Volume 15, Issue 6

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hot Topics

This week the RAND Corporation released a report conducted to inform people in Cincinnati about the potential payoffs to investments in preschool.  They addressed two questions. (1)  Do high-quality preschool programs produce favorable effects for participating children and their families, what are the magnitudes of the impacts, and how long do the beneficial effects last? (2) Is there evidence of a positive return on investment when public dollars are used to pay for such programs? Anyone looking for an assessment of research on large-scale public programs as it relates to these two questions will find it worth reading.

As reported by EdWeek the new legislative session has brought good state and local news with Philadephia, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Tennessee all proposing new ways to expand preschool. At the federal level, President Obama proposed a $434 million increase to federal Head Start funding in his new budget.

The Brookings Institution recently published a report in which Dr. Dale Farran examines the need for more rigorous research into the outcomes and methods of universal pre-K, noting "the current situation of poorly defined, enormously varied programs, all called pre-K." In it she argues that much of the research needed to make sure early education funding is spent wisely has not yet been done.

In another Brookings blog post today other researchers have a response concluding that Farran's assessment of the evidence is overly pessimistic. They consider a broad range of scholarship relating to preschool education and point to other relevant summaries of the evidence including an ECE Consensus Letter endorsed by more than 1200 scholars.


Diagnosing and 'Treating' Child Poverty

The American Academy of Pediatrics is asking pediatricians to screen children for poverty-related disorders and is advocating for the expansion of programs including Head Start and Early Head Start - programs that are not without their critics as the debate at Brookings illustrates. The Academy notes that Early Head Start serves only about 3 percent of low-income families. Read more here.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is starting a new initiative called Interdisciplinary Research Leaders for people working in research, policy, and practice for early childhood education and development.



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 toliteracy@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.

CEELO Update

CEELO and the BUILD Initiative held a webinar on Making Informed Decisions: An Administrator's Guide to Understanding Early Education Research. The session, part of BUILD's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) National Learning Network "Let's Talk" webinar series, featured CEELO TA Fellow Jim Squires who helped QRIS administrators distinguish quality research from questionable claims resulting from poorly designed studies or misinterpretation/misrepresentation of results. For more details, see here and here.

Based off work CEELO engaged in with states, this brief focuses on approaches to family engagement in state funded pre-K programs. It discusses why family engagement is important, describes approaches to developing program guidance, and offers strategies to support effective implementation.


This resource now contains updated information for state contacts in the birth through third grade system in each state.


April 4, 2016 - 1:00pm to 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.


Friday, April 8, 2016 - 8:00am

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will be conducting a 1-day training and information course providing researchers with information about the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (ECLS-K:2011). Data from the ECLS-K:2011 allow researchers to examine the relationships between a wide range of family, school, classroom, and individual characteristics, and children’s development, learning, and school performance in kindergarten and across the elementary school years.

You must be registered for the AERA Annual Meeting in order to purchase tickets to attend this Professional Development Course. Registration information and policies are explained here.

For additional AERA registration assistance, please contact their Registration Support at email: aerameetings@expologic.com or phone: (800) 893-7950.

For more information about the 2016 AERA Annual Meeting, please visit: http://aera.net

If you have any questions about the ECLS-K:2011 study, please send an email to ecls@ed.gov or ecls@air.org


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. 



June 6th-7th, 2016

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. 

June 22, 2016 - 8:30am to 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...


Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 8:00am to Thursday, April 21, 2016 - 5:00pm
This unique and inspiring educators’ conference has been designed by The Florida Center for Inclusive Communities along with the Pyramid Model Consortium to bring educational professionals a unique learning experience. The format of this event focuses on bringing teaching experts from around the world together to offer practical, ready to apply techniques on social and emotional development to be used to address challenging behavior in the classroom.
This event provides an unparalleled opportunity to increase your knowledge and skill base for dealing with behavior issues in your classroom as well as connecting with colleagues and build your connection with the professional educational community.
You can learn more about the conference here.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 8:00am to Friday, April 15, 2016 - 5:00pm
This New York event is designed to help teachers as well as parents of very young children and others who care for young children in any capacity. The speakers, sessions and vendors present at the Young Child Expo hope to provide these individuals with resources, products, and information to improve the growth, learning and development of the young children under their care. This is a unique event in that the sessions and events are not limited to one group of professionals, but rather individuals from all professions that interact with young children are welcomed to come and participate and learn.
The Young Child Expo and Conference began in 2003 as a development project out of Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education and the Los Ninos Services provided there. The goal was and is simple: provide useful information that can be used by professionals, parents, and other caregivers in order to help young children learn, grow and reach their full potential. This inclusive event aims to bring together individuals from all types of professions and occupations who have an interest and concern for the development of young children.
You can learn more information about the conference here.
Saturday, April 2, 2016 - 8:00am to Monday, April 4, 2016 - 5:00pm
If you are an educational professional in any respect; teacher, principal, school administrator, this is the one event you do not want to miss in 2016. Professionals who want to hone their teaching or administrative skills will find hundreds of resources and educational sessions tailored just for you. This event is hosted by The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. This mega event boasts twenty-two pre-conference institutes along with over two hundred professional development sessions. Keynote speakers from around the country will convene to share their wisdom, experiences and tips with you. Attendees will return to their classrooms inspired and ready to implement the wonderful new skills they have learned.
You can learn more information about the conference here.
Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 8:00am to Saturday, April 2, 2016 - 5:00pm
While childhood is being shaped during such a transformational time in a human’s life. This event brings together experts and professionals from around the world to explore and teach the role of childhood in ensuring a positive human future despite the rapid changes all around us. The Summit is a chance for professionals to connect and learn together as well as celebrate innovative research and practices that support a positive childhood for each child.
You can learn more information about the conference here.

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The promise of the city of Seattle’s new subsidized preschool program — to bring low- or no-cost preschool to three- and four-year-olds across the city — is facing a challenge as the city struggles to find space and providers for the second year. Voters approved the four-year pilot program in 2014 as a way to help get kids from low-income families ready for kindergarten. While there are other government-subsidized preschools, like Head Start, wait lists are long, and only a small percentage of eligible children have seats. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016
(Star Tribune)

The contentious battle over how best to educate Minnesota’s youngest learners is shifting in a new direction after Gov. Mark Dayton for now abandoned his bid for universal state-paid preschool. A bipartisan group of legislators is pressing for a cheaper option of expanding the state’s early-learning scholarship program.

State Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Edina, wants to expand the age of children served by scholarships beyond 3- and 4-year-olds to kids as young as birth. The program also would prioritize children who are in foster care or child protection, or who have teen or homeless parents. The overall aim is to reduce disparities in kindergarten readiness for children of color or those in low-income families. . .

Group members aren’t saying how much they are seeking this year, but they say that fully funding their initiative eventually would cost $500 million.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
(Daily Journal)

Facing financial constraints and the specter of last year's failed push, Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled a new, scaled-back proposal on Tuesday for a statewide preschool system in Minnesota.

The governor's supplemental budget includes spending $25 million in the next year for a voluntary prekindergarten program that would allow about 3,700 more 4-year-olds to attend preschool. His budget also proposes $100 million for the program in the next two-year budget cycle.

The pared-back plan is a recognition of the limitations posed even by a seemingly large budget surplus and the political difficulty his push for universal preschool faced last year. That broader proposal was rebuffed by GOP lawmakers and Democrats alike, citing concerns about space requirements, costs and demand by parents.

Friday, March 11, 2016
(Cincinnati.com )

A new report shows that Cincinnati might get as much as a 4:1 return on its investment in preschool.

The RAND Corporation study, released Friday morning, examined 15 full-scale preschool programs throughout the U.S. One of the programs was nationwide, 11 were state-funded and three were district-level.

Among the highlights:

High-quality preschool programs deliver an economic return of anywhere from $2 to $4 for each $1 invested, the programs were successful under a range of varying designs – whether they were universal or for a specific group of students; part-day or full-day; or for one or two years prior to kindergarten, all children could benefit from high-quality preschool, but the impact is typically larger for those from poorer families.

Friday, March 11, 2016

After years of effort to implement transitional kindergarten, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to eliminate the requirement that school districts offer the program, which provides an extra year of public school for 4-year-olds with fall birthdays. His proposal would also allow districts that offer it to charge enrollment fees for parents who aren’t low-income.

The proposal, which is part of the 2016-17 state budget, creates uncertainty for the future of transitional kindergarten. Many early education advocates saw it as a first step toward establishing a publicly funded program for all 4-year-olds. Just this past year, legislators allowed districts to expand the program to younger 4-year-olds, with some funding restrictions. And a recent research report found the program was effective in preparing students for kindergarten.

“The governor’s proposal comes squarely in the face of a fully implemented program that no one wants to give up,” said Erin Gabel, deputy director of external and governmental affairs at First 5 California. “Eliminating it as an entitlement with a stable funding source is a step backwards.”

