Volume 13, Issue 7

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hot Topics

Governor Shumlin recently released Vermont's Early Childhood Action Plan, as a follow-up to Vermont's Prenatal-Third Grade (P-3) Early Childhood Framework. Building Bright Futures, the state's public-private Early Childhood Advisory Council, will take a leading role in implementing the plan, following up on the effort initiated by Governor Shumlin at his Governor's P-3 Summit held in October. New York’s plan for NYC UPK has moved forward, with annual funding of $300M, and prekindergarten program funding is developing in Connecticut, Kansas, and Indiana. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has produced a memo outlining which governors included mentions of early care and education in their State of the State addresses. Meanwhile, candidates for Governor in Texas are haggling over how to best serve preschoolers, as reported here, with comments from NIEER Director Steve Barnett here, and in EdWeek. Cities are driving reform as well: Seattle and Boston continue to work on building strong pre-K programs; the Boston article describes study results on the outcomes of their program.

NIEER Director Steve Barnett appeared on PBS NewsHour April 1, to discuss developments in preschool in this country, and prospects for the future. He covers costs, quality, and outcomes. 

As the New York Times put it in January, preschool “got hot,” especially in the Empire State. The promise of universal pre-K was a major campaign issue for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, resulting in high-profile proposals from both de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who supported pre-K but not the Mayor’s proposal to fund it via an income tax increase on the wealthy. The state budget released last week includes $600 million for two years to finance universal, high-quality preschool in New York CIty.  Although not as much funding as Mayor Bill DeBlasio originally requested, these funds will go a long way towards supporting those who need it most, such as the state’s English language learners and children in lower-income households. The plan now allows for more experienced educators, and an increase in jobs in more high-quality centers, that can serve thousands more preschoolers. The city seeks to expand enrollment to 53,000 preschoolers by September and 73,000 by the 2015-2016 school year. This would make New York City’s program the largest of the recent high-profile city-level early learning programs, and larger than 35 of the 40 state-funded pre-K programs, in  numbers of children served.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

NIEER posted an extensive examination of what the Office of Civil Rights Data Snapshot: Early Childhood Education data do and do not tell us about the experience of children in early childhood programs.

NIEER Senior Research Fellow Cynthia Lamy has written about children and poverty, in this week’s blog. The author of American Children in Chronic Poverty: Complex Risks, Benefit-Cost Analyses, and Untangling the Knot, Lamy discusses and the role of early childhood education programs in alleviating the stresses of poverty.


The Urban Institute has published an article, Supporting Immigrant Families’ Access to Prekindergarten, including “strategies for outreach to support prekindergarten enrollment; helping immigrant families overcome language, documentation, and other logistical barriers when enrolling their children in prekindergarten programs; and building trust and good relationships with immigrant parents and designing immigrant- and ELL-friendly programs.” There are also three fact sheets, outreach strategies, enrollment strategies, and building relationships.

Another brief, Immigration and the Changing Landscape for Local Service Delivery: Demographic Shifts in Cities and Neighborhoods, includes maps showing how immigration trends affect cities and neighborhoods in different ways, and briefly discusses the implications for service delivery.

Child Care Canada has shared information about a new book, An equal start? Providing quality early education and care for disadvantaged children, looking at mixed markets of child care in eight countries, concluding that free universal preschool helps to encourage a social mix in attendance and increased access for the most disadvantaged children.

The AFT News for Early Childhood Educators in March 2014 addressed a number of interesting links on ECE topics, including early childhood education abroad, a Voices from the Classroom blog, and a toolkit for early educators, available in Spanish and English, on enhancing children’s transition to Kindergarten.

CLASP has released a new brief exploring the unique child care needs of parents who work nonstandard work schedules and provides recommendations to lessen the burden of securing care.

The New America Foundation's new policy brief provides a framework for thinking about technology in early education policy, across the birth through third grade continuum, and especially in PreK-3rd.

NIEER Activities

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

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. 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. The full list of Rutgers Graduate School of Education staff presenting at AERA is available here.

CEELO Update

Yes--you’ve seen this before, but last time we didn’t credit the National Conference of State Legislators for this database tracking the most recent early childhood legislation. You can narrow your search terms to find specific legislation related to early education in any or all states. 

Head Start Profiles

CLASP has released an interactive map to show state-by-state data on Head Start programs, based on Annual Program Information Report (PIR) data. Data on Early Head Start, Head Start preschool, and Migrant/Seasonal Head Start program, staff, families, and participants are included.

Effects of Georgia’s Pre‐K Program on Children’s School Readiness Skills: Findings from the 2012–2013 Evaluation Study 

This report from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC, outlines findings from a study of nearly 1,200 children in Georgia. The study found that Georgia’s Pre-K Program produces significant positive outcomes for children, regardless of family income level or English language skills. There were strong results for language, literacy, math, and general knowledge for students enrolled in the state’s universal pre-k program.


