Volume 13, Issue 3

Friday, February 7, 2014

Hot Topics

Preschool has been a hot topic for a while now.  For the second year in a row, the President highlighted it in the State of the Union speech, January 28th. The New York Times followed up with two editorials and one research article (in one weekend) on the value of preschool, and there were House and Senate hearings this past week to air various policy positions on providing universal pre-K. Bipartisan support for expanding access to preschool appears to be growing, although concerns about how to fund programs continue. (NIEER has blogged about how preschool may pay for itself). The U.S. Department of Education is now accepting public comment on preschool grants in the 2014 budget. Cities and school districts in states that are not promoting preschool as strongly are looking for federal and other support to provide preschool programs their citizens want. 

The National Science Teachers Association has released a position statement in support of teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) during early childhood education, affirming “that learning science and engineering practices in the early years can foster children’s curiosity and enjoyment in exploring the world around them and lay the foundation for a progression of science learning in K–12 settings and throughout their entire lives.” Recently, NIEER Researcher Kim Brenneman explored exciting developments in the STEM early education world, and a TweetChat organized by Preschool Nation brought a number of diverse voices together to discuss the importance of STEM.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

NIEER Senior Research Fellow Jim Squires writes about critical questions in the policy process--and how to prepare policymakers to move forward on implementing thoughtful policy.

From the Brookings blog Social Mobility Memos, NIEER Director Steve Barnett discusses why even modest positive effects may be meaningful in terms of evaluating preschool impact on child outcomes.

NIEER Assistant Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers blogs about the value of implementing State Education Agency policies cohesively. She highlights the importance of considering the role of early childhood educators and classrooms with respect to implementing current pressing state policy issues including teacher evaluation and Common Core State Standards.


The  National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector is undertaking a census of Montessori programs across the US, and asking all programs to visit the census site to answer 30 questions.

This policy report from the Society for Research in Child Development, Multilingual Children: Beyond Myths and Towards Best Practices examines best practices for multilingual children, and multiple avenues for delivering information about those practices to families. NIEER Research Fellow Stephanie Curenton is a contributor, commenting on including dialect as an aspect of being multilingual.

Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America, is a new report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center on findings from a national survey of more than 1,500 parents. They were asked about how much of their child’s media time was spent on educational content. Children’s reading time was also discussed.

EdWeek reported on a University of Virginia Kindergarten study working paper, finding an increased focus on early childhood literacy, and less time spent on play, art, and science. EdWeek reports: “The impact has been felt most by minorities and the poor, researchers wrote, because low-income and non-white students are the most likely to find high stakes associated with binding accountability policies.”

NIEER Activities

NIEER Assistant Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers has published a chapter entitled “Supporting Language and Literacy Development in Quality Preschools” in the recent book “Best Practices in Early Literacy Instruction,” edited by Diane M. Barone and Marla H. Mallette, now available in paperback from Guilford Press.

NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett spoke at a recent Demos/American Prospect event, Early Education for All: The Promise of Universal Preschool in NYC & Beyond. The full panel discussion is available online.

This 3-part series, co-produced by the NJ Department of Education and Advocates for Children of NJ with funding provided by Foundation for Child Development, highlights best practices in kindergarten based on the comprehensive NJ Kindergarten Implementation Guidelines. Dorothy Strickland, Rutgers University Education Professor, Emerita and NIEER Distinguished Research Fellow, discusses developmentally appropriate teaching practices in the kindergarten classroom. The kindergarteners and their teachers are from Red Bank Primary School in Red Bank, NJ.  

CEELO Update

Have you visited CEELO's website recently?  There you will find new resources posted weekly under 

Selected Resources. Also, check CEELO Products regularly.  Newly posted there, under the Policy Briefs tab is the Executive Summary of  Building Capacity Through an Early Education Leadership Academy (Full Report) by Stacie G. Goffin, EdD.  Beneath the FastFacts tab you will find recent short information briefs, including: Information and Resources on Developing State Policy on Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA)--This FastFact provides information about KEA measures used by other states, the processes states have used to develop their KEA state policy, and how states are supporting the training and professional development of practitioners and administrators in various settings. 

