Volume 14, Issue 24

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hot Topics

In education news this week: the reauthorization of NCLB. National Journal outlines 5 key things to know about the reauthorization. EdWeek has a comprehensive outline of changes, history, and implications here. They report “The newest proposed version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act, has officially been released. . . . If all goes as planned, the bill will reach President Barack Obama's desk by the end of the year—and he's expected to sign it.” The Act passed in the House this week 359-64, and moves on to the Senate.

Politico has also addressed the issue, with an article on whether the revisions could hurt low-income and minority children, and a response ‘from an education advocate who's been involved with the reauthorization process: "There seems to be collective amnesia about waivers among the chattering class," the advocate said. "Under waivers, individual groups of students don't have to matter at all in school ratings. And when it comes to improvement action, states and districts are invited to ignore all but a small fraction of schools with under-performing groups." Ultimately, the new agreement "gets us back closer to the intent of Title I: Expectations and support for vulnerable students.’ Politico notes that Margaret Spellings is not a fan of the rewrite, while Senator Patty Murray is.

NPR has weighed in, and the Wall Street Journal outlines the shift from Federal to State roles in accountability. Conor Williams, writing for The Seventy Four, makes a case for why no-one should be supporting the bill--even though it might find bipartisan support: “Just because something is a compromise doesn’t mean that it will do good things for children.”

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Moving from school to school can adversely affect child outcomes. NIEER researcher Allison Friedman-Krauss examines the issue in NIEER’s latest blog post.


FPG reports a chapter "Minority Families in the Rural United States: Family Processes, Child Care, and Early Schooling" appears in Rural Ethnic Minority Youth and Families in the United States: Theory, Research, and Applications. The book provides insights into family and cultural strengths, and into challenges and benefits of “rural life and minority status for youth and their families.”

EdCentral has released a report From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth- 3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers, outlining progress in reading education and rating states on their policies supporting reading. Accompanying the report are a series interactive maps of state progress displayed on New America’s data visualization and policy analysis tool, Atlas

A 90-minute webinar will be held December 17 at 1:30 pm EST. It will:

  • Introduce the Head Start CARES Demonstration data archive
  • Increase your understanding of the design of the Head Start CARES Demonstration project and the instruments used at the various levels of study
  • Introduce you to the Head Start CARES impact analysis model
  • Review the data organization and the features of each of the available data sets

As part of Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge, Minnesota revised its kindergarten entry assessment to include a menu of assessment tools that empirically align to the state’s early learning and kindergarten standards as well as each other. The two-phase pilot has been completed, and Minnesota now has a menu of four tools from which districts can choose their kindergarten entry assessment.

Researchers and state policy administrators who are planning for, implementing or analyzing a state kindergarten entry assessment, are invited to participate in a webinar that reviews the vision, method, results and key state decision points of Minnesota’s alignment and calibration process. Thursday December 17, 2015, 11:30am – 1:00pm, CST. Register here.

NCSL hosted a webinar on Sept. 17, Integrating Early Childhood Data: What Legislators Need to Know, that focused on how integrated early care and education data systems can inform policymakers and help answer questions about young children, families, programs, and services in their states.

A second webinar, November 19, Supporting Children’s Social and Emotional Needs and Reducing Early Childhood Expulsions, focused on how state legislatures can approach the current concerns with young children’s challenging behavior and expulsions in early childhood settings. Last year NIEER examined what can and can’t be concluded from the OCR data—learn more here.

Seeking Executive Director

The Aspen Education Program seeks a dynamic individual to lead the soon-to-be launched National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (National Commission). The Executive Director is charged with executive leadership and day-to-day management of the Commission, including fundraising and communications activities, Commission meeting planning, the development of a national Commission report, and the design of a campaign to advance the Commission’s recommendations.

CEELO Update

The CEELO Leadership Academy is to designed to address gaps in preparing state early education administrators for leading and managing systems and change. CEELO recently released a report on the first year of the Academy, and what was accomplished. 

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, December 3, 2015
(Gainesville Sun)

As the County Commission moves toward developing a Children’s Services Council in Alachua County, a key element of our efforts must be the establishment of a pilot early learning center in collaboration with the School Board and the University of Florida’s College of Education.

