Volume 15, Issue 3

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hot Topics

Oklahoma’s preschool program is in the spotlight this week, with an article from The Hechinger Report and a recent screening about the program on PBS Newshour. The article explains: “Since 1998, Oklahoma has had fully funded preschool for every child, regardless of family income. As long as a child is 4 by Sept. 1, he or she is qualified to attend school for a year prior to entering kindergarten. Seventy-six percent of the state’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in 2014, a total of 40,823 children and one of the country’s highest enrollment percentages, according to the latest annual State of Preschool report by the National Institute for Early Education Research.” Further, it’s a high quality program: ‘Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, called Oklahoma a role model for many other states. “Oklahoma provides universal preschool as part of the public education system,” Barnett said. “So that means bringing all of the quality standards, all of the focus on learning and teaching, to the preschool program. And most states don’t do that.”’ The attention to quality appears to be paying off. According to the article: “Oklahoma was one of only 13 states to see significant growth on fourth grade reading scores this year as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Oklahoma was the fourth most-improved state in that category. Its fourth grade reading scores have trended upwards since 2002, the year before its first cohort of preschool grads reached third grade. And though Oklahoma has a long way to go to catch top scorers like Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, the state is now on par with the national average fourth grade reading score for the first time in over a decade.”

Resources

The Early Childhood Data Collaborative, in partnership with the Data Quality Campaign, announced “the release of a new brief, Roadmap for Early Childhood and K-12 Data Linkages. This brief describes key focus areas in developing a high-quality link between early childhood and K-12 data systems, including six case studies of states working to ensure that all children enter school kindergarten-ready.”

From FPG, “The National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (NCRECE) has completed a public release of all data from its extensive teacher professional development study. Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the 5-year study evaluated the effectiveness of two forms of professional development designed for early childhood educators.”

A report from FPG assesses Using Recognition & Response (R&R) to Improve Children's Language and Literacy Skills: Findings From Two Studies. From the abstract: "Two studies evaluated Recognition & Response (R&R)—an instructional system consisting of formative assessment, foundational instruction, and targeted small-group lessons designed for use with pre-kindergarteners... In both studies, teachers administered a brief, standardized language and literacy assessment to select the four lowest-scoring children within each classroom (Recognition), and then provided small-group lessons to these target children using a curriculum focused on language and literacy skills (Response). Across both studies, the results indicated that target children who received the small-group lessons showed larger gains on some language and literacy skills than a comparison group consisting of classmates who had lower than average scores at baseline and did not receive the small-group lessons.” 

From ECS, “Explore continually updated summaries of education-related proposals from governors’ State of the State addresses, and easily search by state, year and issue. Watch in early March for our annual report that captures highlights from these addresses.”

New America looks at the costs and benefits of early childhood education, reporting that it can “more than pay for itself.” 

From the Center for American Progress, a new report, Examining Quality Across the Preschool-to-Third-Grade Continuum, examines what ECLS data reveal about preschool quality; and classroom experiences between preschool and third grade; and provides recommendations to improve quality and alignment.

From Child Care Canada, a “new study provides a systematic examination of child care quality around the globe using the Environment Rating Scales (ERS). Researchers examine associations between ERS process quality and structural features (group size, caregiver–child ratio) that underpin quality and between ERS and more proximal aspects of child care quality such as caregiver sensitivity. Findings include that group center care appears to be of average quality with higher quality levels in Australia/New Zealand and North America.”

New America has reviewed the Jeb Bush early education plan, to see whether it is likely to improve access to high quality pre-K. 

An article in ECRQ, reported by FPG, addresses Household Chaos and Children's Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Development in Early Childhood: Does Childcare Play a Buffering Role?

The Center for American Progress has released a report, Examining Teacher Effectiveness Between Preschool and Third Grade. It covers Measuring teacher effectiveness and child outcomes; children’s access to teachers with key factors of effectiveness from preschool to third grade; supports teachers need to be effective; and policy priorities.

CEELO Update

Pre-K Attendance – Why It’s Important and How to Support It originates from a state request for information on chronic absenteeism with regard to early childhood. It provides information on potential causes of absenteeism, examples from cities and states to address it, and available resources.

