Volume 14, Issue 6

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hot Topics

The value of public policies that provide quality early care and education to all children we continue to be a “hot topic” for some time, not only in the USA, but also abroad. In the last newsletter, we featured as a resource a Norwegian study that investigates the effects of a universal program on the gaps in utilization between higher and lower income families as some have maintained universal programs advantage higher income families.  This study finds that gaps are narrowed.

This week we feature 3 new international research articles relating to universal early childhood programs. The first, another study from Norway takes advantage of child care assignment lotteries to estimate the effect of child care starting age on early cognitive achievement in Oslo. A lottery offer lowers starting age by about four months from a mean of about 19 months. Lottery estimates show significant score gains for children at age seven. The second, from Italy finds that mothers’ work reduces the time devoted to children, and has negative effects on children’s academic results. However, this effect is offset by the use of childcare, and positive effects of childcare are stronger for children from lower income households. The third, a German study, investigates whether Roma children--the largest and most disadvantaged minority in Europe--benefit from universal preschool. This study finds significant short-term gains in verbal and analytical skills. Preschool also increases vaccination rates, but has no effect on other health outcomes or on integration measured by language proficiency and peer relations in the short run.

Congress is currently considering updates to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Among the updates being considered are a solid funding stream for early learning, which would expand the focus of the federal government beyond K-12 to include early learning. Early learning would include birth-to-age-three education, home visiting, Early Head Start and Head Start, and preschool for 4-year-olds. This builds on the continuing effort of the White House to include early learning as an immediate priority, as seen in President Obama’s 2016 Budget Proposal. Debates are ongoing as to how best to produce a bipartisan bill that incorporates both parties, as Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) of the Senate HELP committee continue to work together on a rewrite for ESEA. CLASP has published recommendations for early education in rewriting ESEA, and there is a three-part series from EdCentral on Strengthening Early Learning in a New ESEA.

Within the next month, Congress will consider extending the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV), which provides in-home support to parents from before a child is born, through Kindergarten entry. A recently released report from CLASP and CAP examines how federal home visiting funding supports children and families. And an OPRE report discusses early findings in a recent evaluation of the program. Supporters are writing in Utah, Idaho, and elsewhere. Last fall NIEER’s blog looked at home visiting from different perspectives.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

The critical role of principal continues to be redefined, especially with respect to early childhood education. Jim Squires addresses this in our latest blog featuring a recent webinar “Supporting Principal Leadership for P–3rd Grade Learning Communities” sponsored by CEELO, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education.


Choosing care

This publication summarizes findings in a series of four briefs from Child Trends on stability and continuity in child care arrangements for families in Maryland.

Two-year-olds and families served by the Early Head Start Program

This report from OPRE examines at the experiences of families with 2-year-olds enrolled in Early Head Start.


Linking Head Start early childhood data

An Early Childhood Data Collaborative policy brief outlines early efforts and action steps to link Head Start data to other state early childhood datas for a comprehensive look at early childhood care and education in states.

The role of fathers in child development

Data from the Family Life Project was examined to understand the impact of fathers’ language use on child vocabulary and applied problems scores in Kindergarten.

NIEER invites applications from individuals who want to contribute to policy research and analysis in early childhood education. We are seeking qualified candidates for research assistant professor positions. Requires a doctoral degree in education, psychology, social science, or another field relating to learning, development, and/or public policy. Also requires a strong working knowledge of research methodology and statistical procedures and programs (for example, SPSS, STATA, SAS, and Excel). Rutgers is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.  For further information, please send a letter of interest and curriculum vitae to jobs@nieer.org

Please note that this email is a correction from the previous: Jobs@nieer.rutgers.edu. If you sent anything to that address please resend it to jobs@nieer.org. Thank you.

