Volume 6, Issue 11

June 15, 2007

Hot Topics

The gains children made in language, literacy and math during preschool were largely sustained during their kindergarten year, leading to a narrowing of the achievement gap, say researchers who conducted the just-released NIEER study of New Jersey's Abbott Preschool Program. Kindergarteners who attended the Abbott program serving the state’s neediest districts closed more than 50 percent of the gap between their literacy scores and the national average. Those who didn't attend the program closed 18 percent of the gap. In math, children who attended Abbott pre-K continued to outperform in kindergarten those who did not. NIEER Co-Director Ellen Frede, principal author and former head of the department at the New Jersey Department of Education responsible for implementing the Abbott pre-K program, said the findings are heartening because "One of the goals of mandating the program was to help underprivileged children close the achievement gap."

Other findings from the Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study (APPLES), which will continue to track the Abbott children, are these:

  • Children who attended for two years at ages 3 and 4 significantly outperformed those who attended for only one year at age 4.

  • The gains in language and math from two years of Abbott attendance are quite large — nearly double for language and 70 percent larger for math.

  • Adequate funding, high quality standards and intensive professional development have resulted in good classroom quality across all Abbott classrooms whether in private provider or school district settings.

  • Almost 90 percent of Abbott classrooms evaluated in 2006 scored above the average score found in 2000.

  • Areas of classroom improvement were those most directly related to child learning such as language and reasoning activities, interactions and program structure.

Download the study at http://nieer.org/docs/index.php?DocID=173.

Rutgers University (through NIEER) and The Pew Charitable Trusts are holding a briefing for members of Congress and staff on Monday, June 18 to address key issues in preschool education. Panel members will include Susan Urahn, Managing Director, State Policy Initiatives, The Pew Charitable Trusts; Steve Barnett and Ellen Frede, Co-Directors of NIEER; William Gormley Jr., Georgetown Public Policy Institute; and Vivian Wong Weis, Northwestern University. They'll discuss, among other things, recent findings from the new Abbott Study (above), a new analysis of effects of five quality state pre-K programs, recent work on Oklahoma's state pre-K by Gormley and his colleague Deborah Phillips, a NIEER randomized trial of dual language and English immersion pre-K programs, and a meta-analysis of the effects of teacher qualifications.
"Rare is the politician who stakes his or her legacy on closing the gap (in education)," writes Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson in the June 9 edition of the paper. Jackson and others in the state say the $2.2 billion in education spending Governor Deval Patrick has proposed to spend on universal pre-K, full-day kindergarten and free community college for high school graduates over the next 10 years is one of the biggest undertakings by any governor in the country. Jackson cites NIEER's State Preschool Yearbook in documenting the slippage in resources for Massachusetts preschool education under previous Governor Mitt Romney. Read Jackson's column at http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/06/09/investing_in_education?mode=PF.
A study tracking more than 15,000 boys and girls born in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2002 found that by age 3, children from disadvantaged families are already lagging about a year behind their middle-income peers. In vocabulary tests, 3-year-olds whose parents graduated from school were 10 months ahead of those from families where parents were poorly educated. The children of more educated parents were 12 months ahead in their understanding of colors, letters, numbers, sizes and shapes. The findings are from the Second Survey of the Millennium Cohort Study begun in 2001 by the Center for Longitudinal Studies at the Institute of Education at the University of London to provide a broad-based long-term picture of early childhood and family dynamics. In 1999, the UK launched the comprehensive Sure Start Program which provides universal preschool, child care and family and health services. The new Millennium Cohort Study report is available at http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Society/documents/2007/06/11/MCS2.pdf.
When people are vaccinated for infectious diseases like the flu, a benefit accrues to the rest of society. Since those vaccinated are unlikely to spread the disease to those who were not, the unvaccinated are less likely to contract it. As a result, resources aren’t expended to care for them or to account for their lost productivity or death. In a new study, economists Bryan L. Boulier and Robert S. Goldfarb at The George Washington University and Tejwant S. Datta at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia studied these indirect benefits of vaccination by applying epidemiological modeling to simulated scenarios involving influenza and the mumps. Much to the surprise of many, they found the benefit of vaccination to the unvaccinated population can far exceed one case prevented per vaccination administered. Their findings could spur a re-examination of policy guidelines for vaccination, particularly as regards vaccinating children for influenza. Their report is at The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.


