Volume 13, Issue 16

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hot Topics

Preschool Nation, an initiative of Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP), hosted its First Annual Preschool Nation Summit in New York City. Panel discussions centered on the current state of preschool education in America; the broad coalition of preschool supports, including military and law enforcement; and a keynote speech from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has led the charge on expansion. Live Twitter updates from the event can be found here.

While New York has gained significant attention for its preschool expansion efforts, 2014 has been a major year for several states in expanding their programs. The National Women’s Law Center’s (NWLC) new brief provides updated information on recent state policies on early childhood education and child care. A recent conference call organized by NWLC gave policymakers in both Michigan and New York an opportunity to discuss their expansion plans in depth; a transcript of this session can be found here

Please tell us what you think of our newsletter. We want it to deliver news you can use, when you want it--here’s your chance to weigh in. Submit your responses by August 15, and we’ll report out on what you tell us in the next newsletter. You can always send your ideas/suggestions/information via info@nieer.org as well.


New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Teacher evaluation systems provide an opportunity for supporting professional development and ensuring children receive a high-quality education. But what happens when evaluators do not have experience in early childhood education? NIEER/CEELO Research Assistant Michelle Horowitz explores this issue in a new blog.

Education has always been viewed as a partnership between parents and teachers. In this blog post, NIEER/CEELO Senior Research Fellow Jim Squires discusses the role home visiting has played in the history of education, and how it can serve students today.


The Toronto-based Gerrard Resource center announced an updated website focused on enhancing family supports and on the inclusion of children with disabilities. The GRC also publishes a monthly e-bulletin for professionals, policymakers, and researchers that highlights additions to the GRC website.

A new brief from the Office of Policy, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) discusses strategies to collect, manage, and disseminate information in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), given that such data are often collected using different methods.

A new report from Results for America and Bellwether Education Partners explores Head Start’s progress and recent reforms and offers recommendations for the program’s future.

A new report from the New America Foundation discusses the history of “full-day” and half-day” pre-K and kindergarten and argues for a new model focused specifically on hours of learning time. 

Advocates for Children of New Jersey has released a new report, Strong Early Learning Systems = Strong Young Readers: New Jersey’s action plan for success outlining New Jersey’s existing challenges in providing strong early learning systems, with recommendations to improve them.

Westat and Child Trends are hosting webinars on the Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality (FPTRQ) Measurement Development project, which has developed measures of provider/teacher practices that facilitate a positive family and provider or teacher relationship. Webinar attendees will learn about: the FPTRQ project; FPTRQ’s conceptual model of family and provider/teacher relationships; the development of the FPTRQ surveys; a review of the psychometric properties of the FPTRQ constructs and subscales; and how to administer, score, and use the surveys. See our events page for schedules. 

CEELO Update

CEELO’s Roundtable Reflections are now available. This resource provides highlights from CEELO’s June Roundtable meeting and lists useful resources identified by participants. 


Monday, September 8, 2014 -
1:30pm to 2:30pm

This webinar on the Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality (FPTRQ) Measurement Development project, which has developed measures of provider/teacher practices that facilitate a positive family and provider or teacher relationships, is for state and local administrators/policymakers and federal staff.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 -
10:00am to 11:00am

This webinar on the Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality (FPTRQ) Measurement Development project, which has developed measures of provider/teacher practices that facilitate a positive family and provider or teacher relationships, is for researchers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 -
1:00pm to 2:00pm

This webinar on the Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality (FPTRQ) Measurement Development project, which has developed measures of provider/teacher practices that facilitate a positive family and provider or teacher relationships, is for practitioners, providers, and PD communities.

Friday, October 10, 2014 -
7:30am to 4:30pm

The Center for Early Education Evaluation at HighScope will hold its Third Annual Conference for Early Childhood Research and Evaluation on the theme "Measuring Program Quality: Translating Research Into Policy and Practice." Registration is now open.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 6:30pm

NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett will be honored at the annual Preschool Advantage Turning Leaves Gala. Every $4,000 raised from sponsors will cover the tuition for a New Jersey child to attend preschool. There are a variety of sponsorship and advertising opportunities, available here

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

Thursday, August 7, 2014
(The Washington Post)