CEELO Update

As part of its Technical Assistance mandate, CEELO has developed and facilitated a number of Peer Learning Communities. There are a number of resources available on the website to assist groups building their own communities. The Peer Learning Community Guide is a comprehensive package of resources outlining considerations from the first step onward. The Peer Learning Communities presentation summarizes highlights from the report in a Powerpoint format. The Professional Learning Academy: Supporting District Implementation of Early Childhood Policy presents information on a Professional Learning Academy model of professional development for district teams and some of the initial impacts of this work on participants. a Planning Tool (Word and PDF) and a Reflection Form available in Word and PDF, outline steps and questions for facilitators planning group sessions, and provide participants with a forum for sharing feedback on their experiences.


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.

Friday, March 20, 2015 - 7:30pm

When Texas cut $5.4 billion from public schools, affecting 5 million students, Texans protested and districts sued the state and won. The Texas Promise is the gripping story of equity, politics, money, and our children as Texas and the nation make historic decisions about education, opportunity and our democracy. An interview with NIEER Director Steve Barnett is included in the movie. The film will be playing at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center (111 Amsterdam Avenue) on March 20th at 7:30pm and will be followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew.  Doors open at 7PM. Tickets are $20. You can buy tickets in advance or pay cash at the door. Watch the trailer.

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 19, 2015

On Thursday, 12th March 2015, the Minister and a team of Education Officials visited the James A. Pinder Primary School in Sandy Point to officially commission the Preschool unit. Making good on his promise to increase access to preschool education not just in New Providence but throughout the Family Islands, the residents of South Abaco expressed their appreciation and gratitude for having a preschool attached to the primary school. The Minister of Education, Science and Technology highlighted the importance of preschool education and made reference to research regarding the benefits of preschool. “According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) children who attend a high-quality preschool enter grade school with better reading skills, richer vocabularies and stronger basic math skills that those who do not.” He further emphasized than the beauty of our preschool environments is that children are given the opportunity to explore, create, imagine, observe, listen, ask questions, try new things and very importantly, practice the skills they learn. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015
(Times Leader)

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Thursday unveiled his proposal for an expanded child care tax credit. Casey said in a news release that the current child care tax credit begins to phase out after $15,000 in income, leaving out many middle-class Pennsylvania families. At the same time, new data shows that the cost of raising a child is increasing dramatically. A recent Pew study of Census Bureau data found that average weekly child-care expenses, measured in inflation-adjusted 2013 dollars, rose from $87 in 1985 to $148 in 2013, an increase of more than 70 percent, Casey said.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
(KCCI News)

A Senate committee has approved a bill that would offer additional preschool funding for 4-year-olds in Iowa who have limited proficiency in English. The Appropriations Committee voted 18-3 Tuesday for the bill to advance for consideration in the full Senate. The Senate Education Committee voted in support of the bill last month. The legislation would provide additional funding for students with limited proficiency in English who are enrolled in the statewide preschool program.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
(Washington Post)

The District has aggressively pursued many of the reforms that the Obama administration has championed, spearheading a controversial overhaul of teacher evaluations and putting hefty investment into early childhood education.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
(Voice of America)

From expanding childcare to making preschool more accessible, the president’s second term is marked by an agenda he says is aimed at helping middle-class families.
The U.S. president has long advocated expanding access to preschool and other programs to give all children a strong foundation.
During his 2013 State of the Union Address, he spoke of the importance of investing early.
“Every dollar we invest in high quality early childhood education can save more than seven dollars later on -- by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime,” he said.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
(Pacific Business News)

A bill to restore $6 million in funding for Hawaii's state preschool subsidy program is still moving through the state Legislature.

Senate Bill 64, which has crossed over to the state House of Representatives, would restore funding for the Preschool Open Doors program for the next two fiscal years. Former Gov. John Waihee created POD in 1990 to assist eligible families with Pre-K tuition, and 248 preschools currently participate.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
(Daily Pilot)

Plans for the nature preschool call for a series of outdoor play areas, where students would spend most of the day, taught by teachers with environmental and early-childhood training. The preschool would be built next to the nature center on a 1.3-acre lot that was purchased for $3.2 million in 2012.

