Volume 2, Issue 8

November 5, 2003

Hot Topics

The results of this study, conducted with 4-year-olds and their parents from a high-quality southeastern Head Start program, include such school readiness outcomes as health, social skills, cognitive skills, and language skills. The research article, A Comparison of School Readiness Outcomes for Children Randomly Assigned to a Head Start Program and the Program’s Wait List, by Martha Abbott-Shim, Richard Lambert, and Frances McCarty, appeared in the April 2003 issue of the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk.
The Oklahoma Project – a powerful new Georgetown University study by William T. Gormley, Jr., Deborah Phillips, and Ted Gayer – points to teacher quality and pay in the public schools as likely reasons for improved school readiness for children who attend high quality, universal preschool programs. NIEER Director Steve Barnett said that the new study "demonstrates the significance of licensed teachers with early education training – who are paid the same as other public school teachers" in the gains made by children. The Georgetown study used an unusual and distinctive methodology, providing greater confidence in its findings, he said.
The Trust for Early Education recently released a report on teacher quality, Bachelor’s Degrees Are Best: Higher Qualifications for Pre-Kindergarten Teachers Lead to Better Learning Environments for Children, by Marcy Whitebook, Ph.D. director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Whitebook’s findings indicate that pre-kindergarten teachers who have at least a bachelor’s degree along with specialized training in early childhood development and education are better at preparing preschoolers for kindergarten.

NIEER Activities

With news from across the nation and around the world, this new publication from NIEER puts the spotlight on national and international preschool issues. You can view the inaugural issue on the NIEER web site. Please contact info@nieer.org if you wish to begin receiving Preschool Matters.

Calendar

November 9, 2003 - November 11, 2003
Washington, DC - The Public Education Network’s 13th annual conference explores the history of intermediary organizations and celebrates the 20th anniversary of local education funds.
November 13, 2003 - November 15, 2003
Columbus, OH – The Ohio Department of Education Office of Early Childhood hosts its annual early childhood conference.
December 5, 2003 - December 7, 2003
New Orleans - Zero to Three celebrates its 25th anniversary at the 18th National Training Institute.

