Volume 13, Issue 20

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hot Topics

September may have come to a close, but the lessons of Attendance Awareness Month remain important throughout the school year. NIEER has written before about the high rates of “chronic absenteeism” (missing 10 percent of school days or more) in early childhood education programs and the implications for student learning. AttendanceWorks, an organization committed to reducing chronic absenteeism, provides recommendations for all levels of the educational system, including pre-K, and offers materials schools and programs can use to raise family awareness of the importance of regular attendance. Research Connections’ resource compilation demonstrates the scope of the chronic absenteeism problem, particularly in early childhood, when parents may think regular attendance does not matter due to the stigma that it is not “real” school.

A new report from the Hamilton Project, exploring the earning potential across different college majors, found that early childhood education students face the lowest average lifetime salary of all majors in a Bachelors degree program, as shown in this graphic. Low pay has serious ramifications for recruiting talent for the classroom; as one recent graduate (now preschool teacher) says in The Washington Post, “I was lucky to be able to pursue my dream career....Economic barriers keep talented students out of this field. It’s hard to pay for school, housing and food on your own.” NIEER has blogged previously about the need for a highly-qualified, well-compensated teaching force in early childhood education as well as the need to create a truly professional class of early educators. A new report from Marcy Whitebook of Center for the Study of Child Care Employment explores the public perception as well as history of early childhood education and offers several suggestions for promoting a skilled and stable early care and education workforce for the 21st century.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In an age of education data for accountability, what is meaningful and developmentally appropriate assessment in early childhood education? In a new blog, NIEER/CEELO Assistant Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers addresses some key concerns and recommends tools for pre-K and Kindergarten assessment.


The 2014 U.S. Preparedness Report, released by Save the Children, profiles emergency preparedness requirements and best practices for families, child care, and schools.

This report, from from the Televisa Foundation and Child Trends Hispanic Institute, provides an updated national look at the state of Hispanic children in America. The report focuses on economic, social, and educational issues.

A new report from the Ounce of Prevention Fund and MassInsight Education discusses the federal funding for school turnaround, and calls for changing the metrics for success to prioritize an emphasis on early childhood education.

The Harvard Family Research Project article discusses best practices for sharing data with families to enhance children’s school readiness, including helpful tips for teachers and parents.

CEELO Update

This webinar, sponsored by both CEELO and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), examines how annual preschool information from the states can be used for planning, policy development and program improvement. Both a recording of the webinar and slides are available. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014 -
12:30pm to 4:30pm

The National Center for Children in Poverty is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an afternoon celebrating progress made and the path ahead. Panel discussions will also be streamed online, available here

Thursday, October 9, 2014 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm

Join Children Now and speakers from the Center For Youth Wellness and Californians for Safety and Justice for a webinar focusing on how toxic stress impacts California's children, families, and communities. The webinar will focus on defining toxic stress; its connection to health care, public health, and public safety; and next steps to increase prevention and mitigate the impact of toxic stress on children.

The webinar begins at 2pm EST, 11am PST.

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 10, 2014 - 5:00pm

The McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership is now accepting proposals for its May 2015 Leadership Connections confernece. Proposals will be selected based on knowledge and skill-building through highly interactive facilitation and audience participation. Proposals will be accepted until October 10, 2014.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 6:30pm

This forum will explore the benefits of early childhood education and a discussion of how tax resources are allocated in the education system.

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, October 24, 2014 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm

This webinar will preview the QRIS Online Compendium (qriscompendium.org) which is a catalog and comparison of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) to promote thoughtful design, analysis and ongoing improvement in early care and education systems building. This website demonstration will walk participants through the three main data tools from qriscompendium.org: 1) detailed profiles on a number of dimensions of QRIS for all of the systems operating in the US, 2) top ten facts about QRIS from 2014, and 3) the functionality to create customizable data reports about QRIS. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 8:00am to Saturday, November 8, 2014 - 5:00pm

Several NIEER researchers will be presenting at the 2014 NAEYC Conference, "Delivering on the Promise of Early Learning":