"Children today have such a disconnect with the natural world," Glover said. "To have a child reconnect with nature while still going through a traditional educational program is certainly appealing to a lot of parents in our community."

Experts say that increasing children's outdoor play can improve health and lower the risk of childhood obesity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
(CBS Philly)

The School District of Philadelphia is launching city wide literacy programs aimed at students from pre-K through 4th grade. They kicked things off at a program Wednesday night.

From new books, to different ways parents can make learning more fun for their kids, literacy night offered something for just about everyone in the family.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Preschool is not mandatory in Massachusetts, but supporters want to ensure every child has a chance at early education.

Early education advocates hope to restore funding to state programs that target children younger than five. The “Head Start” program provides pre-kindergarten education and child care to families who otherwise cannot afford it.

“It’s a problem for the young people, for the students who are starting school already five steps behind,” said State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
(Winona Daily News)

For the past eight years, more than 1,000 business leaders have banded together to champion quality early childhood education as a vital first step for building our future workforce. Virtually all of the Republicans and Democrats we’ve met with have agreed that long-term academic achievement often depends on what happens in the first five years of a child’s life. And virtually all have voiced support for making quality preschool in particular available for more children.

We’re now at a pivotal point for making that happen as Congress charts a course for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While 32 Republican and Democratic governors have proposed or signed into law major expansions of state preschool programs in the past two years, this federal legislation could improve the quality of, and access to, early learning opportunities for children nationwide.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
(The Dallas Morning News)

As legislators work to revamp education for the youngest Texans, they keep coming back to one question: Does full-day prekindergarten really make much of a difference? Research suggests it does. Studies have consistently found measurable, as well as anecdotal, evidence that full-day programs have far more lasting effects on children than half-day programs, early childhood education advocates say. . . 

It was abundantly clear that lack of kindergarten readiness created an achievement cap in the third grade, meaning that students who didn’t attend pre-K couldn’t score above a certain level, he said.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
(Daily News)

Almost 22,000 city children signed up for public prekindergarten classes on the first day of enrollment, three times the number that enrolled last year at that time, officials said Tuesday. Mayor de Blasio, who announced the enrollment numbers at a pre-K center in Harlem, said the early numbers indicate more kids than ever will take part in the early childhood education classes starting in September.

Monday, March 16, 2015
(TMC News)

Due to the growing success of Waterford Institute's UPSTART program, the Utah Legislature approved Tuesday an additional $1 million to fund the free, in-home preschool program with the passage of its 2015 Education Budget. The increase will make room for an additional 1,000 Utah preschoolers. With the expansion, more than 6,000 children, or approximately 15 percent of Utah preschoolers, will be using UPSTART during the 2015-2016 program year.

Monday, March 16, 2015
(Seattle Times)

Seattle has yet to select the child-care centers that will participate in the first year of the city’s new subsidized-preschool pilot program, starting in September.

But one eligibility requirement is that each center participate in Early Achievers, the state’s quality rating and improvement system for child-care, and hold an Early Achievers rating of Level 3 or above.

As of last month, 40 centers in Seattle cleared that bar. Based on budget projections, the city expects to use 14 classrooms for the program in its first year.

Friday, March 13, 2015

State operating budget amendments that would have added back funds to the University of Alaska system and state-funded pre-kindergarten programs were voted down Thursday evening. Kito also spoke on a failed amendments to restore pre-kindergarten and Parents As Teachers funding. Kito said he would have benefitted from Parents As Teachers as a new parent. Without state funding, the Juneau program will disappear, its director said in a previous Empire report. Gattis, chair of the House Finance subcommittee on education, read aloud from the Alaska Constitution and pointed out that the state does not have an obligation to provide pre-kindergarten. “Parents are teachers,” she said. “We don’t need a program to be a teacher of our kids.”

Friday, March 13, 2015
(Honolulu Civil Beat)

Lawmakers and officials in the education community agree — universal preschool is something that Hawaii needs as soon as possible.

