Volume 15, Issue 2

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hot Topics

One Hot Topic this week is new policy analysis. Here are eight new reports for your attention. First, EdCentral proposes six ideas for what candidates should be talking about in 2016. Pre-K and Child Care Access and Quality tops that list. In the State of the Union address, President Obama gave a nod to that as well, saying he’ll continue to promote access to UPK. Looking for new evidence on UPK? Equitable growth has released a report on the costs and benefits of early childhood education, including a snapshot of early care in the US. From Vox, at the University of Chicago, a report on the impact of early childhood education on social mobility. In Moneyball for Head Start, the NHSA and others report on Using Data, Evidence, and Evaluation to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families. MDRC discusses using behavioral economics to increase on-time child care subsidy renewals. From the Institute for Child Success, an analysis of a refundable tax credit for South Carolina. And, from the Children’s Institute, a report on progress in Portland’s Early Work sites. Apparently all the research is influencing public opinion as well: NAEYC reports that according to December 2015 polling data, “American voters strongly support higher wages for early childhood educators.” 

From the NJ Department of Education, there are new First through Third Grade Implementation Guidelines. They note: “The purpose of these guidelines is to outline best practices in the primary years of schooling and to assist educators with fusing practices that are both academically rigorous and developmentally appropriate.” These guidelines are the work product of a collaboration that spans local school districts, State & Federal agencies, and higher education. Dr. Shannon Riley-Ayers, Associate Research Professor at NIEER, and Dr. Sharon Ryan, Professor of Early Childhood Education at Rutgers University Graduate School of Education, led the project. The final document includes contributions from other Rutgers content experts Dr. Dan Battey, Dr. Nora Hyland, Dr. Lesley Morrow, and NIEER’s Dr. Jorie Quinn. Teachers and administrators in New Jersey schools provided valuable input to the content and form of the guidelines. Two expert reviewers, Dr. Sharon Lynn Kagan and Dr. Sharon Ritchie helped to ensure that the guidelines reflect up-to-date research on best practice.

From IES: “The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is launching a new research network that will develop reliable information and useful tools to improve early childhood education across the country. Some $26 million in grants have been awarded for the creation of the Early Learning Network, which will conduct its work over the next five years. The main focus of the network is to identify malleable factors associated with children’s school readiness and achievement as they move from preschool to the early elementary school grades.

The Early Learning Network grants will allow several research teams to each conduct three studies, with a special focus on disadvantaged students:

• A descriptive study of school transitions
• Classroom factors associated with school readiness
• A longitudinal study of achievement

In addition, an assessment team will use technology, three existing observation tools, and new data to develop an observation system to use in preschool and elementary school classrooms. A network lead will coordinate the work of all the members of the Early Learning Network and disseminate the findings.

For more information, see the full press release or the Early Learning Network website.” 


Child Care Canada recently highlighted a brief: A different way of doing business: Examples of pre-k to third grade alignment in practice including an overview of components and challenges of alignment, along with helpful strategies and initiatives.

The Education Commission of the States has featured a report on how KS will measure readiness of kindergartners.

From Research Connections, “Three research briefs from the National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance examine the licensing requirements and policies for child care centers, family child care homes (FCCHs), and group child care homes (GCCHs) in the U.S. Each brief identifies trends that have become apparent during several years of data collection.”

The NWLC reported on findings from All Our Kin, indicating that “investing in family child care providers creates a measurable difference in child care quality for our communities’ youngest and most vulnerable children.” 

At the end of last year, the National Head Start Association (NHSA) developed a research blast, on the importance of social-emotional outcomes to adult well-being. 

From UNICEF, For Every Child, A Fair Chance: The Promise of Equity, “makes the case for closing persistent gaps in equity, because the cycle of inequity is neither inevitable nor insurmountable, and the cost of inaction is too high.”

Child Care Canada featured the Manitoba early learning and child care commission: Final report this month, which focuses on identifying a strategy for Manitoba to move toward a universally accessible system of early learning and child care. 

From the Department of Education, “At the Annual Grantee Meeting held in October for Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) and Preschool Development Grant (PDG) Grantees, the Grantees and associated others told their stories through two different means: StoryCorps-inspired interviews and Pecha Kucha-style presentations. Listen to StoryCorps-inspired interviews to learn about successes and challenges associated with implementing major early learning efforts. View State Pecha Kucha presentations to hear brief stories about the impact of RTT-ELC and PDG grants.”

