Volume 14, Issue 15

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hot Topics

This week, the American Journal of Public Health published a 20-year-long, 800-child study that found social-emotional skills learned in early childhood can affect behavior in early adulthood. Early skills such as such as sharing, cooperating, helpfulness, and getting along with peers help children succeed throughout their academic years and can affect multiple factors later on in life such as employment, education level, and criminal record. The study suggests that if parents and schools could identify children with these problems early on, there are effective programs that can produce important long-term improvements children’s adult life success.   Behavior issues caught earlier on are easier to mend than in adulthood, and easier to improve than IQ, and--it could be argued--may be more important.  More information on the importance of social-emotional skills for school preparedness can be found in NIEER’s policy brief.  

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

This week we feature a post on Leadership in the Birth-3rd-grade Continuum, from July 1 on The Birth Through Third Grade Learning Hub. It is the first post in our next forum on Leadership in Early Education. Follow us for the next few weeks, and please weigh in with your comments and opinions, as we explore this issue from a range of perspectives.


Last week, Fordham released a new study by Sara Mead and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel on where state policies create barriers to collaboration between charter schools and pre-K. Among the findings:

  • 35 states and the District of Columbia have both state-funded pre-K and charter laws. Of those, 32 have at least one charter school serving preschoolers.

  • Charter schools in all but four states face at least one significant barrier to offering state pre-K. Nine have statutory or policy barriers that preclude charter schools from offering state-funded pre-K; 23 other states technically permit charters to offer state-funded pre-K but have created practical barriers that significantly limit their ability to do so in practice.

  • The most common practical barriers include low funding levels, small pre-K programs, barriers to kindergarten enrollment, and local district monopolies on pre-k funds.

Research Connections released a German paper To what extent has the cost of child care in the U.S. increased over time? The author notes that his various findings indicate: “that the production of child care has not become more costly, which may explain the recent stagnation in market prices.” 

The study What is the role of learning-related behaviors in the relationship of executive function to academic achievement? was highlighted by Research Connections. Results indicated that children's learning-related behaviors mediated associations between executive function skills and literacy and mathematics gains through children's level of involvement, sequential learning behaviors, and disengagement from the classroom. 

Research Connections' has a new brief, Supporting Parent Engagement in Linguistically Diverse Families to Promote Young Children's Learning: Implications for Early Care and Education Policy.

The Save the Children Action Network released two reports on innovative financing strategies for early childhood, one on federal options and state and local options. Recommendations fall into the categories of incentivizing private dollars and reforming tax credits. 

Research Connections highlighted Linking Early Childhood and K-12 Administrative Data in Kentucky, which discusses Kentucky’s efforts to include early childhood data in the statewide longitudinal data system. They also reported on this resource: How do teacher and classroom supports promote kindergarten adjustment for low-income children?

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2014 Kids Count Data Book this week. “ Using an index of 16 indicators, the 2014 report ranks states on overall child well-being and in four domains: (1) economic well-being, (2) education, (3) health, and (4) family and community.” 

The Education Division of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices is hiring a senior policy analyst for early education (early childhood through 3rd grade). To review the job description or apply, please click on this link. For more information about what the Center for Best Practices does, go here.

CEELO Update

The Common Thread: Crafting a Coherent Accountability System Focused on Great Teaching addresses key questions and shared innovations and key resources from states in a learning table focused on teacher quality. What are the consistent supports needed to focus QRIS and public school accountability approaches on great teaching? How can we bring coherence to early childhood quality improvement policies? This presentation was given at the 2015 National QRIS meeting last week by CEELO’s Lori Connors-Tadros and Jana Martella, with Build partners Debi Mathias and Kate Tarrant.

Considerations for Policymakers reviews key findings from a recent policy report that provides information on state-funded pre-K program eligibility policies and considerations for policymakers as they review or revise eligibility to balance accountability and increase access for high-needs children. Susan Hogge, Legislative Fiscal Analyst for Public Education, Virginia House Appropriations Committee offers remarks regarding Virginia’s recently revised eligibility policy for the Virginia Preschool Initiative. Lori Connors-Tadros and Diane Schilder from CEELO also presented. The webinar, held July 21, 2015  discusses: Components of a high quality pre-K program; Access, equity, & sustainability; Approaches to eligibility policy; Implications for income verification; Virginia’s new eligibility policy; and Considerations for policy makers. See the web page for slides, the webinar, the policy report, and a Fast Fact with examples of state policies.

Jim Squires, CEELO Senior Fellow recently presented at the 2015 Mississippi Early Childhood Education Conference in Natchez, MS. With several hundred early education teachers and administrators from public schools, Head Start, and child care in attendance, Jim's sessions examined School-Community Partnerships for Early Learning Success and Making Informed Decisions: An Administrator’s Guide to Understanding Early Education Research.