Calendar

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.

Monday, June 6, 2016 - 8:00am

You are invited to join the First Early Childhood Education Action Congress, hosted by the Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to be held in Paris on June 6-7th, 2016.  This event will bring together 450 leaders from many countries to discuss how to build the political and public support needed to ensure that all children of the world get a good start in life.

Participants will discuss how to attract new advocates for early childhood, what messages are most effective in building support, and what programs can be scaled up to reach large populations of children.  The meeting location is the OECD headquarters at the historic Chateau de la Muette.  

For more information and registration, visit www.eduensemble.org. 

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, February 4, 2016
(EdWeek )

While Oklahoma is not at the top of the charts for reading or math scores nationally, it is one of the best at public preschool. It meets nearly all of the National Institute for Early Education's quality standards, including fully certified teachers paid on par with K-12 teachers. But even when prekindergarten classes were in the same building as higher elementary grades, the pre-K classrooms felt distinct. Yes, there was academic instruction. But there was also play, sing-alongs and make believe.

Thursday, February 4, 2016
(Chalkbeat Colorado)

A new report focused on southwest Denver sheds light on the difficulties some Latino parents face finding affordable, high-quality preschool spots for their kids.

The report, released Wednesday by the advocacy group Padres & Jovenes Unidos, found that some parents who responded to the group’s community survey were placed on waiting lists at sought-after preschool sites. Others found open slots, but only at centers with Level 1 ratings, the lowest of five tiers on the state’s child care rating system, Colorado Shines.

Officials from Denver Public Schools, interviewed by phone, say more could be done to connect parents with preschool options in southwest Denver, but too few slots isn’t the main problem there. Such shortages are more pressing in pockets of southeast Denver, they say.

DPS Acting Superintendent Susana Cordova, who spoke at the report release event at the Corky Gonzalez branch of the Denver Public Library, said expanding preschool access is a key strategy for the district, but noted that the state plays a major role in preschool funding and other early childhood issues.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
(The Hechinger Report)

Ninety-one percent of the town’s 170 4-year-olds enroll in a public program annually, said Tyler Bridges, the assistant school superintendent here. One hundred forty attend the state-supported district preschool while another 15 children attend the local Cheyenne-Arapahoe Head Start program. Those high numbers are impressive, especially since only 53.7 percent of 4-year-olds attend school nationally and the U.S. ranks 30th for preschool enrollment among developed nations. That’s despite decades of research showing that early education often improves students’ chances of succeeding in school. But in Clinton, some things are just taken for granted: the movie-worthy sunsets, the churches on nearly every corner, and sending kids to preschool when they turn 4.

The same might be said of the state as a whole. Oklahoma has fully funded 4-year-old preschool for every child, regardless of family income, since 1998. As long as a child is 4-years-old by Sept. 1, he or she is qualified to attend school. Seventy-six percent of the state’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in 2014, a total of 40,823 children and one of the highest enrollment percentages in the country, according to the latest annual State of Preschool report by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
(Education Dive)

"Education doesn't start at five," Duncan said. "It starts at birth." California has found that to be true. A recent study from the American Institutes for Research finds California's state-mandated “transitional kindergarten” (TK) program has been largely successful. Created by the state's Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010, the program makes all children whose fifth birthdays fall between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2 eligible for a state-funded year of pre-K education.

Across the U.S., the issue of pre-k education has been a hot topic, with 924 early childhood bills introduced in state legislatures in 2015 alone. Though a general consensus around the efficacy of pre-K exists, lawmakers have struggled to come to grips with best practices for implementation. Most legislative efforts have represented only small moves in expanding access and diversity in public preschool and early childhood education programs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
(EdCentral)

Governor Bush’s plan calls for converting 529 college savings accounts into Education Savings Accounts that would allow families and individuals to save for any level of education, tax-free. While incentivizing families to save for their children’s futures is a sound proposal, families struggling to make ends meet often don’t have the resources to save for high-quality pre-K, K-12, or higher education, let alone all three. This recent US News and World Report article states that the median 529 college savings account size in Alabama is $6,500. This isn’t enough to cover even one year of schooling at any age in most states, and this amount is likely accumulated by parents over up to 18 years of savings before a child heads off to college– not just the three or four years before they begin pre-K.