Kindergarten has changed so much over the past decade; it is so much more work and so much less play. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have brought learning standards with higher (and not necessarily developmentally appropriate) expectations of these young children, and the partner of these standards, assessment, plays a huge role in today’s kindergarten classrooms. The validity of using this testing, often administered to 5-year-olds before or at the very beginning of kindergarten, to track learning is questionable at best. Children this age aren’t necessarily “test-ready”: they may hesitate to answer a strange adult’s questions, or prefer to stare out the window, and many don’t understand that giving a complete answer actually matters. Sadly, it does. Once upon a time we had a different vision for what the kindergarten year should be: a time for play and experimentation and the sorting out of self that leads to further learning. How can we create those kinds of learning environments again? Here are 10 ways schools can stop failing our kids in their earliest years, and begin building passionate learners from the start.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Early childhood teachers are receiving an increase in pay from federal and local grants totaling $600,000. The Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children has been awarded four grants to help implement a national project called the Child Care WAGES. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014
(Tech Times)

Depression in kids in preschool is likely to continue throughout adolescence. Researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis found in a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry that tracked 246 children from ages 3-5 and 9-12 that depressed preschoolers were 2.5 times more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms into elementary and middle school.

In the study 51 percent of the children who were originally diagnosed with depression still exhibited symptoms of depression while only 25 percent of the children who were not diagnosed with depression earlier on went on to develop depression in adolescence.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
(Dallas South News)

On Tuesday, LAUP (Los Angeles Universal Preschool) hosted the country's first Preschool Nation Summit. Held at the world headquarters of Scholastic Inc. in New York City, the summit featured Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is currently implementing his "Pre-K for All" program, as keynote speaker. . . . The summit examined the short- and long-term benefits of quality early education, successes and challenges of early learning programs around the country, the need to define and improve quality and more.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
(The Observer (Texas))

A total of $7 million in grants received by the Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) will fund projects to compare the effectiveness of different instructional approaches and learning environments in order to improve the school readiness skills of at-risk preschool children.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

In a speech to national advocates for pre-kindergarten, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday eased into his role as the face of a movement for access to early childhood education. At the same time, he gave little sense of his own administration’s preparations to have teachers and classrooms for more than 50,000 four-year-olds starting school next month.

Instead, the mayor spoke broadly about efforts to expand preschool access in cities such as San Francisco, Miami, and San Antonio—efforts he said are reshaping the national conversation.

“If we’re going to address the inequalities that we face, in many ways, more than ever in our society, pre-k is one of the answers,” he said at the Preschool Nation Summit, organized by a Los Angeles group advocating for universal access to pre-k. “We’ve got to say that full-day high quality pre-k is going to be the national standard.”

Tuesday, August 5, 2014
(New York Times)

Fourteen states in 2012 enacted policies either mandating or strongly recommending that schools hold back students who could not read properly by third grade. Districts in Arizona and Colorado also offered summer school for struggling third-grade readers for the first time this year, then will consider whether to hold back some of them before the new school year begins.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ms. Rich, the child-services official in Chicago who chairs the National Head Start Association, said her connections with the program date back to its first summer, when she was a 12-year-old volunteer passing out cartons of milk. She now oversees her city's Head Start program, which serves nearly 17,000 children.

Whatever changes come to Head Start, she says, should never separate it from its core mission of serving poor children and families.

"The minute that we take our eye off making sure there's a program for poor children in this country, I worry they will be swept aside," Ms. Rich said. "We still have a huge need in making sure the poorest and most vulnerable are taken care of."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014
(NJ Spotlight)

Next month marks the 25th anniversary of the oral arguments over New Jersey’s most important public education lawsuit, Abbott v. Burke.

On Sept. 25, 1989, the Education Law Center (ELC) argued on behalf of students attending schools in Camden, East Orange, Jersey City and Irvington that New Jersey’s method of school funding, which left districts almost entirely dependent on local tax levies, violated the state Constitution’s promise of access to a “thorough and efficient education system.”

Tuesday, August 5, 2014
(Washington Post)

For years now education leaders have been pushing onto school districts school reforms that don’t show any sign of working while giving short shrift to those that have a track record of working. Gary Ravani, a 35-year public school teacher and president of the California Federation of Teachers’ Early Childhood/K-12 Council, explains in this post.

