Volume 14, Issue 4

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hot Topics

The word gap is a widely known issue among early childhood students, especially those considered low income. Innovative programs try to close this gap, including using text messaging programs with parents, but one group may be left out:  experts are recognizing the same word gap may be an issue for early childhood teachers, as seen in a recent Valerie Strauss Answer Sheet. The Labor Management Workplace Education Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found as many as 1 million state licensed early childhood educators are at risk for functional illiteracy--their reading and writing skills do not go beyond a basic level. Only 57 percent of state pre-K programs require a bachelor’s degree for early childhood educators, and the Center for Professional Recognition, the only national professional development organization in the country, requires no testing for adult literacy competence. Early childhood education is a workforce in which resources are limited, which also limits quality. A recent NIEER blog also highlights the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment’s report “Worthy Work, Still Unlivable Wages” in which they found increasing the requirements for early educators with a fair pay scale could help increase professionalizing the field. NIEER has also reflected on how the field can grow as a “profession” and not an “occupation.”  

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

A new blog from Milagros Nores, Associate Director of Research for NIEER, highlights findings from a recent CEELO webinar. Both discuss what it means to be Hispanic and a DLL (a dual language learner) or Hispanic and come from a home with immigrant parents, and the impact of each factor on Kindergarten readiness.


Practitioner Data Use in Schools
This new toolkit from REL Northeast & Islands, published by the Institute of Education Sciences, was created for district and school leaders, teacher leaders, and coaches who want to conduct workshops on data inquiry and data use at the school level with school-based educators. Also available is “Understanding Data Use to Improve Instruction,” a self-paced online course for practitioners. Register and log in to the REL Northeast & Islands Workshop Center to take the course.

Survey on Communications Technologies to Promote Early Literacy
The New America Foundation and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center are partnering to conduct a national survey of early literacy initiatives using new technologies. If your organization is involved in a pilot project, initiative, or program that is experimenting with text messaging, apps, on-demand video, social media, digital badges, MOOCs, or any other form of relatively new communications technologies to support early literacy efforts, please take a moment to complete the survey. There is a blog post introducing the survey, and an FAQ document to tell you more, including a discussion of what counts as 'early literacy.' The results of the survey will be shared publiclyThe survey closes March 15.

Mind the Gap: Report on Vermont’s Universal Prekindergarten Education Law, Act 166
This report from Vermont Insights/Building Bright Futures provides a data asset and gap analysis to interpret the existing data assets and gaps of Vermont’s new universal prekindergarten law.

An Investment in Our Future: How Federal Home Visiting Funding Provides Critical Support for Parents and Children
A new report from the Center for Law and Social Policy and the Center for American Progress explores the impact of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.

Ending Child Poverty Now
A new interactive report from the Children’s Defense Fund highlights high-impact areas where the federal government can invest additional funds to drastically reduce child poverty.

NIEER is hiring. NIEER will have an early childhood Research/Policy position opening soon. If you are interested, please send your resume with the subject line Research/Policy position to info@nieer.org, We will share details in future newsletters and on Twitter @PreschoolToday

NIEER is also now accepting applications for two Research Project Coordinator positions. Applicants for Project Coordinator should have at least a bachelor's degree, preferably with a background in early childhood or statistics; an equivalent combination of education and/or experience plus a minimum of 2 years’ experience in early childhood research; a master's degree in Early Childhood or related field may be substituted. The full listing and application instructions are available here.

NIEER also expects to solicit applications for policy research of all experience levels. All job postings will be included here soon, but those interested can send resumes now to info@nieer.org.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 1:00pm to Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 1:00pm

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Education invite you to join this four-part webinar series on the prevention of expulsion and suspension practices in early learning settings. The series will feature key experts from across the country who have done work on different aspects of the issue, including policy, research and data, and prevention/intervention. Please RSVP for each individual webinar at its respective link. 

Basic Research, Data Trends, and the Pillars of Prevention
February 11, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. eastern time: Registration 

Establishing Federal, State, and Local Policies
February 18, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. eastern time: Registration 

Program Quality and Professional Development: A Look at Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support Systems Through Diversity-Informed Tenets
February 251:00 – 2:00 p.m. eastern time: Registration 

Using Data Systems To Track and Reduce Expulsion and Suspension
March 41:00 – 2:00 p.m. eastern time: Registration

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.

Monday, March 2, 2015 - 3:00pm

Learn About:
• the latest results of a recently conducted randomized control trial to promote school readiness skills in dual language learners; 
• major findings including improvements in Latino DLL’s letter identification, writing, receptive conceptual vocabulary, mathematics, and overall teacher instruction.

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. 
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.

Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 3:00pm

Learn About:
• how preschool special education programs link to other state data systems; 
• how states use unique identifiers to connect to K-12 databases; and 
• linkages of child level data with workforce data.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 11:30am to Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 2:30pm

Join experts and fellow school district leaders from across the country for a two-day summit on best practices and strategies for aligning education from birth through 3rd grade. The District Leadership Summit is an outgrowth of the Birth-to-College Collaborative funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, and the Foundation for Child Development.

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015
(District Administration)

For the third year in a row, both Republican and Democratic policymakers are making significant investments in state-funded preschool programs, according to a January analysis of 2014-15 appropriations from the Education Commission of the States.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A new year-round preschool aims to better prepare migrant children for school in what organizers are calling a first-of-its-kind program in Idaho.

The private-public partnership between the Cassia County School District and the Community Council of Idaho, a nonprofit that serves low-income people, especially Latinos, could serve as a model for other programs across the state, organizers said. And more important, it will put migrant children on equal footing by the time they start traditional school.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

According to multiple National Institute for Early Education Research studies, children who attend high-quality preschool programs enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies and stronger basic math skills than those who do not. This “early edge” creates a ripple effect for children, building their education on a solid foundation and leading to greater success in life.

Monday, February 16, 2015
(Washington Post)

You have probably heard about what is called the “word gap” found in many low-income children, who were found in a famous 1995 research study to be exposed to 30 million fewer words than their more fortunate peers by age 3, and that this deficit affects literacy development. The word gap has been cited by many experts as a key reason that at-risk children need focused literacy instruction. In this post, Elizabeth A. Gilbert explains that there is a related problem: Many  early childhood educators have the same problem. Gilbert is the coordinator of the “Learn at Work Early Childhood Educator Program Labor” in the Labor Management Workplace Education Center  at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Sunday, February 15, 2015
(Billings Gazette)

In a state and country where access to early childhood education is uneven, children of college-educated parents can be exposed to millions more words during their first few years of life than those of less-educated families.

The disparities that emerge before children enter a kindergarten classroom underscore the grim reality of American education: Parental income remains a strong predictor of a child's success. . .

Government support for prekindergarten programs around the country has been expanding over the past two decades, since states like Oklahoma and Georgia first experimented with universal preschool programs in the 1990s. Nationally, around 40 percent of 4-year-olds now attend a preschool program supported by either state or federal funds. Most of those are run by state governments, whose investments in early childhood education vary widely from $1.3 million in Rhode Island to more than $750 million in Texas, according to data from the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Sunday, February 15, 2015
(Star Tribune)

After years of legislative inattention, early education is finally getting the traction it deserves in Minnesota. Last session, lawmakers approved state-supported all-day kindergarten for all 5-year-olds. Before that, the state funded need-based scholarships to send 3- and 4-year-olds to approved, high-quality preschool programs.

The 2015 Legislature has the opportunity to make more progress for preschoolers based on the general — and often bipartisan — support for some of the ideas that have already been introduced. One of those proposals, which calls for state-funded, school-based programs for all 4-year-olds, should be modified. Rather than approving a universal program, lawmakers should fund expansion of the current scholarship program targeted to lower-income students.

Friday, February 13, 2015
(The Boston Globe)

The Feb. 6 editorial “Invest in early education” is right to say that universal early childhood education is valuable, but wrong to say that Massachusetts cannot afford it. What we cannot afford is to fail to implement such a program. Every year we put it off, we suffer more long-term losses in economic growth.

Adults who have received high-quality early education are generally more productive, earn more, pay more taxes, rely less on public services, and are less likely to go to prison, which can cost an estimated $50,000 per year. Beyond the money, lack of universal early-education programs hampers equality of opportunity and leads to an incalculable loss in the quality of lives of our children.

Friday, February 13, 2015
(The Brown Daily Herald)

A bill introduced in the General Assembly last month would increase funding for new full-day kindergarten programs beginning next fall.

Seven Rhode Island communities — Cranston, Johnston, Warwick, Coventry, East Greenwich, North Kingstown and Tiverton — do not offer full-day kindergarten programs to all students. Four of those districts — Cranston, Johnston, Coventry and Tiverton — offer none of their students full-day kindergarten.

Under current law, full-day kindergarten programs that will start in the 2015-2016 school year will receive baseline funds, which differ by district, during their first year. The amount will gradually increase over a three-year period to a maximum. The new legislation, sponsored by Sen. Hanna Gallo, D-Cranston and West Warwick, would accelerate funding to these kindergarten programs so that they receive the maximum during the first year.

Friday, February 13, 2015
(Jamaica Plain Gazette)

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz announced a bill to implement universal preschool last month.

“An Act Relative to Universal Pre-K Access” would create universal access to pre-school education for 3- and 4-year-olds, through public or private schools. The bill would create state funding following the same formula that already supports local school systems, like Boston Public Schools, and it would require some financial contribution from municipalities.

Chang-Díaz told the Gazette that municipalities would have to decide whether they want to commit to the plan.

