Volume 14, Issue 5

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hot Topics

As testing begins on Common Core State Standards, the standards and implementation are in the news. States, including Wisconsin and Arizona, are stepping back from the standards and related assessments, and even parents and their students are opting to avoid the assessments. Even as politicians seek a popular stance on CCSS, and researchers and teachers argue the pros and cons, there has been little research to examine the impact of implementing the standards in early childhood classrooms. (Although a recent research review did look at implementing CCSS in rural classrooms.)

Last year, the University of Illinois Chicago prepared a brief outlining ’Confusions and Conclusions’ related to literacy standards in the early years. As the discussion heats up, many perspectives on the issues have been raised: One article describes the basis for Common Core Standards and the changing levels of support from politicians and political candidates. The Washington Post has initiated an exchange of opinion between principals. The Stanford Daily has an article discussing common misconceptions, and linking to useful resources. EdWeek weighed in with a blog post on what to expect for 2015, and ECS has released a report on state policies on opting out of assessment. NIEER will be opening a blog forum on Common Core State Standards in early childhood education soon. We hope you’ll join the conversation.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In a new blog post, NIEER Director Steven Barnett discusses recent critiques of Pre-K for All, while calling for ongoing accurate evaluation of new programs to inform local and national policy decisions.



Do increased availability and reduced cost enhance use?

This study examined whether increased affordability and availability of early childhood education and care reduced the enrollment gap between high- and low-socioeconomic status families.

Age of entry and time in care effects

This study examined links between high-quality early education exposure and outcomes in receptive language skills and social-behavioral skills.

Mathematics Achievement

An article in Child Indicators Research examines the relationship of self-regulation to preschool mathematics achievement.

Toxic Stress

FPG's Desiree Murray and a team of researchers have issued the first in a series of four reports on self-regulation and toxic stress. In this report “the authors introduce and describe a set of seven key principles that summarize our understanding of self-regulation development in context.”

The Inclusive Classroom Profile

A pilot study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute evaluates a new measure to assess quality of practices in inclusive preschools. 

Process quality and organizational climate

A recent report from ECS “examined the relationships between classroom process quality and the organizational climate, overall and relational, in preschool centers serving low-income children.”

EAR Protocol

The EAR (Engagement, Alignment, and Rigor) Protocol is a 20-minute in-class evaluation of teaching. The Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute reports on its objectivity and capacity to predict student test scores.

NY Advocacy Materials

The Center for Children’s Initiatives in New York has prepared new advocacy materials to support the provision of pre-K for all.

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

HighScope Educational Research Foundation is seeking a VP

HighScope is seeking a full-time Vice President of Programs and Innovation who is an entrepreneurial leader. Candidates must have a passion for education issues, with an emphasis on early childhood; a familiarity with national professional and policy-oriented education networks; an understanding of civic engagement strategies; and an appreciation for the wide-ranging HighScope constituency. For more information see their post here.

Apply for the 2016 Foundation for Child Development Young Scholars Program

The FCD Young Scholars Program (YSP) supports policy and practice-relevant research that is focused on the early learning and development needs of the nation's children who are growing up under conditions of economic insecurity and social exclusion. To view eligibility criteria, research focus, timeline, and for more information about the YSP please visit the FCD Website and download the YSP Guidelines. Visit the FCD website to apply now.  Send all questions about the application to ysp@fcd-us.org.

CEELO Update

More than 600 principals, superintendents, and other educational leaders from across the country registered for “Supporting Principal Leadership for P – 3rd Grade Learning Communities,” a  webinar sponsored by CEELO, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. Participants learned about revised principal competencies highlighted in NAESP’s Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practice and heard from principals and state leaders about the value of taking such an approach to bridge pre-K-5 and K-12 systems. 

Lori Connors-Tadros and Alexandra Figueras-Daniel presented on February 25, 2015 at the Winter Meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officer's, English Language Learners State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) . The presentation highlights best practices for teachers and administrators to support development of English and children's home language, shares a tool for coaching and professional development of teachers, and discusses policy trends and recommendations for improving outcomes of dual language learner children.


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.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 8:00am to Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 12:30pm

The Inclusion Institute, presented by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG), is the premier event for people from all early childhood sectors to come together to learn, share, and problem-solve about inclusion for young children. This year's theme is Implementing Quality Inclusion Practices:  Supporting People, Programs, and Policies.

