Volume 7, Issue 10

June 3, 2008

Hot Topics

New findings from the long-running Cincinnati Lead Study show that increased blood lead levels before birth and during early childhood were associated with higher rates of arrest and violent crimes. For every five micro-grams per deciliter increase in blood lead levels at 6 years of age, the risk of being arrested for a violent crime as a young adult increased by almost 50 percent. Between 1979 and 1984, pregnant women living in poor areas of Cincinnati were recruited to provide the sample for the study. The women and their children's lead blood levels were tested. The new findings, garnered by correlating the blood data with arrest records, are available at http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0050101.
The Wall Street Journal columnist Sue Shellenbarger writes that many states have begun posting safety records for licensed child care programs online. At the click of a mouse, parents now can learn what state inspections have discovered about licensed child care centers and homes. Shellenbarger says online availability of these records not only helps parents, it also provides an impetus for providers to improve quality as they strive to maintain their licenses and meet the child care needs of working parents. Shellenbarger's column includes links for states currently posting their records online.
Governor Mike Beebe has been lauding NIEER's latest findings from its long-term study of the Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) program. Recently released, the study found statistically significant effects of the ABC program for language at the end of the kindergarten year and for math and early literacy at the end of first grade. "These findings are quite positive, considering that conventional analyses underestimate the effects of ABC participation due to selection bias," says NIEER Director Steve Barnett.
Parents expressed skepticism about the educational value of digital media platforms such as online video games and virtual communities in a national poll from Common Sense Media and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Sixty-seven percent said they didn't think the web helped teach their kids how to communicate and 87 percent said they didn't think it helped the kids learn how to work with others. Teachers polled saw more educational potential in digital media than parents but also said educational digital media products are overselling themselves.
A new study by the RAND Corporation uses the economic concepts of human capital theory and monetary "payoffs" from investments in early childhood services to provide policymakers with a primer about how economic analysis can help set agendas for early childhood policy. Programs evaluated according to these economic concepts show, for example, that increased investment in early childhood results in government savings by leading to less need for social services later in life and increased earnings by individuals - which in turn leads to greater tax revenue for the government. "The Economics of Early Childhood: What the Dismal Science Has to Say About Investing in Children" is available at http://rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP227/.

NIEER Activities

Four from NIEER's staff will be presenting at the National Association for the Education of Young Children's 17th National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development next week in New Orleans. Topics, times and our presenters are as follows:



Do You Think Quantification of Authentic Assessment Data for Instructional/Program Planning, Statewide Systems Improvement and Even Accountability Is Appropriate?

June 8, 10:30 AM – Ellen Frede



Enhancing Bilingual Acquisition in Children and Families: Integrating Spanish-Language Preschool Programs from V-me Media into Your Curriculum

June 9, 10:30 AM – Alexandra Figueras, Ellen Frede & Shannon Riley-Ayers



Improving Teaching Through Standards-Based Systematic Assessment: Development of the Early Learning Scale

June 9, 2:00 PM – Shannon Riley-Ayers, Ellen Frede & Judi Stevenson Boyd

Calendar

June 8, 2008 - June 11, 2008
New Orleans, LA – This conference will deepen participants' understanding of the expanding early childhood knowledge base.
June 23, 2008 - June 25, 2008
Washington, DC – This biennial event provides participants with the opportunity to share research promoting positive development in young children.
June 30, 2008 - July 2, 2008
Austin, TX – This conference will feature sessions that will enlighten, equip, and engage conference attendees.
July 8, 2008 - July 11, 2008
San Diego, CA – This conference provides a new approach to developing leaders in the field of child care resource and referral.
July 9, 2008 - July 10, 2008
Washington, DC – The theme for this year's conference for the Partnership for America's Economic Success is "Using the Economic Message in Tough Economic Times."
July 17, 2008 - July 19, 2008
Chicago, IL – At this conference, attendees will learn the latest in early education practice.
August 6, 2008 - August 8, 2008
Quebec, Canada – This conference aims to enrich the possibilities of children's right to be educated in a culture of peace.

