Volume 14, Issue 2

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hot Topics

As Tuesday’s State of the Union address approached, those in the education world were curious about what the President would say. Many expected President Obama would once again highlight his goal of Preschool for All, but it was childcare that took the early childhood spotlight, with the President stressing that childcare is “...not a nice-to-have—it’s a must-have.” The White House later released a fact sheet on its proposal to increase investment in the current Child Care and Development Fund, improving access over 10 years, as well as to increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax credit so more middle class families can benefit. The President’s focus on child care comes after the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) was reauthorized in 2014 with a focus on improving safety in child care settings. The CCDBG reauthorization also requires that states check for eligibility no more than every 12 months, ensuring that children receive a full year of services even if family circumstances change mid-year.

The needs of dual language learners (DLLs) are increasingly part of the conversation on education reform for both pre-K and older grades. A recent article in The Latin Post brought the issue out of education circles and into a wider audience. Directing readers to a new NIEER/CEELO webinar, “Young Immigrants and Dual Language Learners: Participation in Pre-K & Gaps at Kindergarten Entry," the article warned that supporting young bilingual students “does not seem to be a state or national priority.” There is some evidence that policymakers may be changing their tune. In New York City, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced the city would be adding or expanding 40 more dual language programs. Amaya Garcia of the New America Foundation noted, “New York’s just the most recent place to invest more in dual language. Here in the nation’s capital, demand for dual language programs is surging: 13 elementary schools already offer such programs. Waiting lists for these programs are long—one school had 1,100 applicants for 20 slots…” A new report from researchers at ETS focuses on factors that contribute to the at-risk state of Hispanic DLLs, as well as recommendations for strategies to meet their needs. There is a strong research base on the need to support, and benefits of supporting, dual language learners in early childhood education.

A report by Defending the Early Years and the Alliance for Children explores the issue of whether Kindergarten is too early for some children to learn to read, and discusses the importance of experiential, play-based learning in early childhood as a foundation for literacy. It also states that the Common Core State Standards’ (CCSS) focus on reading is “leading to inappropriate classroom practices.” NIEER Distinguished Research Fellow Dorothy Strickland has written previously on CCSS, noting that they have “served as a catalyst for curriculum reform. Effective curriculum planning will likely depend on how well those involved understand what the standards are, what they are not, and how that knowledge best informs instruction. Simply put, the CCSS…provide a shared and consistent vision of what students should know and be able to do. They provide guidance for educators and for those who shape the policy to support educational infrastructures. The standards do not define how teachers should teach…Together, standards and curriculum provide a process that includes a shared vision of expectations with multiple pathways for attaining them.” Vincent Costanza, Executive Director of New Jersey’s  Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge office, responded: "...Can we please stop pretending that curriculum/assessment was done perfectly before the advent of common standards? Was there a proliferation of play-based learning experiences in kindergarten before common standards? Did teachers organize their understandings of child development by systematically using performance-based and formative assessment? Although early childhood professionals have wanted quality adult-child interactions with meaningful investigations that teachers assess authentically since long before my kindergarten teacher days, there’s plenty of evidence that this type of teaching hasn’t happened for quite a while (See this joint statement from NAEYC/NAECS-SDE for evidence of troubling trends in 2000)."

The Edmond Sun reports that Ramona Paul, Ph.D., will be inducted into the Oklahoma State University Hall of Fame this February. She was an educator for more than 50 years, and “From 1991 to her retirement in 2011, Paul worked at OSDE as Assistant State Superintendent, Professional Services Division. Her proudest achievement at OSDE and as an educator was the role she played in the implementation and development of an early childhood education program for children age 4.” Oklahoma's Early Childhood Education was first recognized nationally over a decade ago when NIEER’s first State of Preschool Yearbook reported that Oklahoma led the nation in the percentage of 4-year-olds provided with a public education. Ramona received many awards for excellence and dedication in early childhood education. She passed away in June 2013.

