Volume 13, Issue 6

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hot Topics

Utah’s Senate passed a bill to implement an early learning program funded through a social impact bond program which would provide funds from private companies for classrooms as well as at-home programs for at-risk students. Indiana has also passed legislation supporting a pilot preschool program, and will allocate existing funds to support pre-K. Conversation continues in New York, about how to fund UPK in New York City. See NIEER’s blog about New York developments for more. Children Now, in California, has released a Primer on leveraging the Local Control Funding Formula, to help make the case for funding early childhood programs in California school districts. An amendment was passed as part of Senate CCDBG legislation to help states combine funding streams for early childhood programs we well.

As part of its Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations set the target of achieving access to primary school for all children by 2015, including expanding early childhood care and education. However, a new global monitoring report from UNESCO warns it will be more than 70 years before children in poorer countries see full access to an elementary education, leading to a “global learning crisis.” Based on data from 141 countries, 37 percent had reached a goal of enrolling 80 percent of age-eligible children in pre-primary education in 2011. This rate is projected to reach 48 percent by 2015, but the report underscores that millions of vulnerable young children are still left out of learning opportunities. While many countries are trying to make strides in education (such as Vietnam and the nations of West Africa), lack of funds, government conflict, and gender inequalities continuously slow the progress of education for all, especially in impoverished countries. India’s Right to Education Act, for example, was created to close the education gap, and ultimately address major income inequalities in India, by mandating education through elementary school in facilities that provide running water and playgrounds. In the wake of its passage, however, there are reports that thousands of affordable private schools for working class families, which met high quality standards, have closed, unable to afford the requirements of the law. This struggle in India highlights the perceived tension between funding and quality in early childhood education programs. As nations continue to work to improve their early childhood and primary education systems, sharing best practices beyond borders is crucial. A new resource from Child Care Canada highlights English-language articles on the challenges and success of Finland’s child care system, as one example. 

An article reminding readers to review all the information, and the details in research reports, points out that last month’s news on declining obesity among preschoolers may be overly optimistic. The sample in the reviewed study was small, and similar studies show varied results. Scientific literacy notwithstanding, it is at least a positive sign that the media and the public are paying attention to this critical issue. Preschool programs can play a particularly important role in addressing health concerns, including obesity, for both children and their families, as discussed in a recent NIEER brief.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In this blog, NIEER researchers explore the progress of universal prekindergarten in both New York state and city, and what the latest funding proposal means for pre-K beyond its borders.

NIEER Advisory Board Chair Deborah Stipek discussed the importance of understanding good teaching in encouraging play and mathematics learning on the blog.  A summary of postings to date on play in preschool is here.


This new brief from CLASP provides a primer on Social Impact Bonds as a funding mechanism for human services, including the provision of early childhood education.

The new NC Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) has been developed to bring together North Carolina resources “ to build a foundation of opportunity and success for every child by the end of third grade.” They will focus on birth-to-age 8 issues and leverage what is already working to enhance programs and outcomes for children.

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University research center has released a website with data/mapping tools relevant to children and families. Results can be sorted nationally, or at the state, county, and metropolitan level. Indicators focus on the achievement gap, poverty, diversity, family structure, and health. Some mapping tools are restricted to 100 largest metropolitan areas.

The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at Penn has released a case study report on the Educare program, looking at short-, mid-, and long-term outcomes, and considering costs and potential actions around implementing Educare.

The Foundation for Child Development (FCD) Young Scholars Program (YSP) supports policy- and practice-relevant research on the development and learning needs of the nation's young children growing up under conditions of poverty and low-income.  YSP encourages applications from scholars who are from historically disadvantaged or underrepresented groups and represent  a variety of disciplines and methods, given that mental, physical, health, social, economic, institutional, and community factors impact early learning and child development. See guidelines, and more details here.