June 25, 2007 - June 28, 2007
Washington, DC – This annual conference provides participants with opportunities to learn new skills and best practices in working with infants, toddlers and their families.
July 23, 2007 - July 25, 2007
Little Rock, AR – Leadership and staff development conference for educators interested in Schools of the 21st Century, early care and education, family resource centers, community schools, and other school-based family support programs.

Early Education News Roundup

June 15, 2007
The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, IN
Expansion of full-day kindergarten got all the attention during this year's General Assembly session, but legislators also, with no fanfare or public discussion, created a pre-kindergarten pilot program for children as young as 4 years old. There is no particular urgency – the legislators put no money in the state budget to fund the program. But its mere existence will keep the issue on the public agenda, and some advocates will be out looking for money through foundations and private grants to fund it.
June 13, 2007
The Oregonian
The House approved a record school spending package Tuesday that boosts Oregon's early childhood education program and provides resources to stem the loss of new teachers. The package of bills providing $6.245 billion over the next two years now goes to the Senate, where the bills are expected to be passed.
June 11, 2007
The Charleston Gazette
In 2002, however, the National Institute for Early Education Research concluded that Head Start produces long-term educational benefits, but it could do better with more money and higher standards. West Virginia educators, child advocates and health policy experts are so taken with the lifelong payoff of good preschool, they've been working together to offer it to as many children as possible.
June 5, 2007
Idaho Statesman
[Governor Butch] Otter's staff, [State School Superintendent Tom] Luna and education officials are expected to meet next week to discuss the cuts, and in the meantime, Otter's staff is talking informally with legislators, spokesman Jon Hanian said Monday. It shouldn't be that hard to find replacement dollars for Parents as Teachers and Head Start — the programs stand to lose about $2.3 million in federal money — and sort out any administrative quibbling over who should run the programs.
June 4, 2007
Journal Statesman, Salem, OR
Thousands of new 3- and 4-year-olds will join [Head Start student Brayden Freguson] across Oregon in the next two years, including many from the Mid-Valley, if the Legislature approves a Department of Education budget that expands Head Start.
The Legislature's joint budget committee voted 19-1 on Friday for an agency budget that adds the full $39 million Gov. Ted Kulongoski requested to enroll almost every eligible child in the prekindergarten program.
June 4, 2007
Houston Chronicle
The Early Reading First Program has had a positive effect on children's print and letter knowledge, according to a report released by the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. But the study also found the program has had no impact on phonological awareness, which includes rhyming, or oral language, which includes vocabulary development. The program has led to more professional development for teachers, according to the study.
June 2, 2007
Burlington Free Press
Legislation that was signed into law Friday firms up the protocol for setting up and running such programs around the state. Detractors were glad to see that the legislation encourages collaboration with private child-care providers and includes a cap on the number of slots that qualify for public funding, a move that brought on board Gov. Jim Douglas and others who had been reluctant.
June 1, 2007
Nationwide, almost two-thirds (64 percent) of children attend preschool center in the year prior to kindergarten, typically at age four. On any given day, more than 5 million American youngsters attend some prekindergarten program.
June 1, 2007
The Birmingham News, Birmingham, AL
An overwhelming majority of Alabama kindergarten teachers say pre-kindergarten programs are extremely important and significantly improve the skills of students, according to results of a statewide survey released Thursday.


Contributors to the latest report from the Center for Law and Social Policy on child care and early education among immigrants went straight to the source: the families and communities themselves. After visiting nine gateway communities and new destinations for immigrants in eight states, authors Hannah Matthews and Deeana Jang found that immigrants face multiple layers of barriers to participation in early care and education. Awareness is a big problem. Some families are unfamiliar with the concept of early education and, perhaps worse, organizations serving them are often unaware of early care and education programs and opportunities. Among CLASP's recommendations in The Challenges of Change: Learning from the Child Care and Early Education Experiences of Immigrant Families is stepping up coordination and collaboration with the refugee- and immigrant-serving community.
More parents are holding their children back from starting kindergarten until they are a year older, writes Elizabeth Weil in a comprehensive story on the issue in The New York Times Magazine, June 3 edition. The practice, called "red shirting" is, believe many parents, a way to enable their children to excel early over their younger peers and establish a lifelong pattern of success. Because it can lead to age differences of 18 months in a single class, the practice has important implications for early education. Read the article at http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60813FD3F540C708CDDAF0894DF404482.