Volume 14, Issue 21

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hot Topics

The National Women’s Law Center noted the release of the Economic Policy Institute report, High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families, highlighting the impact of child care costs on families, especially those with low incomes. They noted that the report has been featured in the Washington Post and Bloomberg Business. A new report from the Century Foundation addresses the value of serving children from middle-income families in preschool as well.

Also in the news, a report from ICS, indicating that an increase in the Earned Income Tax credit can improve student achievement, and positively affect graduation rates and college completion. This is particularly effective for young children, minority students, and boys.

A new report from CLASP, TANF and the First Year of Life: Making a Difference at a Pivotal Moment, “suggests an innovative framework for thinking about Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in the context of the first year of life, a vision for what a reformed TANF might look like, and concrete steps that states can begin taking right now to move their programs in this direction.” Politico reported recently on What's Next? Our Agenda for Reducing Poverty and Increasing Opportunity a commentary series by CLASP Executive Director Olivia Golden. “This periodic, long-form analysis promotes federal, state, and local policy solutions that can reduce poverty and increase opportunity.” The National Bureau of Economic Research has developed a report on the impact of household income on child personality traits and behaviors.

Issues of early childhood and economics are also under review internationally. A student in Taiwan has won the Hult prize, for proposing an early childhood model “which provides infrastructure for women in the developing world to provide bona fide educational services rather than mere daycare, saying, “We are building a bridge between people that want and are able to become part of a solution with hardworking communities that only need an opportunity. Playcares.com is not only a financial inclusion mechanism to empower women to run Playcares, but it is also a way to generate awareness of how quality early childhood education will break the poverty cycle.”

 A new study by NIEER researcher Allison H. Friedman-Krauss and C. Cybele Raver finds that frequent moves between preschool and third grade can adversely affect children’s math achievement. They also fund that “frequently changing schools (3 or 4 school changes over the same time period) was positively associated with teacher-reported cognitive dysregulation in third grade and negatively associated with children’s math achievement in fourth grade. Evidence for the role of children’s cognitive dysregulation as a partial statistical mediator was found for the relation between frequently changing schools and math achievement, even after accounting for baseline risk.” Friedman-Krauss reports "We were interested in self regulation and there's been a lot of research to show a very robust relationship between self regulation and later math achievement.” The study followed a group of 381 low-income children in Chicago.

A new Sustainable Development Agenda for United Nations members, passed by the United Nations General Assembly recently, includes access to quality early childhood education as a priority—for the first time. The agenda's goals address issues related to health, climate change, and gender equality. 

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has a new slate of Senior Directors

·       In July, 2015 Susan Friedman was appointed Senior Director, Content Strategy and Development. She will lead the development of content initiatives in all forms, print and digital, internal and external, to drive membership engagement, retention, revenue and positive brand visibility.

·       Mary Harrill, Senior Director, Higher Education Accreditation and Support, joined NAEYC in September 2015 as the Senior Director for Higher Education Accreditation and Support.  She will work to enhance professional preparation pathways for early childhood educators and position NAEYC higher education accreditation as an essential resource to advance as a profession.

·       Lauren Hogan joined NAEYC in September 2015 as the Senior Director, Public Policy and Advocacy. She will develop and lead NAEYC’s bipartisan early childhood policy agenda with a keen focus on shared leadership, innovation, diversity, and equity.

·       Kristen Johnson joined NAEYC in June 2015 as the Senior Director, NAEYC Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation. Kristen will increase the integrity, relevancy, and customer experience of NAEYC accreditation.

·       Derrick Semeneh has been the Senior Director of Information Technology (IT) since May 2015.  He has held various managerial and technical positions in the IT field in a number of for profit and non-for-profit organizations including previous work as a Manager of IT, Systems Engineer and Network Administrator.           

·       Brian Wachur started in December 2014, as the new Director of Membership and Marketing for NAEYC. He brings a unique mix of association and agency communication experience to the Marketing team, having most recently worked as a Senior Strategist at TVP Communications, a public relations agency that works primarily with higher education institutions. 

