Volume 12, Issue 23

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hot Topics

While an off-year for most major elections, early childhood education was an important factor in several races decided last week, including New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections, as well as New York City’s mayoral race, as covered in a recent NIEER blog post and in our response to the Education Insiders column at the National Journal. Since the President proposed a Preschool for All plan in the State of the Union address, pre-K has increasingly had a place in the national political discourse on both sides of the aisle. The issue received a boost this week when Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced a bill to fund preschool efforts nationwide. The bill was announced at a high-profile event which included U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and actress and early childhood advocate Jennifer Garner. While this is not the first bill to be introduced this year to focus on pre-K, Harkin’s position as chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee moves the issue to center stage.

The growing trend in states towards developing Teacher Evaluation (TE) Systems is meant to ensure children have high-performing teachers and that teachers receive the support necessary to reach that bar. While these goals sound clear-cut, the process is actually much more complicated. Laura Bornfreund of the New America Foundation has previously written on the various approaches of states toward TE in the early grades and recently blogged about the National Council on Teacher Quality report on TE, noting that “Changes need to be purposeful, and soundly implemented with appropriate support systems – like professional development based on teacher evaluation and rigorous training for teacher observers.” Michigan’s Bridge Magazine recently covered the state’s progress on a TE system. For additional resources on the challenges and recommendations for TE in early childhood education, see the materials from CEELO’s annual RoundTABle meeting, which this year focused partly on “Assuring teacher evaluation systems are effective for early learning.” 

Advocacy group Child Care Aware released its annual report on the cost of child care and its findings that while care costs differ significantly by location and scenario, child care costs are growing around the country. In many states, child care for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers can surpass other essential costs of family life, including housing and grocery bills.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

This week, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced the Strong Start for America's Children Act, alongside Education Secretary Arne Duncan and actress and children's advocate Jennifer Garner. The bipartisan proposal would expand access to quality, early childhood education programs for children from birth to age 5. NIEER and CEELO's Policy and Communications Advisor Kirsty Clarke Brown discusses the key points of the new bill in a blog post.

In this blog, NIEER/CEELO Policy Research Assistant Michelle Horowitz highlights several elections tomorrow that have implications for early childhood education, including gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, as well as New York City's mayoral race.


In a recent brief, Teaching the Whole Child: Instructional Practices That Support Social-Emotional Learning in Three Teacher Evaluation Frameworks, the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) recommended integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) with other state and district initiatives, including the Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluation systems. There will be a follow-up webinar on integrating social-emotional learning into state and district policies, December 11, from 2-3:30. Register here.

This study from researchers at the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment explores what distinguishes students who are successful at earning degrees or transferring to four-year institutions from those who are stalled in their progress or who dis-enroll from school. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released two new reports on child care and early education: one exploring monitoring of licensed child care providers in a selection of states, and the other profiling the characteristics of early care and education teachers and providers.

UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute released a review of research on communication and language in infants and toddlers, with 10 new research-based recommendations for parents and educators.

The Center for American progress has released a report discussing the school readiness gap for children of color and low-income children, and how preschool can have a positive impact in decreasing that gap.

Requires a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Education Policy, Child Development, or Psychology. Earned doctorate strongly preferred. A minimum of three years of experience working with others to: plan, develop and implement research-based technical assistance to a variety of early education policy-makers and practitioners, including those at the national level; contribute to ongoing strategic planning, development, management, and implementation of  programs; engage in research and policy analysis. Experience should include conducting and disseminating education research. Requires advanced knowledge of current early education policy and practice including issues of finance, governance, and assessment.  The position will be posted soon here.

Acelero Learning is seeking a driven and passionate education leader for our Vice President of Early Learning Support and Bilingual Education position, ideally based in NY. Please see details and opportunity to apply here.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Policy Research Coordinator and CEELO Staff Member Megan Carolan was interviewed by The Council of State Governments Midwest for an article discussing the increased focus on early childhood education among states.

Milagros Nores, Associate Director for Research, appeared on the Brian Lehrer Show on CUNYTV to discuss the findings of NIEER’s APPLES study of high-quality pre-K in New Jersey high-poverty districts. Video can be viewed here; Dr. Nores is featured from the 45 second mark through 19 minutes.

Kimberly Brenneman, Alissa Lange, and Jorie Quinn will be presenting two workshops at the National Association for the Education of Young Children meeting in Washington, DC.  On November 21 from 1:00 - 2:30, Alissa will lead an interactive presentation entitled, Asking Preschoolers about Math and Science: Effective Questioning Strategies for Dual Language Learners and for All Learners.  On November 22 from 3:00 - 4:30, Kim will lead a workshop entitled, Beyond Biology: Using Gardens to Grow Early Physics and Engineering Thinking Skills and Understanding.  These presentations are based on professional development supports developed as part of the team's NSF-funded project, Supports for Science and Mathematics Learning in Pre-K Dual Language Learners: Designing a Professional Development System.

