Volume 13, Issue 12

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hot Topics

According to a new report from the Migration Policy Institute, immigrant parents face significant barriers in engaging with their children's early educational experiences, often due to restricted access related to limited English proficiency. The Institute identifies the specific needs of these parents, as well as strategies to improve their early childhood experience. NPR covered this subject, drawing attention to the need for collaboration across programs. A recent CEELO report also examined the differing experiences for children of various ages, incomes, and racial backgrounds, in finding quality early childhood education; NIEER also has resources on the particular needs of dual language learners. Conor Williams of the New America Foundation has provided further analysis of the Institute report, writing that “It would be easy to focus on these [risk] factors and conclude that the children of immigrants are saddled with enormous deficits. But that ignores the important assets that these students often bring to school….The question, both for this report and for policymakers in general, is how to leverage these assets to address the challenges that young children of immigrants face.”

Master's programs that employ the most women in STEM leadership positions also grant the most degrees to women in those fields, researchers from the University of Kansas and University of Alabama report. But while a high percentage of women in the field on campus was the strongest predictor of high female degree attainment, researchers didn't find any significant predictors in the computer science or engineering disciplines. The Obama administration announced a number of STEM initiatives last week, including a $35 million grant competition aimed at STEM teacher training, a major expansion for STEM AmeriCorps, and a national STEM mentoring effort through a partnership with seven cities. NIEER Assistant Research professor Kimberly Brenneman responded to a National Journal Policy Insiders post on women in STEM, posted on NIEER’s blog.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Jim Squires, NIEER Senior Research Fellow discussed passage of Vermont's H. 270- An Act Relating to Providing Access to Publicly Funded Prekindergarten Education  to guarantee every 3- and 4-year-old living in the Green Mountain State voluntary access to state-funded pre-K.

NIEER Assistant Research Professor Kimberly Brenneman responds to a National Journal Post on STEM Challenges, and how we can enhance children's natural affinity for STEM by supporting young children as math and science learners.


The International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy is seeking reviewers who can provide constructive analysis of papers, thus enhancing the overall quality of the Journal.  As an early childhood journal with an emphasis on policy relevant research we seek reviewers with strong interests and backgrounds in both early childhood research and policy. Details and an application can be downloaded here.  Additional questions can be directed to sbarnett@nieer.org.

The National Center for Children in Poverty has updated its Early Childhood State Policy Profiles, which provide information on state policies in the areas of health, early care and education, and parenting and economic supports that affect the health and well-being of young children in low-income families. NCCP has also updated The Young Child Risk Calculator, an interactive tool that shows users how many children under age nine in each state are experiencing serious risks to their development.

The summer issue of American Educator is available free online. This issue includes articles on teaching vocabulary in the early learning classroom, curriculum content, and the importance of early learning.

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced the availability of $500 million to be competitively awarded to expand access to high-quality, comprehensive services to low-income infants and toddlers and their families, through Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnerships, or through expanded Early Head Start services. ACF solicits applications from public entities, including states, or private nonprofit organizations, including community-based or faith-based organizations, or for-profit agencies that meet eligibility for applying as stated in section 645A of the Head Start Act. Details are available here.

This report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presents 42 indicators on important topics and trends in U.S. education. These indicators focus on population characteristics; and participation in elementary and secondary education, including preprimary enrollment.

CEELO Update

The latest version of the Directory of State Early Learning Contacts, updated from the inaugural publication in August 2013, is now available. State by state, the directory provides the SEA lead, 619 coordinator, Title I Director, Head Start State Collaboration Director, Part C coordinator, Home Visiting Lead, and other key early learning contacts. Putting these individuals “on the same page” is intended to help colleagues connect both in state, and across state lines. Send any comments or corrections to mdahlin@edc.org.

This year, CEELO’s annual Roundtable meeting focused on Excellence for Every Child: Improving the Quality of Teaching Birth through Grade Three. Powerpoint presentations from the meeting are posted on the CEELO website. A full recap of the event can be found at the Storify created from Live Tweets. 