The proposed Children’s Service Council must focus on program improvement as the key to enhancing the outcomes of early learning and care throughout the county. A model program, where developmentally appropriate and effective practice can be demonstrated to the whole community, would be a marvelous way to do this. Increasing the number of children served or improving the coordination of services for children are laudable goals, but, if the quality of learning and care that goes on in our county’s early childhood classrooms is not improved, we will not see the positive outcomes we seek.


Thursday, December 3, 2015
(The Hill)

Eight years after the No Child Left Behind Act expired, the House passed compromise legislation to reduce the federal government’s role in the public education system.

Wednesday’s 359-64 vote follows years of stalled efforts to replace the Bush-era No Child Left Behind.

The Senate is slated to consider the bill next week and send it to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

The measure keeps in place the law’s trademark annual reading and math testing requirements for students in grades three through eight. High school students would only have to undergo the testing once. Science tests would also be given three times between grades three and 12.

However, the legislation would prevent the federal government from requiring or incentivizing states to adopt any set of education standards like Common Core.

Thursday, December 3, 2015
(Deming Headlight)

Democrats and a coalition of 40 groups said Tuesday they will push — again — for legislation that would tap into New Mexico's permanent land fund to expand early childhood education.

The coalition announced new efforts to get the massive proposal to use a portion of the state's $15 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund to dramatically grow a program supporters say is needed to combat New Mexico's persistent poverty rate.

The fund receives royalties from oil and natural gas production and other income from land given to the state by the federal government.

Thursday, December 3, 2015
(Heckman Equation)

Tulsa, Tennessee, Quebec—we’ve seen a number of new studies on the effectiveness of early childhood education. Some say it works, others say it doesn’t. Professor Heckman and his co-authors Sneha Elango, Jorge Luis Garcia and Andres Hojman provide clarity in Early Childhood Education, a new working paper that makes sense of a number of seemly conflicting research studies on the effectiveness of public investment in early childhood education. It assimilates data from randomized controlled trials and less rigorous evaluations to compare treatments, treated populations and findings across programs.

The bottom line: a wide range of studies show that disadvantaged children benefit from access to quality early childhood programs—and society benefits from targeted investments in disadvantaged children.

Thursday, December 3, 2015
(NJ Spotlight)

Quality is taken for granted at expensive, top-flight schools, and at any rate, children from wealthy and middle-class families often do well in elementary school regardless which preschool they attended. But studies find that less-advantaged 3- and 4-year-olds need top-notch pre-K programs if they are to overcome the serious barriers to success that they face, and their parents cannot afford Montessoris or even mid-range schools. The centers and homecare settings where most of them spend their days are in many cases not up to the task.

There are many good centers with well-trained, caring teachers and even national accreditation, but research on private childcare finds that, on average, programs are mediocre and some are quite bad, with children doing little more than watching TV.

Accurately gauging the quality of individual centers is virtually impossible. For example, while the state’s big childcare chains say they use sophisticated curricula developed by child development experts, each franchise operates on its own, and there is no independently published evidence that their programs have a positive impact.

Studies of publicly funded programs, like New Jersey’s Abbott preschools, show that if they meet a set of stringent standards they can measurably improve long-term academic achievement and social outcomes for poor and disadvantaged students. Since the state program is largely limited to 35 towns, low-income kids in other communities stand to gain the most from quality improvements in private centers and home settings.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The district had room for 448 3-year-olds and is already almost full, with a waiting list on some campuses. So it is already helping to boost dwindling enrollment in the Austin district, which expects 569 fewer students in 2015-2016, the third consecutive annual decline.

But more importantly for the district, it's a way to help low-income children and those who don't speak English at home from being behind when they start kindergarten.

Research shows achievement gaps are evident in children as young as 3, and experts say providing the children an additional year of pre-K will go a long way toward closing those gaps.

"Disadvantaged children can start as much as 18 months behind, and it's difficult to ever catch up," said Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research. "In a year of preschool, it's difficult to close all of that gap, so if you start a year earlier ... you can do a better job of getting kids up to a level playing field by the time they're in kindergarten or third grade."

Barnett cited research that shows that by the time they reached fifth grade, children in New Jersey who started school at age 3 improved their test scores twice as much in reading, math and science as their peers who started prekindergarten at age 4.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Children who attended transitional kindergarten performed better on language, literacy and math skills when they started kindergarten, compared to their peers who weren’t in the program, according to a new report.

The American Institutes for Research on Tuesday released its first report that examines the impact of California’s transitional kindergarten program, which was created through the California Kindergarten Readiness Act in 2010.