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Alissa Lange, Principal Investigator discusses SciMath-DLL, (scimathdll.com) in her blog post Early STEM—Fuel for Learning

Resources

Early Learning PA reports that Child Care Aware has released the 2015 State Fact Sheets, “which provide important data to better understand America's working families and the child care circumstances they face. This annual report uses federal and national data and information from state Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies and other state agencies to analyze family characteristics related to the need for child care, the use of child care, the supply of child care, the cost of child care, the child care workforce, and services provided by CCR&Rs.”

Early Learning PA also reports that the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) recently released the English Learner (EL) Tool Kit to support states, districts and schools in meeting their legal obligations to ELs and ensuring access to quality education, a companion to the English Learner Guidance released jointly by ED and DOJ in January, 2015.

Investing against evidence: the global state of ECCE, a new report from UNESCO, with a chapter on Investment and productivity arguments for ECCE from NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett and Associate Director of Research Milagros Nores, is available online.

Results from a multi-year evaluation from FPG considers Georgia Pre-K and reports “educational improvement in key areas and progress at a greater rate while participating in the program.” 

The National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement, (NCCQI) has examined state QRIS websites in detail, and gathered their findings in a brief

The Center for American Progress and the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) released a report this month on the Preschool-to-prison pipeline. “In their report, CAP and the NBCDI offer recommendations and approaches to increase the protective factors available to ensure that young children stay in school and reap the full benefits of early learning while simultaneously supporting schools and teachers to actively resist the criminalization of African American youth.” 

Research Connections has highlighted a report on STEM: Are number-related home activities and math talk contributors to early math development in Head Start children?

From Research Connections, a report examining: What are the characteristics of family child care providers who engage in online professional development programs?

Thursday, November 19, there will be a briefing about a chapter from the BUILD Initiative's new e-book Rising to the Challenge, reviews the progress of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (ELC) awarded states and how they are addressing the challenges in their Early Learning data efforts. “Learn about NLC’s early educational alignment efforts with cities across the country, and hear from mayors about city-level progress, challenges, and lessons learned. Attendees will reflect on how to better connect and align federal, state, and local early childhood policy efforts.”

Thursday, November 19, 2015, The Willard InterContinental Hotel, 2:00 – 6:00 pm, Washington, DC

For more information and to RSVP, contact Katie Whitehouse at whitehouse@nlc.org.

Calendar

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, October 16, 2015
(5ABC News)

The $1 million of funding will be used to make sure thousands of 3-year-olds are screened for health and development issues as part of a program called Screen @ Three. The initiative will ensure that an extra 7,000 children are screened by 2018.

Generation Next officials say that early childhood screening helps connect kids to needed services at an earlier age so they are ready for kindergarten. They say the majority of 3-year-olds in Minneapolis and St. Paul are not screened.

The other $3 million will be used to help improve the quality of child care access across the two cities in partnership with an initiative called Think Small. Generation Next officials say that kids who attend high-quality child care are nearly twice as likely to be school ready as those who don’t, so the money will help prepare an additional 1,700 kids for kindergarten over the next three years.

The money will be used to offer child care providers extra training and resources.

Friday, October 16, 2015
(Connecticut Mirror)

Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher on Thursday provided a key victory to a coalition of parents, educators and city leaders suing the state when he rejected the state's request to exclude evidence related to preschool from a trial that will determine whether the state is spending enough on education overall.

"What is the testimony about preschool evidence with respect to how it effects primary school and secondary school education? It's hard for me to make a ruling on that until I hear evidence," Moukawsher told lawyers representing the state and those representing the Coalition for Justice in Education Funding. "I will hear the evidence and maybe it will convince me that its so tightly connected to primary and secondary schools that it is appropriate."

The state still has a long way to go before it reaches universal preschool for the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds. State officials reported earlier this year that 10,109 children from low-income families — nearly one-third of poor students — cannot afford to enroll in a high-quality preschool program. To provide universal access to preschool, districts would have to add 814 preschool classrooms.