Educators and several legislators discussed the future of preschool in Hawaii during a meeting at the Capitol on Friday afternoon. About two dozen audience members, almost all female, were given the opportunity to question the lawmakers and education officials about the programs. . . 

The group also discussed the future of pre-K programs at charter schools. Last December, the Hawaii Public Charter School Commission received a $14.8 million multi-year federal grant to develop preschool programs across the state. The Preschool Development Grant was provided through the Obama administration’s Preschool for All initiative. Hawaii is one of 11 states without a universal preschool program, and one of 15 states with small or no state-funded pre-K programs that are eligible to apply for the grant.

Thursday, March 12, 2015
(Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

In business, we rarely have the luxury of making investment decisions with as much supporting evidence as we have when it comes to the economic value of investing early in our children.

Arkansas has not infused new funding into the ABC Pre-K program since 2008.

Studies show that Pre-K investment pays dividends over and over. In a state-specific study, it was found that investing in early education would boost Arkansas' economy. A five-percent increase in male high school graduation rates is estimated to save Arkansas $53 million in annual incarceration costs and crime-related expenditures. If just one year's high school dropouts could be converted to high school graduates, Arkansas households would have an additional $2.7 billion in accumulated wealth over the lifetime of the students from the graduation class, according to James J. Heckman in his study Invest Early in Early Childhood Development as a Means to Deficit Reduction in Arkansas.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has signed city's Preschool Scholarship Program into law and it has begun accepting applications for the 2015-2016 school year.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

It was standing room only in a marathon meeting on the Texas House floor. Six proposed early childhood education bills were presented and debated before the House Committee on Public Education on Tuesday, March 10. The biggest issue of the day was half-day versus full-day of pre-Kindergarten (pre-K), although a frontrunner emerged in House Bill 4 (HB 4) authored by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston). Last month, during his State of the State address, Governor Greg Abbott placed early education as his top emergency items for the 84th Legislature to undertake. Although the nationwide push from the Obama administration is towards full-day Head Start-based programs, Abbott ran on a platform of sensible early education, a manageable, approach that would bump up pre-K programs by building upon what already works statewide. Many felt Huberty’s proposed legislation was most in line with the Governor’s vision. HB 4 would add $1,500 more per student for half day high quality pre-K. By some estimates this totaled $118 million, while others it totaled closer to $130 million, and would be applicable for public school districts that meet the standards set for enrollment, which also includes a parent involvement plan. HB 4 maintains the existing pre-K half-day model.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sparsely populated school districts and counties covered in federal forest lands will have less money this year — $250 million less — because Congress allowed the Secure Rural Schools Act to expire.

Since Idaho doesn't have public preschool, schools that want to offer it have to find creative ways to pay for the program — state money isn't an option.

Over the last 15 years, this preschool has been paid for by a grant, a voter-approved levy, some tuition, fundraisers and federal Secure Rural Schools Act money.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Iowa lawmakers are discussing preschool funding this week. A Senate panel is debating whether to approve extra funding to expand programs for four year olds. When it comes to education funding, typically there is controversy, and this piece of legislation is no different.

The Senate bill was approved in a 10-5 committee vote in February. It would add 7.2 million dollars in state funding in an effort to enroll 6,000 more children in preschool. Some Republicans question the cost when other school funding issues are still on the table. One local legislature is all for it, and says early education is important because it goes far beyond kids learning their A,B,C’s.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
(The St. Augustine Record)

Florida is one of just three states to offer free pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-olds. Today, around three-quarters of eligible children participate in the voluntary program.

But like so many things in Florida, we haven’t properly funded the program. Per-child spending dropped after its inception, before finally starting to creep back up.

Florida is among the best in the nation in pre-kindergarten access, but ranks 35th in state spending, according to a 2013 report by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The report found the state met just three of 10 benchmarks related to early learning standards, falling short in categories such as teacher degrees and training.

Only Texas met fewer standards.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When Gov. Wolf delivered his first budget address this month to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate, he made his highest priority clear: investing in public education. . . 