Transitional kindergarten is a unique, state-funded program that allows children to get an extra year of schooling before kindergarten if their 5th birthdays fall between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2. Lawmakers added the new grade after they changed the cutoff birthdate for kindergarten, which required children to turn 5 by Sept. 1 in order to enroll. About 83,000 children attended transitional kindergarten, also known as TK, in 2014-15.

When they started kindergarten, children who attended transitional kindergarten were academically as much as five months ahead of their peers, who were a similar age, the report shows. Researchers found that transitional kindergarten studentshad higher literacy skills, such as identifying letters and sounds, and more advanced math skills, such as counting objects and completing word problems, than those who did not go to transitional kindergarten.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

 Democrats and a coalition of 40 groups said Tuesday they will push — again — for legislation that would tap into New Mexico's permanent land fund to expand early childhood education. The coalition announced new efforts to get the massive proposal to use a portion of the state's $15 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund to dramatically grow a program supporters say is needed to combat New Mexico's persistent poverty rate.

The fund receives royalties from oil and natural gas production and other income from land given to the state by the federal government. Under the education proposal, voters would decide if New Mexico should tap the fund amid resistance from some fiscally conservative lawmakers. If endorsed by the Legislature, the measure would be placed on the November general election ballot. The fund currently pays out hundreds of millions of dollars each year for New Mexico K-12 and higher education programs. Backers of the new plan want an additional $160 million a year to be taken from the fund.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015
(School Library Journal)

The debate over academic expectations in kindergarten has been around for decades. But now, in 42 states, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have added a new intensity to the conversation over what five-year-olds can accomplish.

A set of K–12 expectations in English language arts and literacy (ELA) and math, the CCSS were intended to help students develop the problem solving and critical thinking skills needed to succeed in college and career.

But they’ve been the subject of a growing backlash. Concerns include a lack of guidance for kindergarten teachers on how to implement the standards, confusion among parents over what the standards mean, and expectations that the standards will emphasize drilling exercises over play-based learning, according to a recent brief from the National Institute for Early Education Research based at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The majority of families who applied for Indiana's new preschool pilot program for disadvantaged children were turned away due to limited funding.

The program, which was signed into law in 2014 by Gov. Mike Pence, set aside $10 million a year to send as many as 2,500 children from low-income families to preschool in five counties.

But demand has outstripped the amount of money lawmakers made available for the program, which is offered in Marion, Lake, Allen, Jackson and Vanderburgh counties. As a result, only about 43 percent of those who applied were accepted.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

For the last 17 years, Carolyn Miles has worked tirelessly to promote one simple yet complex idea: that by investing in childhood - mainly through health, education and protection - the world will be a better place. As the President and CEO of Save the Children, Miles promotes early childhood development programs to more than 140 million children around the world, and oversees an operating revenue of close to $700 million. But there's plenty of work to be done.

Each day, millions of babies may miss opportunities crucial to their future development because of lack of education, poor health, poverty and a number of other factors. This is why early childhood developmental programs are vital. Think of it this way: for almost 15 million children living in poverty in the U.S, they enter kindergarten unready to succeed because by age 3, they've heard an average of 30 million fewer words addressed to them than children from more affluent, professional families. These kids start school 18-months behind and it's a struggle to catch up

Tuesday, December 1, 2015
(The Washington Post)

Nancy Carlsson-Paige is an early childhood development expert who has been at the forefront of the debate on how best to educate — and not educate — the youngest students. She is a professor emerita of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Ma., where she taught teachers for more than 30 years and was a founder of the university’s Center for Peaceable Schools. She is also a founding member of a nonprofit called Defending the Early Years, which commissions research about early childhood education and advocates for sane policies for young children.

Carlsson-Paige is author of “Taking Back Childhood.” The mother of two artist sons, Matt and Kyle Damon, she is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Legacy Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps for work over several decades on behalf of children and families. She was just given the Deborah Meier award by the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

In her speech accepting the award (named after the renowned educator Deborah Meier), Carlsson-Paige describes what has happened in the world of early childhood education in the current era of high-stakes testing, saying, “Never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in today.”

Monday, November 30, 2015
(USA Today)

From pre-kindergarten through graduate school, the education system in the United States faces tough competition from the rest of the world, a new study found.