Monday, August 4, 2014
(IndyStar [Op-Ed])

Fundamental to the American experience is the belief that our children have the opportunity to reach whatever heights to which they aspire. The surest, most effective way to provide them with such an opportunity is to create a pathway to success through early childhood education. Indiana is one of only 10 states without a state-funded preschool program for underserved children. The mayor’s initiative is an important first step, along with the state’s pilot grants, toward addressing Indiana’s early childhood education needs. If we help children succeed in school, they have an opportunity to experience social and economic mobility that may not otherwise be possible.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The state of Kansas has received a $1 million grant — the minimum amount presented to each of 50 states and the District of Columbia — from the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, federal officials announced Monday.

Established by the Affordable Care Act, the program helps fund state home visiting services to women during pregnancy, and to parents with children up to age 5.

Monday, August 4, 2014
(New York Times)

Because of inadequate public school capacity, the de Blasio administration has been urging religious schools and community organizations to consider hosting the added programs. 

But the push is raising fresh questions for civil libertarians concerned about church-state issues, and for the schools themselves, which want to help the city and qualify for its roughly $10,000-per-student tuition payments while preserving some of the faith-based elements that attract their main clientele.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
(LA Times)

Delgado, like thousands of other child-care providers, receives some funding through subsidized vouchers for low-income families. The budget for child care has stayed flat for years while costs have risen, and early childhood education advocates say circumstances continue to be challenging. This is the first year since the start of the recession that California has had a budgetary surplus. The boost will primarily benefit state child-care centers and providers, as opposed to private ones such as Delgado's. This year, the state has allocated $76.6 billion for K-12 education, including $2.1 billion for the youngest Californians who are eligible for state-funded preschool and child care. Among other initiatives, the budget covers preschool and day-care slots, improving the quality and access to early childhood education and a 5% increase in the reimbursement rate for about 2,000 state-contracted home care providers.

Sunday, August 3, 2014
(The Washington Post)

The District’s Briya Public Charter School enrolls parents and young children together in the same school, a novel effort to improve children’s prospects by building the skills of those who are closest to them. It’s an approach that an increasing number of researchers and philanthropists are promoting across the country as experts worry that investments in early childhood education or school improvement can only go so far. Many modern school reforms emerge from the idea that schools can overcome the adversities children experience in their life outside of school. But dual-generation approaches — in which parents are pursuing education in tandem with their children — echo research that shows that amother’s education is one of the strongest predictors of a child’s academic success.

Sunday, August 3, 2014
(The Denver Post Editorials)

Currently, the sales tax stands at 0.12 percent, which is 12 cents on every $100 spent. The proposed ballot question would boost this to 0.15 percent, or 15 cents on every $100. The increased funding would enable the program to offer and sustain summer programming and respond to demand for full-day and extended-day programming. That would be money well-spent to help 4-year-olds show up for kindergarten prepared to tackle the curriculum put before them.

This preschool program, approved by voters in 2006, provides the most support to low-income families who send their 4-year-olds to preschools with the highest-quality ratings. Catching these children early and ensuring they are up to speed may save taxpayers money in the long run, lowering the chances they might need remediation in higher grades.

Sunday, August 3, 2014
(The Wall Street Journal)

Across the city, preschool directors are gearing up for an unusually ambitious expansion. The program was a major campaign promise of Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the clock is ticking for opening day in September. Many centers were still hunting for staff at July job fairs, outfitting classrooms and training teachers. The city aims to offer 33,000 full-day seats in community centers this fall, up from 3,360 last year. District public schools will have 20,400 full-day spots, up from 16,100.

Saturday, August 2, 2014
(Greenville Online)

Yet according to at least one measure out this past week, things are not improving. The prospects continue to be bleak for South Carolina’s children who too often grow up in poverty, with few economic opportunities and with public schools that need to be improved. Schools need to be improved. That starts with funding. It starts with an emphasis on improving reading skills. It starts with increased access to early childhood education. The state has made strides in each of these areas over the past year. Gov. Nikki Haley has advocated for more funding for public education, especially in the realm of technology; the state has implemented a program designed to ensure all third-graders are proficient readers; and discussions continue about furthering expanded access to 4-year-old kindergarten.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Preschoolers with special needs benefit from going to school with children who have strong language skills, according to a new study. Classmates with higher-level language abilities promote language growth in children with disabilities, researchers found. On the other hand, development of language could be delayed if their classmates have weak language skills, they said.


