Volume 13, Issue 17

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hot Topics

Applications are now available for the $250 million Preschool Development Grants competition, jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. The grants are intended to assist states in providing high quality voluntary preschool programs to high-need communities. There are Development grants available for states with no existing program, or only small programs; Expansion Grants are available to states with existing programs, or with Race to the Top--Early Learning Challenge grants. The Department of Education provided a technical assistance webinar on the grants which is available online.  All states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are eligible to apply for the Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 deadline. Awards will be made in December 2014.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In a follow-up to last week's post on the state of teacher evaluation systems, NIEER/CEELO Research Assistant Michelle Horowitz blogs about a number of resources specifically geared to teacher evaluation in early education classrooms.

Resources

The Bertelsmann Stiftung produces an annual report on the state of early childhood in Germany, a comprehensive model of data collection and reporting on relevant policy figures. More information is available here.

A recent report from the Foundation for Child Development analyzes the implications of mother’s educational attainment on children’s well-being through 13 indicators.

Two new reports from the Urban Institute, from a meeting held in 2013, explore the implications of instability on children’s growth and well-being. One, Exploring Instability and Children’s Well-Being Insights from a Dialogue among Practitioners, Policymakers and Researchers, provides perspectives from meeting attendees; another, Insights on Instability and Children’s Development Commentaries from Practitioners, Policymakers, and Researchers, is a compendium of nine essays from experts in the field.

A study of 260 low-income parents in Minnesota examined what factors parents consider when choosing child-care. Researchers found two distinct groups varying in the amount of time they took to consider options and the sources parents referenced for information.

The Head Start CARES demonstration compared the impact of three different social-emotional approaches on child outcomes and teacher practices in classrooms, and found significant, sometimes unexpected, effects.

Under the general supervision of the Director of Operations, the ESC PRE4CLE Coordinator will have major responsibility for implementing and coordinating activities related to PRE4CLE, the preschool initiative of Cleveland, Ohio. The position is a 260-day contract position spanning a range of strategic planning responsibilities. For details, visit this link.   

The Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is seeking an Executive Director. The center provides high quality research, rigorous program evaluations and data driven professional learning that address development from birth to adulthood and investigates ways to bring research to bear on public policy. The Picard Center is at a key pivot point in its evolution and seeks a dynamic and national leader with expertise in early childhood education to guide the center’s journey in partnership with its researchers, staff, and colleagues across the university, and leaders in the state as well as across the U.S. The Executive Director will have the opportunity to leverage university resources to position the center as a national leader in early childhood development. Expressions of interest/resumes should be sent to ULPicardCenter@divsearch.com.

NIEER Activities

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 8:30am to Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 5:00pm

The Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally of the National Academy of Sciences—in partnership with the Center for Early Childhood Education and Development, Ambedkar University, Delhi—will be conducting an interactive public workshop on some of the current issues in financing investment across health, education, nutrition and social protection that aim to improve children’s developmental potential.

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.

Friday, October 17, 2014 -
7:30am to 4:30pm

The South Carolina Early Childhood Research Symposium is a forum for the exchange of ideas among early childhood researchers representing the health, education, safety, policy, economic, and other sectors. 

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. 

CEELO Update

August 7th a webinar introduced the audience to new Early Childhood Indistar® Indicators developed by CEELO in collaboration with the Center on Innovations (CIL) in Learning. Indistar® is a web-based system for use with district and/or school improvement teams to inform, coach, sustain, track, and report improvement activities. The new early childhood indicators provide an opportunity for stakeholders to use indicators and the associated research to align early childhood education with school improvement efforts. Resources from the call including a recording of the discussion, slides from the presentation, and the Early Childhood Indicators are now available. 

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, August 22, 2014
(Politico)

Tots don’t vote — but increasingly, pols are looking to them to score points with voters. Democrats including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have embraced pre-K in their platforms for years. Now, Republicans are getting on board, in conservative Southern states like Georgia and Alabama, Midwestern right-to-work states Michigan and Indiana, and in some instances on Capitol Hill. Some Republicans who have rejected taking federal dollars for Medicaid expansion are comfortable vying for federal pre-K money.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
(Raising Arizona Kids)

The First Things First Early Childhood Summit at the Phoenix Convention Center on Monday and Tuesday attracted about 1,200 professionals and community members involved in early childhood education and health. . . 

