Volume 15, Issue 18

Friday, September 9, 2016

Hot Topics

New studies focus on both causes and remedies for enduring academic achievement gaps between disadvantaged children and their classmates — and the news isn't all bad.


The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that reducing even low lead levels has “significant positive” effects on children’s reading scores in third grade. The findings suggest that disproportionate exposure to lead may be one cause of ongoing gaps in test scores between disadvantaged and other children.

Closing such gaps is the focus of a major report published by The American Educational Research Association. Recent Trends in Income, Racial, and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry by Sean F. Reardon and Ximena A. Portilla finds “readiness gaps narrowed modestly from 1998 to 2010, particularly between high- and low-income students and between White and Hispanic students.” Using newly available data, the study describes trends in the magnitude of racial/ethnic and income gaps in math and reading skills among students entering kindergarten from the fall of 1998 to the fall of 2010, with a focus on income-related gaps.


The US Department of Health and Human Services recently released the most sweeping changes in Head Start regulations seen in decades: expanding the program to a full-day, school year, and enhancing services for children with disabilities and who are dual language learners, for example.

At the same time, several new studies indicate Head Start is more effective and has a higher benefit-cost ratio than had been assumed based on previous research. The Hamilton Project Study investigated the impact of Head Start on a new set of long-term outcomes using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Key takeaways include that Head Start increases probability that participants graduate from high school, attend college and receive a post-secondary degree, license, or certification, and that Head Start participation increased positive parenting practices.

Revisiting the Impact of Head Start,” a policy brief based on research by faculty affiliated with UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, found every dollar invested in Head Start generates $2 in future earnings for children enrolled in the program. The brief highlights new data showing that earlier negative results showing a fade-out of Head Start academic benefits were misleading and clearly shows Head Start is of great benefit to the disadvantaged children served over the course of their lives.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

While research demonstrates the educational, economic, and social benefits of quality preschool, a portion of the public continues to see early learning as a social welfare program — babysitting for the poor — rather than education. From that perspective it makes little sense to provide the same universal access to preschool programs as to K-12 education.

Much of the activity around preparing for the first day of school tends to focus on those children who are indeed going back to school. But in these early weeks of the school year, we should also think about children who are entering preschool or kindergarten for the first time.


In a study in a large urban district of over 7,900 students, students who participated in additional services provided by programming both inside and outside of traditional school resources demonstrated better effort, grades and attendance than those student who did not participate.

In New Jersey, Senate President Sweeney and Senate Democrats introduced a six-part investment plan last December and included early childhood education as one of their key focus areas. The proposed investment plan would not only expand the State’s high-quality preschool program, but would also restore wraparound services in the 31 former Abbott districts. As this study shows, an investment in before- and after-school programming has proven to be a cost-effective strategy and can also improve student success in school.

University of Washington College of Education National P-3 Center provides links to case studies providing targeted and replicable strategies, focusing on implementation at various levels, including CEELO's recently released report "Building State P-3 Systems: Learning From Leading States."

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has released 31 “Ed-Talk” videos that feature leading education scholars discussing cutting-edge research on a range of important education and learning issues, including NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett discussing the impact quality preschool can have on achievement gaps.
The videos are accompanied by 32 research fact sheets that the scholars developed to provide the underlying findings and cumulative research that frame the Ed-Talks. The 31 Ed-Talks headlined AERA Knowledge Forum events earlier this year. 

A five-part audio podcast series entitled Conversations on Advancing Early Learning features business leaders and national research experts discussing key topics about early learning, along with a one-page list of recommendations for business to engage in support on this front. You can access the podcasts on CED’s website here as well as the recommendations.

In addition to the principal, other school personnel are often involved with supporting instruction in pre-K classrooms located in schools. The McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership Research Note highlights some of the findings from the National Elementary Principals’ Survey, a study we conducted in partnership with New America and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Read on to learn about the individuals in five roles who are supporting pedagogy.

2017 All-America City Award 
The National Civic League and the GLR Campaign invite communities from across the nation to submit a letter of intent for the 2017 All-America City Award, as well as the 2016 Pacesetter Honors. Communities that have made measurable progress for low-income children on the key drivers of early reading success — school readiness, attendance and summer learning — are eligible. The deadline to submit letter of intent is October 1, 2016.

New on nieer.org

NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett Ph.D. is among the scholars discussing cutting-edge research in The American Educational Research Association (AERA) “Ed-Talk” series. The "Ed-Talks" headlined AERA Knowledge Forum events promoting open, in-depth discussion of research on education and learning. The videos are accompanied by research fact sheets developed by the scholars providing findings and cumulative research.