Thursday, July 31, 2014
(Biz570.com [Op-Ed])

Four prominent Northeast Pennsylvania business and civic leaders recently wrote an op-ed for this publication detailing the many benefits high-quality early learning has for communities — benefits ranging from a stronger, more competitive job market to a decrease in the anti-social behaviors that often fuel social problems and higher crime rates. I have seen children come into our center’s Head Start program who already are woefully behind most of their peers in their learning skills at the age of just 3 or 4. These children often face challenges that are beyond their control and, despite the best efforts of their parents or guardians, lack the resources needed to gain ground during this critical time in their academic, social and emotional development.

High-quality early learning programs like Head Start make a difference in helping these children catch up to their peers and keep up, and it’s a difference that carries over through the rest of their education. I know because I have witnessed it many times.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Preschool sign-ups are well underway, and with a few weeks until the start of school, educators say the earlier you sign your child up, the better. Last school year in Smith County, only 36.8 percent of four-year-olds were enrolled in preschool.

Thursday, July 31, 2014
(Psych Central)

New research discovers early childhood depression increases the risk that a child will be depressed throughout their formative school years. Washington University researchers discovered children who had depression as preschoolers were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from the condition in elementary and middle school than kids who were not depressed at very young ages. Prior research has shown that depression in preschoolers is often influenced by a caregiver (mother’s) depression.

Thursday, July 31, 2014
(Jackson Free Press)

Ninety percent of a child's critical brain development occurs between birth and age 5. Children in Mississippi are not required to attend school until age 6. The disconnect between those two facts is the No. 1 concern of early-education advocates in Mississippi. Although data show overwhelmingly that early education is crucial to academic success throughout a child's life, Mississippi has been slow to provide the youngest and poorest kids with the tools to achieve.

Thursday, July 31, 2014
(Think Progress)

While some observers may have brushed it off as mere pandering to the liberal base – and women in particular – before midterm elections, the excitement around these statements is well warranted. Obama’s bear hug of policies like paid family leave and universal child care represents a break with a long, tortured past. The United States very nearly had universal child care. In 1971, both houses of Congress passed the Comprehensive Child Development Act, which would have provided child care at a sliding scale to every child that needed it, the first step toward a universal system. . .

Thursday, July 31, 2014
(The Daily Herald)

For Florida’s 1 million children growing up in poverty, kindergarten — and even pre-K — is too late to start giving them the help many will need to grow into capable, productive adults. But the message has been slow to reach parents and caregivers — those who can take greatest advantage of that precious and short window. In Florida, where one in four children lives below the federal poverty line and one in nine lives in extreme poverty, child-welfare advocates say few options are available to low-income parents who need quality child care or help in knowing what to do on their own. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Despite dropping fees for the first time in two years, the Sacramento City Unified School District still has about 650 openings for its free state preschool and Head Start programs for low-income families. California previously required that most families pay fees for half-day state-funded preschool, which serves children ages 3 and 4.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
(Chalkbeat Indiana)

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s plan to spend $50 million for preschool for the city’s poorest children will tackle two issues: making sure 1,300 more children can afford to enroll and growing the number quality of centers in the city.

“Our vision is for every child in Indianapolis to have access to a voluntary, high-quality early childhood education that prepares him or her for a successful academic career and success in life,” according to the mayor’s proposal.

The city will invest $25 million in tax dollars, and expects to raise an additional $25 million in matching and philanthropic support, to support the plan. The first scholarships are expected to be awarded to students in 2015-16.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
(Seattle Times (Editorial))

SEATTLE has a ripe opportunity this fall to join the city-driven universal preschool movement, so long as forward progress doesn’t get entangled in local labor politics.

The Seattle Preschool Program will be on the ballot in November. A four-year, $14.5 million-a-year property-tax levy would pay for high-quality instruction for 3- and 4-year-olds. It would have a sliding fee scale to draw in a broad socioeconomic cross-section of the city’s children, and instruction would be based on tested models elsewhere in the county.

