Volume 13, Issue 11

Friday, May 30, 2014

Hot Topics

A new report from Steve Barnett and Milagros Nores released by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes highlights enduring readiness and opportunity gaps in early childhood education. The paper uses data from the State of the Preschool series, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort 2010/11 (ECLS-K), and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort 2001 (ECLS-B) to explore differences in early childhood for children based on income, parents’ education levels, and race, among other demographics. A blog accompanying the report in line with the 60th anniversary of the landmark school desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education, noted “equal access to high quality education remains a significant issue, and nowhere more so than in the preschool years.” At the same time, a new report from the The Rural School and Community Trust highlights the particular challenges faced by students in rural areas, including lacking access to state-funded pre-K in rural states

As state legislatures around the country close their sessions, several bills on early childhood education have passed just in time. In Missouri, the legislature approved a bill that would gradually trigger state funding for pre-K for low-income children in public school districts. The funds would first be distributed to unaccredited school districts, followed by provisionally accredited districts in the second year. The state could eventually provide funding to all districts based on the number of children eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, though this would only happen if the state fully funded the basic aid formula for public schools. In Vermont, Governor Shumlin signed into law a bill to offer 10 hours of early childhood education to every 3- and 4-year-old in the state. The law would allow participation in many settings, including private programs, public schools, and Head Start, and would break down geographic boundaries that limit enrollment for only the child’s specific town. In Connecticut, Governor Malloy signed legislation to gradually expand towards universal prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year olds, beginning with 1,020 new slots in 2015. The state will also consolidate all early childhood programming as well as subsidized child care into the Office of Early Childhood, which would also be responsible for developing a plan to achieve universal pre-K access. In California, the state Senate passed a scaled down version of its earlier proposal to fund universal preschool. While the original version pushed to expand access to all preschoolers, the current version could fund about half of the state’s 4-year-olds. The bill goes to the Assembly as the legislature works to pass the state’s budget by June 15. City governments also continue their role in making early learning a priority, with Seattle Mayor Murray introducing a resolution to the U.S. Conference of Mayors committing “the decade of 2015 – 2025 as an era of community focus in building an Early Learning Nation.” Murray was joined by 15 other mayors, including those of Denver, Providence, and Boston, as well as receiving support from the Bezos Family Foundation. Seattle is one of several major cities working to implement expanded access to pre-K.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In this blog, NIEER/CEELO Senior Research Fellow Jim Squires explores a debate which has followed the field for years: Is early education and care a profession? Squires examines what makes a true profession, and calls for raising the bar for those in early childhood.

As we note the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, equal access to high quality education remains a significant issue, and nowhere more so than in the preschool years. This blog highlights a new report posted at the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) which describes readiness and opportunity gaps in access to high quality early education.


A new report, from Broader Bolder Approach at the Education Economic Policy Institute, explores how states can use Section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or the Preschool Grants Program, as one tool in expanding preschool access.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force released several materials in support of their recommendation for full-day kindergarten to improve the health prospects of low-income and racial and ethnic minority children. These include two articles in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, “Recommendation for full-day kindergarten for children of low-income and racial/ethnic-minority families” and “Effects of full-day kindergarten on the long-term health prospects of children in low-income and racial/ethnic-minority populations. A Community Guide systematic review,” as well as commentary from Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Pennsylvania is seeking a dynamic leader to serve as grant director for its Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant. The RTT-ELC Director will provide primary programmatic leadership and oversight of the grant. Pennsylvania is looking for a leader with experience managing federal or large-scale grants and/or multi-faceted high quality early childhood programs who is familiar with research-based and promising practices in early childhood education. This is a grant-funded position, with a salary of $72,000 per year and a competitive benefits package through the grant term which ends December 31, 2017. The Director will report to the Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The position is based in Harrisburg, PA with some state and out-of-state travel involved. Application deadline is June 12, 2104 or until the position is filled. Please forward applications and inquiries to RA-HROCDEL1800@pa.gov.   

NIEER Activities

The 2014 National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from June 8-11. NIEER Staff Members will be presenting:

  • Improving young children’s mathematical development: Teacher professional development as key: Herbert P. Ginsburg, Marilou Hyson, Kimberly Brenneman, Juanita V Copley.  6/8/2014 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • Supports for science and mathematics learning in pre-K dual language learners: Designing a professional development system: Kimberly Brenneman, Alissa A. Lange, Jorie Quinn. 6/9/2014 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM.