Resources

You can keep track of recent developments in your state by searching Early Education in the News, focusing on specific topics or within defined time periods. It's a terrific way to keep your finger on the pulse of what news media are reporting in your state.

Approaches to teacher evaluation

This brief by REL Central examines approaches (across seven states) to evaluating K-12 teacher preparation programs. Among them, they found that: all have evaluation procedures focusing on program design and implementation, for approving and reauthorizing teacher preparation programs; six states were planning changes in focus to assessing program graduate performance; all states were considering developing statewide data collection tools, investing in data systems, and considering new ways to report evaluation findings.

Evaluation of two pre-K Professional Development models

ChildTrends has released an evaluation of two preschool professional development models used in Georgia, Making the Most of Classroom Interactions and My Teaching Partner. They found that teachers benefited from both and liked using both; that children benefited in one or two domains; and that more research is needed to understand how to maximize benefits of each model to enhance teacher-child interactions.

Integrating arts and mathematics can improve child outcomes

A study by the American Institutes for Research determined that the Wolf Trap’s Early STEM/Arts Program “had a statistically significant, positive impact on students’ math achievement,” as measured with the Early Math Diagnostic Assessment (EMDA). The study also reported that lessons offered more opportunities to integrate arts, especially with math learning, and that the curriculum enhanced student participation and active learning, among other benefits.

After school quality: new resources

The National AfterSchool Association has produced a new series of briefs focusing on quality in after-school programs for children from 4 to 12 years old. They describe why quality matters, how to identify high quality programs, promoting professionalism, funding for quality, and a call to action.

Michigan child care quality problems become a safety issue

The Michigan league for Public Policy and Michigan Kids Count have produced a policy brief outlining the risks for children associated with state shortcomings in setting and enforcing safety standards in child care programs.

Early Education partnerships

This Mathematica report reviews existing literature on early education partnerships, identifying gaps in research and promising models.

Mind the Gap: More than just income inequality

A study reported in Pediatrics examined the achievement gap at Kindergarten entry by income, and determined that family background, parenting style and beliefs, health factors, home learning environment, and early education accounted for over half of the gap, suggesting a wide range of interventions in early childhood might be effective in reducing the gap.

What Works/LINKS database

Child Trends' What Works/LINKS database is a searchable database of over 700 social interventions for children. What Works includes descriptions of rigorously evaluated programs targeted at improving child or youth outcomes. Programs must have had at least one randomized, intent-to-treat evaluation (i.e., everyone was assigned by lottery to the treatment or experimental group and all were included in the analysis of impacts, whether or not they actually participated or were served).

Dual Language Learner youth indicators

This Child Trends report assesses indicators relating to children and youth who are dual language learners.

Calendar

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 - 3:30pm

Co-sponsored by the GTL and CEELO centers, join this webinar to hear about the development, recommended uses and expected tools from the supplemental guide.  USED's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Learning Libby Doggett will provide opening remarks.  Participants will learn from key state leaders - Illinois and Nevada - who will share the challenges and successes their state agencies experienced when implementing evaluation systems for teachers in the early grades.

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

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

Monday, March 2, 2015 - 3:00pm

This webinar presented by The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE) will focus on offering offers principals, teachers, family members, and others best practices, relevant resources, and indicators to guide new efforts to align early care and education with early elementary grades. Additional resources include a CEELO FastFact, Preparing Principals to Support Early Childhood Teachers and the NAESP Leading Learning Communities: Executive Summary.