The study made public Tuesday by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows other nations are catching up and in many cases have surpassed the United States at many levels, from pre-kindergarten enrollment to the percentage of adults with advanced degrees.

OECD's annual "Education at a Glance" report finds, for instance, that 41% of 3-year-olds in the U.S. are enrolled in pre-kindergarten. Among all OECD countries, the average is 72%.

For 4-year-olds in the United State, the number rises to 66%, but still falls below the OECD average of 88%.

Monday, November 30, 2015
(EdWeek )

With only 66 percent of American 4-year-olds currently enrolled in early-childhood education, the United States falls well behind the average for developed countries at a time of an increasing global focus on early learning.In 2013, an average of 88 percent of 4-year-olds over all the countries surveyed were enrolled, compared with 72 percent in 2005.

"There is increasing awareness of the key role that early childhood-education plays in the cognitive and emotional development of the young," the report states. "As a result, ensuring the quality of early- childhood education and care has become a policy priority in many countries."

While enrollment figures for American 3- and 4-year-olds didn't change much from 2005 to 2013, the OECD averages went up significantly.
The report also found that 15-year-old students who had at least one year of preprimary education did better on an OECD international assessment test than those who did not.

Monday, November 30, 2015
(Journal Star)

Universal preschool is widely touted as a surefire way to boost kids' academic achievement. But while it isn't likely to be affordable for -- or even desired by -- all families, it shouldn't be underestimated as a potent educational support for low-income children.

Earlier this year, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that poverty adversely affects structural brain development in children. According to the authors, a national sample of MRI scans of children from families with limited financial resources revealed systematic structural differences in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe and hippocampus.

These differences may explain as much as 20 percent of low-income children's achievement deficits, according to the authors. They concluded that households below 150 percent of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional educational resources.

Monday, November 30, 2015
(Winston-Salem Journal)

Today, fewer than half of North Carolina’s children age 4 and younger are enrolled in a regulated child-care facility — either at a formal child-care center or in a regulated family child-care home — the Journal’s Arika Herrron reported recently, citing records from the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education.

Only about 1,300 of Forsyth County’s almost 4,000 4-year-olds are in pre-K programs through Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools or in Head Start or N.C. Pre-K, publicly funded programs that serve low-income families. Another 200 to 300 are enrolled in licensed home care or private centers, according to state records.

That’s of concern. But what’s even more concerning is that, as of last month, there’s a waiting list, 500 or 600 deep in Forsyth County alone, of parents who want their children to be in Head Start or N.C. Pre-K, and it can’t go unsaid that the reason they’re not enrolled is the cuts to these programs enacted by the state legislature.


Monday, November 30, 2015
(San Francisco Chronicle)

At Aspire Monarch Academy, a charter elementary school on 101st Avenue, 90 percent of kindergartners didn’t have a preschool experience. Parents cite cost and convenience as significant impediments. The nearest Head Start, offering free federally funded preschool for low-income families, is 4 miles away.

Across the state, 40 percent of low-income families don’t have access to quality preschool, Kong said. Such experiences are critical to help children learn the building blocks of reading and math, while also developing other skills needed to be successful in schools, including the ability to pay attention, manage emotions and follow instructions, she added. Yet many families can’t afford preschool or can’t get to one that is free or low cost.

There was no room at Aspire’s K-5 school for the early learners, and finding a new space — given the high and rising rents in Oakland — was not an option, said Elise Darwish, chief academic officer at Aspire’s system of 38 schools.

Monday, November 30, 2015
(Medical Daily)

Many preschoolers in daycare may need more outdoor time to help increase their odds of getting enough physical activity, a small U.S. study suggests.

Pediatricians recommend that young children get at least an hour a day of physical activity to help build motor skills, coordination and strong muscles and bones, as well as to reduce the potential for obesity later in life. Playground time is also key for developing social skills, like taking turns and conflict resolution.

But fewer than three in 10 children in full-time daycare got an hour outside for recess each day, the study found.

Monday, November 30, 2015
(Huffington Post Parents Canada)

Child care featured prominently in the recent federal election. A cornerstone of the Liberal platform was the promise to replace the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) with a new Canada Child Benefit, an income-tested benefit that promises to raise 315,000 Canadian children out of poverty.