NIEER Director Steve Barnett will be participating in this event on June 17, presented by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School in collaboration with the Child Care and Early Education Fund. The conversation will explore New York City’s pre-K expansion, its impact on child care for younger children, and the release of a new report on early care and education from the Center for New York City Affairs. Additional details are available here.

Assistant Research Professor Kimberly Brenneman is presented two talks at the recent National Science Teachers Association STEM Expo in New Orleans: “Beyond Biology: Exploring Physical Science and Engineering in the Early Education Classroom and Garden”  and “Integrating Science, Technology, and Engineering in Pre-k: STEPP Up Your Practice!”    

CEELO Update

CEELO will be hosting its second annual RoundTAble meeting June 5-6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The theme of the meeting is “Excellence for Every Child: Improving the Quality of Teaching Birth through Grade Three.” While registration is closed, CEELO will be live Tweeting the general meeting sessions on Twitter @CEELOorg using the hashtag #Gr8Teaching. Get caught up on the major topics with CEELO’s selection of Preliminary Readings, Resources, and “Observe & Learn” videos.

The 2014 National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from June 8-11. CEELO Staff Members will be presenting:

  • Early learning chiropractory: Can we make standards alignment a little less painful? Jana Martella; Tom Schultz; Jim Lesko; Albert Wat. 6/8/2014 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Supporting Immigrant Families’ Access to Prekindergarten.

This detailed report draws on interviews conducted with more than 40 prekindergarten directors and staff, directors of early childhood education programs, and other specialists, to present strategies for improving prekindergarten enrollment among immigrant families and English Language Learners. This includes strategies for outreach to support prekindergarten enrollment; helping immigrant families overcome language, documentation, and other logistical barriers when enrolling their children in prekindergarten programs; building trust and good relationships with immigrant parents; and designing immigrant- and ELL-friendly programs.


Definitions and Approaches to Measuring Reading Proficiency

This FastFacts reviews selected resources on national and state definitions of literacy and reading to inform a state definition of reading proficiency. This information can be helpful to guide efforts to ensure all children are supported in developmentally appropriate literacy and reading skills. The resource identifies national and state approaches to measuring reading proficiency.


Saturday, June 7, 2014 - 2:00pm
Sunday, June 8, 2014 - 8:00am to Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - 5:00pm

The NAEYC 2014 National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development will be held in Minneapolis June 8-11. A list of featured sessions is available here

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 -
10:00am to 12:00pm

How can schools and communities address this troubling and costly phenomenon?  Could well-deployed technology helpclose the summer learning gap?  Several national organizations and educators are exploring how digital connections may bring new resources to families and help parents tap into affordable and motivating opportunities for their children to experience the joy of reading and learning, offline and on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 8:30am

As the city launches an expanded Pre-K network for 4-year-olds, what will happen to subsidized child care for younger kids? Can the reform vision of Early Learn be put fully into action, and sustained? A conversation with experts in the field, including Dr. Steven Barnett, and the release of findings from a new Center for New York City Affairs report on early care and education.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm

This webinar, presented by Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, examines the importance of free play and playful learning as a catalyst for developing 21st Century Skills. It also introduces a new concept of guided play that has been shown to help children target particular outcomes.

Monday, July 7, 2014 - 8:00am to Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - 5:00pm

The conference title for 2014 is Collaboration and Coordination: Understanding Systems Supporting Young Children and Their Families....HSRC12 will highlight research focusing on service integration, coordination and alignment, while continuing to showcase evidence-based best practices and new research surrounding child care, Head Start, home visiting, and other early childhood programs and approaches.

Monday, July 7, 2014 - 6:30pm
Friday, November 21, 2014 - 8:00am to Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 5:00pm

The conference will focus on exploring identities in a changing world (including but not limited to gender, culture, religion, linguistics, ability and environment) as well as supporting equity in research, practice, and policy. 

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, May 30, 2014
(Ridgefield Daily Voice)

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed two bills that will expand pre-kindergarten throughout the state, recognize dyslexia as a specific learning disability that requires special education and formally establish the Office of Early Childhood.

Malloy signed Public Acts No. 14-39 and 14-41 at Helen Street School in Hamden on Wednesday, May 28.

“Ensuring that students are prepared to compete in a global economy and excel in 21st-century careers means that we must strive to equip them with the knowledge, skills and tools they will need from Day 1,” Malloy said.