  • NIEER Researchers Alissa Lange, Kimberly Brenneman, and Jorie Quinn will present "Incorporating language into early math instruction using research-based, developmentally appropriate strategies and activities" (Omni Dallas Hotel, Dallas Ballroom F. 11/6/14, 10AM)
  • Kimberly Brenneman will also be contributing to the sessions "C4L (Connect4Learning): Interdisciplinary early childhood education including mathematics, science, literacy, and social-emotional development" (Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Ballroom C2. 11/5/2014, 8:30AM)  and "Integrating science, technology, and engineering in pre-K: Step up your practice by transforming common 'good start' preschool activities into intellectually rigorous, developmentally appropriate experiences" (Hutchison Convention Center, Room D166. 11/6/2014, 3PM)
  • NIEER Fellow Dorothy Strickland will be presenting at the sessions "Linking literacy standards, instruction, and assessment across the pre- to grade 2 continuum" (Convention Center. 11/6/2014, 10AM) and "Revelations and recommendations: Working on behalf of black children" (Omni Dallas Hotel. 11/6/2014, 7PM). 
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 -
11:45am to 1:00pm

NIEER's Associate DIrector of Research Milagros Nores will be speaking as part of the Rutgers GSE "Brown Bag Series." This presentation will focus on up cognitive, linguistic, socio-emotional, nutritional and social effects of this comprehensive educational and nutritional 0-5 intervention in north eastern Colombia. The event will be held in Room 124 of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education.

Friday, November 14, 2014 - 8:30am to Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 1:00pm

The conference will focus on "The Power of the Teacher-Child Relationship: Encouraging, Inspiring, Transforming"

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. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015 -
4:00pm to 5:30pm

This event is part of the New York City Wonder of Learning Serioes. 

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, October 3, 2014
(The Davis Enterprise)

Preschool can lift children from poverty. Top high schools prepare students for college. A college degree boosts pay over a lifetime. And the U.S. economy would grow faster if more people stayed in school longer. Plenty of data back them up. But the data also show something else: Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they’re widening the nation’s wealth gap. When the Great Recession struck in late 2007 and squeezed most family budgets, the top 10 percent of earners — with incomes averaging $253,146 —€” went in a different direction: They doubled down on their kids’ futures. . . 

Wealthier parents can also afford high-quality day care, which better prepares children for kindergarten, said Steven Barnett, director at the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Thursday, October 2, 2014
(Vineyard Gazette)

As a conversation unfolds in Massachusetts and around the country on the value of pre-kindergarten learning and whether it should be incorporated into public school education, interviews with early childhood educators on the Island reveals a similar conversation is quietly taking place here. Marney Toole, a longtime early childhood educator who coordinates the council for young children on the Island, said the idea of universal preschool is expected to be on the table for discussion this year. Across the water in Mashpee, universal preschool is being offered for the first time this year to all four year olds. Cost can be a barrier. Nearly all Island preschools are private and cost anywhere from $800 to upwards of $1,000 a month for full-time enrollment. The Vineyard school system runs the only public preschool on the Island, Project Headway, which began in 1981 and is primarily for students with special needs. Students without special needs attend as well, but they pay tuition. This year, there are 14 students with individual education plans (IEPs) and 16 peer models enrolled at Project Headway. . . 

As a result of a push-down effect from the upper grades, kindergarten teachers must make sure they are preparing their students for first and second grade and beyond, educators said. This means more time spent writing, reading and developing math skills, though Ms. Searle said they do make time — 30 to 45 minutes per day — for play. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014
(The Huffington Post [Op-Ed])

This fall we're welcoming more than 300 three- and four-year olds at Head Start sites in Los Angeles and Burbank. Head Start is the federal school readiness program that serves a million low-income children across the country. Head Start is also the brilliant and enduring product of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, which miraculously survived the politics and fashions of the last 50 years. . .

What about Head Start's outcomes? Does it have lasting impact on children or is it another waste of taxpayer money? That's about as useful as asking whether or not High School works. Studies can support either point of view. What's most important is this: quality programs produce quality outcomes. And of course substandard programs produce poor outcomes. Another consideration: Head Start has been the driving force in improving child outcomes, because every bump in the road has spurred improvements and innovation. While most school systems are struggling with huge numbers of English language learners, Head Start is a leader in the field. And what public school system requires failing schools to recompete when they don't deliver quality education to their students?

Thursday, October 2, 2014
(NWI Times)

Local leaders and early childhood education experts made a pitch to support investing in early childhood education as an economic tool. Phillip Peterson, co-chairman of ReadyNation and a partner at Aon Hewitt in Pennsylvania, said almost every state in the United States has a business roundtable talking about the importance of early childhood education initiatives.

"Business knows the single most important factor in the workforce is human capital," he said. "U.S. worker capabilities are declining, and more workers are coming from other countries. Many of those workers are also going to school in the United States. The best option for Indiana and for the U.S. is to invest in people, young children and families."