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, March 5, 2015
(The Sacramento Bee)

Across the U.S., we are witnessing two major trends involving children under age 5. First, more and more parents are sending their children to pre-kindergarten outside of the home. Second, more and more children are being born to immigrant parents.

There’s nothing inherently worrisome about either of these trends, except that they don’t converge. Despite new evidence underscoring the benefits of pre-kindergarten for immigrants’ children, many of whom are still learning English when they enter kindergarten, they are the least likely to be enrolled.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

The universal preschool program Seattle voters said yes to last November is starting to take shape. As it works out the details, the City is getting a lot of advice from Boston. That city, which is home to world renowned universities, is also considered a national leader in early childhood education since it launched its preschool program in 2005.

Jason Sachs, the Director of Early Childhood Education with Boston Public Schools, gave a presentation to Seattle City Council’s education committee.  “Quality, quality, quality,  I really think who the teacher is and what the teacher teaches is going to be critical. And how it’s evaluated is also going to be critical,” said Sachs.

Researchers say what’s happening in Boston is working. By the 3rd grade, the children who got that extra year in the classroom performed 30% better than their peers who didn’t get that experience.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

With many bills filed in the Legislature to expand funding for pre-K, the conversation thankfully seems to have shifted from if, to when. Now more attention needs to be directed to the question of how. Educators and lawmakers seem to agree that high-quality pre-K is a good investment, but they disagree about what constitutes high-quality. A working definition: High-quality pre-K needs to foster effective teacher-student interactions, adopt learning standards to drive instruction and rely on hands-on professional development for teachers.

Pre-K in Texas meets only two out of 10 quality standards suggested by the National Institute for Early Education Research, a national research group. But we don't need academic research to guide us as to whether existing Texas standards for pre-K are too low.

Thursday, March 5, 2015
(Michigan Live)

Children who start preschool by age 3 have been shown by a variety of national studies to achieve higher scores in vocabulary, reading and math. Yet a handful of other studies raised questions about benefits of 3-year-old preschool, including some that found that poor-quality programs can have a negative effect on children, the CRC-PSC report said.

There is growing bipartisan interest in educating and developing the minds of children well before kindergarten. Universal preschool has emerged as a major policy initiative among public officials ranging from President Obama and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, to Gov. Rick Snyder and Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and likely presidential candidate, though the focus is mostly on educating 4-year-olds. Two years ago, Snyder and a Republican-led legislature approved the nation's largest expansion of high-quality preschool for 4 year olds through the Great Start Readiness Program. The state's $65-million annual investment followed a 2012 Bridge report, "Michigan's forgotten 4-year-olds," which revealed that nearly 30,000 Michigan 4-year-olds who qualified for free preschool were being excluded from the program, largely due to lack of state funding. Among 3-year-olds, only 1-in-4 of at-risk children in Michigan are enrolled in preschool. The CRC-PSC report estimates more than 48,000 at-risk children this age could benefit from earlier pre-K, but their families can't afford private preschool programs. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015
(King 5 News)

Seattle is rolling out its plan for universal preschool, which begins in the fall.

There are concerns about who can enroll. Anyone living in Seattle with a three or four-year-old can apply, likely in June. But the city is accepting applicants for providers based on two main priorities -- if they are in under-performing areas and low income families. Seattle is starting out with 14 classrooms, including 90 three-year-olds and 190 four-year-olds. The program is free for families under the 300% poverty level. A family of four making $70,000 is free if accepted. A family of four making $75,000 must pay $1,300 per year.

Thursday, March 5, 2015
(69 News)

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) wants to provide universal pre-kindergarten to all children across the nation. Casey's bill, the Prepare All Kids Act, was unveiled Wednesday by the senator. It would provide one year of voluntary, high quality prekindergarten to all children. As universal pre-k advances in states such as Oklahoma and New York, Casey's bill  aims to create a federal model. "Investing in early education will help children learn more now so they can earn more later," said the senator in a news release.


Thursday, March 5, 2015
(Los Angeles Sentinel)

According to an earlier CAP report, even among middle- and upper-class families, 25 percent of all kindergarteners are not school-ready – they may not know any letters, numbers, or colors, for example.

