Volume 15, Issue 5

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hot Topics

On March 1st, the White House published a blog post underlining the importance of teaching STEM topics in pre-K saying, "research indicates that as early as infancy, young children start developing and testing hypotheses for how the world around them works" and that "too often, we underestimate the concepts our youngest learners can understand."

Also, the next day, The Department of Education proposed a new rule under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)  providing a uniform method to be used by states and LEAs to assess disproportionality by race and ethnicity in (a) special education identification and placement, and (b) disciplinary actions including suspension and expulsion.  The proposal is open for comments until May 16, 2016. 

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

On our blog Jim Squires addresses the causes and consequences of chronic absenteeism.

Melissa Dahlin of CEELO and EDC writes this week about conditions to enhance attendance at Early Childhood Education programs.


Dr. Shannon Riley-Ayers, Associate Research Professor at NIEER, and Alexandra Figueras-Daniel, Senior Project Coordinator at NIEER, presented at the Eastern Education Research Association annual conference.  Their presentation entitled, Improving Teaching Quality in Kindergarten: The impact of a Coaching Initiative, outlines the improvements in quality in Kindergarten classrooms achieved through a data-driven coaching initiative.  This on-going research and intervention project is funded by the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation.  
The PowerPoint of the presentaiton can be found here.
Thinking about a new formative assessment for preschool or kindergarten?  The Early Learning Scale is a reliable and valid assessment tool that is manageable for teachers to use to inform instruction, communicate with parents, and report on children’s progress.  For more details, contact Dr. Shannon Riley-Ayers, Associate Research Professor at NIEER, at sayers@nieer.org or support@myelsonline.com
The Hispanic Research Center published a series of four briefs entitled Using Existing Large-Scale Data to Study Early Care and Education Among Hispanics. They can be found in pdf format on their website.
The National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education has released all of its data from its 2007-2011 teacher professional development study. More information can be found on the University of Virginia website.


In an effort to support schools in improving literacy instruction, the Mississippi Department of Education has deployed educators with expertise in literacy to a number of elementary schools across Mississippi. The MDE is currently recruiting additional literacy coaches for projected deployment in August of 2016. The recruitment process will close on March 14, 2016.
The portfolio application, a job description, and FAQs are online at www.mdek12.org/ESE/LBPA. All questions may be emailed to literacy@mdek12.org.  
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) expects to hire one or more Research Professors (rank open) to help inform early childhood education policy through research and policy analysis. Fields of specialization are open. However, all applicants should have interest and knowledge in early care and education policy.  All candidates are expected to have strong analytical skills. To express interest, please send a letter and curriculum vitae to jobs@nieer.org and reference the research professor position. For more information check our webpage.
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) also expects to hire be adding an experienced early childhood policy analyst to our team.  To express interest, please send a letter and curriculum vitae to jobs@nieer.org and reference the policy analyst position.

NIEER Activities

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. 

CEELO Update

Tom Schultz and Jana Martella facilitated a meeting of CCSSO’s Early Childhood State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (ECE-SCASS) on February 23-24th in Los Angeles. Early childhood and assessment specialists from 18 states participated in sessions on linking early childhood and public education data systems, using assessment data for continuous improvement in Head Start programs, early childhood provisions of the new Every Student Succeeds Act, innovative PreK-3rd grade initiatives in San Francisco and San Diego, and perspectives from teachers on using early childhood assessment data.  Links to presentations and materials will be available on the CEELO website.
NIEER/CEELO Senior Fellow Jim Squires collaborated with the BUILD Initiative to present "Making informed decisions: A guide to understanding early education research" as part of BUILD's QRIS National Learning Network "Let's Talk" series. He stressed the need for research literacy among policymakers, program developers, practicioners, and others to develop more informed consumers of research, focusing on elements relating to state QRIS models.