Friday, May 30, 2014
(Brattleboro Reformer [Op-Ed])

There is a need for young children to have high quality environments that support and promote their optimal development. This requires much more than being watched, fed and kept safe. It includes caring and nurturing, understanding child development and what young children are learning, and how they are learning it. This means intentional teaching and not just planning activities to keep children busy all day. Why does circle time happen in preschool? Why is it important to develop and follow a routine? What is the purpose of the sensory table? Why is the climate of the classroom such a key element to quality? There is a lot of work that has gone into defining high quality early education, including defining Early Learning Standards in Vermont.

Thursday, May 29, 2014
(Times Argus)

A new law will open up early education to every child in the state. During a ceremony Wednesday at the Stafford Technical Center in Rutland, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a bill into law that will offer 10 hours of early education to every 3- and 4-year-old in the state...

While Vermont is increasing access to pre-kindergarten education — which, in theory, will increase the number of students in the programs — pre-K enrollment declined slightly on the national level during the 2012-13 school year, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
(LA Times)

The California Senate voted Thursday to expand publicly funded preschool programs to tens of thousands of 4-year-olds from low-income families, despite Republican lawmakers' concerns that the change would strain the state budget.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) called his bill “a major advance in early childhood education,” saying it would give a boost to half of the 4-year-olds in California.

Thursday, May 29, 2014
(The Sacramento Bee)

A plan to provide preschool programs for children in low-income families passed the state Senate on Thursday. But it represents a proposal that is far less than what its author had originally intended. The program would be "a major advance in early childhood education" that can be accomplished with a "relatively limited amount of additional public dollars," Steinberg said.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
(Public News Service)

Professor Steven Barnett, the institute's director, said New Mexico, unlike some other states, is starting to spend more on early-education efforts. "If you look at funding per child, it went up from $3,200 to $3,600," he said, "which is a pretty good increase for one year - again, coming back from the recession." Barnett said the state should be spending about $4,300 per child to achieve higher standards. The study shows that the District of Columbia, which ranks first in the nation for early-education enrollment, spends nearly $17,000 per student.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Every Montana child should have access to a pre-kindergarten program, and Gov. Steve Bullock wants a program in place by September 2015. The business community can help support a pre-K program by telling legislators what they see as the long-term payoffs, Brent Campbell, president and CELO of WGM Group, Inc. said.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
(NPR (KUOW.org))

Marcie Sillman talks to WBUR reporter David Scharfenberg about Boston's efforts to expand its preschool system. Here in Seattle, the City Council is considering a property tax levy to fund universal pre-k.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Last week, Cuyahoga County Executive and governor candidate hopeful Ed FitzGerald announced a plan to roll out universal preschool education if he’s elected this fall. This article outlines what you need to know about state funding in Ohio pre-k in the 2013-2014 school year. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

With more than half of its 4-year-olds in state-funded pre-kindergarten, Texas is well above the national average for children reached by the programs that aim to provide a jump start for successful academic careers. Even more students could be served in Longview if funding was available, an administrator said. . . 

With 52 percent of its 4-year- olds in pre-K, Texas’ rate is nearly double the U.S. rate of about 28 percent. That percentage ranks it ninth among the states that offer programs, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood focused on one audience: preschoolers. Rogers dedicated his entire career to the pre-K set. And for good reason. Today, increasing evidence points to the importance of early childhood education. Its impact can be felt decades down the road — in adults' education levels, incomes, even health. That's why several states are moving toward universal, public preschool, and President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have proposed 

Thursday, May 22, 2014
(Cincy Magazine)

From an educator’s standpoint, preschool is pivotal in the education continuum. It lays the groundwork for third grade reading, a major indicator of future academic success. Beginning in 2014, all Ohio third graders must pass the state-based reading test or they will not advance to fourth grade.

“Five hundred to 750 kids [in Cincinnati Public Schools] will be held back this year because they did not pass the third grade reading test. That will cost the district between $5 and $7 million,” Landsman says. “The number one predictor of third grade reading success is whether or not a kid shows up to kindergarten, and whether or not a kid shows up to kindergarten ready, has a lot to do with whether or not they have access to affordable quality preschool.”

Based on numbers from the United Way, roughly half of the students who attend Cincinnati Public Schools kindergarten have received some form of preschool education. However, recovering data about quality remains difficult.

Thursday, May 22, 2014
(The Advocate)

A bill to coordinate enrollment in Louisiana’s revamped prekindergarten system was approved Wednesday by the House Education Committee.

The measure, which has passed the Senate, next faces action in the full House.

State Superintendent of Education John White said the plan, Senate Bill 533, would ensure accurate headcounts of applicants and vacancies at child care, private and public pre-K and Head Start locations.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

California Democrats on Thursday dramatically scaled back their proposal for universal pre-kindergarten under opposition from Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat who has charted a moderate fiscal course despite pressure from many within his party to use a projected surplus to increase spending on social services.