“While the United States as a whole has become an increasingly educated country over time, very significant educational disparities exist between whites and people of color,” the report states. “Since the majority of infants are children of color, improving the continuum of early childhood programs available to children under age 3 and their families provides an opportunity to stifle these disparities before they begin.”

Data suggests that without intervention to beef up early education programs, this generation may not be able to meet economic demands to maintain the United States as a world leader. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
(Learning Lab MA)

Most of the criticisms of early childhood education fail to hold water, but that is not to say that all early childhood educational experiences are created equal. With Massachusetts Secretary of Education James Peyser having dampened any expectations for additional education funding, it is important that we understand the evidence around high impact early childhood education and maximize any investment in early childhood education.

Access to early education has been shown to mitigate serious problems of substance abuse, aggression and violence and to contribute to behavioral health and overall well-being – all issues cited by Speaker DeLeo.

The idea that lower-income children principally benefit from early childhood education is based on a predominant misconception that poverty alone is to blame for the achievement gap. Positive, responsive relationships, rich in quality time and communication, are what influence and shape a child’s growing brain and development. Children hunger for nurturance, connection, limit setting and love; those are family characteristics that are not necessarily linked to income. Children from middle- and high-income families can benefit from high quality early learning experiences.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
(WTAJ News)

Senator Bob Casey announced Wednesday his bill that would provide universal prekindergarten to children across the country.

States would have the option to be a part of the program, and all children would get a year of pre-K. There will be an emphasis on children from families with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I want every child in the state of Alabama to have the opportunity to get a quality First Class Pre-K Education. Our First Class Pre-K program is one of the best state-run programs in the country. Last fall in Alabama more than 7,000 4-year-olds across the state were given the opportunity to go to preschool for free.

For the eighth year in a row, Alabama's First Class Voluntary Pre-K program is one of only five in the country that met all the quality benchmarks set out by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

We must continue to expand our Pre-K program because it makes a real difference in the lives and the education of Alabama's children. Last year, children who attended our First Class Pre-K program were less likely to fail a grade in school, and across all grades, they consistently scored higher in reading and in math than those who did not attend. Yet only 12 percent of four-year-olds in Alabama have access to First Class Volunteer Pre-K. That is why once again we must continue to increase funding as we continue to expand this opportunity.

I want every parent to know, that at the end of my term, there will be a First Class Pre-K classroom available for their child.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The whole time those babies and toddlers brains are learning about cause and effect, positive interaction and concentration, gravity and symmetry, and developing brain synapses at the rate of 700 a second—which will form the literal building blocks of children’s learning in the future. So while businesses invest heavily in partnerships with high schools and colleges, it may be too late. Studies show attending quality pre-kindergarten increases high school graduation by 31 percent and employment by 23 percent, according ReadyNation/America’s Edge, a national advocacy group for early childhood education as an economic driver.

Therefore, says early childhood experts, babies and toddlers offer the best return on investment. Numerous economic studies have calculated a return of $7 for each dollar invested in early childhood education through savings on remedial education and grade repetition, as well as increasing productivity and earnings in adulthood. Early childhood education advocates are making the case to businesses that childcare is a critical workforce issue akin to health insurance and retirement savings when it comes to worker productivity and satisfaction.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
(Rutland Herald, Rutland, VT)

A bill that will bring a new level of organization and support to pre-kindergarten education programs is due to come up for a vote in the Senate this week, and it deserves support. The new law sets up a process to develop high-quality early education programs, in partnership with private providers or through the public schools.

Sunday, March 1, 2015
(Journal Gazette)

In a pilot program reported to be the first in northeast Indiana, preschool children will be monitored through third grade to improve the preschools where they started their education.

Working with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, the United Way of Allen County is pioneering a data-sharing agreement between three local preschools and Southwick Elementary that will take preschool education one step closer to ensuring kindergarten preparedness, a predictor for school success and beyond. The children starting kindergarten in the fall will be tracked for academic progress. The data – scores on a variety of screening tests – will go back to the preschools so they can improve their educational programs. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015
(Independent Record)

For the first few years of life, 700 to 1,000 new neural connections form every second. Each child’s experiences determine which connections form, which are strengthened and which are pruned away, according to Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child. One of the skills being built are what Harvard researchers refer to as executive function, the ability of a brain to “filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.”

It’s one of the building blocks that researchers say is crucial for learning and adult success. According to the Center on the Developing Child, development of executive function skills skyrocket as a four-year-old.