Early Education News Roundup

June 3, 2008
The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, LA
Some parents may have to pay for their child to attend a public preschool next year. If families aren't enrolled in the federally-funded free and or reduced-price meal program, they may be asked to pay at least $450 monthly for their child to attend prekindergarten classes funded through the state's Cecil J. Picard LA 4 preschool program.
June 2, 2008
The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY
Across the nation, Head Start programs are facing troubles related to a budget crunch: high staff turnover, reduced hours, staff cuts. The [National Head Start Association] report found that half the programs studied now worry about teacher salaries so low staff would likely leave and 62 percent plan to reduce hours or days of operation.
June 1, 2008
Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK
Though the importance of appropriate early childhood education is better appreciated than ever before, still-emerging research — some of it being generated right here in Tulsa — is beginning to suggest the earlier, the better. Such research, if it proves to be well-founded in the next few years, will have important implications in the growing debate over funding universal pre-school programs.
May 29, 2008
The Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ
Not so long ago, kindergarten homework was cutting edge. But as parents fret over children falling behind, homework in preschool is becoming the norm -- despite the fact researchers say it has little value. For preschoolers, they say, it might even be detrimental.
May 29, 2008
The New York Times
A new application process intended to simplify pre-kindergarten enrollment has left parents confused and angry about options for their children, New York City's public advocate said on Wednesday.
May 28, 2008
The News Journal, Wilmington, DE
Thanks to Delaware Stars for Early Success -- the state's five-star quality rating and improvement system for early care providers -- the Wilmington child care center has revitalized the playground, added libraries and sandboxes in every classroom and put several staff members through intense professional development.
May 28, 2008
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
No one is suggesting mandatory pre-school. Parents should be supported as a child's first teacher. I suggest a state delivery system of early learning that is voluntary but fully funded and available to all.
May 27, 2008
The Wenatchee World, Wenatchee, WA
There is an opportunity here to invest in education where there will be a measurable payoff. Washington state has moved ahead, increasing funding for preschool programs substantially, but there should be more, and more outlets for private contributions involvement.
May 25, 2008
The Charlotte Observer
What effect the prekindergarten program might have on 4-year-olds once they reach their teen years would be beneficial for parents, educators, politicians and other taxpayers to know.
May 25, 2008
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
This year marks the first time that Pennsylvania has dedicated state funding for preschool programs, a decision driven in part by research contending that every dollar spent on high-quality Pre-K programs results in $17 less in future spending on education, crime and social welfare.
May 25, 2008
The Columbia Daily Tribune
Providing children with quality preschool has the power to eliminate academic achievement gaps, lower crime rates, decrease dependence on social services and boost employment opportunities later in life, two decades of research has shown. Early childhood education might not be a magic bullet to solve all social ailments, but it's by far the best return on an investment society can make, said Greg Steinhoff, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
May 22, 2008
Chattanooga Times Free Press
The 2007 Kids Count report by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, released early today, says the state has received national attention for its pre-K efforts. "For the past two years, Tennessee was recognized by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) as one of only six states with the highest quality Pre-K program standards," said the report, titled "Opportunity for All Children in Tennessee."
May 20, 2008
The Garden Island, Lihu'e, HI
The Early Learning Council that would be created by Senate Bill 2878 "is key in establishing a comprehensive, quality early learning system" to be known as Keiki First Steps, said Anna Peters of the Kaua'i Good Beginnings Alliance. The bill relating to early learning sits on the desk of Gov. Linda Lingle.
May 17, 2008
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, LA
Some type of publicly funded pre-K is operating in almost every parish, but all the public pre-Ks target low-income children. As a result, the program misses many children who would benefit.

Resources

This issue of The Future of Children focuses on the most common forms of electronic media and analyzes their influence on the well-being of children and adolescents. Investigators Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Elisabeth Hirschhorn Donahue invited a panel of experts to review the best available evidence on how media are linked with various aspects of child well-being. Evidence for young children and adolescents are considered separately.
This report from the Institute of Education Sciences' Regional Educational Laboratory Program explores the use of various assessments tools to evaluate school readiness initiatives.
This book from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation offers solutions to ensuring success for the next generation based on three areas: parents, teachers and schools.
This publication from ZERO TO THREE offers a framework for states creating or revising useful early learning guidelines for infants and toddlers.