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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm

How can ECE professionals help to satisfy children's curiosity about the world in engaging, educational ways? What resources can ECE professionals use to provide children with a firm foundation of understanding in the STEAM areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math?

This webinar will explore the variety of options available for integrating STEAM into the ECE classroom, allowing attendees to determine what method is most appropriate for their individual centers. 

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.

Friday, November 21, 2014 - 8:00am to Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 5:00pm

The conference will focus on exploring identities in a changing world (including but not limited to gender, culture, religion, linguistics, ability and environment) as well as supporting equity in research, practice, and policy. 

Early Education News Roundup

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
(Scripps Howard)

W. Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said that Head Start has improved in quality over the past decade, and he has written that the Head Start picture isn’t entirely dire.

Whether or not sending more kids from Head Start to pre-K is a good idea, however, “depends how good your state pre-K is,” Barnett said.

If the state is sends students to high quality pre-K and gets the same amount of federal money to go toward the 3-year-olds in Head Start, “there is no downside to that,” Barnett said.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
(The Texas Tribune)

The focus of the governor's race swung back to public education on Monday with GOP candidate Greg Abbott rolling out a pre-K proposal in a Weslaco elementary school.

Abbott, as the Austin American-Statesman's Kate Alexander wrote, "called for the state to invest first in improving the quality of pre-kindergarten before opening the door for more students to attend full-day classes. The estimated two-year cost of Abbott’s quality initiative would be $118 million in the 2016-17 two-year budget." That would be a fraction of the $750 million price tag attached to the proposal from his Democratic rival, Wendy Davis, to fund all-day pre-K.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
(PBS NewsHour)

STEVE BARNETT: It’s not just about learning colors and shapes and letters and numbers. Those things are important, but it’s also learning about how to control my own emotions, how to get along with other people. And so you put all of that together, and those things can put kids on a much more successful life path than if they don’t have them.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
(Albuquerque Journal (Opinion))

President Obama’s call for universal pre-kindergarten is both great news and a great opportunity. It is great news because if passed it will provide many more children with high-quality early education. It is a great opportunity, if passed, for early childhood professionals to meet the challenge of providing many more children with high-quality early education.

Providing universal pre-K means making an economic, educational and moral investment in our children and our society. Other countries have already made such investments. We should wait no longer.

Monday, March 31, 2014
(Originally appeared on Yahoo! Voices)

Universal Preschool Access is a hot, national education news topic. For Connecticut government and education leaders, it's a recurring priority item since 2004.

In February, Connecticut State Governor Dannel P. Malloy met with legislators and educators to discuss his proposal for quality universal preschool access to "all children, regardless of income." Governor Malloy's main objective is to offer "full-time" pre-kindergarten to 4,000+ more low-income children in Connecticut by 2019, as stated in his 2014 State of the State Address.

The Governor has given the "Office of Early Childhood" a January 1, 2015 deadline to develop the phase-in plan specifics. This includes rate increases to early education providers and programs, both public and private; and improvements to the ratings and licensing systems. The proposed cost: $13.8 Million.

Monday, March 31, 2014
(FindLaw via The Seattle Times)

Next month, the Seattle City Council will consider a detailed plan -- with a price tag attached -- to provide high-quality preschool to the city's 3- and 4-year-olds.

Voters probably will be asked to pay for it with a property-tax levy in November. But that measure may have unwelcome company on the ballot. On Saturday morning, a union-led group will host a panel discussion launching a signature-gathering drive for an initiative of its own seeking better pay and training for child-care workers.

"We expect to have well over 100 preschool, pre-K and early-learning teachers and staff there," said Heather Weiner, spokeswoman for Yes for Early Success, a coalition funded primarily by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 925 and the American Federation of Teachers-Washington (AFT).

Monday, March 31, 2014
(The New York Times)

Mayor Bill de Blasio has every right to call the agreement between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders in Albany to finance a vast expansion of prekindergarten in New York City a major victory — for him politically and for tens of thousands of children who will be put on a path to a better future.

Monday, March 31, 2014
(The CortezJournal.com)

Montezuma-Cortez School District has underperformed on state required assessments for the past four years. In January, district administrators told The Cortez Journal that the one of the main challenges to meeting the state standards is kindergartners who come to school unprepared to learn.

About half the preschool students in the county are in an early childhood learning center, said McCoy. There is much evidence that children who go to a quality early childhood center do better in school, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Monday, March 31, 2014
(Washington Post)

By increasing access, pursuing quality and ensuring that parents are more involved, all children in Chicago will be ready to learn when they enter their full day of kindergarten. No longer will children from certain neighborhoods start school already behind. Because of our unprecedented investment in pre-K education, 75 percent of our city’s 3- and 4-year-olds living at poverty level or below now have access to quality early learning.

Saturday, March 29, 2014
(CJOnline.com (Topeka Courier-Journal))

This week, as discussion about K-12 funding continued in the Legislature, it became clear that Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to fund all-day kindergarten across the state wouldn’t come to fruition this year. But most Kansas districts will continue to fund the kindergarten costs from elsewhere in their budgets, and some will forge ahead with initiatives to expand voluntary preschool.