 
Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 8:00am to Sunday, March 15, 2015 - 12:30pm

The American Montessori Society will be having their annual conference in Philadephia. Find more information here

Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 8:00am to Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 5:00pm

Join SRCD for its biennial meeting, including presentations from NIEER Researchers:

Friday, March 20

Paper Symposium: Integrated School Readiness Interventions
Paper title: C4L (Connect4Learning): Interdisciplinary early childhood education—math, science, literacy, and social-emotional development. 
Authors: 
Mary Louise Hemmeter; Doug Clements; Julie Sarama; Nell K. Duke; Kimberly Brenneman (NIEER/EC STEM Lab)
9:55am to 11:25am, Marriott, Franklin Hall 2

Poster Session
Poster Title: Preliminary validity and reliability evidence for a Spanish-language version of an early oral language tool using narrative retell 
Authors: Rita Flórez-Romero, Universidad Nacional de Colombia; Alissa Lange, NIEER/EC STEM Lab; Nicolás Arias-Velandia, Universidad Nacional de Colombia; 
5:20pm to 6:35pm, Penn CC, Exhibit Hall A on Board # 137

Saturday March 21

Paper Symposium: Comparing Effectiveness of Head Start and Pre-K Programs
Paper: Head Start and State Pre-K: How Comparable Are They with Respect to Inputs and Outputs?
Authors: W. Steven Barnett, NIEER Director; Min-Jong Youn, NIEER; Ellen Frede, Gates Foundation
8:00 to 9:30am, Penn CC, 100 Level, Room 103B

Paper Symposium: Math games: How simple math interventions interact with child and adult language to improve outcomes for young children
Chair: Alissa Lange, NIEER/EC STEM Lab
Using Number Games to Support Mathematical Learning in Preschool and Home Environments, by Alissa Lange; Kimberly Brenneman; Hebbah El-Moslimany, NIEER/EC STEM Lab
8:00am to 9:30am, Marriott, Franklin Hall 7

Poster Symposium: Innovations in early childhood STEM curriculum and professional development.  
Kimberly Brenneman will chair the symposim. She will also be part of a presentation at the symposium:
McWayne, C., Mistry, J., Greenfield, D., Brenneman, K., Zan B.  (2015, March). Partnerships for early childhood curriculum development: Readiness through Integrative Science and Engineering (RISE). 
1:55 to 3:25pm, Penn CC, 100 Level, Room 107B.

Friday, May 15, 2015 - 8:00am

Presented by Shannon Riley-Ayers and Vincent Costanza, NIEER and New Jersey Department of Education.

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. 

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, January 23, 2015
(WKYT)

A statewide readiness test has found that half of kindergarten students began class in the fall without having basic skills to help them succeed.

Friday, January 23, 2015
(Providence Journal)

Sen. Hanna M. Gallo has submitted legislation that would pay school districts to offer full-day kindergarten by accelerating a portion of the school funding formula.

Seven districts — Cranston, Johnston, Warwick, Coventry, East Greenwich, North Kingstown and Tiverton — do not offer full-day kindergarten to all children. Approximately 1,100 students would be offered all-day kindergarten if the districts made it universal. Under the current funding formula, districts that offer only half-day kindergarten are reimbursed for only half the aid for a full-time student. Because the funding formula is being phased in over seven years, districts that move to adopt all-day kindergarten this fall will not get their full reimbursement for another three years.

Friday, January 23, 2015
(The Boston Globe)

President Obama on Thursday unveiled plans to greatly increase federal assistance to working Americans struggling to afford child care, choosing a Democratic pocket in a solidly Republican state to sharpen the contrast between the parties’ economic visions.

In an appearance at the University of Kansas, Obama called for an $80 billion expansion of a federal program that provides child care subsidies to low- and middle-income families with children ages 3 and younger, nearly doubling the aid and offering it to more than 1 million additional children over the next decade. He promoted his plan to nearly triple, to $3,000 per child, the maximum child care tax credit. And the president said he would push to put more federal money into early childhood programs, expanding the availability of free preschool and extending Head Start — focused on low-income families — to last an entire day and for the full school year.

Thursday, January 22, 2015
(Latin Post)

Dual language learners have increased massively within the last few years, due greatly to immigration and the organic growth of Spanish-dominate U.S. born Latinos. That said, there's evidence that identifying and supporting bilingual or multilingual students earlier in their cognitive development/educational process does not seem to be a state or national priority, although it can make all the difference in their future.

