estimates that early childhood education programs yield a rate of return of 7 to 10 percent per year. High-quality early education programs not only mean fewer children repeating a grade or needing special education, they also mean greater productivity and less crime. We spend $75 billion each year to incarcerate criminals but only $3.6 billion on early-childhood education.

Monday, October 21, 2013
(The Journal Gazette)

Through the vehicle of a collaborative website, Preschool Nation is a one-stop shop that allows families, business leaders, early education teachers and researchers, policymakers and community members from around the country to tell compelling stories, share resources and research and advocate for increased early education opportunities for more children..."A preschool nation is one in which every child has full opportunity to succeed in school regardless of their zip code, ethnic background or immigration status," said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

Monday, October 21, 2013
(mlive.com (Michigan))

Michigan was one of 16 states to apply for a $280 million federal grant program to support preschool education under the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" initiative, the U.S. Department of Education announced Monday . . . .  Education department officials have hailed Michigan's "Great Start Readiness Program" preschool program for low-income children as a model for the nation, and the White House has said universal preschool is one of the administration's goals.

Saturday, October 19, 2013
(Savannah Morning News)

Savannah-Chatham public schools Superintendent Thomas Lockamy has said increasing preschool enrollment, particularly among children of poverty, is the best hope for eradicating the huge achievement gaps between inner-city and suburban public schools....Georgia Bright From the Start Commissioner Bobby Cagle, who administers Georgia’s lottery funded pre-K program and issues licenses for childcare facilities, said there just isn’t enough money to provide pre-kindergarten services to everyone in Georgia who needs it.

Friday, October 18, 2013
(The Hill (Blog))

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have submitted applications for a federal program that gives grants to improve preschool education. The states are competing for a piece of the $280 million up for grabs under the Obama administration’s early learning Race to the Top program. The initiative is designed to improve state preschool and early learning programs for children under 5 years of age. It is especially targeted to improving education for disadvantaged children and those from families with low incomes.

Friday, October 18, 2013
(Idaho Press-Tribune)

Rep. Hy Kloc wants the state to launch a three-year pre-K pilot program, with 55 percent of the funding coming from private sources....Idaho is one of only 10 states that do not fund pre-K programs, as the Legislature has rejected numerous pre-K proposals. Pre-K supporters perhaps came closest in 2007.