While universal benefits have been shown to have the greatest ability to reach marginalized populations, the proposed child benefit is a good move that will mean more support for lower income households with children. The new Canada Child Benefit provides up to $533 per child per month and most families except those making over $200,000 will receive an increased benefit as a result of this new plan. This policy signals the new government's willingness to increase support to specific populations in greatest need.

The new Canada Child Benefit will help many families to access high quality child care programs that are important to child health, and are unaffordable to many Canadians. High quality child care is expensive in Canada; according to the OECD Family Database child care costs are now almost 40 percent of an average Canadian worker's salary. The cost of toddler care in the city of Toronto is $1,324 per month and ranges from $800 to $1,000 per month in most other Canadian cities. These high costs can make it difficult for families to maintain employment and ensure that their children have the best education and care possible.

Monday, November 30, 2015
(NJ Spotlight)

“We're at a crossroads in New Jersey. We still have the best program in the country, in its design, in its quality, in the children it reaches, and in its outcomes. But there have been a number of factors that have eroded that program over the years,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, at an NJ Spotlight pre-K conference in June.

Monday, November 30, 2015
(EdWeek )

With only 66 percent of American 4-year-olds currently enrolled in early-childhood education, the United States falls well behind the average for developed countries at a time of an increasing global focus on early learning.In 2013, an average of 88 percent of 4-year-olds over all the countries surveyed were enrolled, compared with 72 percent in 2005.

"There is increasing awareness of the key role that early childhood-education plays in the cognitive and emotional development of the young," the report states. "As a result, ensuring the quality of early- childhood education and care has become a policy priority in many countries."

While enrollment figures for American 3- and 4-year-olds didn't change much from 2005 to 2013, the OECD averages went up significantly.
The report also found that 15-year-old students who had at least one year of preprimary education did better on an OECD international assessment test than those who did not.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
(The Times Herald)

For parents having trouble deciding whether their 5-year-old is ready for kindergarten, a bill under review in the state House Education Committee would make the decision easier for them.

House Bill 4987, introduced in mid-October by retired school teacher Rep. Charles Brunner, D-Bay City, calls for full-day, mandatory kindergarten enrollment for 5-year-olds.

Michigan law now makes school compulsory at age 6. A child who turns age 5 between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1 has the option to attend kindergarten, but enrollment is not mandatory in Michigan. Parents whose children turn 5 after Sept. 1 can seek a waiver to enroll their child in kindergarten.

Kindergarten is optional in 34 states and mandatory in 16 and the District of Columbia.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
(The Kansas City Star)

The 18 civic and education leaders, all with ties to Kansas City’s Early Learning Commission, came for a long day of learning how Denver pulled off universal preschool.

Specifically, they coveted the strategies that have delivered $77 million from Denver taxpayers since 2007 — a pot of money the Denver Preschool Program has used to put $66 million into tuition and $9.7 million into improving public and private preschools, with more than 36,000 4-year-olds served so far.

And Denver was eager to receive the Kansas City delegation. Education leaders here would love new partners in the push for universal prekindergarten. They want to see Kansas City winning the kind of tax that raises the money that makes a good preschool possible for every 4-year-old, poor or not.

“It should go out into other cities,” said Jennifer Landrum, head of the Denver Preschool Program, “so that other cities can value children and do the same for theirs.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
(CT Viewpoints)

If one wants to understand Connecticut’s budget woes, one need to look no further than its universal preschool strategy.  And in reviewing the governor’s and legislators’ budget deficit mitigation plans, it was disappointing to see that they opted to further erode the state's early care system and industry, rather than make smarter choices that preserve both.

The state pays a Head Start provider $0 and a school readiness provider $8,924 to educate a preschool child year round in a NAEYC accredited setting with bachelor degreed teachers.The state pays a Care-4-kids provider $9,482 for year round care in a public or private NAEYC accredited setting with some bachelor degreed teachers. The state pays the public schools an average of $10,285+, the magnet schools $13,054+ and a charter school $11,000 for 180 days at no cost to parents regardless of their ability to pay. A school district like New Haven spends $17,000 per child. Yet when faced with the choice of where to find savings and efficiencies, the governor proposes eliminating a million dollars in school readiness funds which represents a much needed and much fought for increase to childcare businesses.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sixty-six percent of American 4-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education, placing the United States well below average compared to other developed countries at a time of increasing focus on early learning, according to a report released Tuesday.