Very few states demand early language assessments in early education programs, according to a new webinar by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), titled "Young Immigrants and Dual Language Learners: Participation in Pre-K & Gaps at Kindergarten Entry."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
(Woodburn Independent)

The results of the 2014-15 Oregon Kindergarten Assessment, which were released by the state Department of Education last week, only reinforces the need for early learning and earlier intervention before kindergarten, according to Woodburn Superintendent Chuck Ransom. The state’s assessment results should not surprise anyone familiar with the district and its composition. The data show that Woodburn students, when they begin their public school careers, are generally in line with their peers in approaches to learning and early mathematics, while they lag significantly behind in early English literacy. . . 

According to the 2014-15 assessment, local students matched or even exceeded the statewide averages for self-regulation and interpersonal skills (two measures dealing with approaches to learning) and came in just behind the statewide results for numbers and math operations.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
(Kare 11)

Not long after getting free all-day kindergarten, boosters of early childhood education are hoping to get state money for free all-day preschool across Minnesota. It's a top priority for Senate Democrats this session. They say giving 4-year-olds a quality education better prepares them for success in life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
(WDRB.com)

Half of Kentucky's kindergartners did not enter the 2014-15 school year prepared to learn the reading and math skills they are expected to master, according to data released Wednesday by the state.

Fifty percent of students who entered kindergarten in the fall of 2014 were considered "not ready,” according to a statewide readiness screening administered by teachers to 49,089 kindergartners in all 173 school districts. 

It's a very slight improvement from the 2013-14 school year, when 51 percent were considered not ready.

"While we are moving in the right direction, this data reinforces the importance of quality early learning opportunities for all children," Gov. Steve Beshear said in a prepared statement.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
(WWLP.com)

Stressing that 43 percent of Massachusetts third graders are not reading at grade level, state lawmakers are pushing to provide every child with an early start to education. State Senator Sonia Chang Diaz (D-Boston) filed a bill that would provide state-funded preschool education for three- and four- year olds across Massachusetts. If it is signed into law, school districts would qualify for funding by submitting a plan to the state on how they would provide high-quality education.

Monday, January 19, 2015
(EdSource)

For the first time in California, thousands of early-learning centers in most of the state, from preschools to licensed child-care centers and homes, are in the process of implementing a common system to rate the quality of their programs.

The system is a result of the only statewide grants California received from President Barack Obama’s signature $4.3 billion Race to the Top program. The state was unsuccessful in getting significant Race to the Top funding for its K-12 schools, but won $75 million in two “Early Learning Challenge” awards to institute a range of reforms to improve the quality of its vast system of publicly and privately funded preschool and child-care programs.

Monday, January 19, 2015
(The Toronto Star (Canada))

Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Monday that early childhood educators working at licensed centres are getting a $1-an-hour increase this month and another dollar hike next year.

“Let’s not pretend that your work has always been valued as it should be. We know that it has not so today I am very proud to announce we have taken action to increase wages for early childhood educators and front line child care professionals in licensed child care setting,” Wynne said speaking in Kingston, Ont. . . . Only workers making less than $26.27 an hour will be eligible for the bump up. The budget set aside $269 million in funding over three years.

Saturday, January 17, 2015
(The New York Times)

Yet as these debates rage, researchers have been quietly finding small, effective ways to improve education. They have identified behavioral “nudges” that prod students and their families to take small steps that can make big differences in learning. These measures are cheap, so schools or nonprofits could use them immediately. . . . Can nudges help younger children? Susanna Loeb and Benjamin N. York, both also at Stanford, developed a literacy program for preschool children in San Francisco. They sent parents texts describing simple activities that develop literacy skills, such as pointing out words that rhyme or start with the same sound. The parents receiving the texts spent more time with their children on these activities and their children were more likely to know the alphabet and the sounds of letters. It cost just a few dollars per family.