A new annotated bibliography by Kirsty Clarke Brown, Using Technology in Early Childhood Classrooms provides resources and information about using technology in early education classrooms. It highlights issues to consider when introducing new tools, media, and devices, so that educators and policymakers can make informed decisions about using such resources, and preparing teachers and care providers to do so. 

This post is first in a series from CEELO providing NIEER and CEELO resources to answer technical assistance questions from states. This week: information on preparing skilled and effective teachers for early childhood programs. Papers, presentations, and reports described below include research-based tips for improving teaching practice, a meta-analysis on the impact of teacher education on classroom quality and child development, and findings from a CEELO report on teacher evaluation applied to New Jersey on the issue of teacher preparation.

Is NJ on the Right Track to Improving ECE Teacher Practice? shares information from a CEELO report on teacher evaluation systems in states as they relate to early childhood educators, including how the study was designed, findings, and recommendations. Excellence for Every Child: Improving the Quality of Teaching Birth through Grade Three offers helpful resources on improving instructional practices from the 2014 CEELO Roundtable (see “presentations” and “resources” tabs).

Degrees in Context: Asking the Right Questions about Preparing Skilled and Effective Teachers of Young Children aims to broaden the discussion about what it takes to develop and maintain effective instructional practices for preschool teachers. The Impact of Teacher Education on Outcomes in Center-Based Early Childhood Education Programs: A Meta-analysis was conducted to provide a quantitative synthesis of research findings on the relationship of teacher educational attainment and measures of classroom quality and child development.




Monday, July 27, 2015 - 8:00am to Saturday, August 1, 2015 - 5:00pm

Join OMEP for its 67th Assembly and Conference, Early Childhood Pathways to Success. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 1:00pm to Friday, October 2, 2015 - 5:30pm

ReadyNation, a membership organization working to strengthen business and the economy through effective investments in children and youth, is hosting the first Global Business Summit on Early Childhood Investments, October 1-2, 2015 in New York City. This free event will inspire and equip executives to take actions at the community, company, or policy levels that support young children. The event is for businesspeople, policy officials/staff and funders only. Others may attend with a team of business people. For more information and registration visit www.ReadyNation.org/2015Summit.

Friday, October 16, 2015 - 7:00am

The Center for Early Education Evaluation at HighScope will hold its 4th Annual Conference for Early Childhood Research and Evaluation on the theme "Assessing Children’s Progress in Early Education and Intervention:  Challenges and Innovations in Diverse Contexts.”
Registration is now open and the conference is seeking sponsorships

Opening Speaker: Linda Espinosa, PhD
Discussion Panel:
• Mike Lopez, PhD, Abt Associates (Discussant)
• Sherri Oden, PhD, Oakland University (Discussant)
• Richard Lower, MA, Michigan Department of Education (Moderator)
• Rachel Brady, PT, DPT, MS, Georgetown University (Panelist)
• Hiram Fitzgerald, PhD, Michigan State University  (Panelist)

• Kyle Snow, PhD, NAEYC Center for Applied Research
• Christina Weiland, EdD, University of Michigan
• Christine A. B. Maier, PhD, Oakland Schools
• Beth Marshall, MA, HighScope and Lisa Wasacz, Michigan Department of Education
• Tomoko Wakabayashi, EdD, CEEE at HighScope and Sheri Butters, Early Childhood Investment Corporation
• Maria DeVoogd Beam, LMSW, Oakland University; Lisa Sturges, PhD, Macomb Great Start Collaborative and Cynthia Schellenbach, PhD, Oakland University
• Kate McGilly, PhD, Parents as Teachers
•  Matthew Fifolt, MEd, PhD, Evaluation and Assessment Unit, Center for the Study of Community Health; Julie Preskitt, MSOT, MPH, PhD, University of Alabama, Birmingham and Tracye Strichik, EdS, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, July 23, 2015
(Huffington Post (Education))

High-quality early childhood education is an investment this country needs to make in order to give all kids a strong start. A comprehensive, national early childhood education program would add $2 trillion to the annual GDP within a generation, according to the Brookings Institution.

Investing in our children will reduce poverty, change lives and strengthen our communities and our economy. Our next president, regardless of which side of the aisle he or she may come from, must invest in kids.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Gov. Mark Dayton is already laying out his priorities for next year’s budget session – saying he won’t sign any tax cut proposals from Republicans without an increase in funding for early childhood education programs.

Dayton, a DFLer, pushed lawmakers in the just-ended legislative session to approve hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for universal preschool for all children in the state. In the end, he got a boost of $525 million for general education funding, but very little was specifically allotted to preschool programs. . .

Dayton said making preschool available to more children is key to closing that achievement gap, WCCO reports.