Friday, February 13, 2015

 As a 1999 report from theAmerican Federation of Teachers put it, "Any child who doesn't learn to read early and well will not easily master other skills and knowledge and is unlikely to ever flourish in school or life." In fact, research shows that the vast majority of first-graders who struggle with reading remain weak readers throughout the rest of their years in school. Moreover, children who are not reading well by third grade are four times more likely to eventually drop out of school, which in turn has devastating consequences for their future employment, earnings and other aspects of life. In short, there are few happy endings for kids who don't learn how to read early and well.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Our "Tools of the Trade" series is taking a look at some of the iconic objects that form a vital part of our educational lives. For an upcoming piece, I'm reporting on how young children learn through that most basic of preschool education tools: simple wooden blocks.

Thursday, February 12, 2015
(NBC News)

In San Antonio's Harlandale school district, pre-kindergarten students learn English and Spanish together. They help one another through instructions and assist each other in the language they are most familiar with, a structure that they'll stick with until they reach sixth grade. Similar programs can be found in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere as more and more parents want their children to speak more than one language. But as children under 5 are increasingly Latinos with Spanish spoken at home, such pre-K programs are becoming more vital.

Surprisingly though, when policies surrounding early education are discussed - as they increasingly are - there is limited focus on young children who are expanding their vocabularies in general, while learning to do so in more than one language, said Conor Williams, a senior researcher at New America Education Policy Program.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
(Herald-Mail Media)

About 45 people attended a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast held at the Hager Hall Conference & Event Center in Hagerstown to discuss why businesses should support efforts to improve preschool education in Washington County. 

The Hagerstown Rotary Club sponsored the event, which featured speaker Caitlin Codella, policy director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Center for Education and Workforce, as well as local information presented by Dave Hanlin, chairman of the Rotary Literacy Task Force.

Hanlin pointed out that 66 percent of Washington County kindergarten students were fully ready to learn, compared to 83 percent statewide, according to the 2013-2014 Maryland Model for School Readiness. That was the lowest percentage in the state, he said.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
(New America EdCentral)

Although ECS finds that national spending is increasing, the National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) Preschool Yearbook may differ, based on how they calculate pre-k allocations. NIEER has not yet released a report for the 2014 year, but discrepancies could arise. In previous reports, ECS’s estimates have proven a bit more optimistic in comparison to NIEER’s. In their report for the 2012-13 school year, ECS noted that Rhode Island’s pre-K program was funded at $1.45 million. Opposed to what is promised to state programs within state budget plans, NIEER data track what is truly spent. In the 2013 Preschool Yearbook, NIEER reported Rhode Island actually spent a little over $1.3 million, falling short of planned funds.

NIEER explains that lack of information surrounding local funds and locally allocated federal funds makes it difficult to determine how much is actually spent on pre-K in each state. Furthermore, states may not allocate funds as they planned: they sometimes use leftover funds to phase out old programs or for other expenditures. And, it’s important to note that the fiscal year versus the actual school year does not coincide, which can leave disparities between appropriations and actual spending.

Although different, both reports show state support for pre-K expansion.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
(Washington Post (Opinion))

At this point, you’ve probably already heard all about how public spending on high-quality preschool helps poor kids achieve more later in life and improves the government’s bottom line as a result. Asresearch from Nobel economics laureate James J. Heckman has showed, early investment in disadvantaged children improves academic achievements, career prospects and, ultimately, their lifetime income, which brings in more tax dollars. It also reduces public spending on criminal justice, remedial education, health care, and safety-net programs that disproportionately get used by people who grew up poor. Heckman’s work suggests that a dollar spent on high-quality early-childhood education programs produces a higher return on investment than does almost any major alternative.

But that’s looking only at the effect of early-childhood education programs on kids. Improving access to high-quality child care and preschool offers even bigger returns when you also consider their effect on parents.

That’s because they can help parents who want to work stay attached to the labor force, thereby improving their lifetime earning potential, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
(Michigan Live)

Principal Jenny Love said the school provides a high-quality, multi-tiered instruction system and interventions are matched to each students' needs. She said they monitor student progress constantly, evaluating data to identify assessment and intervention practices ranging from Tier 1 to 3, with third tier students receiving more intensive instruction in groups of no more than five. That approach and an instructional model designed to help students become thinkers coupled with literacy and math programs, is why the high-poverty school was named an Academic State Champ by Bridge Magazine Tuesday, Feb. 10. The building ranked No. 3 out of 1,208 Michigan elementary schools and one of the top 25 overachieving schools at No. 9. . .