NWLC has released a fact sheet on State Early Care and Education updates for 2015, addressing a range of changes including funding, eligibility, and reimbursement details.

The Economic Policy Institute’s 2015 family budget calculator “measures the income a family needs in order to attain a modest yet adequate standard of living,” reports Child Care Canada. “Compared with the federal poverty line and Supplemental Poverty Measure, EPI’s family budgets provide a more accurate and complete measure of economic security in America.”

The National Center for Children in Poverty has released updated Early Childhood State Policy Profiles, including health, nutrition, and early care and education markers in states and across the US.

The PDG TA Monthly Newsbreak examines a report from EdCentral on Pre-K Access and Quality: A Look at the Leading States, highlighting Georgia, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia.

Research Connections describes a study, Inequality in preschool quality?: Community-level disparities in access to high-quality learning environments, on inequality in preschools, using data from Georgia UPK to assess the relationship of community characteristics and access to high quality preschool

CLASP has reported on a cost-benefit analysis from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth released late in 2015, profiling the Chicago Child-Parent Center program.

The Center for American Progress has shared a new report, Examining Teacher Effectiveness Between Preschool and Third Grade, examining the relationship of teacher preparation to student academic and socio-emotional outcomes.

From NAEYC, “The Early Childhood Workforce Systems Initiative’s (ECWSI) purpose is to assist states in developing, enhancing, and implementing policies for an integrated early childhood professional development system for all early childhood education professionals working with and on behalf of young children birth through age 8.” 

The McCormick Center is launching the Competencies at Preschool Kindergarten Transition study to learn more about the degree of alignment between the expectations of preschool and kindergarten teachers. Please share this with all the preschool and/or kindergarten teachers in your program and community. The results of the study will help highlight leadership opportunities to support effective preschool to kindergarten transitions.  

Below is a link to a survey that we anticipate will take 10 minutes to complete. It contains questions about what teachers expect children to demonstrate—their competencies—at the preschool to kindergarten transition.

Complete survey by Feb 15:

CEELO Update

The CEELO annual report for the third operating year has been submitted. The report includes the extensive list of presentations, reports, FastFacts, newsletters, webinars, and other resources developed this year, with links to most. An Executive Summary will be available soon.

Early Childhood Program Licensing Exemptions is a brief document offering responses from state contacts on the NAECS-SDE listserv, who were asked about exemptions from licensing requirements for early childhood programs in their state. Responses indicate that licensing exemptions may apply to any center that provides preschool education. All states have certain legal exemptions from licensing and–depending on the type of early childhood program–these licensing exemptions may vary. 


Thursday, February 4, 2016 - 3:00pm

Join NASBE February 4, 2016, from 3pm to 4pm EDT, for a webinar on key ESSA provisions that support quality in early childhood education and their implications for state policymaking in early learning. Drawing from the recent report From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth-3rd Grade Policies That Support Strong Readers, early education experts Laura Bornfreund from New America and Sarah Rittling of the First Five Years Fund will discuss the current landscape of state policies in early literacy and what states can do to boost early learning outcomes under the new law.

Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 8:00am to Saturday, February 13, 2016 - 4:00pm
Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 3:00pm

BUILD invites you to a webinar focused on the new federal education law – Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – and its new provisions pertaining to early learning, starting with infants and moving through the early elementary grades. Want to know what the law provides for young children?  Want to hear about how you might use it to forward your own work in the early childhood system?   Join us to learn and discuss these topics on Thursday, February 18th from 3 to 4:30 p.m.(Eastern Time).

To register and let us know what you want to hear about, please click on the link.

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, January 21, 2016
(US News & World Report)

Severe poverty is a threat to young children's health and development, a new study suggests.

"Deep poverty, which affects approximately 3.9 million young children, clearly makes large numbers of U.S. children vulnerable to health and developmental problems that limit their life opportunities," said study senior author Sheila Smith. She is director of early childhood at the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Even as nearly hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles County preschoolers miss out on formal early education because there are simply not enough licensed seats, Los Angeles Unified school officials said this week that its preschools are not at full capacity.

There are 400 unfilled Early Transitional Kindergarten (ETK) spots at district elementary schools, said Dean Tagawa, head of early education for LAUSD. And, Tagawa said, the district's other preschool programs also have spots that have gone unfilled this year.

