Volume 15, Issue 15

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hot Topics

Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0-8 reviews research on parenting practices and identifies effective practices. The report also recommends ways agencies and others can support interventions that help more parents learn about effective parenting practices.

Parents are among the most important people in the lives of young children. From birth, children rely on mothers and fathers and other caregivers in the parenting role to care for them and to chart a course that promotes their overall well-being. While parents generally are filled with anticipation about their children’s unfolding personalities, many lack information and tools to support them in their parenting role and promote their children's healthy development. 

Andrea DeBruin-Parecki and Carly Slutzky published a research report analyzing established prekindergarten age 4 learning standards that are intended to outline skills and knowledge that set children on a path to success in kindergarten and upcoming grades. The report presents a national study based on an online survey completed by early childhood state and territory directors and administrators, geographically diverse focus groups representing a subsample of survey respondents, and one-on-one interviews composed of a sample of both focus group and survey participants. 

Systematic analysis revealed extensive variation across titles, organization, terminology, and enriching materials, such as teacher strategies and child examples that assist teachers in implementing standards. The report concludes with a brief discussion of implications of this study followed by recommendations to inform state and federal early childhood leaders, education-focused philanthropic foundations, and others in the field of early childhood education.

The IEA International Early Childhood Education Study (ECES) is a comparative research program of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The purpose of the study is to explore, describe and critically analyze early childhood education provision and its role in preparing children for the learning and social demands of school and wider society. The data analyzed in this report were collected using a policy questionnaire completed by the National Research Coordinator(s) of eight participating countries; Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Poland, the Russian Federation and the United States. The questionnaire collected basic information about the wider policy context for ECE from birth to the age of primary schooling in each participating country. The analysis of the survey data enabled transnational comparisons in policy and systems, and documented key policy changes underway and planned. These data revealed a set of key findings in each of the five policy areas as covered in the questionnaire and report: public policy; delivery models and providers; participation and enrollment; supporting quality in ECE; and expectations for child outcomes. 

With the worst human refugee crisis since World War II as the backdrop, the Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally, in partnership with UNICEF and the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), held a workshop in Amman, Jordan, to explore topics related to investing in young children for peaceful societ­ies toward individual and structural transformation. Over the course of the 3-day workshop under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, researchers, policy makers, program practitioners, funders, youth, and other ex­perts came together to understand the effects of conflict and violence on children, women, and youth across areas of health, education, nutrition, social protection, and other service domains. The goal of the workshop was to continue to fill in gaps in knowledge and explore opportunities for discourse through a process of highlighting the science and dialogue.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Thursday, July 28, 2016
(NIEER)

NIEER Executive Director discusses Arkansas' early education programs, cited by former President Bill Clinton in remarks during the Democratic National Convention, and urges voters to press all candidates about how they plan to support early learning and development for all children.

 

Resources

Through the National Center for Education Research, IES recently made 57 new awards under the Education Research Grants Program to applications considered under the August 2015 deadline, including eight geared towards early learning programs and policies.

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that updates the existing statute relative to English language education in public schools to encompass the latest and best practices serving English Language Learners (ELLs). An Act for language opportunity for our kids, also known as the LOOK Bill, removes the current mandate requiring schools to use Sheltered English Immersion as the default ELL program model, thereby giving schools the flexibility to establish programs based on the unique needs of their students.

For some children, moving into an English-only program too soon has proven to stunt academic growth and have major implications on future educational success. As the ELL student population continues to grow, so does the achievement gap between them and their English as a first language peers; in 2015, only 64% of ELL students graduated from high school, as compared to 87% of all Massachusetts students. In an effort to reverse these trends, the LOOK bill removes the one-size-fits-all requirements to better accommodate the diverse needs of the Commonwealth’s ELL students.

In recent years, the U.S. federal government has invested approximately $463 billion annually in interventions that affect the overall health and well-being of children and youth, while state and local budgets have devoted almost double that amount. The potential returns on these investments may not only be substantial but also have long-lasting effects for individuals and succeeding generations of their families.

