Volume 6, Issue 6

March 30, 2007

Hot Topics

All Iowa school districts would be required to provide a voluntary preschool program of at least 10 hours a week under a bill passed this week by the Iowa House. Budgeted at $15 million for 2007-2008, the program would spend $3,420 per child and grow to $109 million by 2013-2014. Touted as providing quality public preschool to 90 percent of the state's 4-year-olds within four years, the program would be available to private and public providers so long as they meet state standards. Iowa does not require pre-K teachers to have bachelor's degrees.
Researchers at University of North Carolina's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center say they have found that in classes with Spanish-speaking students and teachers that included some Spanish in class, the Spanish speakers were better adjusted in class and experienced less aggression such as bullying and teasing. The report also said the amount of time they spent speaking in English or Spanish did not affect the children's proficiency in learning English. The researchers said programs moving toward English immersion may leave Spanish-speaking children at risk for social and language problems.
Media reports on this week's release of the latest findings from the long-term NICHD-sponsored child care study highlighted a finding that children who attended center-based child care showed some aggressive behavior as late as sixth grade. It was, said the report, a small effect. Still, the report got the attention of parents. The New York Times said the subject was the second-most-searched item on its web site. Of eight analyses conducted to test for child care's effects on cognitive and social outcomes, the one for externalizing behavior was the only one to show statistical significance. Talking to Slate magazine's Emily Bazelon, co-author Maria Burchinal, University of North Carolina, put the finding in context. "I'm not sure we communicated this, but the kids who had one to two years of daycare by age 4½—which was typical for our sample—had exactly the level of problem behavior you'd expect for kids of their age. Most people use center care for one or two years, and for those kids we're not seeing anything problematic."

NIEER Director Steve Barnett agreed, saying "we need to take this into account with the broader body of scientific knowledge, much of which shows positive effects for high-quality early care and education. The research is fairly clear that if teachers systematically include social and emotional development as an essential part of the program, then children do develop better skills and behavioral outcomes." The study also found children who had higher quality childcare had better vocabulary scores in fifth grade than those who had lower quality care. To read more about the report visit http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/child_care_linked_to_vocabulary_032607.cfm.
Children from low-income families who attended high-quality preschool education with children from middle-income families rose from well below the national norm in verbal awareness to just above it after one year of preschool education. The result, reported in the current issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly by Saint Joseph College Professor Carlota Schecter comes from a study in which one group of children from low-income families attended the integrated programs and another attended programs of equivalent quality but were comprised entirely of children from low-income backgrounds. The group attending programs consisting entirely of children from low-income backgrounds made progress but did not reach the national norm.

New on nieer.org

The latest issue of Preschool Matters features a look at states that are taking the lead on public pre-k for 3-year-olds. The Erikson Institute's Barbara Bowman, NIEER Co-Director Ellen Frede, and NIEER Research Associates Amanda Colon and Alexandra Figueras discuss mixed-age classrooms and why one size doesn't fit all when it comes to preschool education.

Also in Preschool Matters:

  • 2006 State Preschool Yearbook Shows New Highs, a New Low

  • Newsmaker Graciela Italiano-Thomas and Washington's Thrive by Five Partnership

  • Two High-Level Reports Call for Universal Access to Preschool Education

  • International Study Finds Pre-K Practices That Make a Difference


April 3, 2007 - April 5, 2007
St. Louis, MO – Join preschool teachers, parent educators, and early childhood specialists and child care professionals for the annual Parents as Teachers conference.
April 16, 2007 - April 18, 2007
San Antonio, TX – This conference offers participants the opportunity to broaden their understand of the Head Start program.
April 25, 2007 - April 28, 2007
Boston, MA – This conference aims to improve the quality of early care and education across the country.
May 2, 2007 - May 5, 2007
Tampa, FL – The theme of this year's conference is "Education for Transformation: Impact on the Children of the World."
May 8, 2007 - May 11, 2007
Greensboro, NC – This conference will feature many workshops covering a wide array of early childhood-related topics.