“I want to lay down the marker that we’re not done here,” Dayton said, according to the Associated Press, although he didn’t provide any specifics about the new funding he would seek.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
(Knoxville News Sentinel)

The deck is already stacked against children living in poverty, and now, there's growing evidence that living in poverty can negatively affect children's brains.

A study by researchers from universities in Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina found poverty can diminish the brain's gray matter — the tissue that processes information.

The reduction in gray matter volume was found throughout the brain but most noticeably in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe and hippocampus –– areas tied to learning. . .

They argued funding should be increased for programs that help those below the poverty line — but the effectiveness of those programs has been debated.

The Head Start program said its funding has been reduced the past few years, leading to 53,000 children being cut from the program. This year, the budget has been restored, but future cuts are feared.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
(U.S. News & World Report)

For the past several weeks, much of Washington has focused on the Senate's efforts to pass a bill to replace No Child Left Behind. While the discussion has focused on many important topics, the primary education setting for 12 million children has not been part of the conversation: child care.

When policymakers discuss education, child care is rarely mentioned. And to some extent, that is understandable. Most child care in the U.S. is poor or mediocre when it comes to quality and is designed to enable parents to work rather than to educate children. At the same time, the majority of young children under five have working parents and spend a considerable amount of their formative years in child care. If we want children to be adequately prepared for success in elementary school, we must invest in helping families access high-quality child care.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
(U.S. News & World Report)

From city halls to Congress, political leaders are embracing the potential benefits of early childhood education. And it's none too soon. As a nation, we're behind the curve. Just last month, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined two education leaders in the U.S. House – Reps. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., and Bobby Scott, D-Va. – to pen an article highlighting America's weak standing (31 out of 39) among advanced countries when it comes to preschool enrollment for 4-year-olds.

What other countries know – and what we're just catching on to – is that early childhood education can yield a high return on investment. Most prominently, Nobel Laureate James Heckman has shown that early childhood investments improve cognitive development; build the so-called soft skills – such as motivation and self-control – that children need for lifelong success; and reduce the social costs associated with fighting crime and poverty.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
(Charleston Gazette Mail)

That’s according to Charlotte Webb, coordinator of elementary education for the state Department of Education and state leader for the West Virginia Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a statewide initiative that seeks to raise the third-grade proficiency rate among Mountain State students who qualify for free or reduced lunch to 66 percent over the next five school years.


Monday, July 20, 2015
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

. . .We are pleased that there is widespread bipartisan support for increased investment in high-quality early childhood education programs in this year’s state budget. Both Gov. Tom Wolf and House and Senate Republicans have proposed significant investments in these programs — $120 million and $30 million, respectively.

Such an investment would help many additional at-risk children gain access to curricula and services critical for developing into the skilled workers of tomorrow. . .

So, how do we help employers find workers to suit their needs? An important answer lies in quality early childhood education. Approximately 90 percent of the brain is developed by age 5. Tests measuring different forms of executive function skills indicate that these skills begin to develop shortly after birth, with ages 3 to 5 being a window of opportunity for the most dramatic growth.

Friday, July 17, 2015
(The Washington Post)

Kindergartners who share, cooperate and are helpful are more likely to have a college degree and a job 20 years later than children who lack those social skills, according to a new study. Kids who get along well with others also are less likely to have substance-abuse problems and run-ins with the law. The research, which involved tracking nearly 800 students for two decades, suggests that specific social-emotional skills among young children can be powerful predictors for success later in life. . .

Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, said the study shows that schools can’t just be concerned with teaching social-emotional skills — that’s too broad a category. The study did not find strong correlations between aggressive behavior, for example, and later life outcomes. “We’ve got to be very fine-tuned about what exactly it is we need to help kids with,” he said.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Generations of Alabamians have improved their lives through education. The primary focus on K-12 education, however, short changes children who are not adequately prepared to enter kindergarten ready to learn. In recent years, we have found that school success and the foundation for adult productivity depend on an early introduction to learning.

All children deserve a strong start. But in far too many communities, children in poverty miss out. Without access to high-quality early learning programs, they fall behind. Many never catch up. . .

Just recently, Alabama's First Class Pre-K was once again recognized by the National Institute for Early Education Research for meeting all 10 of NIEER's research-based quality standards. This is the ninth year in a row that Alabama has received this number-one-in-the-nation recognition for pre-k quality.

Thursday, July 16, 2015
(Think Progress)

Below are seven examples of what $12 billion construction budget could cover in a world where education and social services are valued above installing fish tanks behind home plate and exclusive above-field swimming pools.

1. School lunches. According to the School Nutrition Association, the public money spent on sport facilities could cover virtually the entire cost of the federal funds that subsidize national school lunch program every year.