Bush’s plan offers a solution to jumpstart the Education Savings Accounts for low-income families: he would allow states to directly deposit $2,500 per year of federal funding into families’ Education Savings Accounts for children under the age of five in states that are willing to opt out of the existing 44 federal programs (a misleading number often referenced by Republicans) that currently support early education. This would essentially be a voucher that parents could use for the early education and care of their choosing. We have many questions about how this would work, but our two main concerns relate to access and quality.

Research shows that $2,500 is not enough money to provide high-quality pre-K, especially for working parents who often need access to full-day programs. According to NIEER, the average state spending on pre-K is about $4,100 per child per year. High-quality programs like New Jersey’s Abbott pre-K program cost over $13,000 per child. Bush explains that states, districts, and parents would be expected to supplement the cost of care, but he does not offer ideas on how this would work in a way that is effective and equitable.

Monday, February 1, 2016
(The Atlantic)

Fancy preschools in Silicon Valley abound. There’s Action Day Primary Plus,ranked the area’s No. 1 preschool by Bay Area Parent, whose “Tiny Tot” dance classes, weekend sports programs, and other activities “promote enjoyment and confidence through movement.” There’s Galileo Preschool, “which provides an innovative, project-based learning environment for children” and a curriculum that includes everything from American Sign Language to community service. Or there’s the Children’s World Bilingual Montessori School, where kids are exposed to both English and Mandarin on a daily basis as they learn the decimal system, Chinese culture, gardening, and more. The sticker price for enrolling full time in one of these preschools? $1,365$1,320, and $1,200 a month, respectively.

These price tags are hardly surprising; private preschool is really, really expensivealmost anywhere you go. But they mean that even in the nation’s tech hub, where the poverty rate is significantly lower than the U.S. average, the young children of lower-income parents often miss out on the benefits of early-learning opportunities. According to a recent report from the Urban Institute, Silicon Valley tends to mirror the rest of the United States when it comes to early-education inequality. About three quarters of 3-year-olds from poorer families aren’t enrolled in preschool, but a majority of their wealthier counterparts are. Among 4-year-olds from lower-income families, nearly 40 percent don’t attend preschool, compared to only a fourth of upper-income families. “Even in a place of incredible wealth, we’re finding similar gaps,” said Erica Greenberg, one of the study’s authors.

Monday, February 1, 2016
(Washington Post)

It is widely agreed that while we do not seek equal outcomes in America, we do aspire to equal opportunity, at least in theory. We have, however, never come close to that ideal, particularly as regards minorities and those with few resources. A great way to correct that is to invest more national resources in early childhood education.

Moreover, given rising economic inequality, the rationale for this idea is more pressing than ever. Other advanced economies, as you will see, are way ahead of us on this point.

As inequality has risen, the barriers to opportunity to the least advantaged have risen as well. Much data supports this case, both statistical and anecdotal. Robert Putnam’s recent book has both. Economist Raj Chetty’s highly touted research shows strong, negative correlations between kids growing up in poor neighborhoods and their outcomes as adults.

As private resources become more unequal and thus, as I show below, relatively less available to children growing up in opportunity-constrained situations, we need to devote more public resources toward improving their life chances. The fact that we are not doing so is the most portentous public policy mistake we’re making.

Monday, February 1, 2016
(Cleveland.com)

Preschool helps kids. It helps them read better. It helps with motor skills. It helps with socialization and behaving around other kids. And it prepares kids better for kindergarten. But how much? Who does it really help? Do the benefits last? And is it worth the money?

That's where the consensus breaks down and the debates start.

In the last few years, the national discussion has focused not on whether preschool is a good thing, but on how necessary it is for all kids. With President Obama setting a goal of offering preschool to all children, opponents have lined up both behind and against his planned expansion.