Monday, April 4, 2016 - 1:00pm to Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 4:30pm
The NIH Toolbox iPad app Training Workshop is a 1.5 day, intensive workshop on how  to administer NIH Toolbox measures using the new NIH Toolbox app.
Sessions will teach the basic knowledge and skills to familiarize users with the administration of the NIH Toolbox app,  self- and proxy-report measures of emotional function, and the performance-based tests of cognitive, motor and sensory function.
Click here for more information and registration.
Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 8:00am

Germantown Academy, in partnership with DVAEYC and the Schuylkill Valley Nature Center, is excited to present "Nature at Play,” a conference for early childhood educators.  Early childhood research reveals the critical connection between time spent in nature and a child’s developing brain.  Join us as keynote speaker, Cheryl Charles from the Children & Nature Network, and local educators explore this important topic for young learners.  Participants can receive 3 hours of PQAS credit for attending this interactive workshop.  Click on the link below to learn more about the event and to register. http://www.germantownacademy.net/community/nature-at-play/index.aspx

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 8:30am to Friday, June 24, 2016 - 4:00pm

The Third Annual Conference of the Early Childhood Social Impact Performance Advisors, will be held June 22-24 in Denver, Colorado. Cohosted by the Institute for Child Success, ReadyNation, and the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah, this is a major national conference on Pay for Success (PFS) social impact financing and the only such conference focused on early childhood Pay for Success.

Individuals and jurisdictional teams must apply for attendance by April 20. To get more information and apply, visit this page: http://pfs.instituteforchildsuccess.org/third-annual-early-childhood-soc...

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, March 3, 2016
BOISE, Idaho - The preschool classroom at Hawthorne Elementary is one busy place.
Three and four-year-old children are busy learning in a new pilot project launched by the Boise School District in November.
The program was privately and publically funded by the City of Boise and sponsors like Micron and the United Way of Idaho.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
(Education Week)
NEW YORK (AP) — A survey of New York City pre-kindergarten families has found that nine out of 10 parents like the program.
According to the survey released Wednesday, 92 percent of families rated their child's pre-K program as good or excellent.
Eighty-three percent said their child learned "a lot" in pre-K.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
(Star Tribune)

Minnesota child-care providers have overwhelmingly voted against unionizing, likely ending a debate that has been emotionally charged and politically divisive for a decade.

The fight pitted some child-care workers against others and sharply divided legislators along party lines when they passed a law in 2013 that would allow the vote to unionize. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
(90.5 WESA)

Last May, Governor Tom Wolf held a news conference in front of the Camp Hill state prison in Cumberland County. He was joined by Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and a handful of district attorneys, all pushing for a $120 million funding increase — not for prisons — but for preschool.

“These are the first steps to what I have as a four-year goal to fully fund early childhood education,” Wolf said.

The press conference was timed not only to coincide with that year’s budget negotiations, but also with the release of a report from the nonprofit advocacy group Fight Crime Invest In Kids. The report presented data from across the country to make the case that putting more kids in pre-K now would mean fewer adults in prison later.

“Pre-K sets kids up to be at level by grade 3,” Wetzel said. “Those who aren’t reading at level by grade 3 are more likely to drop out. Those who are more likely to drop out are more likely to be incarcerated. So that’s kind of a cascade effect.”

Monday, February 29, 2016
Research shows preschool and early childhood education is important to the growth and future success of little ones.
Jenny Paton, who is a Quality Improvement Consultant for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb with United Way of Southeastern Michigan, notes that a child’s brain grows quite a bit in the first 5 years.
“We want to make sure we utilize that opportunity to teach our kids and make sure they are ready – above and beyond ready – for kindergarten,” she says, adding, “It’s important that that’s across the board” – regardless of if a child comes from a disadvantaged background or not.
Friday, February 26, 2016
(Star Tribune)
Recent education news confirms what this page has been saying for some time: Many Minnesota schools need to pick up the pace to replicate successful academic programs and step back from failing strategies, and the state needs a full-scale public-private push to get the neediest 4-year-olds into quality preschool.
This week, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) reported that high school graduation rates were flat in 2015, with 81.9 percent of public high school seniors graduating in four years, compared with 81.2 percent the year before.
Monday, February 29, 2016
(My SA)

Over the course of last year’s legislative session, I was proud to see quality pre-K improvements thrust into the spotlight as a bipartisan priority. Through emotional and sometimes heated debate, we were able to approve House Bill 4, a grant program of $130 million to Texas schools, in an effort to bolster existing pre-K programs. Although many of us argued this did not go far enough, it became clear that this was the best solution that the majority would embrace, and it passed with a 129-18 vote. It remains significant that we came together to create a new program to invest in kids across Texas.