CEELO Update

Research shows the first eight years of life set the stage for a child's future success. Yet coordination between early education and elementary school remains a challenge.

REGISTER NOW for a webinar at 1 pm EST Monday, September 12 to discuss what a new study reveals about P-3 policy in Oregon, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania  and hear what these states can teach us about improving early education.

Webinar will feature study author David Jacobson, Sr. Project Director at the Education Development Center, Inc. who will be joined by local and state educators and policymakers.

CEELO is following up the webinar with a peer exchange in Washington DC promoting deep discussions about policies and strategies to enhance early learning opportunities.

A website has been established for the Peer Exchange, and CEELO will be posting relevant resources on B-3 systems. If you are registered, please share your resources with Associate Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers Ph.D.

Educator teams from Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Tennessee joined CEELO experts last month for an in-person peer exchange in Boston. Click here for Peer Exchange resources.

Participants discussed approaches to determining “true” costs of preschool quality, how states allocate funds, and how to use the new CEELO Cost of Preschool Quality calculator to provide reliable cost estimates for expanding high-quality preschool programs.


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

Friday, September 9, 2016

Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith were joined by Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius in August to announce that beginning this fall, 3,302 fouryear olds in 74 Minnesota school districts and charter schools will attend voluntary pre-kindergarten, free of charge. These programs will save families thousands of dollars, while preparing Minnesota’s youngest learners for success in school and life. With this pre-kindergarten investment, just over one-fifth of all Minnesota school districts will provide free, voluntary pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds in their communities.

Minnesota’s pre-kindergarten expansion was made possible by a new $25 million investment secured this session by Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith. But additional state funding is needed to ensure all Minnesota four-year-olds gain access to free, voluntary pre-kindergarten. In total, 183 school districts and charter schools applied for pre-kindergarten funding this year. But due to a lack of funding, nearly 60 percent of those districts did not receive state aid. Had additional state funding been available, 10,139 children in those 183 districts and charter schools that applied would have been enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs this year.

Friday, September 9, 2016
(The Dallas Morning News)

After recent concerns about meeting enrollment projections, Dallas ISD's early childhood program had good news to give to trustees during Thursday's board briefing. The pre-K program hit its revised goal of adding 700 new students and now has an enrollment over 11,000 students for the first time in district history.

"Obviously, that makes us tremendously excited," said Derek Little, DISD's assistant superintendent of Early Learning.

Nearly a month ago, Little and his staff — along with employees from Dallas County education non-profit Commit — went on a door-knocking campaign, wanting to fill 2,000 seats before school started on Aug. 22. Those reach-out efforts, as well as growth in the district's partnerships with existing child care and Head Start programs, have paid off. 

Friday, September 9, 2016
(Charlottesville Tomorrow)

The number of at-risk 4-year-olds in Charlottesville and Albemarle County who have access to high-quality preschool programs is growing.

In part, increased support for local early childhood programs and new collaboration among providers is allowing more families to be served. Additionally, a new study has revised the service gap projections to show that the number of 4-year-olds in need has dropped from 250 to 138.

The report, which also painted a detailed picture of pre-K funding resources, was released Thursday by the Charlottesville-Albemarle Early Education Task Force.

In Charlottesville and Albemarle, the localities, federal and state governments and private funding sources spend more than $13.6 million a year on early childhood education, care and school readiness, the report showed.

Thursday, September 8, 2016
(The Associated Press)

Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are spent each year on the country's public schools. The U.S. has record-high graduation rates, 82 percent, but also stubborn achievement gaps and dismally lagging math and reading scores compared with other countries. And university degrees are leaving millions mired in debt. Few issues touch the lives of families like the state of education.Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are spent each year on the country's public schools. The U.S. has record-high graduation rates, 82 percent, but also stubborn achievement gaps and dismally lagging math and reading scores compared with other countries. And university degrees are leaving millions mired in debt. Few issues touch the lives of families like the state of education.

This story is part of AP's "Why It Matters" series, which will examine three dozen issues at stake in the presidential election between now and Election Day. Read the series.

Thursday, September 8, 2016
(The Dallas Morning News)

Each year, the Lone Star State is singled out by the National Institute for Early Education Research for not having such requirements. See 2015 Preschool Yearbook state profiles.

NIEER director Steven Barnett said studies routinely show that intentional, individualized learning makes the biggest impact on quality. So the more kids you have, the less of those active ingredients you are going to have, he said.

Following the Texas report, Barnett is hopeful the requirements will change, though he knows politics are always at work.