Critics say that while preschool may help children from poor backgrounds - from families with low education, from households where there is not much reading or activity to engage their minds - it is not worth the cost for kids from educated and affluent families.

Friday, January 29, 2016
(Star Tribune)

Minnesota’s statewide teachers union is renewing its push for universal access to preschool, releasing a report Thursday that supports the expansion of early-learning programs offered through public schools. The report, by a new think tank, said Minnesota should offer universal preschool on a voluntary basis, ensuring that all families have access to early-learning programs. A copy of the report can be found here.

Education Minnesota and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who lobbied heavily for the plan last year, have been met with firm resistance by House Republicans, who are instead focusing on a proposal to expand an education tax credit in the upcoming session. Republicans also note that last year, Dayton approved an education budget with $525 million in new spending, including about $80 million for early-learning programs. The renewed push for early-education funding will set up a fight at the Capitol, where House Republicans have sought to put new money toward education scholarships that give parents control over where the money is spent. Senate Democrats last year chose to fund existing prekindergarten programs, which vary in their availability across school districts.

Friday, January 29, 2016
(The Intelligencer)

Pre-kindergarten students might not have to go to school on Fridays next year if the West Virginia Legislature votes to amend a law requiring all counties offer five-day preschool classes. A law passed by the Legislature in 2013 mandates that counties begin offering five-day pre-kindergarten programs by the fall of 2016. Registration for this session of preschool classes already has started across the state.

But the state Senate is slated to have its third reading today on Senate Bill 156, which would drop the five-day weekly requirement in favor of a minimum requirement for instructional time. Under SB 156, schools would be required to offer at least four days of instruction per week and provide at least 1,546 minutes of instruction during the week. Pre-kindergarten students could attend classes for six and a half hours four days each week, or under a second option they could go five hours a day, Monday through Friday.

 

Friday, January 29, 2016
(Center for American Progress)

 A new report on preschool-to-third-grade, or P-3, alignment from the Center for American Progress examines the extent to which race and socioeconomic status affect a child’s access to high-quality early education and whether exposure to classrooms with teaching practices that build on and strengthen that early foundation vary for children from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. CAP’s research finds that among children with access to center-based prekindergarten programs, Hispanic children are more likely to access high quality than black children, and children from middle-income families have the least access to high quality. The report is the last in a series of three from CAP on P-3 alignment. Prior research examined state and local efforts around P-3 alignment and aligning access to teacher quality.

Thursday, January 28, 2016
(The Courier)

Progressive advocates want presidential candidates to talk more about policies that help working families get affordable child care.

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa joined others at a news conference Tuesday calling on presidential candidates to detail policies that would help families deal with the rising cost of child care.

“Child care is completely out of reach for too many American families, and for too many children of low income, it means their growth and their development is stunted from the start,” Harkin said. “Too many children are just being denied getting up to that starting line. It’s hurting them, it’s hurting the economic well-being of their families and, quite frankly, it’s hurting the economic well-being of America.”

Thursday, January 28, 2016
(The Courier)

Progressive advocates want presidential candidates to talk more about policies that help working families get affordable child care.

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa joined others at a news conference Tuesday calling on presidential candidates to detail policies that would help families deal with the rising cost of child care.

“Child care is completely out of reach for too many American families, and for too many children of low income, it means their growth and their development is stunted from the start,” Harkin said. “Too many children are just being denied getting up to that starting line. It’s hurting them, it’s hurting the economic well-being of their families and, quite frankly, it’s hurting the economic well-being of America.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
(Idea Stations)

House Republicans rolled out their education agenda today at the State Capitol, with many of the bills focusing on school choice. Several bills would aim to expand access to early childhood education, but not universal Pre-K. Republicans will offer a mixed delivery model which will take advantage of public, private and faith based opportunities.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
(WLWT 5)

An Ohio initiative seeks to boost access to mental health consultants in an effort to curb the number of children expelled or suspended from kindergarten, preschool and other early childhood education settings. Officials set aside $9.1 million for the initiative in the state's two-year budget, which will benefit 75 counties, according to the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The funds allow for up to 64 mental health consultants who will work with teachers and at-risk students in programs such as Head Start, preschool and child care settings. Some consultants already are in classrooms. Preschoolers and kindergartens are expelled at a higher rate than high school students in Ohio, which is in line with the national trend, said Dr. Valerie Alloy, who leads the department's early childhood mental health initiatives.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
(Utahpolicy.com)

Nearly three-fourths of Utahns want the Legislature to extend early education efforts, a new UtahPolicy poll shows. But they are less certain about extending the current half-day kindergarten to a full day, finds pollster Dan Jones & Associates.