Kim Brenneman also will present on November 21 from 10:00 - 11:30 with colleagues Doug Clements, Julie Sarama, Mary Louise Hemmeter, and Nell Duke in a session entitled, Connect4Learning: Early Childhood Education in the Context of Mathematics, Science, Literacy, and Social-emotional Development.

Kim Brenneman will be participating in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices expert roundtable on early mathematics on November 20th in Washington DC.

CEELO Update

CEELO and ECTA will be hosting the inaugural discussion for a Peer Learning Community on Formative Assessment on Tuesday, November 19, from 2-3. If you’re interested in joining, please complete the brief survey here


Will you be attending the NAEYC Annual Conference and Expo? Would you like to learn how CEELO can support your work? Join CEELO staff Ashley Cheung and Melissa Dahlin on November 22nd at 3pm for their session Intro to CEELO: Helping States Enhance Early Learning Outcomes.  Participants will learn about CEELO's purpose, goals, and activities, with particular emphasis on the work CEELO will embark upon during its second year. Cheung and Dahlin will demonstrate how to access and make the most of the products, resources, and other features on the CEELO website. This session will be held Friday, November 22, 2013, 3:00-4:30 PM, In the Renaissance Washington Downtown Hotel-Meeting Room 2. CEELO hopes to see you there!

CEELO Project Director Lori Connors-Tadros and Co-Director  Jana Martella, along with CCSSO partner Tom Schultz, attended the National Partner Summit of the Alliance for Early Success and the Ounce of Prevention Fund last week in Boston, MA.  Together they participated in the many discussions, breakouts, and plenaries, and delivered direct technical assistance to a number of the partner states during cohort sessions at the meeting. Goals for the meeting, along with publications and presentations can be found here.


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.

Friday, March 14, 2014 - 8:00am to Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 5:00pm

T&L 2014 is where the profession meets to secure the future of PreK-12 education. From the Common Core State Standards to education technology to advancing issues of equity in the classroom, educators from all types of classroom settings will have unique opportunities to share their stories, gain new tools, learn from the nation’s top innovators and get inspired to achieve greatness in their classrooms and communities.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013
(The Seattle Times)

Staking a major investment in early-childhood education — and in defiance of federal austerity — Sen. Patty Murray and 10 other lawmakers are proposing to offer free preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. . . . The Strong Start for America’s Children Act calls for spending $34 billion in the first five years alone. Among other things, the money would pay for voluntary preschool for kids from households with up to twice the poverty level ($47,100 for a family of four), raise education requirements for preschool teachers and help boost their pay to parity with K-12 teachers.

Thursday, November 14, 2013
(Think Progress (Blog))

Expanding preschool wouldn’t just benefit all children, their families, and the economy — it would have particularly strong benefits for the country’s children of color, according to recent report from the Center for American Progress.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
(Independent Record)

Expanding preschool may be the most effective means of reducing crime, local law enforcement leaders said Tuesday. Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton and County Attorney Leo Gallagher held a press conference at the Early Learning Center to express their support for a nationwide effort to fight crime through early education.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
(Boise Weekly)

Idaho students have lagged behind their counterparts in other states--and it might be because Idaho is failing at preschool....Hy Kloc thinks he has a solution to those problems. The Democratic state House member from District 16, in Boise, is fronting legislation that would create a pre-K pilot program that would put the merits of early childhood education on an evidentiary basis in Idaho, and possibly lay the foundation for a future statewide preschool program, but he and his bill face legislative and practical obstacles.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
(Huffington Post Politics)

Garner, of "Alias" fame, came to Washington to drum up press for the legislation, which was introduced in both chambers Wednesday but has been long in the making. The sponsors of "The Strong Start for America's Children Act" -- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) -- were on hand, along with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, for the presentation of the bills. The 10-year plan would create a new federal-state program to help states funnel preschool grant money to districts, charter schools, Head Start programs and similar entities that have been designated as quality-learning providers for low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Introduced in Congress Wednesday, the Strong Start for America’s Children Act would give children and families nationwide better access to affordable high-quality early learning programs such as Head Start and preschool. The bill, introduced by U.S. Reps. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, and George Miller, D-Calif., and other lawmakers, is a 10-year proposal that would fund preschool for 4-year-olds from families earning twice the Federal Poverty Level or less — an income of about $47,100 for a family of four.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
(News and Observer)

Jim Goodnight, the CEO of Cary software company SAS, spoke at a press conference in Washington Wednesday marking the roll out of bills that would expand voluntary preschool nationwide if they become law. . . . Goodnight urged Congress to pass the bills. . . .“I’m the head of a company that receives 60,000 job applications every year,” Goodnight said. “Right now the top jobs in statistics, economics research and operations can take two years to fill because we simply can’t find people with the skills to do them. . . . “Making investments that yield high economic dividends is a basic tenet of smart business, and that’s what we’re doing by expanding quality preschool to give children a foundation for longtime learning and earning,” Goodnight added. “This reduces the significant costs taxpayers deal with due to high school drop-outs and enables businesses to hire more qualified workers and reduce remedial education costs for workers lacking minimum skills.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Legislators in the United States Senate and House of Representatives have introduced bills designed to expand preschool access to low-income families. . . . Under the proposed legislation, the federal government would provide funding to individual states based on the number of eligible children. States would be required to provide matching funds — 10 percent in the first year and rising each following year until they reach the 100 percent cap in the eighth year — and to help administer the program by providing "sub-grants to high-quality, local providers, including school districts and community-based providers, such as child care and Head Start programs," according to information released by the House.