NIEER Activities

NIEER staff will be presenting at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA):

Alissa A. Lange and coauthors will discuss Impacts on Oral Language of an Intervention Synthesizing Early Mathematics and Make-Believe Play in the symposium Efficacy of an Intervention Synthesizing Scaffolding Designed to Promote Self-Regulation With an Early Mathematics Curriculum, on Sunday, April 6, 2014 8:15-9:45 am, Convention Center, 100 Level, 113B. Steve Barnett will participate in an Invited Session, Universal Preschool: What Have We Learned, and What Does It Mean for Practice and Policy? on Sunday, April 6, 12:25 to 1:55 pm, Convention Center, 400 Level, Terrace 1. Kimberly Brenneman will be presenting with others at the presidential invited session, Building the STEM Workforce Begins Early, scheduled to take place on Friday, April 4 from 4:05-5:35 at the Convention Center, 200 Level, Room 201A. The full list of Rutgers Graduate School of Education staff presenting at AERA is available here

CEELO Update

Child Assessment Brief

What child assessments are required of pre-K and Kindergarten providers? How are child assessment data used? The latest Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes brief answers these questions to provide early childhood specialists in state departments of education and other stakeholders with information to inform policy.  The brief is based primarily on secondary analysis of data collected in the State of Preschool Yearbook and presents a snapshot of responses to questions about child assessment.


How Are Early Childhood Teachers Faring in State Teacher Evaluation Systems?

This research report by Lori Connors-Tadros, Ph.D., CEELO Senior Project Director, and Michelle Horowitz, Research Assistant, provide state leaders and technical assistance providers with information about the design and requirements of teacher evaluations systems for early childhood teachers in 11 states. The report discusses the approach each state is taking to adapt the state system and develop resources for early childhood teachers; identifies specific opportunities and challenges state leaders are addressing in implementing student learning objectives to measure early childhood teachers’ contributions to children’s learning; and concludes with questions for further research and recommendations for state policy makers. 

Child Care and Early Education Legislation Database 

This National Conference of State Legislatures database tracks the most recent early childhood legislation. By choosing certain topics and certain states, you can narrow your search terms to find legislation in certain topics in early education.

*Edited to add NCSL on March 24, 2014.

How States Use Student Learning Objectives in Teacher Evaluation Systems: A Review of State Websites 

This report provides an overview of how states define and apply student learning objectives (SLOs) in evaluation systems. The research team conducted a systematic scan of state policies by searching state education agency websites of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. to identify tools, guidance, policies, regulations, and other documents related to the use of SLOs in teacher evaluation systems. The researchers reviewed each relevant document to code the requirements, components, and uses of SLOs, which are summarized in a brief report and a series of searchable tables. The report and tables were produced in response to research questions posed by the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance (NEERA), one of eight research alliances working with REL Northeast & Islands.


Friday, July 26, 2013 - 12:00pm

Jointly published by the Korea Institute of Child Care and Education (KICCE) and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) from May 2013, ICEP intends to disseminate research and analysis regarding major issues of child care and education policy to a broad, international readership of policymakers, researchers, and practitioners. A peer reviewed journal, ICEP invites submission of articles concerning policy reforms, empirical research in the field of early childhood education and care, policy analyses and comparisons, and more. ICEP publishes original and review papers, technical reports, case studies, conference reports, and government reports. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Please submit manuscripts in Microsoft Word format to icep.kicce@gmail.com, along with a cover letter and contact information. Authors are asked to pay particular attention to the word count, which should be between 4,000 to 6,000 words, and follow APA style guidelines (sixth edition). A more detailed submission guide for authors, sample articles, and other relevant information is available at http://icep.re.kr/contributor/index.jsp. Please direct any questions to NIEER by email at icep@nieer.org.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 -
3:00pm to 4:00pm

This one-hour online session will cover the federal tax rules regarding electoral activities for 501(c)3s and 501(c)(4)s, including voter registration drives, candidate questionnaires, candidate forums and legislative scorecards.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 9:00am to Monday, April 7, 2014 - 6:00pm

Join AERA for its 2014 annual meeting, "The Power of Education Research for Innovation in Practice and Policy." The AERA Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of scholars in the field of education research. Among the many distinguished presenters, NIEER's Director W. Steven Barnett and Research Professors Kimberly Brenneman and Alissa Lange will present research on early childhood education.

Monday, April 28, 2014 - 8:00am to Friday, May 2, 2014 - 5:00pm

NHSA’s Annual Head Start Conference and Expo is the largest national event devoted to the Head Start and Early Head Start community. The 41st Annual Conference’s theme is Driven to Make a Difference.

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.

Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 8:00am to Saturday, May 17, 2014 - 5:00pm

Join the McCormick Center for its  Leadership Connections national conference, at the Wheeling Westin, just north of Chicago, IL. Sessions are designed for a range of individuals, including any child care administrator, policymaker, resource and referral specialist, college instructor, family child care provider, or independent consultant. Meet national experts, learn new skills, and gain the knowledge you need to be more effective in your leadership role. Equally important is the opportunity you’ll have to network with others who are doing similar work and experiencing the same challenges you do.