Research in Tulsa, Okla., Boston and elsewhere have shown that high-quality instruction for the prekindergarten set provides an academic rocket boost. Mayor Ed Murray believes the city’s plan could ultimately reduce poverty and crime while raising graduation rates.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
(Detroit Free Press)

Detroit has been chosen as one of five cities across the country to pilot a first-of-its-kind national model to bring innovation, quality and impact to children through Head Start and Early Head Start programming. Thrive by Five Detroit, a collaboration comprising Development Centers, Focus: HOPE, Southwest Solutions and Starfish Family Services, will not only serve children but their entire family. Pregnant women may enroll in the program, ensuring their children get the earliest start and caseworkers will help families achieve their goals related to housing, education and employment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are working on legislature to try to make child care more affordable.

According to the 2013 Child Care Aware report, the highest cost for American families is now their child care. In the past, it was housing, but according to the report, the majority of the country is now paying more to send their child to a facility for care than they are for housing. Nationwide, the average cost for childcare is $12,000.  In Pennsylvania, it costs, on average, $10,319 to get infant care. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
(Nogales International)

If Eva and Ernesto Suarez’s infant daughters are not able to attend preschool, they’ll hardly be alone in Santa Cruz County.

According to a new study from Children’s Action Alliance (CAA), an Arizona group that advocates for improvements in education and other programs for children, only 18 percent of the county’s 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool programs, the lowest percentage in the state. CAA research associate Josh Oehler also pointed out that while most Arizona counties saw preschool attendance decline between 2000 and 2012, Santa Cruz’s decline, from 36 to 18 percent, was the steepest.

Arizona overall had the 49th worst preschool participation rates in the country, according to the Arizona Kids Count study, which relied on data sets from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey.

Local education officials and professionals interviewed for this story were unanimously concerned by the findings and offered up a number of possible explanations, including the ongoing effects of the Great Recession, a declining number of preschool providers in the area, and insufficient preschool resources for low-income county residents.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
(The Seattle Times)

In a preview of what’s to come this fall, three high-level speakers debated Seattle’s proposal to pay for universal preschool in front of a roomful of business leaders. Voters will weigh in Nov. 4 on whether to fund a four-year pilot providing high-quality pre-K education to 2,000 4-year-olds. Total cost: $58 million, to be paid through property-tax increases.

The effort would align Seattle with numerous cities and states funding early-learning initiatives, from San Francisco to Florida. All are responding to compelling evidence about the benefits of preschool for young children. But many are also wrestling with significant questions about the staying power of those gains.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
(The Spectrum)

Study after study indicates the importance of helping kids get off to a good start with their schooling. Put simply, kids who learn important base concepts early in life are more likely to excel later. Kids who start off behind tend to fall farther and farther back from the pack.

And that’s why it’s so encouraging to hear the results after the first three years of the Washington County preschool program. This program, geared toward Title I students — low-income and at risk kids — started as a partnership between principals who decided to dedicate a portion of their funding to a preschool rather than in their own classrooms. They looked at the expenditures as an investment in their future students.

Monday, July 28, 2014
(LSJ.com [Op-Ed])

One of the earliest indicators of a child’s future success is the number of words he or she hears prior to kindergarten. Language development begins with the interplay of words between the parent and child and helps nurture vocabulary, which is considered the building block of education. The frequency and richness of natural conversation in a child’s first years plays a key role in development. An at-risk child who lacks these early interactions often enters kindergarten with a vocabulary 18 months behind that of a middle-income child. As the child ages, the gap widens instead of narrowing. The child risks falling so far behind that his or her prospects for graduating high school or finding a meaningful job are greatly diminished.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Years of research supports what Carmona knows firsthand. Most children who participate in early education programs are more prepared for kindergarten – academically, socially and emotionally – than those who don’t. Studies have indicated that early education translates into higher graduation rates, better paying jobs and a lower tendency to get in trouble with the law. Yet fewer than three in 10 children in America are enrolled in preschool programs. That is not the case in Oklahoma, one of three states to provide universal early childhood education. Oklahoma passed a law in 1998 that offers a education to every 4-year-old, regardless of family income. Today, 74 percent of Oklahoma’s children take advantage of the law.

Sunday, July 27, 2014
(Keloland Television)

The number of children attending preschool in South Dakota is going up, but the state still sits behind the national average in attendance. The 2014 Kids Count profile for South Dakota reveals a potentially alarming statistic that over 60-percent of children in South Dakota aren't attending pre-school.