In their NAEYC PDI 2014 session Early Learning Chiropractory: Can We Make Standards Alignment a Little Less Painful? CEELO staff Jana Martella and Tom Schultz, along with Jim Lesko (ELC-TA), and Albert Wat (NGA), examined the questions state policy experts often ask around a comprehensive early learning system of standards: “What should we be doing?” and “What are other states doing?” The session also explored emerging tools to move state standards along a cohesive and high-quality continuum.

Lori Connors-Tadros, CEELO Project Director, gave the keynote address, Every Day, Every Year of a Hoosier Child's Life is Important! at the Indiana Department of Education's Early Learning Summit on May 15, 2014.

Jim Squires, CEELO Senior Research Fellow, presented Understanding Pre-K Inclusion Data: Making the Most of the NIEER State of Preschool Yearbook at the National Inclusion Institute on May 21, 2014.

Jim Squires, CEELO Senior Research Fellow, presented on Issues and Actions: Achieving Full Inclusion From Birth-Third Grade with Sharon Ritchie and Beth Rous at the National Inclusion Institute on May 21, 2014


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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 -
12:00pm to 4:00pm

First Focus is releasing its Children's Budget 2014, a detailed look at funding for nearly 200 federal investments in children.

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, June 13, 2014
(Medical Press)

The new study was conducted by University of Chicago economist James Heckman, Prof. Paul Gertler of the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, and researchers at four institutions across the globe. The authors examined a high-quality  program in Jamaica and concluded that the intervention improved children's cognitive development and substantially increased their future earning power.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Local business and school leaders are theoretically in favor of Tippecanoe County applying to be one of five counties to take part in a state-funded preschool pilot program. But details of the program, which is expected to begin next year, are murky, and that’s causing concern.

The pilot will provide $10 million in public funding to up to 4,000 4-year-olds in low-income households. Some fundraising is required from participating counties. Counties may contribute up to $5 million in matching funds.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
(Flathead Beacon)

With all of the good things that are happening in the state, there is one important piece of the puzzle missing. While 42 other states make consistent investments into pre-kindergarten and early childhood programs, Montana remains in the shrinking minority of states that have never invested in the human capital of our earliest learners. . .

By giving our children an Early Edge, we can reduce the absenteeism of working parents, lower crime rates for juveniles and adults, develop workers with more skills, attract and retain better employees and new businesses to communities, build a stronger future workforce, and increase earnings and tax revenues for employees and employers. It’s time that Montana catches up with the rest of our nation and makes meaningful investments in our earliest learners. 
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
(PennLive [Op-Ed])

By increasing access to early learning opportunities for all children, we will improve our state's economic future and most certainly better the life chances of each child who is given this important head start. . .

We were once at the top of national rankings. Now Pennsylvania places 30th out of 41 states that provide high-quality pre-k for 4-year-olds, according the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), a nonpartisan organization. Even states like Georgia and Oklahoma are rolling out universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all 4-year-olds.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a plan into law that guarantees a higher percentage of state grant money be set aside for early education.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

To meet the demand for qualified pre-K teachers across the state, a new curriculum offered by the University of Mississippi allows students to specialize in early childhood education and obtain a license endorsement in the field from the Mississippi Department of Education. . .

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, many studies show quality preschool programs can produce long-term gains in academic achievement, including gains in reading and mathematics, and can support positive social-emotional development. Studies also show an estimated 7-to-1 return on investment dollars in public pre-K education in the form of long-term cost savings.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
(Latin Post)

Early childhood education is absent from the lives of the neediest, poorest and fastest-growing populations, in spite of the expansion of preschool programs meant to address the needs of children across the economic spectrum, particularly disadvantaged youths. And more than any others, children in immigrant households are the least likely to enroll their children in federal and state preschool programs, due mainly to language and literacy barriers.

Children from immigrant households make up a quarter of all children under the age of 8. They represent half of the children in California, and more than a third of the children in Texas, New Jersey, New York and Nevada. The parents of these children tend to be low-income and poorly educated; and, as immigrants who are often new to the U.S., they don't necessarily understand how to access or navigate the programs offered.