As U.S. presidential candidates weigh the costs and benefits of early childhood education on the campaign trail, the report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development points to a growing global recognition of its worth, the report's authors said. While enrollment figures for American 3- and 4-year-olds didn't change much from 2005 to 2013, the OECD averages went up significantly. In 2013, an average of 88 percent of 4-year-olds in the countries surveyed were enrolled, compared with 72 percent in 2005. For 3-year-olds, the average enrollment went from 52 percent in 2005 to 74 percent in 2013. In the U.S., 41 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in 2013, compared to 39 percent in 2005.

"There is increasing awareness of the key role that early childhood education plays in the cognitive and emotional development of the young," the report said. "As a result, ensuring the quality of early childhood education and care has become a policy priority in many countries."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
(NC Policy Watch)

If you missed it over the weekend, PNC Bank Regional President Jim Hansen penned an excellent op-ed highlighting the importance of investing in early learning. Hansen writes in the Raleigh News & Observer about a recent poll that finds voters of all parties believe early childhood education should be a top national priority: - See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2015/11/24/something-to-be-thankful-for-h...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
(Local 12 WKRC Cincinnati)

One answer to reducing Cincinnati’s childhood poverty rate can be found near the Rocky Mountains. Denver has universal preschool for 4-year-olds and as Local 12 News continues to investigate Childhood Poverty: Cincinnati’s Crisis, Jeff Hirsh went to Denver to see why that city was a model for what may happen in Cincinnati.

Denver, or rather anyone who buys anything in Denver, helps pay for preschool for 4-year-olds. The subsidy, from a sales tax, does not cover 100 percent of tuition which averages about $900 per month. But it can be enough to make the difference. “Our highest tuition credit is about $650, which really helps a low-income family,” said Jennifer Landrum, Director of the Denver Pre-School Program (DPP). The majority of children in that program are from either low or moderate income families, but not all. “Denver preschool program has a very unique model on how we distribute our tuition dollars,” Landrum explained. DPP dollars are available to any family, regardless of income, and can be used in any approved preschool, public, private or religious. The subsidy is on a sliding scale. The more people need, the more they get. And because all of the 250 participating schools are evaluated and rated, there’s even more money if people go to a better school.

Monday, November 23, 2015
(NJ Spotlight)

This is the first in a six-part series that will examine how New Jersey delivers preschool education, as well as the political and financial issues supporters face as they push to bring the benefits of pre-K to many more children.

Universal preschool is near the top of the education agenda these days. President Barack Obama is proposing universal pre-K for low-income children; New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio has implemented it citywide; and New Jersey children’s advocates are calling for a major expansion of the state’s free preschools in poor communities.

Although most New Jerseyans may not realize it, the Garden State is often held out as a national model for pre-K education and what it can accomplish. While the many studies that have tracked the benefits of preschool education are sometimes at odds with one another, research shows that the pre-K provided by the state’s Department of Education to 35 low-income districts has had certain and lasting effects

Monday, November 23, 2015

The push for expanded preschool funding didn't end in June when the Minnesota Legislature wrapped up a special session by agreeing on a $79 million spending boost.

For Gov. Mark Dayton, who says giving families widely expanded access to preschool is a top priority of his final years in office, that compromise was only the beginning.

Since then, he and his deputies have made it a point to visit preschool programs whenever they can. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith's schedules alone show they have visited schools four dozen times this year.

The entire Legislature is up for election in 2016, and members will be eager to campaign on their accomplishments. But Dayton insists lawmakers address his priority of widely expanded preschool funding if they want his support for other legislation.

Monday, November 23, 2015
(Times Free Press)

The role of early childhood education became a source of debate when researchers at Vanderbilt University questioned the long-term impact of Tennessee's publicly funded pre-kindergarten program in September.

A different report released Wednesday by the Southern Regional Education Board contrasts Vanderbilt's findings, arguing the importance of early childhood education — saying it needs to be a funding priority for states.

"Our understanding about early childhood development has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years," said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, chairman of the SREB Early Childhood Commission, in a written statement. "Now it's time to put what we've learned into practice so that our young children get the best possible start."

The Southern Regional Education Board Commission spent portions of 2014 and 2015 with national experts studying early childhood issues and children's brain development. It concludes that investments during a child's critical early education years can increase the likelihood of high school graduation, college attainment and workforce readiness.