Advancing the Power of Economic Evidence to Inform Investments in Children, Youth, and Families highlights the potential for economic evidence to inform investment decisions for interventions that support the overall health and well-being of children, youth, and families. This report describes challenges to the optimal use of economic evidence, and offers recommendations to stakeholders to promote a lasting improvement in its quality, utility, and use.

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, is currently recruiting for a Research and Policy Associate to work across multiple aspects of the Center’s work. More information is available on the CSCCE website

CEELO Update

The Education Commission of the States, partnering with CEELO, released a report that explores key state-level policies that impact the quality of K-3 programs

While the pre-K years are a critical time for early childhood development, children are at risk of losing the gains made in high-quality pre-K programs if the academic rigor and developmental practice does not continue during the K-3 years. Improving quality in these years can help to ensure that children meet key benchmarks and increase the likelihood of long-term student success.

Some key takeaways from this report:
Eighteen states plus D.C. provide guidance for the pre-K to kindergarten transition process. This guidance often includes written transition plans, family engagement, teacher/provider meetings and assessment data linkages. Twenty-one states plus D.C. require some level of parental involvement in the promotion/retention process. Thirty-six states plus D.C. emphasize social-emotional learning in grades K-3 in statute, rules or regulations. Usually, social-emotional learning is emphasized in kindergarten entrance assessments, school readiness definitions, and/or teacher training requirements.

Calendar

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 9:00am to Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 5:00pm
Research Connections will be holding a free summer data workshop on the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on August 8-9. Baby FACES is a descriptive study of Early Head Start programs designed to inform policy and practice at both national and local levels. Baby FACES project leads from Mathematica Policy Research will instruct this two-day data training, which will introduce researchers to the study objectives, methods, instruments, key findings, and data structure. Throughout the day there will be hands-on time with the data files and structured exercises.
 
The workshop is free, but space is limited. Researchers interested in using the Baby FACES data to answer policy relevant questions in early care and education are encouraged to apply. Participants must have programming experience in one or more of the following software packages: SAS, Stata, or SPSS. In addition, participants should have experience using large, complex survey data. The application deadline is June 10, 2016.
 
Friday, September 23, 2016 - 7:30am to Saturday, September 24, 2016 - 4:30pm

The Georgia Association on Young Children (GAYC) Conference mission is to provide the most current evidencebased research, training and skill development for early childhood educators and others who work with children and families. To meet this mission, GAYC hosts an annual conference – two days of workshops, seminars, exhibits and organizational
meetings along with an awards ceremony. The GAYC Conference offers nearly 75 sessions that can count for BFTS licensing credit, PLUs and CEUs. GAYC’s Together for Children Conference brings together more than 1,200 early childhood professionals from around the state for professional development, learning, and networking.

 

Early Education News Roundup

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
(The Hechinger Report)

In fact, the fate of all children is largely determined by their first years on this planet. Forming healthy relationships with adults early on lays the foundation for future healthy relationships. Exposure to language through stories, songs and conversations sets the stage for academic achievement. Playing outside to master gross motor skills, creating art to master fine motor skills, pretending to be a doctor, chef or firefighter to learn teamwork, building a tower of blocks to learn basic physics lessons — all of these activities are critical preparation for a successful school and adult life. The most straightforward way to ensure all children have such experiences is to provide free or affordable high-quality preschool for them when they are 3- and 4-year-olds. The idea is not as radical as it sounds. The U.S. has even provided universal public preschool before, for a few years during World War II. That program ended in 1946. Since then, a growing body of research has demonstrated the value of high-quality preschool for both children and their communities. Nearly every industrialized country has recognized that value and begun offering a version of universal public preschool for its children. Not the U.S. . . 

But though many have acknowledged the need for forward motion on preschool expansion, the overall pace of change has been glacial. “At the current rate, it will be another 50 years before states can reach all low-income children at age four, and it will take 150 years to reach 75 percent of all four-year-olds,” writes Steven Barnett, director the National Institute for Early Education Research, in his introduction to the 2015 State of Preschool Yearbook.