The State of America’s Children

The Children’s Defense Fund has released The State of America’s Children 2014, a report on issues relevant to child well-being, from nutrition to education, and including juvenile justice, child poverty, family structure and more. A section on Early Childhood covers Head Start and home visiting programs as well.


Parent Engagement from Preschool through Grade 3: A Guide for Policymakers.

This report makes the case that effective parent engagement during the span from preschool through the early grades is a key contributor to children’s positive academic outcomes. It presents research, program, and policy information that can inform state initiatives to strengthen parent engagement during preschool through grade 3, such as promising models designed for culturally diverse, low-income families, examples of state parent engagement initiatives, a summary of research, and recommendations


Tuesday, February 11, 2014 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm

The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) offers free professional learning materials on pressing challenges related to educator quality. Adaptable and customizable to state needs, these easy-to-use materials are designed for regional center staff, state agency staff, and a range of education stakeholders.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 -
12:00pm to 1:15pm

This webinar will be the first in a 3-part series designed to help participants think about the overall components that frame effective PreK-3rd Grade efforts and to detail some of the ways schools and districts have brought these ideas to life. This webinar showcases FirstSchool, highlighting how districts in North Carolina and Michigan are working to improve the school experiences of PreK-3rd grade African-American, Latino and low-income children. 

Friday, March 14, 2014 - 8:00am to Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 5:00pm

T&L 2014 is where the profession meets to secure the future of PreK-12 education. From the Common Core State Standards to education technology to advancing issues of equity in the classroom, educators from all types of classroom settings will have unique opportunities to share their stories, gain new tools, learn from the nation’s top innovators and get inspired to achieve greatness in their classrooms and communities.

Monday, May 5, 2014 - 8:00am to Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 5:00pm

The National Smart Start Conference is the nation’s largest conference devoted to early education systems and strategies. The conference provides advanced professional development for early education leaders committed to improving the quality of and access to early childhood services for all children ages birth to five.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 8:00am to Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 5:00pm

The Inclusion Institute is the premier event for people from all early childhood sectors to come together to learn, share, and problem-solve about inclusion for young 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.

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, February 6, 2014
(The Hartford Courant)

Providing access to preschool for every child in the state would begin next year with a $14 million investment to provide preschool for 1,020 slots. The number of slots would grow to 4,010 in 2019 at a projected cost of $51 million. "We know that early education is one of the best ways to level the playing field for students," Malloy said. "We know it because we've seen it firsthand." Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle applauded the proposal. "It's always been bipartisan," said Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, co-chairwoman of the appropriations committee.

Thursday, February 6, 2014
(The Chattanoogan)

Senator Lamar Alexander urged Congress to fully implement the 200 Head Start Centers of Excellence it previously authorized in 2007, saying “the question is not whether, but how best to make early childhood education available to the largest possible number of children in order to give them more of an equal opportunity.”

The senator delivered his remarks at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He said Washington should give states additional flexibility to pool existing federal, state and local funds to improve their early childhood education programs, such as through the 200 Head Start Centers of Excellence around the country, instead of falling back “into the familiar Washington pattern” of creating mandates and making states pay for the federal government’s promises.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
(Santa Fe New Mexican)

The Senate Rules Committee voted 5-4 Wednesday morning to advance a bill that would tap the state's largest endowment to help pay for early childhood education. . . . By Sanchez's estimate, the change would make available about $100 million a year for early childhood education. In addition, this would employ about 5,000 people across the state, in cities and rural areas, Sanchez said.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
(MLive News)

Michigan students of all ages will have more money flowing into their classrooms if Gov. Rick Snyder's budget recommendations are adopted, but preschool and higher education students may stand to benefit the most from proposed changes.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Republican governors and lawmakers who now control a majority of state capitols have been pushing aggressively to cut spending and shrink government--with one glaring exception. Many are pumping new money into preschool programs at a rate equaling or even exceeding the Democratic-dominated capitols stereotypically cast as big spenders. . . . "At the state level, this is not a cut and dry partisan issue -- it's governors really kind of looking at the data and investing the funds where they know it's going to do the most," said Megan Carolan, policy research coordinator at The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Providing our early childhood educators access to data regarding their students will help them to better identify the needs of our youngest children and develop individualized approaches and learning plans for them that will ultimately lead to improved outcomes not only in their early childhood education but also as they transition between pre-kindergarten and kindergarten," said Jennifer Ranji, secretary of the Delaware Department of Services for Children Youth and Their Families, which oversees the Office of Early Learning.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The increased spending in early-childhood education comes after several years when money was shifted away from such programs, said W. Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. NIEER's latest preschool report covers the 2011-12 school year, and notes that state funding had fallen by $400 per child compared with the previous year, bringing funding down to an average of $3,841 per child despite stagnant enrollment. In 2011-12, about 1.3 million children were enrolled in state-funded preschool, according to NIEER.