Friday, October 16, 2015
(Children's Institute)

Today, the Children’s Institute is releasing the results of our recentOregon School District Preschool Survey. The report shows which Oregon school districts have preschool programs, and details how they operate the programs. 

As part of our focus on the learning and healthy development of children from birth through third grade, the Children’s Institute is committed to increasing access to preschool and ensuring preschool programs meet quality standards. Preschool is a critical piece of Oregon’s vision of a P-20 education continuum, from preschool through advanced college degree. And we know that high-quality preschool can help close the persistent opportunity gap between children in poverty and their more affluent peers.

Yet only a fraction of children from low-income Oregon families have access to quality preschool.

Thursday, October 15, 2015
(WIBQ)

Children who change schools frequently start falling behind by the time they reach fourth grade, according to a study of low-income children.

The study found that moving from school to school more than twice in the five years from Head Start preschool through third grade correlated with lower scores on math tests.

Allison Friedman-Krauss, assistant research professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, co-authored the study. She says the difference is about 10 points on standardized achievement tests.

"Children who moved three or four times over that five-year period - compared to children who didn't move frequently - scored lower on the math achievement by about eight months of learning," she points out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
(The Daily Journal)

Despite the demise of the Preschool For All act at the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown last week, advocates are remaining optimistic in their quest to increase access for students from low-income families to early education programs.

Brown elected Friday, Oct. 9, to veto Assembly Bill 47, which aimed to guarantee all state students would be able to enroll in preschool programs by 2018, so long as there was room in the state budget to fund such an effort.

In his veto statement, Brown said he did not support setting arbitrary deadlines, but promised he would stay committed to paying the way for eligible students through early education programs via the state budget.

And though they said it is unfortunate Brown was unwilling to sign the bill authored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, local early education advocates said they considered the governor’s willingness to find funding for preschool heartening.

“It’s crucial that all kids have access to high-quality preschool programs, and we’re supportive of the governor’s decision to allow that process to play out within the structure of the state budget,” said Allie Jaarsma, spokeswoman for the San Mateo County Office of Education, in an email.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
(Dayton Daily News)

Preschool providers in Dayton will get a half-million-dollar boost this month that will help 135 disadvantaged students get better prepared for kindergarten by age 5.

The money is part of $15 million in additional early childhood education funding from this summer’s state budget bill, and will benefit 3,675 students in 55 school districts statewide. In addition to Dayton, funding has been approved for preschool providers in the Fairborn, Tecumseh, Springfield and Tri-Village areas.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
(Forbes)

Juan Diego Prudot was successful at a very young age. With the abundant opportunities afforded those of means, he has chosen the path of a social entrepreneur in an effort to improve early childhood education around the world.

Prudot sees the problem this way, “Over 100 million children under the age of six are living in underserved communities and do not have access to quality early childhood education. This situation leads to children being unprepared to enter primary school and with a weaker social and emotional foundation, thus making it more challenging for the youth to thrive and become productive members of society.”

Prudot led the formation of a team of student entrepreneurs in Taiwan, where he attends business school at National Chengchi University. The team launched IMPCT, which operates Playcares.com, and competed in and won the 2015 Hult Prize competition at the Clinton Global Initiative last month.

Prudot explains the business, which provides infrastructure for women in the developing world to provide bona fide educational services rather than mere daycare, saying, “We are building a bridge between people that want and are able to become part of a solution with hardworking communities that only need an opportunity. Playcares.com is not only a financial inclusion mechanism to empower women to run Playcares, but it is also a way to generate awareness of how quality early childhood education will break the poverty cycle.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
(Huffington Post (Education))

When it comes to early childhood policies that put children on the path to success, the U.S. is failing American children and families.

Researching educational inequality for our new book Too Many Children Left Behind(Russell Sage Foundation, 2015), my colleagues and I found that children of less-educated parents in the U.S. lag behind children of more-educated parents by more than a year in both reading and math skills before they even start kindergarten--a significantly larger gap than is seen in our peer countries, such as the UK, Canada, and Australia.