Unfortunately, this victory was not nearly enough.

Although I am excited to see how districts take advantage of the grants, our kids demand a far bolder change of course.
Last year, the National Institute for Early Education Research released a study showing that Texas ranks dead last in the country in delivering quality pre-K. In the 10 policies of its quality standards checklist, Texas met only two — for teacher in-service and early learning standards. In areas from class size to teacher specialization, we continue to fall woefully short.

Monday, February 29, 2016
(The Edvocate)

A trend is emerging when it comes to P-20 education: optional preschool is becoming a thing of the past. As a nation, we’re finally beginning to accept that preschool is beneficial—even necessary—for the success of most American children. It’s why Obama has invested billions in early childhood education, and Presidential hopefuls such as Hillary Clinton are emphatic about preschool’s importance.

As someone who has extensively written about preschool-related initiatives on this site, I’ve seen enough to uncover some unexpected benefits that come from early childhood education.

Monday, February 29, 2016
(Education Week)
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's congressional delegation says the state is getting a $125,000 federal grant for a program aimed at affordable early childhood education.
The delegation says the money will be used to support the North Dakota Head Start State Collaboration Office. The office works to facilitate partnerships between Head Start agencies and other state entities that provide services to benefit low-income children and their families.
Friday, February 26, 2016
(Focus Daily News)

Over the course of last year's Legislative Session, I was proud to see quality pre-K improvements be thrust into the spotlight as a bipartisan priority. Through emotional and sometimes heated debate, we were able to approve House Bill 4, a grant program of $130 million to Texas schools, in an effort to bolster existing pre-K programs.

Although many of us argued this did not go far enough, it became clear that this was the best solution that the majority would embrace, and it passed with a 129-18 vote. It remains significant that we came together to create a new program to invest in kids across Texas. Unfortunately, this victory was not nearly enough.

Although I am excited to see how districts take advantage of the available grants, our kids demand a far bolder change of course.

Last year, the National Institute for Early Education Research released a study showing that Texas ranks dead last in the country in delivering quality pre-K. In the ten policies of its quality standards checklist, Texas met only two- for teacher in-service and early learning standards. In areas from class size to teacher specialization, we continue to fall woefully short. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) recently released its annual report on state pre-K funding for the 2015-2016 year, highlighting a nationwide trend in increased funding allocations by states on pre-K programming for the fourth year in a row. Almost two-thirds of states plus the District of Columbia funded pre-K at higher levels last year than the year prior, which could mean improved access and quality for many of the nation’s youngest learners.

D.C. is the leader of the pack on pre-K funding by a wide margin, allocating $12,407 per prekindergartener, according to the ECS report. The next closest is New Jersey, funding at $10,000 less ($2,943 per capita) by comparison. Arizona increased its overall funding by 116%—the highest nationwide—allocating an additional $19 million last year compared to the year prior. Five states in the U.S. still do not invest at all in pre-K programming:  Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming. (Although, Montana was awarded a federal Preschool Development Grant.) Despite these five holdouts, overall state funding in pre-K programs increased last year by $755 million from the 2014-2015 spending levels to a total of nearly $7 billion.

What does this 12 percent overall increase in spending translate into in real terms? It depends. Pre-K programs vary widely state-to-state. In recent years states have implemented options including universal pre-K, targeted pre-K for children from low-income families, dual language learners, or with special needs, pre-K for three- and four-year olds, full-day pre-K, part-day pre-K, and other school readiness programs, to name a few. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

– As preschool teachers oversee the development of dozens of kids each day, many are struggling to feed their own families. A 2014 Center for the Study of Child Care Employment report found preschool teachers typically make just $6 an hour more than fast-food workers, and a new report from the National Association for the Education of Young Children shows many people think preschool teachers deserve more pay. So we checked in on some of our local teachers to see if what’s happening across the country could be the case here at home.

Sarah Jecks teaches at George O. Barr, a Silvis public school. She says when kids start preschool, they don’t know it all. “The skills that they bring in are just language,” Jecks said, “and a giant curiosity for anything and everything.” By kindergarten, they usually know a lot more.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

There are currently 14,000 quality pre-K seats and 42,500 3-to-5-year- olds in Philadelphia, according to the latest report from the Philadelphia Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten.