The gaps exist because -- although not enough seats exist for all of L.A.'s young students -- even families who could access seats sometimes don't because they don't hear about the programs.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall are calling on state lawmakers to improve child wellbeing in New Mexico.

Following the release of a report on Tuesday that indicates New Mexico has the highest child poverty rate in the nation, Udall and Heinrich sent a letter to legislators asking them to pass a measure that would allow voters to amend the state constitution to invest more of the Land Grant Permanent Fund in early childhood programs.

Thursday, January 21, 2016
(Boston Globe)

A day after Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh pleaded with the state to increase funding for early education, saying it can make or break a student’s scholastic success or struggle, Governor Charlie Baker issued a noncommittal response.

“Well, look, every good mayor, every good city official has a set of interests and concerns that involve what I would describe as initiatives and issues that we work with them on,” Baker said.

Walsh, during his 2013 campaign for mayor, had pitched universal preschool for 4-year-olds — a milestone that New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, elected in the same cycle, has already achieved. But DeBlasio did so with significant funding from the state government, and Walsh similarly sought the support of state leaders in his State of the City address Tuesday night and in an opinion column published in the Boston Globe on Wednesday.

“We’ve stretched municipal and community funding as far as they can go,” Walsh and Boston Public School Superintendent Tommy Chang wrote. “We need help.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2016
(The Washington Post)

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has laid out the most detailed education plan of any presidential contender in either party, offering a battery of free-market ideas affecting preschool through college and beyond. . .

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders want to make college debt-free, and Clinton also promotes universal preschool. But to date, Bush is the only candidate who has released specific proposals for every level of education from preschool through job training and college. . .

In early childhood education, Bush wants to combine what he says are 44 different federal programs and allow states to award $2,500 directly to parents to use in the preschool of their choice.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

While governments and international organizations focus on peace building and alleviating poverty around the globe, a small but influential group of experts is focusing its attention on what some call “very early intervention.”

Cultures around the globe approach early childhood development in varied ways, but there are common approaches that translate from country to country. Children from diverse cultures have much in common developmentally. While early childhood development experts have long known this to be true, the fields of neuroscience and economics are finally catching up, giving them more leverage to work on programs focused on the education of pre-primary school students.

Devex spoke to Katherine A. Merseth, early childhood development team leader at RTI International, who said the return on investment data show that focusing resources on supporting young children is a “no-brainer.” In addition to the economic argument, she explained, a burgeoning field is growing around the effect of early childhood education on social cohesion and peace building.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016
(Capital Public Radio)

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to reshape California’s state-funded preschool, but his proposal worries some Democratic lawmakers and early education advocates. Brown wants to combine three state-funded early education programs, strip their requirements and let each local school district decide how to best spend the money.

But there’s a catch: districts must prioritize low-income and at-risk four year olds.

Asm. Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) chairs the subcommittee that will review the plan. He isn’t sold. “It doesn’t have any resources to focus on improved quality,“ McCarty says. “And it would get rid of a (transitional kindergarten) system which is only a few years old which has produced some great results to date.” And there are other concerns: “It appears to put a significant threat in place against the community-based preschools that we’ve had for decades,” says Erin Gabel with First 5 California, the voter-created state commission that funds early learning.

Most of all, it’s about money. The state cut more than $1 billion from early education programs during the recession, and has only restored about a quarter of it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016
(The Hechinger Report)

Preschool is expensive and increasingly a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. In most states in our country, preschool costs more than rent or college tuition. This leads to women (and increasingly men) dropping out of the workforce during a critical time in their careers and contributing to a shortage of skilled talent in our economy, from the technology sector to the school classroom — not to mention the 60 percent of children in our country who enter kindergarten two years behind their wealthier (and luckier) peers.

In the recent Hechinger Report article, Into the woods: When preschoolers spend every class outdoors, Lillian Mongeau presented a hopeful portrait of a new trend in American preschools: breaking down the school house walls and taking the classroom outdoors.

A preschool where children develop the emotional, social and academic skills they need to thrive in kindergarten while also living a vibrant, joyful childhood. A childhood full of play, exploration and wonder in the natural world. The article also appeared in The New York Times. The article also mentions that outdoor preschools make a quality education more affordable.

Monday, January 18, 2016
(The Pueblo Chieftain)

Too often, we focus on the issues that divide us. It’s easy to be inundated with partisan rhetoric — especially during the midst of a political campaign. Instead, we should concentrate on something that unites us: investing in high-quality early childhood care and education.