According to Kagan’s research, the wealthiest and poorest families have more access to early childhood education than middle and lower income families. The poorest families benefit from government programs like Head Start, but those with middle incomes are not eligible for that or similar programs. Kagan also noted that Nevada, South Dakota and Arizona have the lowest rates of preschool participation in the country.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
(WV Gazette)

The article of July 22 “West Virginia ranked low for preschool access,” relies on rankings by the Kids Count Data Center that fail to recognize all the facts about early childhood education in West Virginia. It is incredibly unfair to all those hard-working people who built our pre-K program to cite rankings in a way that implies their work has been anything less than a huge success. We owe it to them to convey the whole story and the true state of preschool in West Virginia. Thanks to the efforts of Gov. Tomblin and the Legislature in 2013, next year West Virginia will be one of a handful of states that meets all 10 quality standards established by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). By state law, West Virginia’s universal pre-K program can enroll very few 3-year-olds, only those with federal individual education plans. This is true for most states, and, according to NIEER, West Virginia outpaces the majority, ranking eighth in the nation for participation of 3-year-olds. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
(The Hill)

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) called on Congress to increase the childcare tax credit.

“Making child care affordable isn’t just about helping New Hampshire families make ends meet, but it’s about strengthening our economy too,” Shaheen said Wednesday. “My plan to update the child care tax credit is something working families and our economy really need and I hope we can act on it soon.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
(EdWeek )

In a series of studies published in the journals Development and Psychopathology, and the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, researchers led by Isaac Petersen, a doctoral candidate in child clinical neuropsychology at the Cognitive Development Lab at the University of Indiana, Bloomington, tracked children's language development from preschool through the early teen-age years, comparing language skills with behavior issues rated by parents and teachers, as well as the students' performance on impulse-control tests.

After controlling for students' sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, prior levels of behavior problems, and academic performance in mathematics, reading, and short-term memory, Petersen found students' language skills predicted their later behavior problems more strongly than behavior problems predicted later language skills.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
(StateImpact)

State superintendent Glenda Ritz says Indiana will apply for a federal grant that would help establish infrastructure to create high quality preschool for all children throughout the state. Ritz spoke about the grant opportunity Tuesday during her opening remarks at the Indiana Department of Education sponsored Early Learning Summit, which gathered early educators and IDOE staff to look at the major issues facing those who teach children from birth to third grade.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
(Marketplace)

Monique Hurtado found a preschool course for her child on the Internet. For years, websites have offered free preschool handouts or activity guides. Now, parents can get an entire preschool curriculum from a computer. . .

It's a sign of where early education may be headed in these times of high preschool costs and long wait lists. Some experts, however, think limited and targeted screen time can be positive for young brain development. Dr. Gary Small is the author of "iBrain" and a professor of psychiatry at UCLA. His work looks at the effect of digital devices on the brain. He found computer and device use “allows us to exercise our brains” - even for little children.

Monday, August 18, 2014
(WFPL)

State education officials are looking to expand preschool services to Kentucky families. Kentucky is among 35 states that qualify for the expansion grants, said Terry Floyd, the education department’s chief of staff. But only a few of the 35 states will be selected to participate in the $160 million expansion grant program.

Monday, August 18, 2014
(New York Times)

Several studies, including one released last year by the federal Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, have found that black and Latino students are far more likely to face harsh disciplinary procedures. A department study released this year found that black students faced more severe discipline as early as preschool: Nearly half of all preschool children suspended were African-American.

Monday, August 18, 2014
(Huffington Post (Education))

Between 1970 and 2010, the number of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in both public and private preschool increased nearly four-fold, underscoring a growing awareness about the academic, social and emotional benefits of early childhood education. Studies have shown that low-income children who attend high-quality preschool are more successful academically, more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in postsecondary education, and experience lower rates of negative outcomes such as incarceration and teen pregnancy. While some states have cut funding for public pre-K in recent years, early childhood education continues to be a priority for most states and enjoys bipartisan support. But we must do more to ensure all children have access to high-quality early childhood education regardless of where they are born.

Monday, August 18, 2014
(Recordonline.com (NY))

Several school districts in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties will be among dozens in New York state to receive state funding as part of an ongoing initiative to build a full-day Universal pre-Kindergarten program.

About $340 million will go out to 81 school districts and community-based organizations, opening 37,000 pre-K slots in the state, according to a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. The money was included in the 2014-2015 budget and is the first installment of $1.5 billion committed by the state to the project over five years.