Early Education News Roundup

November 4, 2003
The Lawrence Journal-World, Lawrence, KS
Dozens of children are on a waiting list for the Lawrence school district's preschool program for at-risk kids, officials said Monday. Meanwhile, a new report from Georgetown University researchers is showing how effective prekindergarten programs can be.
October 30, 2003
The Washington Post
Democratic senators yesterday joined their Republican colleagues in voting to increase the funds for Head Start, the preschool program for poor children dating back to President Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society" that has been the focus of intense ideological debate over the past few months. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson said in a statement that the administration will continue to work with Congress to "strengthen" the role played by the states in administering the Head Start program.
October 30, 2003
The Press of Atlantic City
Giving preschoolers early learning skills was the goal behind the state Supreme Court ruling in the Abbott vs. Burke case that required 30 urban school districts, including Pleasantville, Vineland, Millville and Bridgeton, to offer free preschool. But a core number of children, often those most in need of early learning skills, still are not being served, according to a report issued by the Education Law Center Wednesday.
October 30, 2003
KOTV
Researchers reported Tulsa's pre-K program is improving school readiness for 4-year-olds. They say kindergarteners who attended the pre-K program are more prepared for school than those who did not.
October 29, 2003
The New York Times
Federal officials say the test will improve the quality of Head Start, the 38-year-old program intended to prepare poor children for kindergarten. But many of the country's leading education experts, and Head Start providers and teachers, say the test could harm the children as well as Head Start, which is widely regarded as one of the nation's most successful antipoverty programs.
October 29, 2003
Education Week
With the ticking clock of the federal No Child Left Behind Act in their ears, urban school leaders are hiring thousands of fully certified teachers. New hiring tactics and a weak economy have allowed big-city districts to decrease their reliance on uncertified educators.
October 28, 2003
The Washington Times
A Senate Republican proposal for Head Start tightens oversight of the federal preschool program but doesn't allow any states full control over it, according to an outline of the plan circulated late last week. The House bill would allow up to eight states to apply for control of their Head Start programs in order to better coordinate early education networks.
October 28, 2003
University of Pennsylvania Almanac
Researchers at [the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education] GSE plan to develop a first-ever integrated curriculum for preschoolers in Head Start classrooms across the country--encompassing literacy, numeracy and both school and social readiness skills. Funded with a $5.8 million federal grant over five years, this project will be the first effort U.S. educators have made to provide disadvantaged children with an opportunity to overcome the academic challenges that research shows can plague them for their entire academic careers.
October 24, 2003
Pioneer Press, St. Paul, MN
The money guys see it as a matter of dollars and cents. Investing money in early-childhood programs is perhaps the best form of economic development there is, they say — with annual returns that can exceed the stock market's — and can result in more savings to society than any other social program.
October 22, 2003
The Miami Herald
Class sizes for Florida's prekindergarten programs would be limited to no more than 20 children and the school day would last up to six hours under recommendations presented Tuesday to the state Board of Education. The prekindergarten recommendations made by an advisory council led by Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings were the most detailed result yet from a constitutional amendment approved last year by Florida voters.
October 19, 2003
The Idaho Statesman
Kindergartners' poor showing is fueling arguments from Boise and Meridian school district officials and some parents that more preschool programs are needed to give low-performing students a leg up on reading and math skills before they enter public school. And within three years, Marilyn Howard, state superintendent of public instruction, expects to propose to the Legislature, which has stayed away from paying for early childhood education programs, a comprehensive preschool plan that could involve school districts, the business community and private day-care and preschool operators.
October 15, 2003
Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN
Art Rolnick, one of Minnesota's most influential economists, is quickly becoming a national leader in an unlikely arena -- the benefits of preschool for disadvantaged kids. The top researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis argues that early childhood development offers an extraordinary return on investment.
October 9, 2003
The Boston Globe
Some of the state's top business and education leaders launched a lobbying effort yesterday to build support for free preschool programs for every child, saying that the future of the Massachusetts work force depends on early education. The legislative proposal, to be touted in a novel campaign employing the language of economics and expensive television ads, is ambitious.
October 8, 2003
Education Week
Researchers investigating the effects of child care on young children are learning that it's not easy to make generalizations about its benefits or drawbacks. W. Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, a think tank at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., is one of the people who have focused on the positive.

Resources

This discussion paper by economists at PricewaterhouseCoopers examines the benefits – in terms of higher female employment and earnings – as well as the costs of providing universal childcare for all one- to four-year-olds in the UK.
This report from the federal General Accounting Office shows that more than half of Head Start teachers nationwide had at least an associate’s degree in early childhood education or a related field – an increase of more than 4 percent since 1999.
An article by Hermine H. Marshall in the journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, provides information and suggestions for teachers and administrators when faced with the question: Should kindergarten entry be delayed for some children?
In the Harvard Family Research Project’s Evaluation Exchange, authors Stephen Bagnato, Robert Grom, and Leon Haynes describe an evaluation design for Pittsburgh’s Early Childhood Initiative.
This booklet, published by the Partnership for Reading, offers advice for parents on how to encourage reading development at home, and how to identify preschool and day care activities that support children as they continue to develop their early reading skills.
By Adrian Raine, D.Phil., Kjetil Mellingen, M.A., Jianghong Liu, Ph.D., Peter Venables, Ph.D., and Sarnoff A. Mednick, D.Med.

This study, published in the September issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry, "assessed the effects of an early nutritional, educational, and physical exercise enrichment program on adult outcome for schizotypal personality, conduct disorder, and criminal behavior." The authors found that the "results are consistent with an increasing body of knowledge that implicates an enriched, stimulating environment in beneficial psychological and behavioral outcomes."