Brown wants to combine funding for transitional kindergarten and for low-income students attending state preschools into one $1.6 billion early learning block grant that must be used to provide pre-K programs for low-income students. The amount is the same as in last year’s budget with an additional 3 percent cost-of-living increase.

Friday, March 11, 2016
(The Seattle Times)

One of the great questions of our time is how our nation invests in the next generation. We believe one of the smartest financial commitments we can make for our future is investing in early childhood education so all children have a strong start in life and can reach their full potential.

High-quality early childhood education is the foundation for thriving communities and healthy economies. Research has shown that 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the time he or she reaches the age of five. Children left out of early childhood education and quality child care find themselves at a distinct disadvantage and may struggle to catch up for the rest of their school years.

Investing in early learning is especially crucial for disadvantaged children; it has been shown to be the most effective way to break the cycle of poverty in our country. When we don’t provide support for programs like pre-K, we leave far too many children behind. We leave their potential unharnessed and deprive the world of their passion, heart, and drive. . .

In Washington state, we have taken several positive steps to ensure more kids have access to high-quality early childhood education. Last year, the Legislature passed the Early Start Act to give more early learning providers the resources they need to improve the quality of care for the children who need it most. As a result, more kids will be ready for kindergarten.

Friday, March 11, 2016
(The Washington Post)

The education achievement gap starts appearing well before children enter kindergarten, several studies have shown. Now, a new report says the solution for providing quality and meaningful infant and early toddler care for families across all socio-economic levels in D.C. is straightforward: A whole lot more funding.

The study from the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and D.C. Appleseed — two local public policy non-profits — examined the discrepancy between how much government funding pre-kindergarten centers and families receive and how much it actually costs for each child to receive quality early childhood care.  The study found that since D.C. started providing universal free pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds about a decade ago — which pulled the older toddlers out of these private centers and into the public school system — the private facilities have been struggling financially in their efforts to care for the city’s youngest children. Infants and young toddlers require more supervision, driving up costs.

There are about 7,610 total available early childhood care slots for children in the District, according to data from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Of the 22,000 children under the age of three in D.C., 42 percent of them are in low-income families.

Friday, March 11, 2016
(89.3 KPCC)

Before he was speaker of the California Assembly, Anthony Rendon ran preschools for low-income children in Los Angeles. He felt first-hand the sting of the state’s budget cuts during the recession years, watching the rate his preschools received per child from the state drop from $31 in 2008 to $17 in 2012. Very little of the $1.3 billion that was cut from the early education budget has come back to the field in subsequent budget years.

Early education advocates now hope Speaker Rendon will change that. The issues they've already raised include the need for more funding for early childhood education and – a perhaps even more urgent concern for advocates – worries over Governor Jerry Brown's proposal to pool all of the state's current disparate early childhood programs into a single fund.

Thursday, March 10, 2016
(VPR )

Hundreds of early childhood professionals gathered in Montpelier Wednesday and heard Vermont’s four candidates for governor make their pitch for the state’s top office. Each of the candidates say quality childhood education is key to the state economy, but they offered different ways to go about improving it.

Former state transportation secretary Sue Minter said parents' inability to access affordable childcare is stalling workforce development. Former Windsor County senator Matt Dunne called for reforms in childcare subsidy programs in state government. The Republican candidates, meanwhile, said they’d seek to improve childhood education, and access to affordable childcare, by way of institutional changes in the way government operates.

Thursday, March 10, 2016
(Chicago Sun-Times)

Most people probably thought the child care crisis in Illinois had been solved last fall after Gov. Bruce Rauner backed away from harsh eligibility restrictions and the Legislature cleared the way for federal funds to flow again into the program. The child care providers, families and advocates who gathered here Wednesday would tell you that’s hardly the case.

With the financial repercussions from Rauner’s temporary rules changes still being felt — and with no revenue increase in sight to adequately fund the program in the future — government-subsidized child care and its companion, early childhood education, occupy a world that still regards itself as very much under siege. About 80,000 fewer children are being served by the state’s Child Care Assistance Program than in the previous year, according to the advocacy group Illinois Action for Children, which met here this week.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
(Twin Cities Pioneer Press)

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled a plan to expand access to early learning programs for Minnesota’s neediest children, but it is unclear if the compromise can win enough support to move forward.

Minutes before the 2016 Legislature opened, House and Senate members detailed the “A Better Chance” or ABC Act, which would expand the reach of Minnesota’s popular preschool scholarships to the state’s most at-risk children from birth to age 5.