Saturday, January 17, 2015
(Seattle Times)

Burkhalter is a test subject in one of many initiatives being piloted by the Thirty Million Words Project, which aims to prevent the achievement gap from starting with the power of parent-child talk — beginning at day one.

In this intervention with newborns, mothers still in the hospital learn research-based parenting practices less commonly known in poor households. There will soon be follow-up lessons at pediatric checkups. This winter, Thirty Million Words is embarking on a major long-term study of a home-visiting program that teaches communication skills to parents of slightly older babies. Children will be trailed from about 15 months old through at least kindergarten.

Friday, January 16, 2015
(The Hechinger Report)

Julian’s case illustrates a larger, more complex issue simmering inside many of the nation’s early childhood centers that serve children impacted by violence and poverty. According to a recent nationally representative survey, 13 percent of infants a year-old and younger and 44 percent of all 2- to 5-year-olds were assault victims in the prior year. Eight percent of infants and 14 percent of 2-to 5-year-olds had also witnessed violence. Other studies have had similar findings.

Most assaults on young children did not involve a weapon or result in injury, and siblings and playmates were the most common perpetrators. Still, early education experts say, any experience of violence can be traumatic. Yet few preschools have mental health professionals on staff, leaving many children in danger of falling through the cracks. Early investment would save money as well as heartache later on, experts say.

“If we put that money at the front end, we will spend less on special education classes for behavior disorder, we will spend less on adolescent substance abuse, we will spend less on gang violence, we will spend less on the juvenile criminal justice system,” said Margret Nickels, a clinical psychologist at Chicago’s Erikson Institute who is known as an authority on early childhood mental health.

Friday, January 16, 2015
(SFGate)

Mayor Ed Lee took steps Tuesday to make San Francisco a little more family friendly and easier to get around, announcing the city would provide funding to help pay for basic preschool for all 4-year-olds in the city. . .

About 3,800 4-year-olds are enrolled in San Francisco’s Preschool for All program, which was started a decade ago when voters approved a mandate to create a universal prekindergarten program. The program has been regularly expanded since then, with Lee’s current proposal to add 860 spots over the next two school years — significantly more than the roughly 500 children on the wait list. City officials estimated the expansion would add $5 million to $10 million to the cost of the program, which is budgeted to receive $27.5 million in city funds in the current fiscal year.

 

Thursday, January 15, 2015
(The Bellingham Herald (Opinion))

The research couldn’t be clearer: The earlier children receive high-quality learning opportunities, the more likely they are to stay in school and achieve success. Early learning helps prevent poverty, crime, and a host of other social ills that cost taxpayers money. But even more important, early learning helps little kids grow up to lead meaningful, productive and satisfying lives.

The state Legislature understood these benefits in 1985 when it created the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP) to provide early learning for preschool-aged children from families with incomes of 110 percent or less than the federal poverty level. Children also qualify if they have special needs or if they are at risk of certain adverse childhood experiences, such as family violence or homelessness

 

Thursday, January 15, 2015
(San Jose Mercury News)

"It's the essential promise of America -- that where you start should not and will not determine how far you can go." That powerful message was shared by President Barack Obama last month at the White House Summit on Early Education. It resonates deeply in the communities where the Children's Defense Fund-California is working to help young people beat the odds cast by the color of their skin and the size of their parents' paychecks.

So we're calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to join President Obama with a bold vision and an economic plan to secure our kids' future. We are joining Raising California Together to call for investment in expanding and strengthening child care as part of California's educational and economic agenda.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
(EdSource)

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced Tuesday that he will expand the city’s Preschool for All program after voters in November approved a ballot measure to help fund public education and children’s services for a quarter-century. Nearly two-thirds of the city’s 4-year-olds are in high-quality preschool programs in San Francisco, said Laurel Kloomek, executive director of San Francisco First5, which oversees 150 preschools in the city. Most of the city’s low-income preschoolers are already enrolled in city preschools, she added. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
(Capital)