Monday, August 18, 2014
(LSJ.com )

Michigan’s big investment in a state-funded preschool program will give thousands of additional children a shot at a better start to their education this coming school year. That opportunity is coming via the second year of a two-year, $130-million increase in funding for the state’s Great Start Readiness Program — one of Gov. Rick Snyder’s big priorities. The program takes kids who are poor or at risk and puts them through classes and activities that help prepare them for kindergarten. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014
(SC Times)

As the lifelong impacts of high-quality early childhood education have become better known, the early years of a child’s life have become a matter of education policy. It’s also important to remember the importance of publicly supported child care and early childhood education as a way of supporting working families.

People who are most skeptical of the program point to the infamous “fade out” effect. Head Start does provide an academic boost to participating children as they go into kindergarten, but their advantage fades away by third grade. This is sometimes held up as an example of the program’s failure, although others argue that strong early childhood education — whether provided by Head Start or another program — is more like a vaccine. The more children who enter kindergarten well prepared, the less time and energy teachers have to devote to helping kids who are behind catch up to the kids with, well, the head start.

Friday, August 15, 2014
(Catalyst Chicago)

After years of budget cuts, enrollment in state-funded preschool programs in Illinois has fallen to levels not seen in nearly a decade – before the state rolled out its ambitious Preschool for All initiative, according to a new report by Voices for Illinois Children. . .

While state funds are limited, Hawley’s office has successfully pursued other federal grant opportunities, including millions of dollars in Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants, to expand early childhood education opportunities in the state. She said Illinois will also be preparing an application for a new $250 million preschool development grant competition that was announced earlier this week.
 

Friday, August 15, 2014
(The Huffington Post)

But despite the advances, there has been a recent uptick in the single most important factor for predicting a child’s school readiness and life outcomes generally: whether or not he or she lives in poverty. After recessions end, the child poverty rate tends to continue climbing, and current circumstances appear no different. Even with different ways to measure it and different conclusions, KIDS COUNT shows a reversal of some of the gains made earlier in the past quarter-century, with approximately 16.4 million kids officially living in poverty in 2012. The number of children in single-parent homes was up, too: 35 percent, versus 25 percent in 1990. . .

What that means in practical terms is a great need for high quality early childhood education to help prevent the achievement gap that so often is already entrenched for poor children before kindergarten. But many states have been cutting back just as the need intensifies.
 

Friday, August 15, 2014
(IndyStar)

The mayor’s office is working with the City-County Council, United Way of Central Indiana and a collaboration of business, government, schools, philanthropic, corporate and other organizations to take full advantage of the funding available from the state for qualifying low-income families. Is it affordable? All the available studies, data and just plain common sense suggest we need to reframe the question: How can we afford not to invest in helping our children define a path to self-sufficient adulthood, while also safeguarding the long-term well-being of Indianapolis?

Friday, August 15, 2014
(WAKA Montgomery)

Alabama's Pre-K program is ranked one of the highest in the nation, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. This year, more Pre-K classes are open than ever before, and more than 1,800 additional children are enrolled, thanks to the expansion of the state's "First Class" grant program.

Friday, August 15, 2014
(90.5 WESA)

The skills of reading, writing and basic math are attained by some children who attend preschool.  This can provide preschoolers with a significant head start over children with no pre-kindergarten education. Studies have shown the gap between the two groups  grows as their schooling progresses. The benefits of preschool are especially important for children deemed “at risk.” These advantages of have led many parents and politicians, including civic leaders in Pittsburgh and across the state of Pennsylvania, to call for state-funded preschool. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014
(New York Times)

Like increasing numbers of low-income mothers and fathers, Ms. Navarro is at the center of a new collision that pits sophisticated workplace technology against some fundamental requirements of parenting, with particularly harsh consequences for poor single mothers . . . . Scheduling is now a powerful tool to bolster profits, allowing businesses to cut labor costs with a few keystrokes. “It’s like magic,” said Charles DeWitt, vice president for business development at Kronos, which supplies the software for Starbucks and many other chains.

Yet those advances are injecting turbulence into parents’ routines and personal relationships, undermining efforts to expand preschool access, driving some mothers out of the work force and redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families, say parents, child care providers and policy experts.

Thursday, August 14, 2014
(Lancaster Online)

Kindergartners may not have to do literary analysis, but academic expectations for the new students are definitely rising in public schools. Experts call this shift toward higher academic expectations a push-down effect. Policymakers across the nation are increasingly concerned about how American students rank on international comparisons, and education reformers often point to third-grade test scores as an indicator for later academic success. With that focus, the pressure on earlier grades has heated up.

Thursday, August 14, 2014
(Chicago Mag)

And somewhat amazingly, a baby’s level of level of anticipatory smiling—her interest in sharing positive experiences—seems to predict future social behavior. . .