Two recent polls demonstrate broad, bipartisan support in favor of investments in early childhood education.

Actually, that may be an understatement. Attitudes about the importance of early childhood education reach near unanimity, according to the polls. There is little partisan divide in this data as 90 percent of participants in a recent poll in Colorado said the years zero to 5 are extremely or very important to the learning and development of a child.

Furthermore, in a recent poll of Colorado residents by Save the Children Action Network, 61 percent of respondents answered that public education should start with preschool and be offered to all 4-year-olds. That represents a majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents.

Monday, January 18, 2016
(The Des Moines Register (Opinion))

I am a director of one of the largest child care centers in Iowa. We care for about 340 children, with 280 of those being under the age of 5. We strive to provide a high-quality programs to these children, with with little to no funding from the state.

In Gov. Terry Branstad’s Condition of the State this week, he said his budget plan would bring total K-12 spending to more than $3.2 billion, but “tough decisions” are needed in other areas of the budget to make this level of funding possible.

What about kids ages zero to 5? What type of funding increase will we see for our littlest learners?

K-12 funding is important, but studies show that if we don’t invest early in a child’s education, there are major consequences to that child’s later success. Children who don’t start kindergarten ready to learn sometimes never catch up. As a result, we will then need to continue to fund remedial programs to assist those children who begin school behind.

Monday, January 18, 2016
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Pennsylvania trails most neighboring states in access to publicly funded, high-quality, pre-K education, with only 1 in 6 children in the state enrolled in such a program, according to a report released last week by a Harrisburg children’s advocacy organization.

About 120,000 3- and 4-year-olds statewide, many of whom are from low-income families, are at risk of school failure because they don’t have opportunities for early childhood education, said Joan L. Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. That figure includes more than 12,500 children in Allegheny County.

“When we make this investment, we help kids, we help the communities, we help schools, we improve kids’ lives,” she said at a news conference Thursday at the Small World Early Learning & Development Center in Downtown.

The report, “The Case for Pre-K in PA,” noted that over five years, Pennsylvania dropped from 11th to 15th in the nation in pre-K access for 3-year-olds and from 24th to 30th for 4-year-olds, according to research from the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Friday, January 15, 2016
(The Washington Post)

Kindergarten readiness tests are nothing new. What is is the ever-increasing focus on turning kindergarten, and now preschool, into academic environments with the aim of ensuring that children can read by the time they are in first grade. In fact, kindergarten is the new first grade when it comes to academics.

Saxton and Rupley wrote in their piece that the results of the testing of the kindergartners in Oregon “provide a sobering snapshot of the skills our children possess as they enter kindergarten.”

The following post is something of a follow-up to exactly where we are with kindergarten testing. Not only are kindergartners inundated with tests in many schools, but, they are, in some places, being taught to “love” testing.  A teacher in Chicago wrote a piece for Catalyst Chicago titled, “How Bailey Reimer’s kindergartners came to love testing.” No, this isn’t a piece of satire, or, at least, there is no indication that it is.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Prekindergarten advocates Thursday pushed the state to increase its commitment to making high-quality prekindergarten more accessible -- and laid out a strategy to do so.

A new report, "The Case for Pre-k in PA: Smart Investment in Kids, Communities and the Commonwealth," found that an additional investment of $370 million in high-quality pre-K over this fiscal year and the next three fiscal years would make pre-K accessible to more than 47,000 Pennsylvania 3- and 4-year-olds who are at greatest risk of academic failure.

An additional $100 million would provide high-quality pre-K to about one-fifth of 3- and 4-year-olds in middle-income households -- about 23,500 children, the report by the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children found.

Taken together, a total investment of $470 million would make high-quality pre-K available to more than 40 percent of the state's 3- and 4-year olds, compared with fewer than 20 percent who benefited in 2013.


Thursday, January 14, 2016
(WCPO Cincinnati)

It just got easier for parents eyeing Cincinnati preschools to provide input and submit questions about the emerging Cincinnati Preschool Promise program.

As part of its efforts to guarantee 2 years of quality preschool education for every Cincinnati child, the independently-drivenCincinnati Preschool Promise program launched Ask Preschool Promise , a website dedicated to taking digitally submitted questions and feedback as the program sets to launch.