As City Hall gears up for the second year of its massive pre-kindergarten program, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration will have to reckon with mounting pressure from community-based organizations about salary and benefit disparities that have long plagued the city’s early education programs. C.B.O. providers, who operate pre-kindergarten classes in facilities that are not public schools, stayed relatively quiet during the lead-up to the pre-K rollout last fall, careful not to hedge their enthusiasm about the expansion of early childhood education. But they are now voicing significant concern about pay discrepancies, which can stretch to tens of thousands of dollars, between community center teachers and staff and their Department of Education counterparts.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
(Sacramento Bee (Opinion))

We need to re-order priorities and develop partnerships across government, business, nonprofit and religious sectors to support families and their children. We must develop an integrated approach to child development that begins with prenatal care and continues through adolescence. Then, public policies and resources must be realigned to consistently support that holistic blueprint.

We would be wiser to invest more in remedying the causes of disadvantaged, disrupted and broken families than what California spends on prisons. Funding and supporting early childhood development must be a priority, not an afterthought.

 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
(Grand Forks Herald)

Legislation that would provide state funding to expand early childhood education in North Dakota drew plenty of support during its first hearing Tuesday, but leaders of two education groups also said they want to ensure it’s not a gateway to vouchers for private schools. The $6 million in Senate Bill 2151 would cover about half the cost of pre-kindergarten education for an estimated 6,000 children through annual grants of $1,000 per student starting in the 2016-17 school year, said the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
(The Huffington Post)

Congress is currently revving up yet another attempt to rewrite the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act, and Murray said Tuesday that she sees putting her stamp on the sweeping education legislation as "another big step forward, putting the ideals of our nation into action." No Child Left Behind, George W. Bush's rebranding of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, required that students in America's public schools be tested in math and reading in certain grades, and punished schools based on those scores. Since then, it has earned a reputation from nearly everyone for being too crude in its metrics, because it relies on raw test scores as opposed to student growth. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that after years of working around Congress to get states out of the law by issuing waivers, the Obama administration is ready to go back to the legislative drawing board.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
(The Times-Picayune)

For teachers in publicly funded child-care centers, Louisiana demands little more than that they be 18 or older. There is no education requirement or mandatory training. But the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education decided Tuesday in committee that these pre-school teachers must take classes of their own to learn more about young children's care and development. The move is part of a statewide push to improve pre-school, authorized by Act 3 of the 2012 legislative session and related laws. Other recent changes include the Education Department taking over management of pre-school programs, new academic report cards and coordinated pre-school enrollment. The rules apply to all pre-schools that accept public funding, such as those participating in the Child Care Assistance program.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
(EdWeek )

Libby Doggett, who oversees early-childhood policy for the U.S. Department of Education, has a long history in the field, including work with the National Head Start Association and the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she led the philanthropy's Home Visiting campaign and its Pre-K Now initiative. 

But the latest work in early-childhood nationwide is energizing even to this self-described "optimist." Said Doggett: "What's been exciting is to have so many unexpected allies. The business community, the law enforcement community, the faith-based community, others [are] stepping forward and saying that 'These are our children, and we're going to help.' And that's what's made the difference."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
(The Washington Post)

The Common Core State Standards call for kindergartners to learn how to read, but a new report by early childhood experts says that forcing some kids to read before they are ready could be harmful.

Two organizations that advocate for early childhood education —Defending the Early Years and Alliance for Childhood — issued the reporttitled “Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose.”  It says there is no evidence to support a widespread belief in the United States that children must read in prekindergarten or kindergarten to become strong readers and achieve academic success.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
(Grand Forks Herald)

Legislation that would provide state funding to expand early childhood education in North Dakota drew plenty of support during its first hearing Tuesday, but leaders of two education groups also said they want to ensure it’s not a gateway to vouchers for private schools. The $6 million in Senate Bill 2151 would cover about half the cost of pre-kindergarten education for an estimated 6,000 children through annual grants of $1,000 per student starting in the 2016-17 school year, said the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo.