Early Education News Roundup

March 30, 2007
Hartford Courant
Under the governor's bold proposal, millions more will be invested in early childhood programs and additional preschool slots, so more youngsters will have access to Connecticut's innovative programs. With a quality preschool education, students will be more likely to graduate from high school, find a secure, well-paying job and become less likely to commit a crime when they become adults.
March 29, 2007
Statesman Journal, Salem, OR
Every day that we fail to protect kids from abuse or neglect, or fail help working families afford quality early education, we increase the risk that you or someone you love will fall victim to violence. Oregon's members of Congress can help improve the lives of thousands of children and protect all of us from becoming victims of crimes by supporting an increase in Head Start.
March 26, 2007
Houston Chronicle
Since 2002, per-student funding for pre-school education in Texas has declined by 20 percent. Given the positive relationship between pre-kindergarten education and later school success, this decrease in spending at this prime learning period should grab our attention. While the spending rate puts the state at 26th — quite a bit higher than Texas often fares in such rankings — it isn't a level that fosters high-quality pre-school across the board.
March 25, 2007
The Ocala Star-Banner
We want to make sure that in the coming year Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature realize the promise of the constitutional amendment voters overwhelming passed in November 2002, and provide all of Florida's children with pre-kindergarten classes taught by qualified teachers with bachelor's degrees. According to the latest annual report from the National Institute for Early Education, the quality of Florida's pre-K program ranks among the lowest in the nation.
March 24, 2007
The Washington Post
About 40 percent of Latino 3- and 4-year-olds (and 5-year-olds not yet in kindergarten) are enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs, compared with about 60 percent of white and African American children, according to the District-based advocacy group Pre-K Now. Latino education advocates said they are battling a misperception that Hispanic parents are less concerned about teaching young children.
March 22, 2007
The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC
A new study finds that Spanish-speaking preschoolers are better adjusted in class when their teachers speak at least some Spanish, compared to children whose teachers speak only English. The key finding of the study, by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC Chapel Hill, tends of refute conventional wisdom that English-only pre-kindergarten programs help close achievement gaps among children from different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
March 20, 2007
The Palm Beach Post
Nearly half the state's 4-year-olds have enrolled in Florida's free preschool - an effort that at once impresses and worries those in the field of educating young children.
March 19, 2007
Courier & Press, Evansville, IN
While Indiana and its Legislature debate whether or not to fund statewide full-day kindergarten, other states, recognizing that early childhood education is a powerful learning tool, are wisely looking at strengthening prekindergarten education.
March 19, 2007
Education Week
Most parents can readily attest that earlier is better when it comes to helping children. Indeed, the oft-repeated parenting maxim "Get them while they’re young" is not just homespun wisdom but a consistent finding of social scientists who study government programs for disadvantaged youths. One of the best investments government can make to raise academic achievement and reduce welfare dependency and crime is the provision of quality preschool programs.
March 16, 2007
Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL
Alabama's state-funded pre-kindergarten program is a classic good news, bad news story. The good news is that Alabama has one of the top quality programs in the nation. The bad news is that it reaches only 2 percent of the children who might need it.
March 14, 2007
The Washington Post
Nationwide, children typically enter school at around age 5, when they're ready for kindergarten. But research highlighting the importance of early learning is prompting more and more states to add pre-kindergarten programs.
March 14, 2007
Tulsa World
Oklahoma is highlighted as "A Pre-K Leader" and given nearly perfect marks for its state-funded prekindergarten program in a report being released Wednesday by the National Institute for Early Education Research. About 70 percent of Oklahoma's 4-year-olds are enrolled in a state-funded program. When adding enrollments of 4-year-olds in Head Start and special-education programs, about 90 percent are in some type of education program, the report states.
March 14, 2007
The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC
North Carolina is one of only two states whose prekindergarten programs met all benchmarks for quality cited in a report from an early childhood education policy institute. The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University highlighted the More at Four program and another initiative in Alabama as the only state-funded prekindergarten programs that reached all 10 benchmarks in 2006.