Thursday, January 14, 2016
(KY Forward)

Ensuring all Kentucky children are well prepared for success in kindergarten and beyond is the focus of a new report from the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence that recommends priorities for policy and program developments related to early childhood education.

Progress and Next Steps for Early Childhood in Kentucky: Birth Through Third Grade is the work of the committee’s Early Childhood Education Study Group.

The report emphasizes the need for the alignment, from birth through third grade, of programs designed to prepare children for each new step in their education. It also points out the need for collaboration among public and private programs at the community level as a way to ensure the most effective use of limited resources.

Thursday, January 14, 2016
(Deseret News)

Community leaders are joining a chorus of advocates calling on lawmakers to expand funding for preschool and optional extended-day kindergarten in Utah.

That kind of investment, they say, will help level the playing field for many low-income, minority and at-risk students, narrowing a pervasive performance gap that separates them from their majority counterparts.

"When kids are given the opportunity to develop a full working vocabulary, to learn colors and shapes, to have the opportunities that most of us take for granted, they will be on grade level and be far more likely to graduate from high school prepared to go to college," said Bill Crim, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
(Education Week)

President Barack Obama used his very last State of the Union address to press for action on unfinished pieces of his agenda—including universal prekindergarten and offering two years of free commmunity college to most students—from Congress and his successor in the White House. . .

The recently approved Every Student Succeeds Act, a rewrite of the ESEA, made inroads on some of Obama's most cherished priorities, including on early-childhood programs and mathematics and science education. But it fell short of lofty proposals he's outilned in previous addresses to Congress. "The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we've increased early-childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering," the president said. "In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids." 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
(Washington Times)

A Nebraska senator is proposing a series of state tax credits to address the high cost of child care and to increase access to early childhood programs.

Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha introduced legislation Monday that he says would focus on the state’s youngest children, particularly those who are at risk of failing in school.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
(Washington Center for Equitable Growth)

Research is increasingly demonstrating that investments in education provide significant benefits to children, families, and society as a whole, accelerating economic growth and promoting opportunity over time. This study describes and analyzes the benefits and costs of investing in a public, voluntary, high-quality universal prekindergarten program made available to all 3- and 4-year-olds across the United States. By breaking down these benefits and costs at the state and national levels, we show how such a program would strengthen the U.S. economy’s competitiveness while simultaneously easing a host of fiscal, social, and health problems. Over time, the program would more than pay for itself: By 2050, a universal prekindergarten program would yield $8.90 in benefits for every dollar invested and $304.7 billion in total benefits. If the ultimate aim of public policy is to promote the well-being of individuals, families, communities, and nations, then investment in early childhood education is clearly an effective strategy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
(Results for America, Bellwether, NHSA, the Volcker Alliance)

Head Start is a valuable federal program that improves the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable children and their families. Research shows that Head Start programs improve children’s learning at school entry and have a positive impact on long-term life outcomes. Yet research also suggests that Head Start could have a stronger impact on children’s early learning, school, and life outcomes. The key question is, how can policymakers and practitioners maximize outcomes for Head Start children and their families? This paper — the product of a combined effort of Results for America, Bellwether Education Partners, the National Head Start Association, and the Volcker Alliance — outlines a vision for a continuous improvement approach that uses data, evidence, and evaluation to improve outcomes at all levels of the Head Start program. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Celebrate your child's scribbles. A novel experiment shows that even before learning their ABCs, youngsters start to recognize that a written word symbolizes language in a way a drawing doesn't - a developmental step on the path to reading.

Researchers used a puppet, line drawings and simple vocabulary to find that children as young as 3 are beginning to grasp that nuanced concept.

"Children at this very early age really know a lot more than we had previously thought," said developmental psychologist Rebecca Treiman of Washington University in St. Louis, who co-authored the study.

The research published Jan. 6 in the journal Child Development suggests an additional way to consider reading readiness, beyond the emphasis on phonetics or being able to point out an "A'' in the alphabet chart.

Appreciating that writing is "something that stands for something else, it actually is a vehicle for language - that's pretty powerful stuff," said Temple University psychology professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a specialist in literacy development who wasn't involved in the new work.


Monday, January 11, 2016
(Grand Forks Herald)

The child care crisis in Grand Forks isn't new, but some providers in the area warn the cost will only grow.