The bill has the support of MinneMinds, a coalition of 100 groups that sees expanding access to early learning as an important tool for closing the state’s achievement gap between poor and minority children and their peers. Research shows that gap is evident well before a child reaches kindergarten and that high-quality early learning programs can help.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016
(Deseret News )

A proposal to expand public preschool offerings for Utah's youngest students is on its way to the House after getting unanimous support from a committee of lawmakers Monday.

The bill also received financial backing from legislative leaders last week as they pieced together a final budget proposal for the state.

Lawmakers hope more than $11 million set aside in SB101 will help an additional 3,000 to 4,000 preschoolers develop foundational academic skills, especially if they show early signs of struggling in school.

Monday, March 7, 2016

California’s system, which has assessed the quality of early education sites throughout the state in the past year, answers for the first time a longstanding question for parents with children in child care: How can the quality of their kids’ programs be measured in a meaningful way that parents can understand? The San Jose center’s top-tier rating, and the ratings of more than 3,000 other sites across the state, have been posted publicly, online and at many childcare sites. Parents now can discern how their center stacks up against others, what improvements are needed and whether they should look for another program that may better suit their child’s needs. After these initial scores, each site will be rated every two years.

Provider participation in the rating system has exceeded expectations. As of Feb. 24, nearly 3,300 programs have been rated. The latest numbers surpass the state’s target by 33 percent, and are likely to increase in March, said Cecelia Fisher-Dahms, an administrator in the state Department of Education, which is leading the effort with help from nearly four dozen counties that are sending experts to visit and rate sites.

In 2012 and 2013, California received $75 million in two grants from the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge program to build a rating system to help improve the quality of childcare and preschool programs. Research has shown that children in high-quality programs are likely to do better in school, have higher incomes as adults and avoid high-risk behaviors. Other studies have found that for low-income students in particular, one or two years of early education are not enough to sustain achievement gains, and current statewide efforts are emphasizing improvements in programs that serve those children. In California, 90 percent of low-income children live in 45 of the state’s 58 counties, which is why the state is focusing its quality-rating efforts on those counties.

Monday, March 7, 2016
(The Edvocate)

Hillary Clinton, the first big-ticket Presidential candidate, supports universal Pre-K completely. Like President Obama, she believes that families should have no-cost access to early learning initiatives and that putting this necessary building block in place is not something that should be reserved for those who can afford it. Clinton has a little more oomph when it comes to this push, though, as she also sees universal pre-K as an affordable way for more woman to be in the workplace.

Monday, March 7, 2016
(Mother Jones)

It's hard to think of another education reform idea that has garnered as much support among advocates of various ideological stripes as early childhood education. California and New York liberals support it, and so do conservatives in Oklahoma and Florida. A 2015 national poll showed that 76 percent of voters support the idea of spending federal money to expand public preschool, and the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act includes more funding for early childhood. Helping the idea along is decades of research (which continues to pour in) that suggests effective preschools can benefit all children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. "We have better evidence that preschool works and has long-term effects than we do for any other social policy," David L. Kirp, one of our country's leading experts on early childhood education and a professor of public policy at the University of California-Berkeley, told Mother Jones.

But can we identify what a good preschool looks like and make that accessible to the kids most in need? That topic has been debated fiercely by parents, preschool advocates, and policymakers all over the country. This week, early childhood education experts and city chiefs of preschools came together in Sacramento, California, to talk about the latest research. As presenter Abbie Lieberman, an early-education policy analyst at New America, put it: "When we step into a preschool, how can we tell what is actually learning through play and what is true chaos?"

Friday, March 4, 2016
(The Atlantic)

Bruck said that the group looked at college readiness, recovery and dropout prevention, and early childhood initiatives, and determined that “getting all children in San Antonio ready for school would make the most impact.” At the time, and still today, many independent school districts in the city and throughout the state could not afford to offer full-day pre-k because the state only funds half-day programs. . .

The difference is two-fold, according to most supporters. First, Pre-K 4 SA offers full-time instruction, which most districts working within the confines of state funds cannot afford. Second is the intentional location of the centers at the city’s four quadrants to try to reach as many underserved communities as possible. Experts argue that geography has a lot more to do with education than people are willing to admit.

“It’s really coming down to kids getting educational opportunities based on the zip code that they live in. And we don’t offer an equitable education system across the state. It’s not just Baxer County that that’s happening in; it’s reflected in the entire state,” Kring Villanueva, who has offered testimony on the issue, said. She said districts only have to offer pre-k if they identify 15 kids who meet certain criteria—being low income, English language learners, in foster care, and other “at-risk factors.” But because districts have recognized the value of early education, and especially the value of a full-day program, more of them are taking matters into their own hands.