Volume 5, Issue 8

May 19, 2006

Hot Topics

Findings from a randomized trial comparing children in half-day and full-day public preschool programs show that children attending full-day programs fared better on mathematics and literacy tests than children in a traditional 2.5 to 3-hour public preschool program. What's more, those achievement gains continued at least until the end of first grade. Even though the children were from low-income families, those who received the full-day program achieved test score gains that approached national norms. NIEER researchers conducted the trial with a sample of about 300 4-year-olds in an urban school district in northern New Jersey. The study is reported in the latest NIEER working paper titled Is More Better? The Effects of Full-Day vs Half-Day Preschool on Early School Achievement.
The Preschool For All Act, otherwise known as ballot initiative Proposition 82 in the upcoming California state election, is likely to deliver substantial educational and economic benefits to the state according to NIEER's just-completed analysis of the measure. In it, NIEER researchers Ken Robin, Debra Ackerman and Steve Barnett point out that California was surpassed by 43 other states on the NAEP assessment of reading in fourth grade, and would see gains in student achievement as well as future benefits to the state economy as higher-achieving graduates become more productive members of the state's workforce. The analysis concluded that as many as 40 percent of 4-year-olds from low-income families not currently served by any pre-K program would be served by Prop. 82 when fully implemented, and that 55 percent of California's preschool-age population would see program quality increased. The state would receive $2.78 in return for every $1 invested in the program, confirming findings from an earlier RAND Corp. study that identified returns similar in magnitude. The analysis is on NIEER's web site at http://nieer.org/resources/files/CAProp82Analysis.pdf.
Both houses of the Illinois Legislature have approved Governor Rod Blagojevich's Preschool for All Children initiative that would ultimately provide state-funded preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds in the state whose parents want them to attend. Not all families would be eligible to enroll their children initially, however. The plan approved by the Legislature gives first priority to children at risk of failing in school and then to working families with incomes that meet certain guidelines. A family of four would need to earn less than four times the federal poverty guideline.
Early concerns about whether Florida's public schools will be able to handle anticipated high demand for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program summer session may be unfounded. Newspapers have been reporting lower-than-expected signup — perhaps because schools will need to provide 10 hours of instruction per day in order to fit the 300 hours of instruction required by the program into the summer. Parents may feel that's too much for preschool-age children. High demand for the program had been anticipated because, unlike the 2.5-hours of instruction provided in the school-year session, the full days fit parents' work schedules better.
Nobel laureate James Heckman and venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker have formed the Pritzker Consortium for Early Childhood Education at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago. The consortium plans to bring together experts worldwide to "identify when and how child intervention programs can be most influential." Research will be aimed at policymakers and the business community. Heckman, a University of Chicago economist who has done research on early childhood education in the context of global competitiveness, received the Nobel Prize for his development of theory and methods for analyzing selective samples. Pritzker founded the venture capital firm New World Ventures during the technology boom of the 1990s.

Calendar

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.
June 14, 2006 - June 16, 2006
Denver, CO – This conference presents participants with materials based on McREL's Success in Sight model of school improvement.
July 17, 2006 - July 18, 2006
New Haven, CT – This conference is intended for educational leaders who are faced with new expectations brought on by testing and accountability for academic improvement.
July 25, 2006 - July 27, 2006
Chapel Hill, NC – At this conference, participants will learn the latest research findings related to inclusive policy and practice.

Early Education News Roundup

May 18, 2006
Stateline.org
Heeding studies showing that investing money in kids before kindergarten increases their chances of graduating and staying out of jail, nearly half of governors this year are pushing for -- and many are getting -- more funding for preschool education.
May 12, 2006
The Kansas City Star
The bill would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to create standards for optional early education programs designed to help pre-kindergarten children with social, emotional and language development.
May 12, 2006
The Free Press, Mankato, MN
State lawmakers and the past couple of governors of Minnesota have been told by wide-ranging groups in recent years there are good reasons for making a higher priority of investing in programs for little kids.
May 11, 2006
The Virginian-Pilot
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine promised expanded preschool during his campaign last year, but did not push for it during the most recent General Assembly session. On Friday, Kaine plans to announce the members of his early education council, which will propose a model for expanding preschool in Virginia.
May 7, 2006
Los Angeles Times
Georgia's example is one of several state programs studied by the drafters of California's initiative, who hope voters will back an effort that they argue would give all students a jump-start on traditional kindergarten. Doing so, supporters hope, would translate into achievement gains for students in the nation's most populous state.
May 7, 2006
The State, Columbia, SC
The commonsense and practical solution is to expand preschool services at the state level within the structures that already exist in the Department of Education and in local school districts. This would guarantee children a seamless transition from pre-kindergarten programs into public kindergarten programs.
May 5, 2006
Chicago Tribune
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's landmark "Preschool for All Children" initiative won't give all children access to free preschool after all, at least in the short run.
May 4, 2006
Christian Science Monitor
Supporters hope that if voters pass Proposition 82, some 550,000 4-year-olds who live in California would have a chance to go to school. However, the initiative, which was once popular with residents, is losing voter support amid a disagreement over which children would benefit.
May 4, 2006
Express-News, San Antonio, TX
The proposal would make the child of an active duty member of the armed forces or a member of the National Guard or Reserve eligible for pre-kindergarten.

Resources

This report from the Committee for Economic Development studies three well-known prekindergarten programs – the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project, the Abecedarian Project and the Chicago Child-Parent Centers – in an attempt to uncover the factors leading to their long-term success.
This report from the Center for Law and Social Policy studies the participation of young children from immigrant families in early education programs as well as the factors influencing their participation. The report also provides policy recommendations for administrators of early education programs.