Monday, February 3, 2014
(New York Times)

Preschool is having its moment, as a favored cause for politicians and interest groups who ordinarily have trouble agreeing on the time of day. President Obama devoted part of his State of the Union address to it, while the deeply red states of Oklahoma and Georgia are being hailed as national models of preschool access and quality, with other states and cities also forging ahead on their own.

Monday, February 3, 2014
(MinnPost (Commentary))

Children who enter kindergarten with a history of exposure to science- and math-related words and experiences are much more likely to succeed throughout their entire academic careers. Children who are supported in asking questions, making observations, testing their ideas, and articulating their experiences are children who are developing the thinking skills that are so important in school and life.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mayor Julian Castro called on the federal government Monday to expand access for preschool funding to local entities and school districts “because some of us are locked in state governments that don't fully understand the value of early childhood education.” 

Castro was the keynote speaker at an early childhood education conference hosted by the Education Writers Association at Tulane University. He discussed the city's Pre-K 4 SA program before about 40 education reporters. A longitudinal study conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research will measure Pre-K 4 SA participants' achievement through the third grade to ensure accountability, he said. Castro traced enrollment challenges in the program's first year to a memorandum of understanding with school districts that outlined a process that he called “not ideal” but has since changed.

Saturday, February 1, 2014
(The Salt Lake Tribune)

Close to 3,000 athletes will be competing in 15 different sporting events at the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but there is one thing virtually all of us have in common: We didn’t make it here overnight. . . .I know my success has been driven by my ability to focus and maintain self-control, to be patient but persistent in the effort to develop new skills, and to listen and respond effectively to the counsel of my coaches.

High quality preschool experiences can develop these abilities as well

Thursday, January 30, 2014
(Education Lab Blog at The Seattle Times)

As part of the city of Seattle’s discussions about preschool, Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess has organized a hearing next week where two researchers will discuss their recent studies on the value of preschool. One of those studies focuses on the program in Boston Public Schools, which Burgess and others see as possible model for Seattle. To date, Boston’s program has seen some of the best success in preparing students for school, the researchers say.

Thursday, January 30, 2014
(The Atlantic)

Awareness of early education issues is as high as it’s ever been. President Obama is only one prominent member in an eclectic coalition of early education advocates. Business leaders, law enforcement, retired military leaders, charitable foundations, and Nobel-winning economists have made novel new arguments for early education investments. Lawmakers in states red, blue, and purple have reignited interest in existing programs and sometimes pushed for new investments. But have we actually expanded preschool to more kids? Not really. Have we made progress at closing achievement gaps between young students from different socioeconomic backgrounds? No. Have we sustained funding commitments after the one-time stimulus boost in 2009? Far from it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
(New York Times (Opinion))

“Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education,” Obama said. The House speaker, John Boehner, who sat stonily through most of Obama’s speech, applauded that line. Congress also unexpectedly increased financing this year for early education. . . . Aside from apple pie, preschool may also be the only issue on which voters agree. A poll last year found that 60 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats support expansion of prekindergarten. Republican-led states like Oklahoma have been leaders in early education for a simple reason: It works.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
(Chicago Sun Times (Editorial))

In the last 48 hours, two big names in Illinois politics — one the governor, the other the president of the United States — sang from the same hymnal. Invest in early childhood education, they said. And invest big. . . .The bottom line? Pre-K produces substantial long-term gains, particularly when programs are properly designed, even if there are some declines in effect right after children enter elementary school, says W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
(New York Times (Opinion))