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

Friday, March 21, 2014
(New York Times)

While black children make up 18 percent of preschool enrollment, close to half of all preschool children who are suspended more than once are African-American.

“To see that young African-American students — or babies, as I call them — are being suspended from pre-K programs at such horrendous rates is deeply troubling,” said Leticia Smith-Evans, interim director of education practice at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“It’s incredible to think about or fathom what pre-K students could be doing to get suspended from schools,” she added.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
(New York Times)

The Head Start Trauma Smart program is still in its early stages, but the evidence is highly promising (pdf). To date, the program has produced significant gains as measured by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, an instrument for gauging the quality of classroom relationships, as well as emotional and instructional support.

And using another standard assessment tool, the Achenbachsystem, parents and guardians of children who are receiving individual therapy (like Luke) have reported gains in a variety of areas: kids are less anxious and emotionally reactive, and less aggressive or withdrawn; attention deficit, hyperactivity and “oppositional defiant” problems have decreased; and parents report overwhelmingly that their children are sleeping better. The scores indicate that many kids have moved out of a “clinical range of concern” on several factors to within a normal range — a sign that they are better prepared to succeed in kindergarten.

Monday, March 17, 2014
(Rome Newswire (GA))

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, and Michael Bennet, D-Co., succeeded in passing a bipartisan amendment to help states coordinate federal and state funding streams to support early childhood education and care.  The measure will also help states identify ways funding streams can better complement each other and thereby promote a more coordinated and integrated system of early learning programs. The amendment was included in the Child Care Development Block Grant Act, which passed Thursday by a vote of 96-2, and was cosponsored by Senators Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Mary Landrieu, D-La.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Eighty-seven percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in Franklin County lack access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs, according to the organization Pre-K for PA. That is the second-highest in the state, below only Perry County. For Franklin, it accounts for 3,542 out of the 4,055 3- and 4-year-olds in the county. Just 10 percent have access to publicly funded programs. Only 3 percent attend high-quality programs on their families' own dime.

Pre-K for PA this week released the data with a report illustrating the pre-K access for the 178,795 children ages 3 and 4 in the state. It covers access to programs like Head Start and Pre-K Counts that are paid for with state or federal resources and those that families pay for on their own, such as the preschool programs offered by many churches.

Sunday, March 16, 2014
(Austin-American Statesman)

Pre-K is the new black in Democratic platforms. President Barack Obama included $750 million in his 2015 budget to kick-start universal pre-K, and Wendy Davis is making expanded access to pre-K a centerpiece of her gubernatorial campaign. Castro, Obama and Davis all point to longitudinal studies showing long-term educational benefits and compounded financial returns on taxpayer investment.

But a no-brainer to a Democrat is a Republican’s excuse not to think. In 2011, Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican-led Legislature cut pre-K funding by $288 million, and now about two-thirds of poor Texas children don’t have access to pre-K.

Sunday, March 16, 2014
(North Dallas Gazette)

Nationwide, enrollment in publicly funded preschool has exploded over the past decade. From the 2001-2002 school year to 2011-2012, the percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled in state-funded preschool increased from 14 percent to 28 percent, according to The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, although enrollment stalled in 2011-2012.

While state spending on preschool has also increased, from $3.47 billion to $5.12 billion over the same decade, the dollars have not kept pace with enrollment, according to NIEER, causing per-child spending to drop by more than 23 percent, adjusting for inflation.

Friday, March 14, 2014

For every $1 invested in early education in Kentucky, there's a return of $1.64 in new spending across the state. That's the upshot of a new report from America's Edge, a national business non-profit group that is studying several state economies, including Kentucky's.

"You can't get that investment return anywhere, so we hope that that will resonate with folks across the commonwealth," said Stu Silberman, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. "Conversely, if we're cutting early childhood, were losing that 64 cents."

Thursday, March 13, 2014
(Kentucky Teacher)

The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood (GOEC) released county-specific early childhood data profiles today aimed at highlighting barriers to school readiness. For the first time, these data profiles provide fuller data about every county in the state, thanks to results from a new kindergarten screener used in every school district last fall. The Early Childhood Profiles, produced by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS), are compiled to help community leaders, Community Early Childhood Councils and school districts with data to assist in developing local strategies for helping every child in their community arrive at kindergarten ready to do kindergarten work.

“Better preparing children for school has positive long-term effects on school achievement,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “The Early Childhood Profile is a tool that can help communities assure that every child in the Commonwealth gets the best possible start in life.”

