Volume 5, Issue 7

April 25, 2006

Hot Topics

Writing in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee, Yale Professor Emeritus Edward Zigler made the case for publicly funded preschool for all children as good for democracy and the "only way to ensure that quality preschool is available to at-risk children who most need it." The op-ed from the Head Start co-founder and member of NIEER's Scientific Advisory Board comes at a critical juncture for Proposition 82, the ballot measure that calls for making preschool available to all 4-year-olds in the state. Polls show the measure, while still ahead in the polls, has lost some ground. Zigler wrote that eligibility limits of programs targeted to specific demographics are "inherently unfair" and called the California initiative wisely crafted to build on the existing system of early care and education programs. Read the article at http://www.sacbee.com/content/opinion/story/14246879p-15064637c.html.
An 18-year follow-up study of the Infant Health and Development Program found sustained positive effects from preschool received by low birth weight children between ages 1 and 3. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded study is the largest ever to evaluate the effects of early development intervention on preterm infants. Though all children in the study were low birth weight, they were divided into low- and high-birth weight groups. They were assessed at ages 3, 5, 8 and 18. The high-birth weight group had sustained effects at all ages and, according to principal investigator Marie C. McCormick, Harvard University, effect sizes for IQ and development remained constant. Effects for the low group were not sustained to age 18. McCormick and colleague Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Columbia University, identified these noteworthy aspects of the study:
  • Findings for the higher-birth weight children confirm those from oft-cited previous single-site studies like the Abecedarian and Perry Preschool Project studies.

  • The intensive, closely monitored preschool education treatment occurred at 8 sites, with positive effects seen for all sites.

  • Children were qualified by birth weight only and so came from across the socio-economic spectrum rather that being from disadvantaged backgrounds. Positive effects were seen across the spectrum.

  • With 636 youths assessed at age 18, the sample was larger than many previous long-term studies.

The study is detailed in the March 2, 2006 issue of Pediatrics and can be downloaded from the web site http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/.

After years of flat funding, it looks like New York's state-funded pre-K will receive an increase of $50 million. The new funding, included in the Legislature's proposed budget, overcame a major hurdle when Governor George Pataki chose not to line-item veto it. In previous years, new allocations proposed by the legislature for state pre-K were excised by Pataki. Advocates say the new money means existing programs can be expanded and between 50 and 100 more districts will be able to start programs.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has issued a 10-point quality checklist designed to help families determine the quality of preschool and child care programs. The checklist is a tool derived from and designed to be used in addition to the organization's rigorous accreditation system. To earn NAEYC accreditation, programs complete a 4-step review process that includes on-site visitation. Accreditation lasts for 5 years.

New on nieer.org

Joining NIEER's series offering policy guidance on early education issues is Volume 10 titled Early Literacy: Policy and Practice in the Preschool Years by Dorothy S. Strickland and Shannon Riley-Ayers. The 12-page brief discusses the growing focus on early literacy and develops recommendations and discussion in the context of five issues — standards, curriculum, accountability and assessment, teacher education and home-school connections. Strickland is the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers and a NIEER distinguished fellow. Riley-Ayers is an assistant research professor at NIEER.
The latest issue of Preschool Matters carries an article analyzing changes in state-funded preschool across the country. Based on NIEER's newly-released 2005 State Preschool Yearbook, the article examines patterns of expansion and contraction in programs, discussing issues of quality, access and resources.

Also in Preschool Matters:
  • Pre-K Inclusion Program Where Typically Developing Children Learned Alongside Special Needs Kids

  • New Research: Children Overcoming a Propensity for Shyness
  • New York's New Vision: Early Ed Begins at Birth

  • Q & A With Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich

  • Recommended Reading


May 2, 2006 - May 5, 2006
Ypsilanti, MI – Attendees of this conference will explore many aspects of preschool education.
May 10, 2006 - May 13, 2006
Detroit, MI – This conference covers a wide range of topics concerning the early care and education field.
May 11, 2006 - May 13, 2006
Chicago, IL – This conference offers three days of professional development focusing on the early childhood leader.
May 16, 2006 - May 19, 2006
Atlanta, GA – This conference will feature workshops focusing on early childhood development.
May 16, 2006 - May 19, 2006
Baltimore, MD – This conference provides participants with opportunities to learn new skills and best practices in working with infants, toddlers and their families.
June 4, 2006 - June 7, 2006
San Antonio, TX – Participants will leave this conference with a deepened understanding of the expanding early childhood knowledge base.

Early Education News Roundup

April 24, 2006
Charleston Daily Mail
West Virginia is well ahead of its goal of establishing public preschools for all 4-year-olds.
April 23, 2006
The Sacramento Bee
Four decades of solid research have demonstrated the positive effects of high-quality preschool programs.
April 20, 2006
Delaware State News
More families climbing out of poverty also means more climbing into the most underserved population for preschool services. "Even though the participation rates for kids in poverty aren't as high as we would like, they're even lower for kids who are from families who are between poverty and median income," said Dr. Steve Barnett, director of the New Jersey-based National Institute for Early Education Research.
April 20, 2006
The Record, Bergen County, NJ
A good preschool program is worth its weight in gold.
April 19, 2006
The State, Columbia, SC
South Carolina's neediest public school systems and private day-care providers will share any new money the Legislature appropriates this year for expanding 4-year-old kindergarten under a bill a House committee endorsed Tuesday.
April 19, 2006
Washington Daily News
Volumes of research and data now exist to support that an investment in quality child care and education is an investment in the state's economic future.
April 17, 2006
Statesman Journal, Salem, OR
A shortage of highly educated pre-kindergarten teachers is a problem nationwide, not just in Oregon, and it worries experts who say that the early years are crucial to a child's beginning academic and emotional development.
April 12, 2006
Centre Daily Times, State College, PA
Nationally, many forces are converging to address the issue of quality early childhood education.
April 10, 2006
Knoxville News Sentinel, Knoxville, TN
Tennessee students who participated in a pilot preschool program for at-risk children did better on math and reading tests than those who didn't take part.


What influence does professional development have on teacher instruction and student achievement? This issue of McRel Insights identifies key characteristics of effective professional development.
This monograph from the RAND Corporation reviews current research addressing early childhood intervention programs, noting the social returns associated with investing early in the lives of at-risk children as well as the possible consequences of withholding investment in such programs.
The National Association of Child Care Professionals has recently launched Professional Education Center, an online training resource for child care professionals. Over 2,000 courses providing 2,500 hours of training are available, and participants will receive certificates indicating training hours and Continuing Education Units upon course completion. For more information or to sign up, visit www.naccp.org.