Thursday, July 14, 2016
(First Five Years Fund)

In the midst of an angry and polarized election, 90% of voters agree on one thing: Congress and the next president should work together to make quality early childhood education more accessible and affordable to low- and middle-income families. That includes 78% of Trump supporters and 97% of Clinton supporters. The First Five Years Fund’s annual national poll shows that early childhood education is one of the best ways for candidates to connect with voters because it is one of their top priorities–regardless of party.

Thursday, July 14, 2016
(Idaho Statesman)

Idaho is among five states nationally that don’t fund preschool despite the proven benefits it can offer. Though the Legislature did boost education funding by $107 million last session, preschool was ignored. There have been many legislative efforts as recent as 2015 to introduce public preschool to Idaho, but none have grown past ideas. Last year’s bill didn’t receive a hearing. And the 2017 legislative agenda doesn’t include a state-funded preschool-related bill, said Idaho State Board of Education Spokesman Blake Youde.

Supporters consistently run into two legislative objections:

1. Idaho doesn’t have enough money for its own public education system and needs to put dollars there, some legislators say.

2. Preschool education is a role for Idaho families, say other lawmakers.

Thursday, July 14, 2016
(Education Week)

Using new data by the National Institute for Early Education Research, The Hechinger Report built an interactive map that shows where preschool access and quality intersect. Of states offering a public preschool program, the largest category, with 18, are states that have a high-quality program but only offer it to a small percentage (less than 30 percent) of their 4-year-old population. Another five states offer preschool to more than 46 percent of their 4-year-old population, but at a fairly low-quality standard. . .

"Access to real quality is pretty darn low," Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, told me for an article I wrote about the state of preschool in the U.S. that accompanied the map. 

Friday, July 15, 2016
(New Republic)

When these children enter school, they have unique needs. Many are ill-prepared for the social, emotional and academic rigor that is anticipated and required. Conversely, many schools are not prepared to handle the needs of children who have been victims of poverty, trauma or who have special education needs. Preschool experience could help prepare children for learning in academic, social and emotional spheres of elementary education. In my role as a clinical professor of law and director of the Education and Health Law Clinic at Rutgers Law School, it is not uncommon for me to represent parents of young children who have been suspended or have had a history of being suspended as early as preschool or kindergarten. . .

According to the 2016 OCR report, black boys were at greater risk for preschool suspensions. Even though preschool boys represented almost 20 percent of enrolled preschoolers, they represented 45 percent of male students receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions. Even more problematic were the statistics for black girls. Although they represented 20 percent of female preschool enrollment, they accounted for over 50 percent of female students with one or more out of school suspensions. A national pre-kindergarten study conducted in 2005 identified similar disparities with respect to these vulnerable children. That study, conducted by Walter S. Gilliam at Yale University, concluded that preschool children were expelled at a rate of more than three times that of students in K-12. According to the same report, African-American children attending state-funded preschools were about twice as likely to be expelled as Latino and Caucasian children. More than 10 years has passed since this study, and the problem still persists.

Friday, July 15, 2016
(Washington Monthly)

In June, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) won a vicious and public battle against difficult odds. In his fight, the mayor positioned himself on the side of all that is just and right, a champion of the more than 17,000  low-income three- and four-year-olds in Philadelphia who lack access to quality public pre-K. The foe? The American Beverage Association, the Goliath to Kenney’s David, who spent almost $5 million since March to defend the soda empire. The City Council supported Kenney’s campaign in a 13-4 vote, passing a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and diet sodas that the administration says will be used, at least partially, to fund a universal pre-K program. This adds a $2.16 tax on a twelve pack of Coke, raising it from $4.00 to $6.16, an effective 54 percent tax.

Many assert that Kenney succeeded in passing a soda tax where others have failed because the reason for levying the tax was more popular. Kenny and his supporters sold the tax as a viable source of revenue to fund pre-K for the city’s youngest learners, rather than a big-brother(ly love) initiative to force health upon the masses. At first, the issue seems clear cut. A happy-ending tale where the good guy defeats the bad! But upon deeper investigation, the black and white of right and wrong becomes more gray.