The implication is clear: If the odds are stacked against disadvantaged children before they even step foot in school, we must look for remedies in early childhood. Luckily, there is no mystery as to how to do this. We can look to the track records of our peers in the U.K., Canada, and Australia, who have demonstrated that we can successfully invest in our children's future by strengthening early childhood policies.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015
(Breitbart)

Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge, said Brown’s veto was a “missed opportunity.”

“We’re glad to see that the governor recognizes the promise made last year and look forward to engaging with his administration in the coming budget process,” Kong said in a statement to EdSource. “There remains a significant unmet need for preschool in California, with tens of thousands of low-income children who do not have access to preschool. To them and their families, this is very necessary.”

McCarty also expressed dismay in Brown’s veto.

“I’m disappointed in the Governor’s veto of AB 47, the Preschool for All Act of 2015,” he said in a statement. “Quality early childhood education has been proven to help close the achievement gap, fight poverty, and prevent kids from entering the juvenile justice system.”

 
Monday, October 12, 2015
(The Washington Post)

Can 4-year-olds learn what they need to know for kindergarten by sitting in front of a computer for 15 minutes a day?

Utah is betting they can. This year, more than 6,600 children across the state are learning by logging on to laptops at home in a taxpayer-funded online preschool program that is unlike any other.

This is preschool without circle time on the carpet, free play with friends and real, live teachers. In online preschool, children navigate through a series of lessons, games and songs with the help of a computer mouse and two animated raccoons named Rusty and Rosy. It’s a sign of the growing interest among educators in using technology to customize learning, even for the youngest children. It also gives children who might otherwise not get any preparation for elementary school a chance to experience an academic program. But it’s also missing some ingredients — especially social and emotional learning — that many experts and parents consider central to the education of young children.

Monday, October 12, 2015
(EdSource)

In vetoing Assembly Bill 47, titled The Preschool For All Act of 2015, Governor Brown states that there isn’t a need to set a deadline for meeting the needs of California’s youngest learners. Tens of thousands of families in every corner of the state would disagree. His decision, to keep the goal of providing universal preschool to every child who needs it elusive, is out of step with President Obama, the California legislature, and the more than 70% of California voters who support universal preschool. Even though more than 60% of California’s Latino four-year-olds and half of African-American four-year-olds are not enrolled in preschool, Governor Brown says we can continue on modest, incremental efforts rather than clear and decisive planning. We stand with Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, and  AB 47 co-authors Assembly Members Bonta, Chávez, Eduardo Garcia, and Rendon, declaring that children’s futures deserve more. From President Obama, to a majority of Republican and Democratic members of the State Legislature, to business leaders, neuroscientists, teachers, parents and advocates — everyone agrees that high quality universal preschool matters.

Friday, October 9, 2015
(The Washington Post)

A new study finds strong evidence that delaying kindergarten by a year provides mental health benefits to children, allowing them to better self-regulate their attention and hyperactivity levels when they do start school. The study, titled “The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health” and published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that these benefits — which are obviously important to student achievement — persist at least until age 11. . .

There is a loud debate in the United States and other developed countries about the proper age to start formal schooling — with ever-younger students being put into school with formal academic work. Many early childhood experts have expressed concern about forcing very young children to sit and do academic work, arguing that kids learn best through structured play.  

Friday, October 9, 2015
(HealthCanal)

Low-income students who change schools frequently are at risk for lower math scores and have a harder time managing their behavior and attention in the classroom than similar students who stay in the same school, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
Children who experienced fewer school transitions over a five-year period, demonstrated greater cognitive skills and higher math achievement in early elementary school, relative to their counterparts who changed schools frequently. This research, which involved children enrolled in the Chicago public school system, held true even after taking into account children’s cognitive and math skills during Head Start preschool programs. It was published in the APA journal Developmental Psychology®.