Friday, November 20, 2015
(Public News Service)

An Ohio community is tackling efforts to expand early-childhood learning from the bottom up. Hundreds of people, along with some local and elected leaders, were on hand Thursday night at a Cincinnati church to announce the People's Platform for Universal Preschool. Troy Jackson, executive director of the AMOS Project, a coalition of congregations, said the platform elevates the voices of parents, educators and preschool providers who see the need for high-quality early learning. He said it's also important for the community as a whole. "Just being ready to learn, being ready to be successful in life - a lot of those skill sets are being developed before the age of 5, when they get into a kindergarten classroom," he said. "So, we believe with two years of excellent preschool education, it will make a huge difference in the lives of children in our community." 

Friday, November 20, 2015
(WVXU Cincinnati Public Radio)

Backers of expanded access to early childhood education rallied in Bond Hill Thursday night.  The People's Platform wants two years of preschool for every child. Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune says the evidence in favor of early education is irrefutable. “Children who have quality preschool education for two years leading up to enrolling in kindergarten… perform better,” he says. But Portune says there still isn't a plan in place to pay for it.  He says in Hamilton County, the Children's Services Levy might be a funding source.  He says the amount of that levy hasn't changed in years. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re talking about an increase in taxes either. I think we have to talk about what are the resources that exist today and that are also generated by that levy.” Portune says universal preschool is not the sole responsibility of county government but the county should have a seat at the table.

Thursday, November 19, 2015
(Chalkbeat Tennessee)

“We don’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater,” said White, one of three Tennessee lawmakers who served on the SREB commission. “Pre-K, done well and done appropriately, does help, especially in urban areas like Memphis where children face a lot of challenges.”

The commission recommends that its 16 member states boost the quality of both pre-K programs and teacher training — and align curricula from pre-K through third grade so that children’s learning builds over time.

Those are key messages for Tennessee leaders mulling over the Vanderbilt study, says Joan Lord, vice president of education data, policy research and programs for SREB.

“There’s a whole body of research that tells us that gains don’t fade away if you have a high-quality program that’s well-aligned from pre-K through the third grade,” Lord said on the eve of the report’s release.

She said pre-K teachers also must be trained to provide the kind of small-group interaction that can develop high-cognitive functioning in children.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
(The Tennessean)

Tennessee wants to be able to track the progress of its pre-kindergarten students to understand what happens to them as they move through elementary school.

To aid educators in gaining more information on pre-K students, the Tennessee Department of Education is looking to provide a tool that will help teachers screen what students know in kindergarten and what they should be learning during the school year. It fits into an overall effort to better pre-K programs — and subsequent grades — statewide.

The changes from the Tennessee Department of Education are tied to Vanderbilt University's recent report that says while pre-K students are better prepared for kindergarten, much of the progress is lost as they move through higher grades.

The study casts doubts on the effectiveness of programs statewide, but researchers and state officials say the question is what happens to those students as they progress through later grades. Pre-K programs are in all Tennessee counties, but programs are different across districts.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Child care, once consigned to the ghetto of liberal women’s issues, is earning newfound—and bipartisan—attention on the 2016 campaign trail.

During the Republican debate last week, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio dropped the remarkable fact that child care costs more than college tuition in 35 states. And today, the Center for American Progress, a popular source of policy ideas for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, rolled out a new campaign, Within Reach, designed to keep the issue at the top of the national conversation at least until Election Day.

While Republicans and Democrats tend to have different solutions to the problem of increasingly unaffordable child care and preschool, Neera Tanden, the president of CAP, told TIME that we’re at a unique point where both sides are recognizing that it’s a problem.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
(Tulsa World)

A new report from the Southern Regional Education Board urging improvements to early-childhood programs in states across the South highlights Oklahoma’s access to pre-kindergarten education. The board’s Early Childhood Commission, which includes Oklahoma State Rep. Ann Coody and Oklahoma Sen. John Ford, spent portions of 2014 and 2015 with national experts studying early-childhood issues and current knowledge about children’s brain development.

Several states, including Oklahoma, are highlighted in the report as examples that others can learn from. “Oklahoma has led the nation for nearly two decades in providing 4-year-olds with access to state-funded pre-K — and even classes for 3-year-olds,” a press release with the report states.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
(SREB News)

Leaders from across the 16 Southern Regional Education Board states are calling, in a major new report, for states to raise the quality of early education programs and ensure they are well-coordinated across different agencies and budgets.