Monday, July 18, 2016
(Connect States Boro)

When enrolling a child in preschool, there are multiple factors to consider to ensure the best early learning experience possible.

Studies show children who receive a high-quality early education develop a solid base for success in school and their future careers.

According to the report, research shows that high-caliber teachers are the most important factor in preschool because they serve as role models and foster language and literacy skills. A high-quality learning environment correlates directly with an exceptional workforce down the road, according to the report. A successful preschool program should not only prepare children for the transition into kindergarten, but should also incorporate the appropriate amounts of play time and creativity.

Various factors may impact a child's preschool experience, including teacher compensation and education level, school funding, price ranges and different educational philosophies.

Monday, July 18, 2016
(Education Week)

In a first for the U.S., Vermont now requires communities to offer 10 hours a week of free preschool to 3- and 4-year-olds.

Funding for "universal" preschool has been available for some time in Vermont, but until July 1 it was up to local districts to offer it or not. Many did, and Vermont is one of the states with the highest rates of public preschool attendance among 4-year-olds, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The free care is still optional for families. That is, though it must be offered, attendance is not mandatory. (Kindergarten attendance isn't mandatory in most states either.) Still, 10 free hours of care can make a big difference to the monthly budget, even for middle class families. The average weekly cost of child care for a 3- or 4-year-old in a licensed center in Vermont was $192, according to The Vermont Department for Children and Families.

Monday, July 18, 2016
(The Register-Herald)

West Virginia is making gains improving its graduation rate, while earning more praise for its dedication to early learning. The report, "Gauging Progress, Accelerating Pace" from the Southern Regional Education Board, details West Virginia's efforts to improve standards and student success as well other states in the SREB's region.

The report details the fact that West Virginia's high school graduation rate exceeded the national rate.

"This is a result of State Superintendent Michael Martirano's five year plan to get the state's graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020," said Kristin Anderson, executive director of communications and partnerships. "This is a reflection of the trend working toward that goal."

The SREB report also shows that West Virginia is one of seven states that serve more than half of its 4 year olds in state-funded PreK. West Virginia's PreK program was one of six national programs that met all 10 of the National Institute for Early Education Research for standards of quality. The Learning Policy Institute recently recognized West Virginia's PreK program in a report calling it the anchor of the state's early childhood efforts.

Monday, July 18, 2016
(Bloomberg)

For many parents, putting a kid in daycare costs more than the rent. And the price continues to climb. The expense of childcare, which includes both daycare and nursery school, has outpaced inflation since the recession, according to data from the Department of Labor. From 2009 through 2016, the overall Consumer Price Index increased about 12 percent while the childcare and nursery school index (yes, there is one) jumped more than 21 percent, according to data provided to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In other words, people are shelling out a lot more cash on their kids than on anything else.

The prevailing theory is that staffing daycare centers is expensive and there's no way to make it cheaper. Taking care of kids is labor-intensive while increasing the productivity of workers difficult. One person can only look after only so many kids, and regulations demand certain adult-to-child ratios for safety and quality reasons. But those explanations don't answer why it's getting so much more expensive. What could possibly be pushing the prices so high? What is it about caring for children that has gotten so costly?

Friday, July 22, 2016
(The Clermont Sun)

The powerful impact of quality preschool education is a hot topic for today’s families and schools. For 3 and 4 year olds who meet eligibility requirements, participation in a Head Start classroom or Home Base program can provide a needed boost for kindergarten readiness. The Head Start program targets those who may benefit most from this federally funded endeavor, such as children with special needs, those from low income families, foster care, recipients of TANF or SSI, and those experiencing homelessness. For children less fortunate than their peers, Head Start provides critical early learning experiences designed to bridge the achievement gap. Participation in Head Start increases the likelihood those little ones will begin school on the same footing as their peers.