“Simply stated, frequently changing schools is a major risk factor for low-income children’s school success,” said the study’s lead author, Allison Friedman-Krauss, PhD, of New York University.

Thursday, October 8, 2015
(Journal Star)

Last year the Buffett Institute began a “workforce development program” designed to enhance the skills of the people who provide child care and teaching to children from birth to third grade.

As part of the institute’s outreach, Samuel J. Meisels, director, and other officials with the Buffett institute have met with community leaders all across the state.

The problems experienced by children in early childhood can change the architecture of the brain and become an ingredient in a generational “transmission of failure,” Meisels told educators in Scottsbluff earlier this year.

"We have what we think is a wonderful vision for the institute that Nebraska will be the best place in the nation to be a baby,” he said.

Thursday, October 8, 2015
(Portland Tribune)

The new Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education scored a major victory in the 2015 Oregon Legislature with a bill to expand government-paid preschool programs. Preschool Promise will offer services to families making up to twice the federal poverty level (currently $24,250 for a family of four).

Recently released data from the research and advocacy group Children First for Oregon show that 385,000 children, nearly half of the total in the state, live in or near poverty.

“It helps us to expand access to individuals who are at a higher level of the poverty threshold, but still fall into that space where the ability to afford preschool or child care might be out of reach for their families,” says Director Megan Irwin, who has led the division since it began in July 2013. “What that bill did was create a new system for preschool in our state.”

Fifty-seven school districts in Oregon currently operate a preschool program. The Early Learning Division expects to expand that to 16 more programs serving 1,400 more preschoolers by September 2016.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
(The Boston Globe)

Child-care costs would now devour at least 30 percent of a minimum-wage worker’s earnings in every state, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute has found. Such workers in New York and Massachusetts would have to fork over more than 80 percent of their annual earnings, according to the findings, published Tuesday. In Washington, D.C., they’d need to throw in everything - plus extra: 102 percent of a minimum-wage salary is required to cover the average annual cost of infant care.

This election cycle, the price of day care has emerged as a hot topic among presidential hopefuls . Democratic contenders say the burden breaks middle-class budgets, often trumping the rent check. Hillary Rodham Clinton, for example, has called for more government money to support public child-care programs. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), her biggest challenger on the left so far, advocates for universal preschool and paid family leave. Conservative voices are also starting to join the national conversation: Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) became the first Republican candidate to address the problem with a policy proposal, announcing a new tax break for companies that offer paid leave to employees. Nearly 11 million children younger than 5 in the United States depend on some type of weekly child care arrangement, according to Child Care Aware of America, which tracks national data.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
(Education World)

Are states able to expand preschool access without a court order? That's what Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is hoping. Though the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled six years ago that the state was responsible for providing a certain level of education to all, it did not specify preschool. As a result, educators, lawmakers and parents are sparring over how the state should set out to expand preschool access to the state's young learners. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
(The Dallas Morning News)

Just a few years ago, only about one in three Dallas kindergartners started school on grade level. Most were up to a year behind their peers, which experts say is difficult to make up.

So starting in 2013, Dallas began overhauling prekindergarten to build a stronger curriculum, enroll more students and provide teachers with more focused training and support so that the district would have a high-quality program.But when school started this year, Dallas officials were shocked to see a 10-point gain that meant that now 51 percent of all kindergartners are on grade level.

“That’s a meteoric lift,” said Alan Cohen, an assistant superintendent who oversees early childhood education in Dallas. “It’s not a time for victory laps. We have a long, long way to go. But our efforts in pre-K are definitely starting to yield results.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
(US News & World Report)

It's not that the low-income children who went to preschool are regressing, but that the children who didn't go to preschool are catching up. Consider this analogy: In New York City, where I live, some families start teaching their babies to swim at age 2. My daughter didn't begin swim lessons until age 6. But by age 8, perhaps my daughter will be swimming as well as the other kids. That would be calculated as complete "fadeout" in the data if the early swimmers cannot maintain their achievement lead over my daughter.