The language used when describing programs isn't clear, and preschool programs find it difficult to reach out to parents who don't know English and lack basic literacy skills. Consequently, students and parents miss out, failing to gain access to universal preschool.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
(Times-Standard [Op-Ed])
United Way's vision is a caring, engaged and vibrant community where families and individuals achieve their full potential through education, health and financial stability. Over the years, we have learned that in order to reach that goal, children must start school prepared to learn. But for far too many children in our community, that isn't yet possible.
A recent report from the National Institute for Early Education Research singled out California as one of just five states that meets fewer than half of 10 quality benchmarks in its state pre-K program. 
Monday, June 9, 2014
(WVMetroNews )

West Virginia is serving as a model for other states when it comes to preschool programs.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), the Mountain State is ranked #6 nationally for pre-kindergarten enrollments among four-year-olds and #8 nationally for enrollments among three-year-olds.

“We see states that aren’t doing this and it’s great for West Virginia to be successful,” said Christine Campbell, president of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers. 

Monday, June 9, 2014
(The Columbus Dispatch)

Despite a documented dearth of high-quality preschool programs for low-income Columbus children, a $5 million city program to pay for 600 new pre-kindergarten spots is on track to create just 245.

A 2012 study found a desperate need for preschools on the Hilltop, for example, but a preschool director there said she didn’t bother to apply for the city grants because the neighborhood she serves is too poor to qualify.

That’s because the city’s program is aimed at parents facing what some call “the cliff,” where working parents earn too much money to qualify for programs such as Head Start but not enough to pay for preschool, said Matt Smydo, an education policy specialist for Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

Monday, June 9, 2014
(Columbus Dispatch)

A last-minute push by Columbus City Schools to find more classroom space allowed Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman to announce today that at least 350 new preschool slots would be created under the first round of his new Early Start Columbus school-readiness program. 

The program marked a milestone for the city because for the first time it will provide grants for preschool, focuses on providing high-quality preschool to 4-year-olds and hopefully close an alarming gap in kindergarten readiness and stem the potential for the kids to get held back in the third grade. Currently, the federal and state governments, and school districts, provide most funding. 

Monday, June 9, 2014
(CBS Detroit)

Detroit Public Schools announced Monday that it will continue the expansion of its early childhood educational offerings with the planned addition of seats to both its Great Start Readiness and Title I Pre-K programs.

The district plans to add more than 540 seats in 34 new classrooms throughout the district for the 2014-15 school year.

Monday, June 9, 2014
(89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio)

In recent years, magazine articles and mommy-blogs have decried that increasingly academic preschool classrooms cater to little girls, arguing their faster development makes them better suited to those new rigors. But one brain scientist said that's a myth.

“No matter what measure of brain structure or function we look at, what we find is that there is much, much more overlap between boys and girls than difference,” said Lise Eliot, professor of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University.

Monday, June 9, 2014
(Chalkbeat Colorado)

The state has backed away from its planned July start date for a new mandatory quality rating system for early childhood education and officials now say they are aiming for a November launch.

The new system, funded with part of a $44 million federal Race to the Top grant, fits with a national trend to improve child care  and better inform parents about the quality of local providers.
Monday, June 9, 2014

A child’s early years are critical learning years, so it is important for parents to choose childcare and early childhood education programs with care.

During the recent National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Week of the Young Child, the NAEYC offered the following guidelines for choosing a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for children.

Friday, June 6, 2014
(Lancaster Online)

Rent, food costs and teacher salaries have all been increasing in local preschools, according to directors. But state funding for those programs? Not so much.

Administrators of state-funded preschool programs said they've seen flat funding for several years.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, Pennsylvania's total preschool funding dropped by about $14.5 million between 2012 and 2013. NIEER's numbers, released last month in "The State of Preschool 2013" report, were adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, June 5, 2014
(New York Times)

In a study published last month in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Ms. Jeon and her co-authors found that behavioral problems were more common among 3-year-olds whose teachers reported depressed mood than among preschoolers whose teachers were not depressed. Such behavioral problems include inattentiveness, aggressiveness, emotional reactivity and anxious or depressive symptoms.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Twelve urban and six rural counties selected as finalists for an Indiana preschool pilot program have until the end of the month to make their cases, the state announced Wednesday. . . . The pilot program created by the General Assembly this year provides preschool funding for low-income 4-year-olds in five counties. Families earning up to 127 percent of the federal poverty level — a little less than $30,000 for a family of four — would qualify.