The $2.5 billion plan to offer free preschool to all 4-year-olds had been the top legislative effort this year by the state senate's highest ranking Democrat, Darrell Steinberg, who is leaving office at the end of the year.

"My aspiration, which has not changed, is universal preschool for all 4-year-olds regardless of income," Steinberg said in an interview on Thursday. "But that's a significant cost over the short term."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
(Public News Service)

Nevada ranks near the bottom nationally for enrollment and funding of early-childhood education, according to the latest "State of Preschool" report from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. The institute's director, professor Steven Barnett, said Nevada ranked 34th in the 2013 study for funding pre-kindergarten programs, out of 40 states and the District of Columbia that have early-education programs. He said the ranking is even lower when it comes to enrollment. "Nevada only enrolls 3 percent of 4-year-olds," he said. "The average across all programs in the states is 30 percent."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
(JournalGazette.net (Editorial))

For now, Indiana remains among just 10 states – most of them rural western states – without state-funded preschool, according to the “State of Preschool 2013,” a survey by the National Institute for Early Education Research released last week. Only 15 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds and 10 percent of its 3-year-olds were enrolled in a federally funded Head Start or school-based preschool program. Unless their parents paid tuition or their local school district picked up the cost, the rest of the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds were out of luck.

Contrast those numbers to Georgia, where 58 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded preschool and another 8 percent were in Head Start or a federally funded special education preschool. Oklahoma, the pioneer in state-funded preschool, had 74 percent of its 4-year-olds enrolled in programs last year, with an investment of about $145 million.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

In today's global economy, education is key to giving our kids that critical opportunity to succeed. Both early education and higher education provide invaluable skills and helps close gaps of inequality that many Texans and Americans now face. . . San Antonio is leading the way in early education with the innovative Pre-K 4 SA initiative, which aims to close the achievement gap and improve the educational trajectory for over 22,000 four-year-old children. Additionally, the program invests in our teachers through professional development that betters quality of education. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
(KIOS Omaha Public Radio)

Retired Air Force Major General Mark Musick says Mission Readiness wants more investment in early childhood education, so children are prepared for kindergarten. He says a focus on preschool is important not just for education, but also the economy and future national security.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
(Andalusia Star News)

On the heels of a report that gave mixed reviews to Alabama’s pre-K efforts came good news for Andalusia.

The National Institute for Early Education Research last week cited Alabama as one of only four states whose pre-kindergarten programs meet all its quality standards. . . . Unfortunately, the program has been a limited success.

The NIEER report pointed out that just 6 percent of 4-year-olds in Alabama attended Pre-K classes in 2012-13, the year whose data was ranked. The program will never be fully effective unless there’s full access to it, and progress is being made there, too.

Monday, May 19, 2014
(Rapid City Journal)

Early childhood education saves states money a few different ways, according to Steve Barnett, a Rutgers University professor and director of the National Institute for Early Education Research.

"If those kids move into the education system, they're going to start generating cost savings, not repeating grades, not needing as much special ed," Barnett said. In addition, there are economic benefits of children being better adjusted and not getting in trouble with the law as they get older.

Saturday, May 17, 2014
(LA Times (Opinion))

Education has long been the traditional route to opportunity for American families of modest means. But a growing educational achievement gap between low-income and affluent kids is making that path both harder and less accessible.

And the gap is getting wider, mostly because wealthy kids' test scores have been improving dramatically while middle-class kids' have improved only slightly over time. "The top has pulled away from the middle," says Sean Reardon of Stanford's Graduate School of Education.

Strikingly, much of that income differential in test scores shows up among kids who are tested in the first months of kindergarten, before they've spent significant time in school. "It's preschool," Reardon said, along with "the out-of-school environment, that creates the gap." Affluent kids are far more likely to get a good preschool education and have parents who read to them and nurseries full of educational toys.

Saturday, May 17, 2014
(Tuscaloosa News)

Alabama’s First Class Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program leads the nation in quality for the eighth year in a row, according to a new study released May 13. Alabama is one of only four states in the country to meet all 10 quality benchmarks established by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

“The NIEER study recognizes Alabama’s commitment to the quality and design of our pre-K program, and the results show that this program is a powerful investment with short-term and long-term benefits for children,” said Jeana Ross, commissioner of the Department of Children’s Affairs. Alabama’s voluntary pre-K program is managed by the Office of School Readiness, which is part of the Department of Children’s Affairs.