Among giant statewide or urban preschool programs, as they actually exist in the real world, rigorous research is scarce. Like the small, higher-quality programs, the large-scale programs tend to find an initial benefit from a preschool education at the start of kindergarten, but not a very large one. And this small preschool boost fades and becomes very weak by third grade, or disappears altogether. Even in Tulsa, Oklahoma – which is reputed to have one of the best publicly funded preschool programs in the country – researchers found one cohort of students who had attended preschool scoring the same on a third grade math test as students from similar socioeconomic backgrounds who hadn't gone to preschool. In a second cohort, researchers found only a small benefit from preschool by third grade.

"If you look at every study on preschool, fadeout is pervasive," said Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. "You have to have a really big immediate effect to get any effects in the long term. And these can be squandered if the school system isn't good enough."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
(Washington Monthly)

So why are the skills gained in Tennessee’s pre-K program fading? There are two leading explanations.

First, Tennessee’s pre-K program might not be as high-quality as the high-level indicators suggest. Just because a state seemingly has the right policies in place does not mean that those policies are implemented as intended. TN-VPK programs are supposed to follow a host of high-level quality benchmarks, but fidelity of implementation may be a problem. TN-VPK expanded quickly and the program may not have retained its quality when it scaled up. In fact, the study finds that TN-VPK quality varies significantlythroughout the state. For instance, classroom-level indicators that predict child outcomes, like quality of instruction and the interactions between children and teachers, are likely inconsistent throughout the state.

The second explanation has to do with the years after pre-K. There is no doubt that pre-K and the years before kindergarten are important. We know that “the word gap” is well pronounced by age two, if not earlier. And we know that high quality pre-K can leave children more prepared for kindergarten. While the results of this study are disappointing, Tennessee’s pre-K program does do what pre-K is intended to do– it prepares students for kindergarten. Some programs, likeBoston’s pre-K program, are found to have lasting effects on their own, but it is unreasonable to assume that attending pre-K for one year is by itself enough to close the pronounced achievement gap in our country.

In order for the gains made in TN-VPK to be sustained past kindergarten, children must continue to have access to appropriate learning environments in the early grades. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
(Chicago Tribune via Washington Post)

What if we could draw a line from key areas of a low-income child's brain to a policy intervention that would dramatically reduce his or her chances of staying in poverty, dropping out of school and entering the criminal justice or social welfare system? Wouldn't we want to make that policy prescription as widely available as any vaccination against childhood disease?

Thanks to remarkable advances in neuroscience and the social sciences, we are closing in on this possibility.

In a study published this year in Nature Neuroscience, several co-authors and I found that family income is significantly correlated with children's brain size — specifically, the surface area of the cerebral cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain that does most of the cognitive heavy lifting. Further, we found that increases in income were associated with the greatest increases in brain surface area among the poorest children.

Not surprisingly, our findings made many people uncomfortable. Some feared the study would be used to reinforce the notion that people remain in poverty because they are less capable than those with higher incomes.

As neuroscientists, we interpret the results very differently. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
(Latin Post)

Quality early childhood education has a substantial influence on future employment, education and health outcomes, according to a new report published in late September. The research highlighted findings within the Latino community and demonstrated the economic power of investing in early childhood education.

Center-based child care and public pre-K programs have tremendous effects on low-income Latino children, particularly when it comes to kindergarten readiness. Early education also impacts academic achievement and young Latinos' capacity for learning through third grade.

One quarter of U.S. children are Hispanic, and by 2050 it's expected that one in three will be Hispanic. Because Hispanic children are increasingly become a greater share of the educational system, it's necessary to place vested interest in the community, as they will become a large portion of the nation's future workforce.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
(Edinburgh News)

Children growing up in poverty have fallen almost a year behind their more affluent peers by the time they start primary school, councillors will be told tomorrow.