The governor also made clear that early-childhood education is the essential starting point for building a quality education. Wolf plans to expand access to early education by increasing the number of children in prekindergarten by 75 percent as part of a larger strategy to move Pennsylvania toward pre-K for all 3- and 4-year olds.

How we budget and how we choose to spend our money show our priorities. Right now, Pennsylvania ranks 41st nationally in early education, a direct reflection of our investment priorities.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Senate panel approved a bill Tuesday that would expand preschool for 4-year-olds in Iowa, though its chances of advancing this session are unclear because some lawmakers have expressed concern about the potential costs. The bill would provide extra funding for school districts that increase enrollment of students in the statewide voluntary preschool program. The program was established in 2008. The bipartisan Legislative Services Agency says the bill would cost $20 million in the fiscal year that ends in 2017, based on various factors.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
(Rutland Herald (Opinion))

I support Governor Shumlin’s blue ribbon commission — made up of legislators, citizens, child-care providers and parents —to research and provide recommendations for more sustainably funded, quality child care, supporting and expanding upon the state’s achievements in winning the Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge and pre-K expansion grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Republicans on a House budget panel voted Tuesday evening to reject Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s $37 million, two-year proposal for state-funded preschool in Montana. . .

The preschool proposal is one of Bullock’s major initiatives this Legislature. His administration proposed allocating up to $37 million in state money to fund voluntary preschool, with school districts deciding whether to offer it and parents given the choice of whether to send their children to the program.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015
(The Kansas City Star)

But we also take seriously our responsibility to prevent crime and violence — to get ahead of the problems and to avoid the price victims, the perpetrators and our communities pay for crime.

This demands we put resources into this effort to help our most vulnerable children and families. Research shows that parenting education can be an important component in supporting and developing healthy relationships between children and their parents, setting the stage for strong families and children ready for school success and that our communities are safer because of it.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Montana is one of eight states without universal offering of early education. This puts us in a catch-up mode. However, we can benefit from what other states have developed — high-quality early education programs with a proven record of economic and social value. These youngsters are more likely to read at grade level and stay in school until high-school graduation, and less likely to become teenage parents, require public assistance, abuse drugs or end up in jail.

Monday, March 9, 2015
(22 News)

Early education advocates believe the Governor missed his opportunity to put the state’s youngest children in the forefront. 17,000 Massachusetts children are waiting to get into state-funded early education programs.

Advocates believe a pre-kindergarten education bolsters learning and leads to better outcomes for children. The group “Put Massachusetts Kids First” is criticizing Governor Charlie Baker for not doing enough in his first state budget to move kids off the waitlist and into classrooms.

Sunday, March 8, 2015
(The Bismark Tribune)

Families are the first educators of their children. Babies achieve their developmental milestones with the encouragement of their parents, siblings and caregivers. Toddlers develop imitative behaviors early on by observing the actions of their parents in daily life. Eventually, parents decide to educate their children through public, private or home school environments. The concept of universal preschool is to make access to pre-kindergarten education available to all families. . .

Members of the North Dakota Senate voted 33-14 in favor of Senate Bill 2151, which would provide $6 million in grant money to fund as many as 6,000 preschool children. In the bill, $1,000 would be available for each eligible child, which would cover roughly half the cost of the program. A total of $1,500 would be available per child from low-income households. The Tribune editorial board supports this bill as a means to put all children on equal footing in their education. We would not be in favor of mandatory preschool.

Sunday, March 8, 2015
(Star Tribune)

With a nearly $2 billion projected budget surplus, Minnesota Gov.Mark Dayton is pressing ahead on an ambitious goal to provide universal access to prekindergarten for all 4-year-olds in the state. . .

In an effort to ensure quality, Dayton’s plan would require pre-K teachers to be licensed by the state, a goal supported by the state’s teachers union, which would likely see its ranks grow. Universal preschool is one of Education Minnesota’s top legislative priorities this session.