To narrow the field to the five pilot counties, FSSA said counties have until June 30 to submit statements on their ability to help meet a financial match, participation of current and new providers, community and family engagement, and their readiness to launch the program in January.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
(Public News Service)

Arizona is near the bottom of states for enrollment in -- and funding of -- early childhood education, according to the latest "State of Preschool" report for 2013 from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. Professor Steven Barnett, who directs NIEER, said Arizona ranks 38th in enrollment and 40th in funding pre-kindergarten programs, out of 40 states and the District of Columbia that have early-education programs. The Grand Canyon State's situation seems to be getting worse, he said. "Arizona actually has very low funding and meets relatively few of the benchmarks for quality standards," Barnett said. "It's actually fallen from where it was in the prior year." 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

In the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the Community Preventive Services Task Force reviews the literature on full-day kindergarten. After considering the evidence, the Task Force ultimately recommends all-day classes as an effective tool for promoting the health of low-income and minority students. Although many studies of full-day kindergarten look at non-academic outcomes over the long-term, measuring data on criminal activity, savings rates, and more, it’s rare to see an analysis focus so directly on health effects. This approach is important not just because our discussions of early childhood education too often focus on the short term, but also because there are good reasons for being much more cognizant of the health effects of our policy choices.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
(Catalyst Chicago)

From opening “pop-up” preschools in Cicero to building new partnerships with existing service agencies, teams of parents, educators and health care providers are developing locally-based projects to improve access to early childhood education in the communities that most need it.

With the help of some Race to the Top Early Childhood federal grant money, the teams will begin testing their strategies this fall – and fine-tuning the projects as data comes in about enrollment. All of this, advocates say, will help the state analyze what works best in building local community systems around early childhood education.

“This can help us figure out which of the strategies we’d been thinking about might be the most useful in the end,” explains Theresa Hawley, director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, which is overseeing the initiative.  “The best way for us to look at this problem is to zero in on the local level.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

As legislators prepare for a debate on the state budget, a provision calling for a pay hike for early childhood educators sought by early education leaders is back on the table for debate, according to state Sen. James T. Welch, D-West Springfield.

A Senate amendment calls for the appropriation of $9.5 million that would give pre-kindergarten teachers a salary hike of approximately 5 percent. The average salary is now about $30,000.

Monday, June 2, 2014
(Toronto Star)

What if every Toronto school was a learning centre for the entire family? Before- and after-school programs with hot lunches and snacks available for students. Underutilized space devoted to nursery schools — a place for parents and toddlers to relax, play and receive expert support from public health nurses and early childhood educators. There would be flexible child care for those who want it and what a prefect location for ESL or other adult education classes.

Monday, June 2, 2014
(Washington Post)

“Preschool has never been more popular,” Kirsten Weir writes in the May issue of Monitor on Psychology, pointing to President Obama’s Preschool for All initiative and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to expand preschool access in the city.


Monday, June 2, 2014
(Washington Post (Opinion))

There's not a lot that shocks me anymore. But I didn't get very deep into the 61-page report released Friday by the panel President Obama created in February to find solutions to the many problems that afflict black and Hispanic boys before I found something that left me dumbfounded.

In a section titled "Keeping Young Children in School and on Track," the authors of "My Brother's Keeper Task Force Report to the President," urged that something be done to reduce the number of black kids who are suspended or expelled from preschool.

That's right, preschool.

Sunday, June 1, 2014
(The Daily Californian)

The 20-year-long study found that a group of growth-stunted children in Kingston, Jamaica, who were exposed to positive parental intervention experienced 25 percent more in average earnings when compared to a control group. Paul Gertler, who led the research, said the intervention also doubled as a long-term poverty-reduction program, improving the cognitive skills that would help the children in the future.

Saturday, May 31, 2014
(Red Wing Republican Eagle)

Art Rolnick said Tuesday that investing in early childhood education is the best investment a community can make, which is one of the reasons he sees Red Wing joining the cause with Every Hand Joined as an important step in the right direction. After looking at the data from the HighScope Perry Preschool Study years ago, Rolnick said it became clear that investing in early childhood education yielded high returns – they projected returns close to 18 percent – with savings in areas such as reduction in crime, fewer children in need of special education, and a more highly qualified workforce.