Kaw Valley, a rural school system with four buildings and 1,200 students, is one of the rare districts that has offered universal preschool for years. Nearby, Topeka USD 501 is hoping a bond issue will pass next month that would pay in part to expand prekindergarten. The Kansas State Board of Education, meanwhile, would like to see all children have access to pre-K education regardless of family income.

Saturday, March 29, 2014
(The New York Times)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders announced on Saturday an agreement on a state budget that would provide $300 million for prekindergarten in New York City, but also undercuts other educational policies of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has championed prekindergarten while trying to slow the spread of charter schools.

Friday, March 28, 2014
(Dallas News)

Before her current post, Doggett led efforts funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, including a five-year stint directing Pre-K Now, an initiative to advance quality preschool nationwide.

“Nationwide, we’re seeing all levels of government get more involved in education from birth to third grade to make sure kids don’t fall in between the cracks,” said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research. “Libby is certainly one who has helped to move the country in that direction.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Boston uses a rigorous curriculum and requires preschool teachers to get masters degrees — just like teachers in the upper grades. Academics have known for some time that quality can make a difference. But much of the research has focused on small-scale programs. The Harvard study — which found larger gains in math and vocabulary than in any other study of a large-scale preschool program in the nation — suggests something bigger is possible.

Harvard economist and education professor Richard Murnane, who was not involved in the study, says the lesson is ”we can do better in preparing poor children for school and it can be done at considerable scale.”

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gov. Mike Pence is touting a pair of wins on two of his priorities from the 2014 session of the Indiana General Assembly: funding for preschools and roads. A preschool pilot program would pay for low-income children to attend preschools in five counties. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

In 1972, researchers in North Carolina started following two groups of babies from poor families. In the first group, the children were given full-time day care up to age 5 that included most of their daily meals, talking, games and other stimulating activities. The other group, aside from baby formula, got nothing. The scientists were testing whether the special treatment would lead to better cognitive abilities in the long run. 

Forty-two years later, the researchers found something that they had not expected to see: The group that got care was far healthier, with sharply lower rates of high blood pressure and obesity, and higher levels of so-called good cholesterol.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
(Boston Globe)

A growing percentage of Massachusetts children are living in poverty, with more than a quarter of youngsters in Suffolk County and nearly a third in Hampden County coming from families with incomes below the federal poverty line in 2012, according to a new report that concludes that where residents live significantly affects their health and their longevity.

Even as the economy has rebounded, the data show that children in poor households have not enjoyed a similar recovery. In 2007, before the recession hit, 13 percent of the state’s children were living in poverty. By 2012 that had grown to 15 percent, and the rates remain higher now than in 2007 in every county except Suffolk, which includes Boston. Nationally, the percentages jumped from 18 percent to 23 percent during that span, the report found.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
(The Register-Guard )

Nearly one quarter of Oregon children are growing up in poverty, according to an annual study of child well-being. With 23 percent of children living in poverty, Oregon ranks in the bottom half of states with the worst poverty rates. Oregon’s rate declined slightly from last year’s 23.6 percent but was still worse than the national average of 22.6 percent.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
(New York Times)

Amid a political push for government-funded preschool for 4-year-olds, a growing number of experts fear that such programs actually start too late for the children most at risk. That is why Deisy Ixcuna-González, the 16-month-old daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, is wearing a tiny recorder that captures every word she hears and utters inside her family’s cramped apartment one day a week.

Recent research shows that brain development is buoyed by continuous interaction with parents and caregivers from birth, and that even before age 2, the children of the wealthy know more words than do those of the poor. So the recorder acts as a tool for instructing Deisy’s parents on how to turn even a visit to the kitchen into a language lesson. It is part of an ambitious campaign, known as Providence Talks, that is aimed at the city’s poorest residents and intended to reduce the knowledge gap long before school starts. It is among a number of such efforts being undertaken throughout the country.
Monday, March 24, 2014
(The New York Times)

In 2004, the Boston Public Schools began a concerted effort to expand and enhance preschool education for 4-year-olds, applying additional resources, improved curriculums and new forms of accountability for teachers and schools. A recent evaluation by two Harvard researchers found especially positive effects for children from low-income families — sufficient to close more than half the gap at kindergarten entry between their academic skills and those of counterparts from relatively affluent families.

Sunday, March 23, 2014
(The Hechinger Report)

...Local school districts, child care centers, and Head Start programs will all benefit from the addition of $3 million in state grants approved by the legislature. The money will serve nearly two-dozen school districts this year and reach an estimated 2,400 4-year-olds during the next two and a half years, according to Robin Lemonis, director of early childhood, literacy, and dyslexia for the Mississippi Department of Education. That’s fewer than 6 percent of the state’s population of 4-year-olds.