A lack of candidates interested in the job, combined with increasing operating costs, a struggle to retain employees and the challenging nature of the job itself, continue to push fees higher, child care providers said.

Competition is tough, too. Providers compete for the same small pool of candidates and the pay of the service industry, which is usually higher, they said.

"We're not competing for kids, we're competing for staff," said Tammy Sayler, owner, director and physical therapist for Little Miracles, a child care provider in Grand Forks.

Monday, January 11, 2016
(US News & World Report)

Of course, the biggest early childhood stories in 2016 may well be things we can't yet predict. New research, new state and local policy developments or new innovative approaches for engaging families and communities to support their children's development – all of those things are likely to be part of the early childhood story in 2016, and all well worth keeping an eye on.

Monday, January 11, 2016
(Albuquerque Journal (Opinion))

Our proposed constitutional amendment to invest an additional amount from the land grant permanent fund, also know as the permanent school fund, for a quality, early education system is a vetted, evidence-based proposal targeted at New Mexico’s crisis in child well-being. Our initiative will help lift people out of poverty, create jobs, combat crime and position New Mexicans to successfully compete in the 21st-century economy.

In an editorial published on Jan. 2, the Journal states a number of fallacies that merit our response. The Journal claims that there’s no plan for the requested investment. Renowned early education expert, Katherine Kinney, wrote a report for state legislators in 2012 in which she detailed how the funding should be used. The report can be found at www.investinkidsnow.org.

In short, we recommend significant expansion of home visitation programs throughout New Mexico. We recommend expansion of quality child care and pre-kindergarten services for all children. Furthermore, through increased funding, we can grow and improve the quality of early education centers, and provide higher pay for early education professionals.

Monday, January 11, 2016
(EdWeek )

The researchers plan to follow these children to see if these early results last or fade away. In light of these findings, Swain said that policymakers should start thinking about creating high-quality programs from preschool and through elementary school, in order to maximize the investment in early-childhoold education.

"I do think there's something to be said for thinking, 'how do we create some continuity here?'" he said. 

Monday, January 11, 2016
(Ed Central)

New America’s Early & Elementary Education Policy team recently released From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth-3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers. This comprehensive report ranks states on 65 policy indicators in seven policy areas that promote strong literacy skills by the end of third grade. States are grouped into one of three categories – crawling, toddling, or walking – across all seven policy areas combined and within each individual policy area.

One policy area we focus on in the report is the specific nature of each state’s pre-K program. State and local policymakers are increasingly embracing public pre-K as an effective means to improve student outcomes. Research has shown that high-quality pre-K programs have a positive impact on children’s cognitive and social-emotional skills, leaving them better prepared for kindergarten. Some long-term studies have also found that children who attend high-quality early learning programs are more likely to graduate high school and be employed, and less likely to commit violent crimes.

Monday, January 11, 2016

If you have young kids in school, or talk with teachers of young children, you've likely heard the refrain — that something's changed in the early grades. Schools seem to expect more of their youngest students academically, while giving them less time to spend in self-directed and creative play.

A big new study provides the first national, empirical data to back up the anecdotes. University of Virginia researchers Daphna Bassok, Scott Latham and Anna Rorem analyzed the U.S. Department of Education's Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which includes a nationally representative annual sample of roughly 2,500 teachers of kindergarten and first grade who answer detailed questions. Their answers can tell us a lot about what they believe and expect of their students and what they actually do in their classrooms.

The authors chose to compare teachers' responses from two years, 1998 and 2010. Why 1998? Because the federal No Child Left Behind law hadn't yet changed the school landscape with its annual tests and emphasis on the achievement gap.

Friday, January 8, 2016
(89.3 KPCC)

As part of his budget plan released Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing a $1.6 billion Early Learning Block Grant. That may seem like the state's youngest learners just hit the jackpot, but the proposal doesn't actually add any new funds for early education. The proposed early learning block grant takes existing pots of money that are currently spent on childcare and preschool and combines them into one new fund. There is no funding allocated for new preschool seats, something that advocates push for each budget cycle.

During the recession the state cut early education by over $1 billion, which amounted to almost 100,000 lost preschool seats. In recent budget years some of those cuts have been restored, but spending on early care is nowhere near 2008 levels when the budget was about $3.2 billion. The governor's block grant proposal won't bring funding any closer to that level, but instead aims to cut out much of the confusion and administrative red-tape that runs through the early care system by bringing the various programs into one delivery system.