Thursday, March 13, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

In a move designed to pressure the governor to put more money into a pre-K expansion, the state Senate on Thursday is set to introduce a budget resolution with $540 million per year for five years for New York City preschool and afterschool programs without a tax increase, according to people familiar with the matter.

The resolution is largely symbolic, but it puts the more conservative Senate squarely on the side of funding the mayor’s vision for more preschool and afterschool programs.

Thursday, March 13, 2014
(Inside Indiana Business)

House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1004, authored by House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) and co-authored by House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) passed out of both Houses and is now headed to the governor's desk to be signed into law. HEA 1004 establishes a preschool pilot program for students from low-income families. Eligible students can receive grants between $2,500 and $6,800. . . .  HEA 1004 creates a five-county preschool pilot program. Eligible students must be 4 years old with a family income of no more than 127 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, which is roughly $30,000 for a family of four. Indiana is currently one of 10 states that does not offer state-funded preschool programs. The bill also creates a study commission, which will study several topics including the economic benefits of Pre-K and early learning programs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Delaware is launching a plan this month to collect data on 8,500 babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and post the information on its existing Web-based databank. The project is part of an ambitious—and, to some observers, troubling—effort to link individuals' educational information from birth through graduate school. . . . The system aims to arm families, teachers, principals, and state policymakers with evidence-based data for decisionmaking at many levels, its advocates say. Its expansion to the youngest children could be up and running as early as the next school year, officials say.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
(New York Times)

The study’s investigators will look over time at children’s test scores and grades, grade retention, special education placement, as well as so-called executive function — a term that encapsulates a range of skills, from focus and short-term memory to impulse control, that experts think are closely tied to children’s success in school. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
(The Plain Dealer (Cleveland.com))

The Cleveland school district, Cuyahoga County and more than 30 area agencies have joined in a partnership to more than double the number of Cleveland children attending a quality preschool within the next two years.

The goal of placing 2,000 more four-year-olds in Cleveland into quality preschool – up from 1,200 in Cleveland today – is the most dramatic and immediate target of the PRE4CLE plan that the newly-formed Cleveland Pre-K Task Force announced this morning.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The governor's call to pay for low-income children to attend preschool won broad bipartisan support in the House earlier this year but ran aground in the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, suggested Pence may have to rely on money he saved through the December budget cuts — also called reversions — if he wants to pay for a preschool voucher program this year. But he declined to release further details.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Children who attend Georgia’s universal Pre-K program have significantly better outcomes on language, math, and general skills, according to a rigorous evaluation by researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

“Results showed that participation in Georgia’s Pre-K Program significantly improved children’s school readiness skills across most domains of learning,” the authors write. Using a regression analysis to account for differences in age, gender, ethnicity, race, family income, the education level of the primary caregiver, learning disabilities, English language proficiency, and the type of Pre-K provider, they examined nearly 2,000 children, comparing those who had been enrolled in Pre-K and were just entering Kindergarten and those just after the cutoff date who were about to enter Pre-K.

Sunday, March 9, 2014
(Legal Pro News)

Nearly 90 percent of the city's 3- and 4-year-olds already are enrolled in preschool, fully funded by the state in poor, mostly urban so-called Abbott districts under a 1998 Supreme Court order. Fewer than 57 percent of preschool-age children were enrolled a decade ago, administrators said.

In January, Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard announced he wanted to do better, to enroll every 3- and 4-year-old by fall 2014. "Access to a high-quality early-childhood education program can have a dramatically positive effect on a young person's development," he said. "All young people deserve the opportunity to start their education by learning the fundamental academic and social skills they need to be successful." . . . 

A March study by the National Institute of Early Education Research and Rutgers University tracked preschool children in Abbott districts (including 60 Camden students) to determine preschool's long-term impact. The study found children in fifth grade who attended preschool programs were three-quarters of a year ahead of children who did not. It also found that two years of preschool cut the achievement gap by 50 percent.

Saturday, March 8, 2014
(Wisconsin Public Radio (NPR))

"It's very clear from the research in the U.S. that our problems with inequality [and] school failure are set when children walk in the school door," says Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. Sixty percent of the poorest 4-year-olds in the U.S. get no preschool. Most, says Barnett, start school 18 months behind.

"Those kids are going to be in a spiral of failure, and we set that up by not adequately investing before they get to kindergarten," Barnett says. "We certainly can learn from countries like Finland."