An emergency city council report on poverty reveals that by the age of five, youngsters from poorer backgrounds can be ten months behind their classmates when it comes to problem-
solving and vocabulary skills.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
(The CT Mirror)

There's agreement that too few children in Connecticut have access to quality preschool programs, but top state officials are butting heads with a coalition of parents and educators on how to put a near-universal system in place.

Attorney General George Jepsen argues that whether the state pays for universal preschool is an issue that should remain with lawmakers. His office is defending the State Department of Education and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a school-funding lawsuit brought by a coalition of parents, school boards, municipal leaders and teachers' unions.

The coalition worries that lawmakers will continue to look at the budgets for early education programs as places to find money when times are tight.

A Jan. 11 trial date is set on the case that will determine whether the state is meeting its constitutional obligation to provide all students a quality education. Among other things, Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher will soon have to determine whether evidence relating to preschool access will be permitted.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
(US News & World Report)

It's not that the low-income children who went to preschool are regressing, but that the children who didn't go to preschool are catching up. Consider this analogy: In New York City, where I live, some families start teaching their babies to swim at age 2. My daughter didn't begin swim lessons until age 6. But by age 8, perhaps my daughter will be swimming as well as the other kids. That would be calculated as complete "fadeout" in the data if the early swimmers cannot maintain their achievement lead over my daughter.

Among giant statewide or urban preschool programs, as they actually exist in the real world, rigorous research is scarce. Like the small, higher-quality programs, the large-scale programs tend to find an initial benefit from a preschool education at the start of kindergarten, but not a very large one. And this small preschool boost fades and becomes very weak by third grade, or disappears altogether. Even in Tulsa, Oklahoma – which is reputed to have one of the best publicly funded preschool programs in the country – researchers found one cohort of students who had attended preschool scoring the same on a third grade math test as students from similar socioeconomic backgrounds who hadn't gone to preschool. In a second cohort, researchers found only a small benefit from preschool by third grade.

"If you look at every study on preschool, fadeout is pervasive," said Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. "You have to have a really big immediate effect to get any effects in the long term. And these can be squandered if the school system isn't good enough."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
(Washington Monthly)

So why are the skills gained in Tennessee’s pre-K program fading? There are two leading explanations.

First, Tennessee’s pre-K program might not be as high-quality as the high-level indicators suggest. Just because a state seemingly has the right policies in place does not mean that those policies are implemented as intended. TN-VPK programs are supposed to follow a host of high-level quality benchmarks, but fidelity of implementation may be a problem. TN-VPK expanded quickly and the program may not have retained its quality when it scaled up. In fact, the study finds that TN-VPK quality varies significantlythroughout the state. For instance, classroom-level indicators that predict child outcomes, like quality of instruction and the interactions between children and teachers, are likely inconsistent throughout the state.

The second explanation has to do with the years after pre-K. There is no doubt that pre-K and the years before kindergarten are important. We know that “the word gap” is well pronounced by age two, if not earlier. And we know that high quality pre-K can leave children more prepared for kindergarten. While the results of this study are disappointing, Tennessee’s pre-K program does do what pre-K is intended to do– it prepares students for kindergarten. Some programs, likeBoston’s pre-K program, are found to have lasting effects on their own, but it is unreasonable to assume that attending pre-K for one year is by itself enough to close the pronounced achievement gap in our country.

In order for the gains made in TN-VPK to be sustained past kindergarten, children must continue to have access to appropriate learning environments in the early grades. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
(AAP News)

“As a pediatrician, I know that when children have access to Head Start and other high-quality early education, they are healthier and do better in school,” said AAP Executive Director/CEO Karen Remley, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., FAAP. “When we improve the health and trajectory of our youngest children, we improve the health of entire communities, which is critical for the future success of our nation.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
(The Tennessean)

The weight of the evidence is on the side of pre-K, that early intervention works. What government has not yet found is the political will to put that understanding into full practice with a sequence of smart schooling that provides the early foundation, then systematically builds on it.

For this high purpose, our schools need both the talent and the organization to educate each child who arrives at the schoolhouse door. Some show up ready, but many do not at this critical time when young brains are developing rapidly.