[Comparing] preschool programs is hard because quality depends not just on factors in the classroom like the curriculum and the teacher’s skill, but also on how those factors interact with sleep, nutrition, parenting and other aspects of domestic life. Yet we know little about such interactions. To understand them, we need a national study (enrolling perhaps 15,000 children) that would collect detailed information about the family and the preschool, beginning at age 3 and continuing through at least second grade.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

No longer about bold ambitions, this year’s State of the Union address will focus more on what’s actually achievable. . . .The president also is likely to make a new pitch for two proposals that got little traction after they were first announced in last year’s address to Congress: expanding access to early childhood education and increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to at least $10 an hour.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

President Obama is expected to propose an expansion of preschool programs in his State of the Union Address. Most states have bought into the idea and restored funding for the programs. What's less clear is where the long-term funding is going to come from, and whether the quality of these programs are worth the investment.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
(Deseret News)

In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Obama returned to this theme: “Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old. As a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight.” . . . Critics outside the education community like Michelle Malkin call Obama’s prescription a “federal encroachment into our children’s lives at younger and younger ages.” Yet that argument runs up against a line of experts, including Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, who says that a universal preschool program “is one of the most important education initiatives, maybe since Brown versus Board of Education.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
(StateImpact Ohio (NPR))

President Barack Obama says he’s serious about making sure all kids have access to preschool. During his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Obama said he’s going to renew his push to help states expand their preK programs. “Research shows one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high quality early education,” he said.

Monday, January 27, 2014

NY1 VIDEO: David Nocenti, Executive Director of the Union Settlement Association, one of the city's largest child care providers; Steven Barnett, the Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, an organization that has been tracking the progress of New Jersey's Pre-K program and Ragland George, the Executive Director of DC37's Local 1707 joined Inside City Hall to discuss what it will take to implement universal Pre-K in New York.

Monday, January 27, 2014
(The Express Times-Lehigh Valley)

A statewide coalition has kicked of a campaign to ensure every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania has the chance to attend a high quality pre-kindergarten program. Pre-K for PA was launched in events across the state Thursday with civic, education, business and military leaders signing on to the effort aimed at boosting pre-K offerings across the commonwealth. Many Pennsylvania families cannot afford high quality pre-K. Fewer than 20 percent of Pennsylvania 3- and 4-year-olds have access to publicly funded, high quality programs, said Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, one of 10 nonprofit organizations involved in the campaign.

Sunday, January 26, 2014
(Democrat and Chronicle)

On Tuesday, Cuomo proposed that the state set aside $1.5 billion to fund universal prekindergarten statewide. The funding for that plan, which would make New York the fourth state in the nation to have universal prekindergarten, will not be linked to a tax increase and falls short of what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has targeted for his city.

Friday, January 24, 2014
(The Advocate)

“From a taxpayer’s perspective it makes a lot more sense to fix the problem than spending the rest of the time catching up,” said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, at the New Jersey university....“A high-quality program has the potential to eliminate almost all of the achievement gap in kindergarten,” Barnett said. “That’s a pretty big deal.”

Friday, January 24, 2014
(KPCC (California Public Radio))

Of the 135,000 children served by California’s subsidized preschool program for low-income families, 95,000 go to half-day programs. One reason might be because the state pays providers $21.22 per day per child for a half day class and $38.34 per day for a full day....[Steve] Barnett, the Rutgers professor, said daylong Pre-K has to be high quality in order to make a difference. “You can’t just increase the length of day and automatically you’ll get the results you want,” he said. “Teachers need to be prepared to use the full day.”

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jim Engster interviews Steven Barnett, Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research . . .

Friday, January 24, 2014
(SchoolBook (WNYC))

In 1997, the politicians in Albany promised every child in New York a better opportunity for school success by creating a statewide universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) program. More than 15 years later, fewer than half of the state’s 4-year-olds receive full-day pre-k....Giving New York City the autonomy to raise its own taxes in order to invest in educating its children, as [Mayor] de Blasio has proposed, would ensure real progress toward raising quality and providing a full day, while increasing access.

Friday, January 24, 2014
(Portland Press Herald)

Casino funds already funneled to state public education should be used to help pay for universal voluntary pre-kindergarten in Maine, the Legislature’s Education Committee voted Thursday....A national study put Maine 14th in the nation for offering 4-year-olds’ access to public pre-K programs, according to a survey of 2011-2012 school year data by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University in New Jersey.