The Legislature has been talking for years about the benefits of early education, with most local and national experts saying some children are ready for formal education at 3 and four years old while others say five-year-olds can take a full day of kindergarten – now offered at half-a-day in most Utah public schools.

Jones finds that 73 percent of Utahns want early childhood education programs at least offered. Twenty-two percent oppose that idea. 

Monday, January 25, 2016
(Journal-Star)

Researchers across the country will study policies and practices of early childhood education that help close the achievement gap in a $6.5 million project led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The Early Learning Network, part of a $26 million U.S. Department of Education initiative, will study how education policies differ in rural and urban areas for children in pre-kindergarten through third grade to learn how educators can close the achievement gap for at-risk students.

Susan Sheridan, who will lead UNL’s efforts as well as the network at large, said the research will combine efforts of the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools, as well as NU's Buffett Early Childhood Institute and Public Policy Center.

“We’re learning a lot about what works and what really matters and how we can prepare students as they move in to more formal schooling,” Sheridan said. “Our research has, for many years, focused on understanding and creating conditions to optimize young children’s learning, particularly at-risk children.”

The project will track children over time to study how changes in the educational environment -- including the move to new classrooms and different instructional approaches among teachers -- impact the transition through the early elementary years.

Monday, January 25, 2016
(Getting Smart Blog)

When Maurice (“Mo”) Green became superintendent of North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools nearly eight years ago, one of the first things he did was to embark on a “listening tour,” in which he visited schools, held meetings, and traveled throughout the community to gather insight. How did stakeholders feel about their schools? What ideas or concerns did they have? What issues were most important to them?

Wherever he went, he heard the same message over and over again: Focus more on parent engagement. Teachers, administrators, and community leaders agreed this was critical to improving achievement, yet—at the time—it was something that didn’t get enough attention in the district.

With this advice in mind, Guilford County has created a comprehensive model for engaging and informing parents through workshops, videos, and even free online tutoring to help their children with homework. These efforts are coordinated by the Guilford Parent Academy (GPA), a program within the Guilford County Schools created in 2011 under Green’s leadership, and they align with the goals of the Smart Parents project—ensuring that parents are involved, informed, intentional, and inspirational.

Monday, January 25, 2016
(WHO TV)

One group is asking you to keep early childhood education in mind when selecting your candidate on caucus night.

Save the Children Action Network, or "SCAN," for short, is on a state-wide campaign to get both Republicans and Democrats talking about early childhood education. SCAN has two focuses; internationally, it's focused on preventing infants and mothers across the world from dying of preventable causes. Domestically, it's focused on supporting legislation that improves the quality of early childhood education, as well as the access people have to it.

"We feel like it's one of the most important issues that's not talked about," said E.J. Wallace with SCAN. 

Friday, January 22, 2016
(Citizen-Times)

Investing in early childhood education is a bipartisan national priority, a poll recently released shows.

For the first time in three years, the most important issue in the poll is to make sure children get a strong start in life, followed by the need to improve the quality of public education. Jobs, which in earlier polls occupied the top slot, fell to third place. The bipartisan team of Public Opinions Strategies (R) and Hart Research (D) conducted the poll. The poll was released by the First Five Years Fund in partnership with the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. Fortunately, I am part of a company that has long prioritized investments in early learning. In 2004, PNC launched Grow Up Great, a $350 million, multi-year early childhood education initiative that’s making a difference for children throughout our footprint. While significant, it will take the support and financial investments of others to make more impact.