Head Start classrooms are designed to provide rich learning experiences supporting all areas of child development. Degreed teachers conduct developmental assessments using results to design an individualized approach for each child, targeting areas where little ones may be struggling. Ongoing assessments allow for adapting learning experiences as children make progress toward outlined goals. Stimulating early learning experiences increase a child’s ability to master skills needed for school readiness.

Friday, July 22, 2016
(Santa Clarita Gazette)

The College of the Canyons Center for Early Childhood Education (ECE) has been awarded a $300,000 grant from Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) to help fund the Center’s Outdoor Classroom project. Set to be complete by September 30, the project will engage children with learning activities that raise awareness and appreciation for nature by integrating experiential learning into the curriculum.

Presented by a representative from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, the state-funded grant will help fund the addition of three new climbing structures, bike paths, a sensory materials area, water tables, music, play and movement areas, as well as outdoor site improvements.

LAUP is a non-profit organization that works to support holistic child development, strengthen family engagement, and cultivate a diverse workforce. Committed to making early childhood education accessible to all, LAUP has prepared more than 115,000 children for kindergarten and has funded preschool programs throughout L.A. County.

Monday, July 25, 2016
(Las Cruces Sun-News)

Greater access to the state-funded Early Pre-Kindergarten pilot program is coming to Doña Ana County, the Martinez Administration announced Friday.

Officials with the state's Children, Youth and Families Department said Friday that $3.5 million in unused pre-K funds will be funneled to the Early Pre-K effort, bringing the total investment in the year-old program to more than $10.5 million.

The pilot program began last summer. It provides early childhood education opportunities to 3-year-olds who are not eligible for the New Mexico Pre-K program. State officials said with the additional funding, the early pre-K program will be able to reach nearly 1,000 children in childcare centers in about half of New Mexico’s counties.

During the first year of the program, Early Pre-K was available in Bernalillo, Doña Ana, Rio Arriba, San Juan, and Valencia counties. In Doña Ana County last year, the state funded 24 slots at two childcare centers. The additional funding will provide for the addition of 162 spots at nine additional childcare centers — bringing the total to 186 funded students at 11 locations, according to Henry Varela, a spokesman for CYFD.

Thursday, July 28, 2016
(The Chronicle for Social Change)

In terms of forward movement of policy, the party convention platform has little political value. It is not binding in any way on the candidate of the party and his or her administration.

But they are interesting historical markers, a testament to the political zeitgeist every four years. Youth Services Insider dug into a couple of decades worth of Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention platform statements to see what the parties had to say about juvenile justice, child welfare, and services for disadvantaged youth over the years.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
(Voice of San Diego)

San Diego writer tells us that equipping more children to enter kindergarten prepared won’t be easy. We could extend transitional kindergarten to all students. We could expand slots for universal preschool and vouchers for good preschools. We could massage the standards. But whatever we do, new parents need to know right away that they must set their kids’ educations in motion from the beginning.

We can debate Common Core and other established standards all we want — and we surely will for some time. For now, they are the standards many of us confront when our children enter kindergarten. And some of our children are not ready for them. It’s not just a wealthy versus poor gap, either. Even the most resourceful parents confront a bewildering array of options — and lack of options — for early childcare and preschool.

“For the most part, when a family moves into a community and they have a seventh-grade kid, they know where to go, they know who to ask. It’s not the same if you have a seven-month-old child. It doesn’t matter your socioeconomic background,” said Ida Rose Florez, executive director of the Elementary Institute of Science, and an expert on early childhood education and development. For people with low incomes or struggling in poverty, it can obviously be much worse. Only 48 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in San Diego County attend preschool, according to Census data crunched by the group Children Now. It’s not that everyone needs to go to a preschool. But they need to be on that continuum from infancy, especially if they’re going to attend traditional public schools with the standards as firmly in place as they are. As Florez pointed out, also on Good Schools for All, children serve up cues from the moment they come into the world — invitations to teach them. When the invitation is taken up, it lays a foundation in the actual shape of their brains. It helps them learn more. “Learning begets learning,” Florez said.