"It makes a difference that the governor has made pre-K quality a priority," he said. "This is the single easiest thing to do to ensure quality. It can be implemented with fidelity, easily tracked and won't cost too much more money since the vast majority of schools are already doing this."

Thursday, September 8, 2016
(The Wall Street Journal)

A Connecticut judge’s sweeping ruling Wednesday declaring vast portions of the state’s educational system as unconstitutional sent shock waves across the state.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled that the state’s funding mechanism for public schools violated the state constitution and ordered the state to come up with a new funding formula. He also ordered the state to set up a mandatory standard for high school graduation, overhaul evaluations for public-school teachers and create new standards for special education.

In addition, the ruling states "if there was one thing in the trial that stood out as good--as opposed to constitutional--policy it was the need for universal high-quality preschool. Witnesses for both sides agreed that high-quality preschool would be the best weapon to get ahead of the literacy and numeracy problems plaguing schools in impoverished cities...More work in this area cries out for attention..."

“This is a very, very big deal,” said Preston Green, professor of urban education at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education. “We are talking almost a total revamping of the educational system.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
(Herald Tribune)

Four-year-old Nadia already had child care lined up when she was 6 months... in the womb. To get a spot, said her mother Amanda Bailey, you have to start as early as possible.

Local providers say that waiting lists have always been the norm, but in recent months, many have reported a sharp increase in demand. Officials struggle to pinpoint a particular reason, but years of stagnant funding, a decline in the number of providers and the surge in heroin use that has led to court-mandated referrals for child care have all strained the system.

The waiting list at federally funded Children First centers in Sarasota has ballooned to over 400 this year. It typically hovers around 250-300. By midsummer, it was at 428.

Children First has 13 locations in Sarasota. It’s the only organization in the county that receives Head Start and Early Head Start federal grants to provide free or subsidized care for low-income families. Officials from the National Head Start Association said they don’t keep track of waiting list trends nationwide, and they’re not sure why the list had jumped.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
(The Atlantic)

For the first time in U.S. history, Americans may be about to elect a president whose signature issue is early childhood.

“If we want our children to thrive in tomorrow’s economy, we must invest in our children’s future today, starting with our youngest learners, especially those from our most vulnerable and at-risk communities,” Hillary Clinton told The Hechinger Report in an exclusive email interview conducted through her campaign staff. “I’ve made a career out of fighting for children and families.” 

And while that’s a great talking point, crafted by an experienced politician, it’s also true. Over the course of her 40-year career, Clinton has returned again and again to the trials and tribulations of the nation’s youngest. While at Yale Law School, she added an extra year to her studies to take courses in child development. As a young attorney, she worked for the Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy group. As first lady of Arkansas, she introduced the state to home visiting, a service for expectant and new mothers that has been shown to help women living in poverty raise healthier, more academically prepared kids.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
(Valley News)

Ivann Ordway, 4, joined several of his classmates as they explored their new preschool classroom at Bradford Elementary School during an open house before school started. The program’s first day last Wednesday marked Ivann’s first ever day of school. 

As a result of the state’s new universal preschool law, Act 166 — which went into effect in July — Ivann and the state’s other 3- and 4-year-olds, and 5-year-olds not yet in kindergarten, have access to 10 hours of publicly funded preschool each week during the school year.

By offering public funds for 10 weekly hours of preschool, state legislators — including the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sarah Buxton, D-Tunbridge — aim to better prepare incoming kindergarteners for future learning by teaching social skills and providing the opportunity to practice sitting and attending to a task.

The public tuition money — $3,092 per pupil this year — which families access through their school district of residence, can be used for programs like Bradford’s in a public school or for qualified private programs in homes or child care centers.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
(Mother Jones)

According to the Albert Shanker Institute, which is funded in part by the American Federation of Teachers, the number of black educators has declined sharply in some of the largest urban school districts in the nation. In Philadelphia, the number of black teachers declined by 18.5 percent between 2001 and 2012. In Chicago, the black teacher population dropped by nearly 40 percent. And in New Orleans, there was a 62 percent drop in the number of black teachers...

In all, that means 26,000 African American teachers have disappeared from the nation's public schools—even as the overall teaching workforce has increased by 134,000. Countless black principals, coaches, cafeteria workers, nurses, and counselors have also been displaced—all in the name of raising achievement among black students. While white Americans are slowly waking up to the issue of police harassment and violence in black communities, many are unaware of the quiet but broad damage the loss of African American educators inflicts on the same communities.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
(NJ Spotlight)

The new school year started off early with a bang, with Friday’s announcement that state Education Commissioner David Hespe would be stepping down. It has been long rumored; Hespe’s 30-month tenure at the department were as tumultuous as any.