Members of the SREB Early Childhood Commission spent portions of 2014 and 2015 with national experts studying early childhood issues and current knowledge about children’s brain development to create the recommendations in Building a Strong Foundation: State Policy for Early Childhood Education, released today. The report and many other resources are online at SREB.org/EarlyChildhood.

“Our understanding about early childhood development has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who chaired the SREB commission. “Now it’s time to put what we’ve learned into practice so that our young children get the best start possible.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
(St. Louis Public Radio)

The importance of early childhood care and education is at the forefront of regional leaders’ minds once more as the St. Louis Early Childhood Council presents a program on such matters for the St. Louis region. So where does Missouri stand in providing the most early childhood options possible?

“The key issues in early childhood right now are around access,” said Katie Rahn, the executive director of Southside Early Childhood Center. “We are trying to figure out a way to meet the need of all the children who need care and education, but the supply of high-quality providers is just not sufficient. We’re looking at 56,000 childcare spaces at licensed centers in Missouri, and 104,000 children who are under the age of six whose parents are working and need care.”

Monday, November 16, 2015
(Michigan Live)

"The incidence of poverty more often than not is correlated with low levels of literacy, educational attainment and other measures of human development," according to the report. "Developmental psychologists and sociologists have developed a substantive body of work indicating poverty as a risk factor for a number of social, health and educational outcomes in children."

Indeed, a 2013-14 study of MEAP scores indicated achievement gaps of 18 to 32 percent by grade and subject for students classified as economically disadvantaged.

Gaps like that affect us all. As the Office of Evaluation report points out, "The effects of poverty persist beyond the schooling years, translating into decreased earning power, which — in combination with lower expected educational attainment as adults — impact future generations of children."

Meaning poverty is a cycle, as is low educational achievement.

We can help break or at least diminish the effects of that pernicious cycle by focusing more of the state's attention and resources on proven solutions like universal preschool, school nutrition programs and free or low-cost medical care for at-risk children. 

Monday, November 16, 2015
(The State Press)

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Preschool at ASU has seen positive results following its relocation to collaborate with the Department of Speech and Hearing Science at the Tempe campus.

Executive Director Allison Mullady said the school’s move from the Farmer Education Building to the Community Services Building North of Papago Park in July 2014 was primarily intended to create an inclusive environment for both special education and typically developing students, or children with normal developmental patterns.

“Our goal is to be on the forefront of what inclusion looks like and what quality preschool looks like for kids with special needs,” Mullady said.

The preschool was open for approximately 20 years before collaborating with the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, which ran its own preschool for about 20 years as well, Mullady said.

The Teachers College Preschool has 40 students, which are divided into three classrooms with children aged 3 to 5, she said.

Mullady said the school sees benefits for both special needs and typically developing children in an inclusive environment.

“We see kids who have special needs learning from their peers,” she said. “We also see children who have not been identified as special needs having a growing level of compassion for others.”

Friday, November 13, 2015
(Pub Memo)

Professor W. Steven Barnett, Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, reviewed Do We Already Have Universal Preschool? for the Think Twice think tank review project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education. The report estimates that 69 percent of all four-year-olds already attend preschool and that universal access tops out at 80 percent enrollment. To close this modest gap, the authors propose a means-tested subsidy for half-day preschool that fully funds only those in poverty. The report estimates the cost at $2 to $4 billion per year. Unfortunately, Barnett concludes, both estimates are based on serious factual errors and unfounded assumptions. The report vastly underestimates unmet need as well as costs. It also fails to account for issues of quality.

Friday, November 13, 2015

 There's no preschool expansion or extra state aid coming to Lakewood, Lakehurst, Waretown and Little Egg Harbor schools, an appellate court has ruled. A three-judge panel denied an appeal last week to bring more state money into these four Ocean County school districts, as well as 11 others across New Jersey. The 15 poor, mostly rural school districts sued the state Department of Education, saying that insufficient state funding was denying their students a right to a constitutionally-required quality education.

The Newark-based Education Law Center argued in court on behalf of these so-called "Bacon" districts, saying these schools should be entitled to the same sorts of state financial support as their poor, urban counterparts, formerly known as the Abbott districts.

Cuts to New Jersey's School Funding Reform Act – which determines how much state aid each school district receives – have blocked plans in these cash-strapped schools to provide high-quality preschool programs, facilities upgrades and other improvements, according to the law center.