Monday, January 12, 2015
(Fox News)

Head Start programs have been shown to help poor children do better in school, but they may also help them fight obesity, a study suggests. During a year of Head Start preschool, obese and overweight children were much more likely to slim down than comparison groups of kids. The study involved almost 44,000 preschool-aged children in Michigan and the researchers, from the University of Michigan, acknowledge it has weaknesses. But they say the potential benefits are important because obesity is so hard to treat and affects low-income children disproportionately.

Monday, January 12, 2015
(Washington Post)

The Obama administration wants to add a program in federal law to fund preschool for low-income children. President Obama has unsuccessfully asked Congress to add pre-K to the K-12 system in his annual budget request, saying that it is the most cost-effective way to help disadvantaged children. But Republicans have blanched at spending more on education.

Sunday, January 11, 2015
(Midland Reporter-Telegram)

When Greg Abbott made preschool a cornerstone of his education proposal during his campaign for governor, it signaled to some lawmakers that the upcoming legislative session could put more money in the state’s early education program. The issue seems poised to take up a share of the conversation in Austin, with several legislators prefiling bills to expand state-funded preschool. Some lawmakers want to make prekindergarten available to all 4-year-olds. Others want to raise the quality of the existing program and provide enough funding to increase it from half-day to full-day. . . 

Texas has some of the weakest quality standards for preschool, with no limits on student-to-teacher ratios or class size, W. Steven Barnett, the National Institute for Early Education research director, has said.

 

Sunday, January 11, 2015
(Cincinnati.com )

Since November, three American cities have approved plans to offer subsidized preschool to their youngest residents. Could Cincinnati be next? Advocates for the Cincinnati Preschool Promise spent 2014 building support through social media, community forums and one-on-one conversations. The idea is to provide a preschool education to all 3- and 4-year-olds within the boundaries of Cincinnati Public Schools, with tuition assistance offered on a sliding scale. An alliance of education officials, civic groups and business leaders believes that universal preschool could have a range of benefits for Cincinnati, from boosting academic performance and combating childhood poverty to creating a more skilled workforce and attracting families to the city.

Sunday, January 11, 2015
(Washington Post)

A University of Virginia report published last week found that about a third of Virginia youngsters rated poorly on kindergarten readiness and argued that more assessments are needed for young students to identify where they fall short. They found a third of students fell short of benchmarks in at least one area. In 40 percent of classrooms, 40 percent of children were rated “not ready” in one area. The report does not disclose which districts participated, but said the students in the study were representative of the state’s kindergartners.

Sunday, January 11, 2015
(Alternet)

New data reveals our public—not private—school system is among the best in the world. In fact, except for the debilitating effects of poverty, our public school system may be the best in the world. The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that the U.S. ranked high, relative to other OECD countries, in reading, math, and science (especially in reading, and in all areas better in 4th grade than in 8th grade). Some U.S. private schools were included, but a separate evaluation was done for Florida, in public schools only, and their results were higher than the U.S. average. . . 

Numerous studies have shown that pre-school helps all children to achieve more and earn more through adulthood, with the most disadvantaged benefiting the most. But the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the developed world in the percentage of 4-year-olds in early childhood education. And yet Head Start was recently hit with the worst cutbacks in its history. 

 

Saturday, January 10, 2015
(The Boston Globe)

Universal pre-K simply means that all children, regardless of family income or ability, will have access to quality programs that are governed by high standards; serve 3- and 4 year-olds; and focus on school readiness and positive outcomes for children. There is an abundance of evidence-based research on the impact of high quality pre-school education that clearly demonstrate the short and long-term effects on children’s early learning and their overall growth and development. The National Institute for Early Education and Research points out that children enrolled in quality pre-K programs often show significant gains in math and early literacy skills; strong social/emotional and cognitive development; and are better prepared for kindergarten.