This interest led me to the work of James Heckman, the Nobel-winning economist who’s one of the most prominent advocates for investment in early-childhood education.  it’s about an intensive, small-scale early-childhood programs that took place in the past. But this one took place in a developing country—in Kingston, Jamaica. And it dealt with extremely young and extremely poor children, from nine to 24 months who were “growth-retarded": stunted from malnutrition. Heckman and his colleagues found that these extremely disadvantaged children, developmentally behind their peers just a handful of months into their life, saw immense benefits decades after the program.

Thursday, August 14, 2014
(West Orange Times & Observer)

Now, more than half of Matthew’s Hope’s clients are women and young children, making the need for a preschool even greater. He hopes the preschool will solve some of those issues so parents can concentrate on their job search knowing their children are in a safe environment. What Billue doesn’t want to do is provide a simple babysitting service.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A preschool director and a Rutgers University researcher will be honored by Preschool Advantage at its 11th Annual Turning Leaves Gala.

Preschool Advantage provides tuition for preschool education in Morris County and the surrounding communities for children of families in need.

This year's celebration will honor W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. Barnett is being recognized for his work in the field of economics of early education, including the long-term effects of preschool programs on children's learning and development, according to a news release from Preschool Advantage.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

While the United States prides itself on its family values, it is one of only three industrialized nations not offering maternity care. The other two arePapua New Guinea and Oman. In a poll conducted by The National Partnership for Women and Families in 2012, 86 percent of Americans wanted some kind of paid parental leave, including 73 percent of Republican voters. Still, a bill that proposes paid family and sick leave for employees penned by congressional Democrats has not one Republican supporter in Congress.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
(New York Times (Opinion))

Earlier this year, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released “the first comprehensive look at civil rights from every public school in the country in nearly 15 years.” As the report put it: “The 2011-2012 release shows that access to preschool programs is not a reality for much of the country. In addition, students of color are suspended more often than white students, and black and Latino students are significantly more likely to have teachers with less experience who aren’t paid as much as their colleagues in other schools.”

Attorney General Eric Holder, remarking on the data, said: “This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
(Cape Gazette (DE))

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell has announced a $1,000,000 fiscal year 2014 grant award to Delaware as part of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program established by the Affordable Care Act.  These funds will allow Delaware home visiting programs to continue and expand voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy and to parents with young children up to age 5.

“The Home Visiting Program helps to ensure that young families have the option to participate in a program that promotes their children’s healthy growth and development,” Burwell said.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
(MinnPost)

Head Start, of course, is much more than child care. It is full-on early childhood education. The educators who work with children and families are not simply supervising kids to make sure they have a safe place to be. They are using curriculum and instruction to give students that well-documented boost as they go into kindergarten.

As with most areas of education, it’s important for Head Start to be well-funded and to invite democratic participation from families and educators. The state and local early childhood and family education programs the serve a similar function deserve the same. Public understanding of the significance of high-quality opportunities for very young children has been growing clearer, and public programs like Head Start have a critical role to play in ensuring we have a robust system to guarantee those opportunities.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
(EdWeek )

Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia, which have already won federal grants to bolster their early-learning systems—or have robust early-childhood programs in place—could tap into even more money to improve preschool programs, under a new, $250 million "preschool development" grant competition announced by the Obama administration Wednesday.

And 15 states and Puerto Rico, which are just getting started on their early-learning programs would be able to compete, on a somewhat separate track, for a portion of those funds.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
(90.5 WESA)

Up to $20 million is up for grabs for Pennsylvania, under a new grant competition announced in Pittsburgh. The funds are to be used for expanding access to early-childhood learning programs. Ensuring all children have access to high-quality pre-K programs, Duncan said, is a critical investment into the future.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
(The Stranger)

After a year's worth of work carefully researching and crafting a policy, the city council and the mayor this spring proposed a pilot preschool program they'd send to the fall ballot. If voters approve it, it'll be paid for by a four-year, $58 million property tax levy, costing average homeowners a little more than $3.50 a month. (Research shows that quality pre-K programs, among many benefits, can increase graduation rates and reduce incarceration rates; they offer generous returns on the public investment.) Starting in the 2015 school year, 280 of Seattle's 3- and 4-year-olds will have access to publicly funded preschool with sliding scale tuition, with free tuition for low-income families. That will ramp up annually until it serves 2,000 preschoolers in the 2018 school year. (There are approximately 12,000 3- and 4-year-olds in the city.) The plan is to expand enrollment even further if all goes well. Mayor Ed Murray's proposal cites an eventual "goal of serving all eligible and interested children within 20 years."