The 17-person commission held a public hearing yesterday to welcome feedback on its most recent report, published earlier this month. The report discussed options for blending local, state and federal funding to pump the number of quality, publicly funded pre-K seats in the city. The commission, created through a massive 80 percent vote during last May’s primary, pegs the cost of a pre-K budget for the city at $60 million annually. Kenney, who not only backs universal pre-K but campaigned on it, is expected to announce potential funding streams in his upcoming budget address.

Philadelphia’s universal pre-K system, a long called-for educational option in line with the widespread scholarship touting the benefits of early childhood education, would cover 3- to 5- year-olds. The commission, whose members are essentially the architects of the city’s program, is studying which methods would be best to create more quality seats.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
(Education Week)
When the Cleveland public schools developed a comprehensive plan to transform the way the district delivers education to 40,000 students, the focus was on ensuring that all students would have the knowledge and skills they need for a lifetime of success, starting in preschool.
Cleveland, like many other urban school districts, must work hard to find ways to improve attendance, graduation rates, and academic performance. But the earliest learners often get neglected in such plans.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
(The Columbus Dispatch)
A former school building in the Linden neighborhood will take a central role in Mayor Andrew J. Ginther's first State of the City address tonight.
Ginther plans to announce a redevelopment of the Linden Park IGE Alternative School building, 1400 Myrtle Ave., and a nearby neighborhood recreation center into a preschool education center during his inaugural address at 6:30 p.m. at Whetstone High School.
The city plans to partner with Ohio State University and Columbus City Schools to create 14 classrooms that will begin serving 200 pre-kindergarten students in the next year or two. The center also will be a resource to help parents learn about job placement and preparing their children for kindergarten.
Monday, February 22, 2016
(The Seattle Times)

Washington state’s preschool program has received kudos for its efforts to improve quality, but it gets poor marks for the small number of kids benefiting from high-quality preschools.

The new director of the Washington Department of Early Learning says he wants to address that by improving the quality of more preschools and securing more funding from the Legislature. . .

The Washington Department of Early Learning estimates that 3,200 low-income 4-year-olds are still in need of a state-funded, high-quality preschool. Washington state ranks 33rd in the nation for access to state preschool for low-income 4-year-olds, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research, which conducts an annual review of preschool programs. The same organization consistently gives Washington high scores for quality. Hunter thinks he can also increase the number of kids in quality preschools by getting quality information in the hands of parents and helping more child care centers improve their programs through the Early Achievers program.

Friday, February 19, 2016
(NJ Spotlight)

Early childhood education is getting a further boost from the state’s Democrat-led Senate, as a new package of bills announced yesterday would offer all-day kindergarten for all and provide tax credits for childcare expenses.

State Sen. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, announced the series of bills to supplement another package announced last month that called for expanded preschool for students from low-income families.

In addition the all-day kindergarten and tax credits, the latest package – some of it recycled from previous bills – also includes more funding for after-school programs and home visitations, and even calls for creation of a new cabinet-level state Department of Early Childhood. The price tag, not including the tax credits, would be about $200 million a year, according to Ruiz’s office, including $78 million for all-day kindergarten.

Friday, February 19, 2016
(Capitol View)

Minnesota lawmakers are expected to consider a host of spending proposals when the session starts next month, including several aimed at early childhood education, if the projected $1.2 billion budget surplus holds up. Early childhood education advocates highlighted their funding needs Thursday in St. Paul, during a conference called the Children and Youth Issues Briefing. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who pushed unsuccessfully last year for universal preschool funding, won’t release his supplemental spending proposals until next month. But Lt. Gov. Tina Smith made it clear to the group that preschool is still part of the discussion.

“I’ve talked to parents and superintendents and kindergarten teachers, and I have actually never heard anybody say that they don’t think pre-k is a good idea, an idea that we need to move forward on for every family that wants it,” Smith said. “The truth is most school districts are offering preschool right now, with inadequate funding and with long waiting lists, because that’s what families want.” 

Smith also emphasized the need to enact paid parental leave benefits for state employees and to increase funding for a government-subsidized child care program. House Republicans continue to resist Dayton’s push for universal preschool.