Thursday, October 2, 2014
(SCV News)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) announced Thursday that the California Department of Education has allocated $67 million to add 7,500 preschool slots for low-income Californians. “This is a great investment in our future. The expansion of high-quality preschool gives more children the opportunity to obtain the emotional and social skills they need to become lifelong learners,” Torlakson said. “It will help them succeed in school, at the workplace, and in their communities.”

These funds are part of the $264 million that will be spent on expanding early childhood education this budget year, which includes adding a total of 11,500 preschool slots and 1,000 slots with priority given to infants and toddlers. Eventually, the state will be creating preschool opportunities for an additional 31,500 young children.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

 Lily Endowment Inc., Early Learning Indiana and United Way of Central Indiana will continue their longstanding commitment to early childhood education in Indiana. The organizations are working together to improve the quality of programs for children from birth to age five. Lily has made a grant of $20 million to Early Learning Indiana to allow an increase in the quality and quantity of early childhood education opportunities across Indiana.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
(Salt Lake Tribune)

The commission also set as a priority the placement of young children in safe and developmentally appropriate settings. "Children, regardless of income, should be cared for in settings that will offer quality care to ensure children develop appropriate social, emotional and behavioral skills to prepare them for school and life," the report said.

And the commission highlighted the preparation of young children to enter kindergarten. "Expand opportunities for young children in poverty for enrollment in high-quality preschool settings in all areas of the state, including rural communities," the report recommended.

Monday, September 29, 2014
(Huffington Post (Education))

We must continue to raise quality in order to provide children with the kind of early experiences that are proven to boost high school graduation, increase college enrollment and completion, reduce crime and prepare a skilled workforce for the 21st century. Unfortunately, California falls short compared to so many other states -- we meet 4 of 10 quality benchmarks as defined by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The state's $50 million investment in supporting quality at the local levels is one important way we can begin to change this.

Monday, September 29, 2014
(DNAinfo New York)

Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged that this year's free pre-K classes would all be "high quality." But what does that look like? DNAinfo New York asked experts—including those who've spent years in classrooms teaching 4-year-olds as well as professional development experts responsible for training pre-K teachers—what parents should consider when choosing or evaluating a pre-K program.

Monday, September 29, 2014
(Roll Call)

While 14 million American families have a child younger than school age, child care and preschool are quickly becoming a luxury only the rich can afford. Child care costs exceed nearly every other household expense, and for families with two or more children, child care costs exceed the median rent cost in every state. On average, families pay anywhere from $4,000 to $16,000 per year for a child care center, depending on the geographic location and the age of the child.

Saturday, September 27, 2014
(Sioux City Journal)

Preschool teachers in districts participating in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program must obtain a bachelor’s degree in education and must also have an early childhood endorsement. The program, established in 2007, provides funding to participating districts to ensure area students have access to early childhood education programs. According to the Iowa Department of Education, 320 of the state's 346 districts were expected to participate in the program this year. . . 

“I think that early childhood isn’t something that every college has because they may have not had the numbers,” she said. “But now some colleges are adjusting.”

Saturday, September 27, 2014
(The Commercial Appeal)

 Four urban Indiana counties selected for a state-funded preschool pilot program will launch it in early 2015, officials said Wednesday during a day of meetings among state and local officials and educators.

Marion (Indianapolis), Allen (Fort Wayne), Lake (Gary) and Vanderburgh (Evansville) County preschools will begin enrolling low-income children receiving state vouchers in January, with rural Jackson County in southern Indiana following later in 2015, WIBC-FM reported.

Friday, September 26, 2014
(Wyoming Public Media)

Wyoming spends a lot of money educating its children. The state comes in sixth place in per-student spending for K-12. But when you look at outcomes—like graduation rates—we’re stuck in the middle of the pack. Some educators say the key to boosting student performance is to put more focus on children before they start kindergarten. Wyoming is one of 10 states without state-funded preschool. And statewide survey data from 2009 showed that only slightly more than half of all kindergartners were considered “kindergarten-ready.” Recent efforts to expand and improve early education in Wyoming have been rejected by lawmakers. Research like Berry’s makes clear that what we experience in our first years of life--interactions, stresses, trauma—that all impacts our ability to think and learn throughout school and beyond. “We see that investing in early interventions and programs is more effective and more efficient than investing later in remediation and treatment,” Berry says.

Thursday, September 25, 2014
(Houston Chronicle)

Access to preschool programs - and their quality - varies widely across Texas. A broad coalition of Houston-area executives, educators and nonprofit groups assembled by Houston's premier business organization is working to change that, though a major hurdle remains: securing funding in a state that ranks toward the bottom in pre-K spending per pupil. . . 

W. Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, said he's seen big cities increasingly take the lead in pushing states to improve pre-K. He said the benefits of a longer day depend on the effectiveness of the instruction. Texas' pre-K program meets only two of the institute's 10 benchmarks of quality, but it ranked in the top fifth in terms of access.

Thursday, September 25, 2014
(Inside Indiana Business)

An early education initiative supported by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and local business leaders has received a pledge of $500,000 from the PNC Foundation. Indiana is one of only 10 states without state-funded preschool program for underserved children. Central to this initiative is a commitment to address some of the "root causes" of poverty and crime through investments in quality early childhood education programs for at-risk children.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
(The Tampa Tribune)

As Early Head Start celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and the Head Start program is about to mark its half-century, a timely reassessment of the program’s effectiveness and the problems it sought to address is overdue. . . 

Studies differ as to the extent of the benefits of this federal investment; some report that children benefit well into their twenties, while others suggest the benefits disappear by third grade. When teamed with high-quality, evidence-based and performance-oriented pre-K programs, however, public funding has been successful.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
(Bloomberg Businessweek)

The second time around, there's no more denying early childhood education a place on the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's "Big 5" goals. The future social and economic health of the region depends on strong education, and schools are increasingly strained in playing their part, superintendents said. "Early intervention is absolutely critical," Shawnee Mission Superintendent Jim Hinson said. That means boosting not only pre-kindergarten classroom programming, but reaching out to parents and the communities raising children from birth to 3.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
(The Kansas City Star)

As national discourse, fueled by President Barack Obama’s new campaign for universal pre-kindergarten, begins anew with billion-dollar questions to be answered, know this: Parents such as the Griners want preschool — badly. More than 1,000 children across the Kansas City area sit on public preschool waiting lists, a survey by The Star shows. . . 

Kansas City Public Schools, in announcing an ambitious vision to create a district-community network to reach 6,000 preschoolers in its neighborhoods by 2015, put its price at $40 million. Missouri Sen. Joseph Keaveny hasn’t yet figured the fiscal note that would be tied to his legislation that proposes letting school districts count their preschool enrollment in the daily attendance counts that determine state funding allotment.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Sixty-five percent of Alabama kids under age 6 have both parents in the work force.

So while their parents work, many of those children spend their days at child care centers, preschool or kindergarten.

The child care and early education industries are critical not just to those 192,000 children, but also the state's economy, contended a new report released by a group arguing for more investment, and higher standards, in early care programs.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Megan Carolan, Policy Research Coordinator at NIEER explained how her organization developed its quality standards (p. 24-25). NIEER is an independent research-based organization out of Rutgers University.

"We actually review the research base on each of the ten benchmarks," Carolan said. "We've selected these 10 standards which are highly supported by the research."

NIEER's standards are only meant to be a baseline for state pre-k programs.

"Our hope was never to have the 10 benchmarks serve as a ceiling; rather, we want states to use them as benchmarks to track their own progress in achieving quality, first by meeting them and then by going even beyond them," Carolan said.

Monday, September 22, 2014
(Chalkbeat Indiana)

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s ambitious preschool program is in danger of being scrapped altogether after being stripped of its proposed funding method with no alternatives on the table.

City-County Council Democrats have said they are working to find another way to pay for Ballard’s $50 million preschool program — besides an elimination of the local homestead tax credit.

But nothing was unveiled at tonight’s council meeting except a statement from the council’s top Democrats that they would work to find an approach to fund preschool for 2016 — nearly two years from now. Until then, Council President Maggie Lewis and Vice President John Barth said children could be served next year by the state’s much smaller pilot program, which will reach nearly 800 economically disadvantaged four-year-olds in Marion County.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Calls for more preschool funding dominated the conversation Monday as Education Superintendent John White trekked to New Orleans to share his vision for the restructuring the state's child care system. Preschool providers and educators questioned how such changes would be financed for over the long-term, and wondered what additional cash was immediately available.

Monday, September 22, 2014

As the curtain begins to close on the 113th Congress, lawmakers showcased a brief burst of bipartisanship to push forward on two education measures that had been languishing in the legislative pipeline, one that underwrites child care for low-income families and another that directs federal education research.

Though neither bill is a blockbuster—and one got snared in wrangling over a single provision—the fact that they made the short list of actionable items last week just before the pre-election recess was impressive given the number of high-profile competing interests.