While that limited scale and slow ramp-up is deliberate to keep quality standards high as the program grows, according to city council president Tim Burgess, not everyone's thrilled.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
(Fox 31 Denver)

In November, Denver voters will decide whether to approve a small sales tax increase, which could have a big impact on the lives of young children. The Denver City Council has approved a ballot measure that would increase the sales tax by .15%, 15 cents for every $100 spent, in order to expand funding for the Denver Preschool Program.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
(The Clarion-Ledger)

Mississippi's pilot preschool program will provide learning to more than 2,000 students this school year. The Legislature approved $3 million this year to continue with implementation of the first state-sponsored pre-kindergarten program.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
(The Washington Post)

Head Start, which costs about $8 billion a year and serves a million children and families nationwide, has been under pressure to improve quality amid reports of fiscal mismanagement and questionable academic outcomes. Many advocates for early childhood education say the new system is necessary to improve the quality of Head Start but it could use some improvements, including more timely notification for grantees. “I would be surprised if there were not some bumps in the road, but overall I think this is a very good thing,” said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
(SF Gate)

On August 12, Bank Street College of Education kicks off the first sessions of a professional development institute for thousands of early childhood educators, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education. The Institute, titled “Getting Ready for Pre-K,” will prepare teachers, assistant teachers, and paraprofessionals to answer Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call to provide high-quality, full-day pre-Kindergarten services in public schools and Community Based Early Childhood Centers for more than 50,000 children across New York.

Monday, August 11, 2014
(Herald-Tribune)

More than 8,000 public preschoolers were suspended at least once, and some multiple times, during the 2011-12 school year, according to the Civil Rights Data Collection conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. During that year, black students represented 18 percent of preschool enrollment and 48 percent of students suspended more than once. Boys represented 54 percent of the preschool population and 82 percent of preschool children suspended multiple times. A child's early education, which includes preschool and elementary school, sets the foundation for future success. And for at-risk children with histories of poverty, abuse or neglect, this foundation reduces their likelihood of dropping out of school, having children as teenagers, or becoming entangled in the criminal justice system. Sadly, the CRDC data further support a rising trend in our nation to discipline young, bright children with a "zero tolerance" policy that is setting them up for failure. "If you have a preschool and you expel the children who need it the most, you're sabotaging your rate of return," according to Walter S. Gilliam, a psychology professor at Yale University and director of the school's Child Study Center.

Monday, August 11, 2014
(The Intelligencer)

Can investing in high-quality early learning programs save money for Bucks County taxpayers?

It’s a largely undisputed fact that attending high-quality pre-k sets a child up for success in school and life — particularly children who face academic obstacles due to poverty and other factors beyond their control. A report released last month by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, demonstrates the clear link between socioeconomic factors and a child’s readiness to start kindergarten. Ensuring the right start for these children through quality early learning programs increases their chances of finishing high school, attending college and remaining consistently employed with higher earnings down the road. . . 

In fact, the latest State of Preschool Yearbook from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) shows that Pennsylvania dropped to 30th out of 41 states that provide pre-k access for 4-year-olds (down from 28th a year earlier).

 

Monday, August 11, 2014
(The Advertiser (Gannett))

Louisiana has one of the nation's highest rates of children living in poverty, impacting numerous factors that affect their well-being.

And despite efforts to make improvements, a national survey shows problems continue to exist.

WalletHub, a national study group that looks at economic and social issues, ranked Louisiana 41st among 50 states and the District of Columbia in its ranking of "2014 Best and Worst States for Underprivileged Children." The state ranks 37th in early foundations and economic well-being, 37th in health and 49th in education.

Saturday, August 9, 2014
(NWA Online)

Word of mouth was the only advertisement needed when the Springdale School District added seats to a prekindergarten program this fall. There will be 980 classroom spots for children ages 3 and 4 this fall, said Darlene Fleeman, Springdale prekindergarten director and principal. Late Thursday morning, there were 41 seats left. Six parents came in to enroll students just before noon, she said. She's applied for an extension that would add 60 more children, Fleeman said. . . 

The National Institute for Early Education Research gave Arkansas high marks in its State of Preschool 2013 report. The state scored a 9 out of 10 on quality standards, ranked 12th in state spending and 14th in availability. The report estimated 51 percent of 4-year-old children in Arkansas were enrolled in either state-backed programs run by public and private entities, special education or federal Head Start programs, compared with a national average of 41 percent. Ten states had no program. Arkansas was one of 11 states with a full school day program