Volume 4, Issue 9

May 27, 2005

Hot Topics

Whether one agrees with the findings or not, the recently released Yale study showing high rates of expulsion among preschoolers in state-funded programs compared with K-12 children has kicked off fresh debate about the social and emotional development of young children. Since the report's May 17th release, most major newspapers and electronic media have carried something about the behavior of young children as it relates to preschool. Early childhood experts have responded with the message that high-quality programs employing well-trained teachers and consultative services reduce expulsion and find alternatives. (To read NIEER's recently completed brief on social-emotional development go to http://nieer.org/docs/index.php?DocID=125.)



The Yale study leads some to reexamine preschool itself. "Maybe Preschool Is the Problem" reads one headline from the May 22 edition of the New York Times. The study is being used to promote the notion that preschools have become too academic and that learning standards are turning pre-K into pressure cookers for young children. This questionable premise is taken on in a column by Chester Finn, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for Research and Improvement and President of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and Thomas B. Fordham Institute. It can be found at: http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/gadfly/issue.cfm?id=194#2314.

A new report on the New Jersey's Abbott preschool program shows significant gains in terms of classroom quality and student preparation for kindergarten. Issued by the Early Leaning Improvement Consortium (ELIC), the Giant Steps for the Littlest Children report shows the percentage of Abbott classrooms scoring in the inadequate to minimal ranged has dropped from over 17 percent in 2003 to 2.5 percent in 2005 while the percentage of classrooms scoring in the good to excellent range has increased from 13 percent in 2003 to nearly 40 percent in 2005. The extent to which classroom materials, activities and interactions support children's early literacy development showed similar gains.
Grown-ups think so. A recent Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive poll of 2,000 adults showed they perceive depression, anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder and eating disorders are more common today among children and adolescents than 10 years ago. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they believe depression has increased in children and teenagers over the last decade. Two-thirds think ADHD and anxiety are more common. Two-thirds also think doctors prescribe ADHD drugs too often and almost half think drugs to treat depression are prescribed too often. Sampling error is plus or minus three percent.

New on nieer.org

Could NCLB tests do more harm than good? Steve Raudenbush of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research tackles questions about NCLB tests in the latest issue of Preschool Matters.

Calendar

June 5, 2005 - June 8, 2005
Miami Beach, FL – Many Languages, Many Cultures, All Children is the theme of the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s 14th National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development.
June 21, 2005 - June 24, 2005
Washington, DC - This annual training event provides participants with the opportunity to learn about exemplary work in the infant and family field.
July 7, 2005 - July 8, 2005
Aurora, CO – This workshop provides an introduction to the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) Scaffolding Early Literacy professional development program and a brief overview of the Early Literacy Advisor™, a computerized, diagnostic assessment system.
July 12, 2005 - July 15, 2005
Denver, CO - This conference provides educational leaders with the opportunity to network and discuss leading issues affecting education policy with their colleagues.

Early Education News Roundup

May 27, 2005
Richmond Times-Dispatch
An investment today in early-childhood learning and school readiness can yield better employees for businesses tomorrow.
May 25, 2005
Education Week
The bill requires more coordination between Head Start and state-run pre-kindergarten programs.
May 25, 2005
The Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ
We've been warned for years that there is a behavioral crisis in our schools. We just didn't know it extended to preschool.
May 24, 2005
Detroit Free Press
Michigan's incoming schools chief says he will encourage an investment in preschool education.
May 24, 2005
The Albuquerque Tribune
The state has $4 million to spend in the 2005-06 fiscal year for preschools in poorer neighborhoods with the neediest children.
May 23, 2005
The Tennessean
In the mid-1990s, a committee of educators and early childhood experts developed its ideal pre-kindergarten program.
May 22, 2005
The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN
Educators say the way preschoolers are prepared to handle the jump to kindergarten can play a role in long-term school success and performance on standardized tests.
May 20, 2005
The Record, Bergen County, NJ
In a new report focusing on teaching of language and math skills, 40 percent of preschool classrooms studied in so-called Abbott districts scored in the good-to-excellent range, compared with 13 percent in 2003.
May 19, 2005
Anchorage Daily News
Alaska is one of 12 states without a state preschool system, and that needs to change, said a growing group of educators, politicians and community leaders at a conference Wednesday in Anchorage.
May 19, 2005
The Tennessean
Exposure to early childhood education creates better outcomes down the road in learning and in discipline.
May 17, 2005
The New York Times
Preschool children are three times as likely to be expelled as children in kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the new study, by researchers from the Yale Child Study Center.

Resources

In this report, author Anne W. Mitchell describes three states – Illinois, North Carolina, and Rhode Island - that have stepped forward to make investments in early care and education services, with these investments often serving as engines for efforts to raise the quality of services and to forge them into more cohesive systems. The report explains how each state secured these investments, providing in-depth accounts of the details of negotiation, leadership and coalition building that formed the foundations of successful reform. The report also discusses the factors common to the states' successes, recounting practical details intended to add to the knowledge and understanding of state change efforts. Hard copies of the report are available upon request from Smart Start's National Technical Assistance Center (gscobb@smartstart-nc.org) or can be downloaded at http://www.earlychildhoodfinance.org/Publications/SuccessStoriesPDFDraft2.pdf.
In an effort to identify actions that governors and states can take to ensure all children start school ready to reach their full potential, the National Governors Association Task Force on School Readiness adopted a framework for school readiness that consists of five readiness elements: ready schools, ready communities, ready families, ready children, and ready states. The new element of ready states includes the state systems and infrastructure that support the other readiness factors. The recommendations in this report suggest what states can do to promote school readiness in regards to all five elements.