His successor, chief academic officer Kimberley Harrington, comes from inside the department and will be the first former public schoolteacher to hold the position in more than a decade.

But that is just one change expected to be coming in the next eight months, as New Jersey schools and the policies that dictate them continue to go through seismic shifts.

Friday, September 2, 2016
(U.S. News & World Report)

Secretary of Education John King will host the last back-to-school bus tour of the Obama administration next week, with plans to make 12 stops across six states as he and Education Department officials travel from the nation's capital south to their final destination in Louisiana.

Along the way, King will tout the major successes of the last seven years, including a significant reduction in the number of dropouts, record-high graduation rates and the adoption of more rigorous academic standards by nearly every state in the country, among other things. He’ll also provide a bit of a retrospective look at the Obama administration’s education agenda and the arc of its impact, touching on pre-K, K-12 and higher education policy priorities.

This will be the first bus tour for King, who replaced former education secretary Arne Duncan, who abruptly announced plans to resign nearly a year ago.

Friday, September 2, 2016
(NBC Washington)

Three Prince George's County Schools employees have been have been fired due to their involvement in incidents that led to the county's Head Start program losing a $6.5 million federal grant, school officials say. Three other employees have been recommended for firing. These workers will go through due process, said sources close to the investigation.

Prince George's County School CEO Kevin Maxwell said they "will no longer be in front of any child in the Prince George's County Schools."

"We will not tolerate this type of behavior. Our schools will cultivate teaching and learning environments that prioritize students' well-being -- and we will act swiftly to remove individuals who do not uphold these ideals," Maxwell said.

The county's Head Start program was apparently under a federal investigation for months after a review by the Administration for Children and Families allegedly revealed poor instructor training and alleged abuse of students.

Thursday, September 1, 2016
(EIN Presswire)

Today, the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) released proposed regulations to implement the requirement in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as recently revised by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that federal funds must supplement, and may not supplant, state and local funds. The proposal will help ensure that federal funds are additive and do not take the place of state and local funds in low-income schools, in keeping with the longstanding commitment under Title I that the nation's highest need students receive the additional financial resources necessary to help them succeed. The proposed regulation would mean up to $2 billion in additional state and local funding for high poverty schools.

"For too long, the students who need the most have gotten the least," said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. "The inequities in state and local funding that we see between schools within districts are inconsistent not only with the words 'supplement-not-supplant' but with the civil rights history of that provision and with the changes Congress made to the law last year. No single measure will erase generations of resource inequities, and there is much more work to do across states and districts to address additional resource inequities, but this is a concrete step forward to help level the playing field and ensure compliance with the law."

Thursday, September 1, 2016
(Yahoo! News)

For at least a half century, the United States has tried to better prepare young children for kindergarten, especially those from poor and minority households. The results have been rarely encouraging. The gap in readiness for school among children by both race and income seemed as gloomy as Eeyore. That is, until researchers, sifting through national data from 1998 to 2010, discovered otherwise.

Not only did children in general start school better prepared during that period but also the poorest children made larger gains than those from wealthier families, according to Sean Reardon of Stanford University and Ximena Portilla of the research firm MDRC, authors of a new study. In particular, Hispanic children reduced the gap with whites by 14 percent. And on certain measures, black children reduced the gap with whites.

If this recent trend toward an equal start in education keeps improving, other research shows that the next generation will have a greater chance of earning higher incomes and living better lives.

Thursday, September 1, 2016
(US News & World Report)

The Obama administration released a sweeping overhaul to the federal Head Start program Thursday, significantly reducing duplicative and burdensome requirements while also expanding the program to a full day and school year and increasing services for children with disabilities and those who don’t speak English.

“Today we’re unveiling some of the most significant improvements we’ve ever made to Head Start,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who herself attended the early childhood education program as a child in West Virginia. “The new standards strengthen educational practices and are based on the best research about how children learn and develop.”

Head Start, the early learning program targeted toward low-income families that enrolls more than 1 million children every year, has served more than 33 million children since its inception in 1965. The new standards are the largest revision of the program since 1975, HHS officials said.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016
(Seattle Pi)

In what might be the most contentious election campaign season yet, the main presidential candidates seem to agree on at least one issue – that the policy around child care for American families needs improvement.

Donald Trump has said he would expand tax credits to enable families to better afford child care, and Hillary Clinton has expressed her commitment to expanding access to high-quality, affordable child care.

The U.S. is one of the few economically developed nations with a patchwork of care that fails to address the ongoing needs of families with children. Despite the fact that a majority of U.S. parents are in the paid labor force, there is a dearth of affordable quality child care.