Shannon Ayers, associate research professor for the National Institute for Early Education Research and Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes, said the focus primary education is receiving at the nation and state level will help make sure the foundation is there to provide the support for all children to be successful in elementary and middle and high school. She said several of the approaches to teaching and learning being employed by West Michigan's champs are proven to be effective strategies. "NIEER is working on a project implementing effective instruction guidelines for schools and teachers in New Jersey to think about including, Response to Intervention frameworks, differentiating instruction, student assessment, cross-content lessons and project-based learning."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Idaho is one of just six states that does not fund early childhood education, like preschool. A group of people who made passionate appeals to lawmakers Tuesday want to change that. According to a state test of incoming kindergartners, 54 percent of them don't have the reading skills necessary to start kindergarten. So, on day one, about half of the kids in Idaho are already behind.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
(New America EdCentral)

Although ECS finds that national spending is increasing, the National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) Preschool Yearbook may differ, based on how they calculate pre-k allocations. NIEER has not yet released a report for the 2014 year, but discrepancies could arise. In previous reports, ECS’s estimates have proven a bit more optimistic in comparison to NIEER’s. In their report for the 2012-13 school year, ECS noted that Rhode Island’s pre-K program was funded at $1.45 million. Opposed to what is promised to state programs within state budget plans, NIEER data track what is truly spent. In the 2013 Preschool Yearbook, NIEER reported Rhode Island actually spent a little over $1.3 million, falling short of planned funds.

NIEER explains that lack of information surrounding local funds and locally allocated federal funds makes it difficult to determine how much is actually spent on pre-K in each state. Furthermore, states may not allocate funds as they planned: they sometimes use leftover funds to phase out old programs or for other expenditures. And, it’s important to note that the fiscal year versus the actual school year does not coincide, which can leave disparities between appropriations and actual spending.

Although different, both reports show state support for pre-K expansion.

Monday, February 9, 2015
(Chalkbeat Indiana)

Paying for a new city-sponsored preschool program could get tricky for the Indianapolis City-County Council. Under a proposal the city could consider this week using about $2 million from a reserve fund for the first year. A plan has yet to be figured where the rest of the city’s share of $20 million over five years will come from. The overall plan is to spend $40 million on preschool through a public-private partnership among the city, businesses and philanthropy groups to serve 1,000 poor children. It waspassed the council by a wide margin in December after months debate leading to acompromise between council Democrats and Republican Mayor Greg Ballard.

Monday, February 9, 2015
(Star Tribune)

It was sometimes dry and technical, and always quite civil in a House committee last week, with legislators and officials from Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration professing devotion to Minnesota’s children and especially the 15 percent of children ­living in poverty. Roiling beneath the surface, however, was the next great policy debate not just here but nationally — the outcome of which is as uncertain as are its politics: child care and education. 

Although the fight over the Affordable Care Act continues, Democrats are moving on, and it seems likely that expanded and perhaps universal prekindergarten education and child care will be their next major policy goal. Many Republicans see in this wasteful government spending and the usurpation of the family in favor of the state.

Sunday, February 8, 2015
(WUSF News)

Children's advocates say they're "cautiously optimistic" about Gov. Rick Scott's budget recommendations for the coming spending year, which contain relatively few cuts to programs that serve Florida's children. Last week, Scott touted his "historic" proposals to increase funding for public schools to $7,176 per student and Everglades restoration by more than $5 billion over the next 20 years, including $300 million in the coming budget year.

In comparison, the governor's proposed boost to voluntary pre-kindergarten of $46 per student would bring the total to $2,483 apiece. That means Florida would remain well below the national average of $4,026 per student in 2013, the last year for which the National Institute for Early Education Research had figures available.

Sunday, February 8, 2015
(Santa Fe New Mexican)

President Barack Obama’s 2016 budget includes a renewed push for the broad liberal priority of universal preschool. The budget would invest in a “preschool for all” initiative trying to expand access to high-quality Pre-K programs for 4-year-olds from poor and moderate-income families, and it includes $750 million in grant funding to help states create and expand such programs. Beyond inequality, though, there are a lot of arguments for backing universal Pre-K, many of which aren’t particularly lefty. Early childhood education, for starters, is one of the most efficient places we can investment public money, with broad implications for the costs of social services that have seemingly little to do with school. If you don’t want to spend a lot on incarceration or welfare or Medicaid, you should spend money on preschool.

Saturday, February 7, 2015
(CNN (video))

Fareed digs into the data to explain why preschool education is such an important part of Obama's budget: it's crucial in a child's mental development.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

In a fireside chat keynote at Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s State of the Valley conference Wednesday, Stanford President John Hennessy discussed issues surrounding education reform in Silicon Valley and the broader country.

Hennessy said it was important to rethink the United States’ approach to pre-K through 12th grade education and proposed making pre-K education universal. “Universal pre-K, obviously, is going to require money,” Hennessy said. “Maybe we have to think about universal pre-K with some kind of needs testing, so if your income is below the median income in the U.S., you would get it for free, and otherwise, you’d be asked to contribute something to it.”