2. Food benefits. Ten years-worth of stadium renovations could cover a year of supplemental nutrition assistance program food benefits to roughly eight million people, based on SNAP average monthly benefits.

3. Addiction treatment. Twelve billion dollars could provide year-long methadone maintenance treatment to over 2.5 million people struggling with drug addiction, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

4. Early childhood education. According to research from the National Institute for Early Education, the amount of money allocated for sport facility renovations could cover a preschool education for every three and four-year-old living under the national poverty line.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Despite the clear benefits, for thousands of children from low- to moderate-income families in Southeastern Pennsylvania and throughout the commonwealth, access to high-quality early learning is simply not an option. According the National Institute of Early Education Research, only four of every 10 4-year-olds in America are enrolled in public prekindergarten, and almost half of all children served attend programs that were not considered high-quality.

That is why, as the Senate considers the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, I have introduced the Strong Start for America's Children Act as an amendment. My legislation would ensure that more than 3 million children in our nation would have access to high-quality early learning, including 93,000 Pennsylvanians. The amendment creates a federal-state partnership to provide access to high-quality public prekindergarten for low- and moderate-income families across the nation. This means that a family of four, earning up to $48,500 a year, would have this opportunity for their children.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

That's the case elsewhere in the U.S., too. The number of family child care facilities dropped about 12 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to a recent report. Over the same period, commercial day cares also declined by about 4 percent.

Even with the recent economic rebound, the day care industry still struggles. As people started going back to work, women in particular were finding low-wage work — "shift work, hospitality jobs that weren't affording them the high price of child care," says Mary Beth Testa, a lobbyist for the National Association for Family Child Care.

Thursday, July 16, 2015
(EdWeek )

In a era where restaurant reviews, hotel ratings, and other crowd-sourced information is available at a mouse click or finger-swipe, finding out information on local day cares or preschools is rarely that easy.

Many child-care and early-education providers don't have websites, and if they do, they might not list basic information, like price. If parents have more than one care option, they may weigh them on "feel" alone, rather than in addition to hard facts on factors such as adult-to-child ratios, caregiver qualifications, or inspection results.

Thursday, July 16, 2015
(Think Progress)

Debate on the bipartisan reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, officially known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), will resume Wednesday on the U.S. Senate floor. . . .  Another important priority for Democrats is a universal pre-k amendment, offered by Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey. Casey asked for unanimous consent to call up the amendment Tuesday morning but Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) opposed it and asked Casey and other sponsors come up with a different way to pay for the amendment. The amendment would close the corporate tax inversions loophole, which would provide around $30 billion in funding.

On Tuesday morning, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats will block a Wednesday vote to end debate if necessary because he wants to have time for Democrats to debate their amendments – a sentiment Murray agreed with.

“We’re going to have to have a reasonable time to debate those amendments and have votes on those amendments. Otherwise we’re not going to complete this bill,” Reid said, according to The Hill. Murray has included pre-k in the three amendments she would like to see debated.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
(CBS News)

"Mass incarceration makes our communities worse off, and we need to do something about it," President Obama declared at the 106th NAACP Convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday, before laying out the steps he'd like to see Washington take to address the problem. . .

Meanwhile, incarceration comes at a huge cost to taxpayers -- specifically $80 billion a year. For that much money, Mr. Obama said, "We could have universal preschool for every three-year-old and four-year-old in America... We could double the salary of every high school teacher in America." Reforming the system, the president said, should happen in three areas: "In the community, the courtroom and in the cell block."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
(Education Dive)

The slow progress of early childhood legislation is not surprising. It has historically moved at a gradual pace as states make small adjustments to their preschool systems.

"Everything moved in a positive direction, but if you step back and say, 'What's the pace of growth?,' it's so slow,” Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, told Education Week in May.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The chairman of the Illinois Board of Education recently said he wants to focus on third grade. One way he wants to do this is by offering preschool to more students in the state. . .

The state budget for early education, which has been approved, increases funding to preschool by $25 million. The goal is to help get students started early so they can achieve a third grade reading level by third grade.

Monday, July 13, 2015
(Roll Call: Beltway Insiders)

At-risk kids who can’t access high-quality preschool experiences face an early deficit of their own — except the stakes are much higher than the outcome of a basketball game.

Without the benefit of quality early education, children’s math and literacy skills can be up to 18 months behind those of their more-advantaged peers by the time these kids start kindergarten. Adults may not see an 18-month deficit as insurmountable, but remember that a year and a half represents nearly one-third of a 5-year-old’s life.

That’s a huge disadvantage. Far worse than being down by 13 points in a basketball game. These children might be scrambling to catch up for the rest of their education — and possibly for the rest of their lives.

That’s bad for the children, bad for their teachers and bad for the country.