We are professors and researchers of social policy. We too struggled to find and afford high-quality care for our children. Our difficulties led us to examine U.S. child care policy in “In Our Hands: The Struggle for U.S. Child Care Policy.” Like us, most families in the U.S. struggle to find quality, affordable child care.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016
(WCPO Cincinnati)

Backers of near-universal preschool in Cincinnati would need to create as many as 3,900 new quality seats to serve the city's preschool population if the school levy passes in November.

That leaves Cincinnati Public Schools and the many private providers a huge gap to fill to serve all the families who opt for one or two years of preschool for their children, according to a study undertaken by Rand Corp.

An analysis of the current preschool system in the city found that just 45 percent of preschool slots -- about 3,270 – were in preschools that earned three stars or higher on Ohio's Step Up To Quality scale.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016
(Education Week)

Almost since Head Start's creation half a century ago as part of the War on Poverty, advocates have sought a research-based answer to this question: Does it work?

Two new studies examining the long-term impact of the $8.6 billion federal preschool program offer support to those who say the answer is yes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
(Duluth News Tribune)

In announcing the distribution of $1.5 million worth of grant money to 10 nonprofit organizations on Monday, the Sampson-led Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation initiated a project it's calling "Opportunity Gap."

The foundation money will be used across a wide spectrum of services — boosting existing programs and initiating new ones with the hope that the most successful ones will be expanded and replicated after the two-year grant cycle is complete.

At Family Forum in Superior, the reward of a $167,000 grant was manifesting the same day as the announcement, as it was the first day of work for a new family coach.

"The family coach will work directly with 20 percent of our 250 Head Start families," said David Cochrane, executive director of the organization that provides early childhood programming to five Northwestern Wisconsin counties. He added that Family Forum had previously struggled to engage some of its most at-risk and impoverished parents and hoped that the family coach would break through with the dedicated time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
(The Seattle Medium)

 A new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) takes a deep dive into the early childhood workforce’s dismally low wages and reveals that African American full-time teachers make 84 cents for every $1 earned by their white counterparts. For a White teacher earning $13.86 per hour, her African American colleague might make $366 less per month and $4,395 less per year, on average. When controlling for educational backgrounds, years of experience, and employment characteristics—such as program type and the ages of children being served—the wage gap between African American and White full-time teachers is reduced to roughly 93 cents on the dollar, still a meaningful difference in a workforce that makes less than $30,000 per year, on average. More than 95 percent of the early childhood workforce is female.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
(The Taos News)

Children from low-income families who were enrolled in the state-funded New Mexico PreK program as 4-year-olds outperformed their peers a few years later, as third-graders, on the state’s standardized PARCC tests in 2015, a new legislative study says.

While only about 18 percent of New Mexico’s low-income third-graders who weren’t enrolled in the tuition-free PreK program showed proficiency in math and English language skills on the inaugural PARCC exams, the report says, 24 percent of low-income PreK kids were proficient in math, and 22 percent were proficient in reading and writing. Testing results for third-graders of all income levels show former PreK students had a higher proficiency rate in math, at 27 percent, compared to 25 percent for non-PreK students. Both groups scored equally in reading, at 25 percent.

Monday, August 29, 2016
(US News & World Report)

After decades of exponential growth in the gap of kindergarten academic readiness between poor students and their wealthier peers, that fissure is finally closing.

Between 1998 and 2010, the difference in kindergarten readiness between high- and low-income children narrowed by 10 percent to 16 percent, according to a study published Friday in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Previously, that academic achievement gap between poor and wealthy children had grown by about 40 percent since the 1970s.

Monday, August 29, 2016
(Pittsburgh Courier)

Children of color are now a majority of all public school students and will soon be a majority of all children in America yet children’s books and the publishing industry have failed to keep up with the rainbow of our children’s faces and cultures and needs.

Children of color need to be able to see themselves in the books they read. Just as importantly, all children need to be exposed to a wide range of books that reflect the true diversity of our nation and world as they really are.

Monday, August 29, 2016
(The Washington Post)

Head Start will begin a new school year in Prince George’s County on Monday, operated by a Denver-based organization that the federal government often turns to when local providers get into trouble.

Federal officials revoked the Prince George’s County school system’s status as the grantee for $6.4 million in Head Start funds earlier this month, citing deficiencies in reporting alleged child abuse and a failure to address the problems that led to at least three incidents.

The early-childhood education program serves more than 932 economically-disadvantaged children in Prince George’s between the ages of 3 and 5.