"Learning begins at birth, and the preparation for learning begins before birth. The investment we make as a nation in early learning will pay dividends for generations to come," Harkin said in a prepared statement.

Monday, November 11, 2013

High-quality preschool may be an effective way to reduce social problems associated with poverty because it teaches children the psychological skills they need to succeed as adults, a new study shows.

Sunday, November 10, 2013
(The New York Times Sunday Review)

Every 4-year-old in Oklahoma gets free access to a year of high-quality prekindergarten. Even younger children from disadvantaged homes often get access to full-day, year-round nursery school, and some families get home visits to coach parents on reading and talking more to their children.

The aim is to break the cycle of poverty, which is about so much more than a lack of money.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
(The Seattle Times)

Greater access to early learning starts with adding more space in existing programs. The state Legislature made a down payment last session by adding $22 million to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, the state’s equivalent of the federal Head Start program. The money was used to add 1,700 additional slots in ECEAP.

Lawmakers also set a 2018 deadline for expanding the state program to 2,400 slots to be used by preschoolers from very low-income families. The expansion will thin ECEAP’s 2,467-person waitlist. Legislators must then turn to a longer-term problem about how to accommodate the more than 32,000 3- and 4-year-olds who qualify for ECEAP and Head Start, but are not enrolled in either program. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
(CBS News)

The watchdog arm of the Department of Health and Human Services found that 21 states do not require an annual unannounced inspection of all licensed child care providers and that only 15 require background checks considered comprehensive by the agency's Administration for Children and Families, according to a copy of the report obtained by The Associated Press. About 1.6 million children use federal subsidies to attend day care programs at about 500,000 different centers and home-based providers.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
(HuffPost Parents)

A report released Monday revealed that the cost of child care has increased so dramatically that the average monthly fee for an infant in a child care center is now more expensive than the average cost of food for a family of four.

Titled "Parents and the High Cost of Child Care," the report was conducted by Child Care Aware of America, a federal information resource for parents and childcare providers. The study examined child care centers and did not account for different forms of care like nannies, relatives or babysitters. While researchers found great disparities in the cost of childcare across the country, the increase universally outpaced increases in average household income.

Monday, November 4, 2013
(Tulsa World)

A recent analysis by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that 53 percent of Oklahoma children ages 8 and younger live in low-income households and 63 percent of low-income 3- and 4-year-olds in the state are not enrolled in preschool. These statistics could be behind Oklahoma's consistently poor rankings in overall health, experts say.

Pre-kindergarten programs are available to children in Oklahoma, but not everyone takes advantage of that, said Terry Smith, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. "It's so critical for their success later in school for them to be in a good quality pre-K program," he said. "We've just got to do a better job of supporting these families so they can get these kids in these programs. It just affects the entire rest of their life, really."

Monday, November 4, 2013
(CNN Money)

Last year, average center-based child care costs rose by nearly 3% nationwideaccording to a report from the nonprofit Child Care Aware of America. Full-time care for an infant ranged from a high of $16,430 a year in Massachusetts to $4,863 in Mississippi. Meanwhile, center-based care for a four-year-old hit a high of $12,355 in Massachusetts and a low of $4,312 in Mississippi.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

About 600 children who wouldn’t have had the chance to go to preschool are now enrolled as a result of a new initiative in Salt Lake County. . . Brenda Van Gorder is the director of preschool services for the Granite School District, and she said the program has helped many people. . . . Van Gorder said the program is an investment in the future.

“What we need to do is invest in these kids, give them an opportunity,” she said. “It’s not an achievement gap. These children all have the capability to do really well in school. What they’ve had is an opportunity gap. High quality preschool costs money, and while all these families chose to have their kids enrolled in preschool, they weren’t able to afford that

Sunday, November 3, 2013
(The Times-Picayune (New Orleans))

As Louisiana begins to make early childhood education a priority, a new study stresses the importance of high-quality preschool programs and health-care coverage for a child's future success. It was released Sunday night by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Indiana approach has been to wait. The state has not invested in preschool, and it takes a lax approach to kindergarten. It then pours millions and millions of dollars into remediation programs, starting in elementary schools and continuing all the way to college campuses. Building a stronger academic foundation early would be a much wiser use of taxpayer dollars.

The good news is that Gov. Mike Pence seems to be moving in that direction. He’s visited several high-quality preschool programs around the state in recent months, and his staff has been studying options for an early childhood initiative in Indiana. It’s not yet clear what that initiative might look like, but the fact that it’s under consideration is encouraging.