Volume 7, Issue 16

August 29, 2008

Hot Topics

The Telegraph reports that Edward Melhuish and colleagues at the University of London have found that children who received a rich variety of home learning before school and a high-quality preschool education did better academically at age 10 than children who did not. Children who went to effective preschools achieved math scores 27 percent higher than children who did not. Melhuish described a play-based curriculum with learning opportunities covering reading and play with numbers and shapes as most effective. The research, part of the ongoing Effective Provision of Preschool Education Project, followed nearly 3,000 children from disadvantaged and middle-income backgrounds at more than 800 primary schools. Melhuish said a combination of rich home learning, quality pre-K education, and a good primary school moves children into the top 20 percent of achievers in school as opposed to the bottom 20 percent for children who receive none of the above. Findings are summarized in the journal Science.
New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2007, 13.3 million or 18 percent of children in the U.S. were living in poverty in 2007. That’s up from the 17.4 percent who were living in poverty in 2006 and the highest proportion of kids in poverty since 1998 when the figure was 18.9 percent.
The Miami Herald reports that Miami-Dade County tax payers voted heavily in favor of continuing to fund The Children's Trust, a non-profit that dedicates about $100 million a year for children's services including research on preschool education. Homeowners pay about 50 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value toward the Trust, which is spearheaded by children's advocate and former Miami Herald publisher David Lawrence, Jr.
An opinion piece from the Reason Foundation published in The Wall Street Journal during the run-up to the party conventions has lit up the blogosphere and generated fresh debate about the benefits of high-quality preschool education. For a taste of that debate, see Hechinger Institute Director Richard Lee Colvin's blog comments and Oklahoma Education Association President Roy Bishop's blog comments. Also, get NIEER's perspective by reading Director Steve Barnett's critique of the two-year-old Reason Foundation paper on which this op-ed was based.

New on nieer.org

The July/August issue of Preschool Matters, along with past issues of NIEER's award-winning newsmagazine, is now available online in individual article form. With a single click, jump to any feature story or column.

The latest issue:

  • Looks at the importance of play

  • Discusses new media's effects on learning

  • Examines a tool that estimates pre-K's cost

  • Interviews Sesame Workshop's Michael Levine

    The whole issue is also available as a single pdf here.
  • Calendar

    September 17, 2008 - September 17, 2008
    Montreal, Canada – This conference will discuss ways youth violence can be prevented through quality pre-K education programs.
    September 23, 2008 - September 26, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA – This conference provides participants with the opportunity to expand their skills while networking with colleagues from around the country.
    October 3, 2008 - October 4, 2008
    Kansas City, MO – This conference focuses on key issues affecting the learning disabilities field.
    October 9, 2008 - October 12, 2008
    Budapest, Hungary – This conference will bring together professionals from around the globe to learn about best practices in democratic teaching in preschool and primary classrooms.
    October 20, 2008 - October 21, 2008
    Sacramento, CA – This conference provides child development leaders with the opportunity to discuss current public policy initiatives with colleagues.
    October 22, 2008 - October 24, 2008
    Lihue, HI – This conference will focus on how to grow an early childhood organization while maintaining quality services for children.
    October 24, 2008 - October 26, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA – This conference aims to empower educators to help break through barriers to higher student achievement.
    October 25, 2008 - October 28, 2008
    Atlanta, GA – At this conference, participants gather to gain knowledge and acquire the skills needed to ensure a quality future for all children and youth.
    October 26, 2008 - October 30, 2008
    St. Louis, MO – This conference aims to bring Head Start leaders together to strengthen their skills in an effort to further positive outcomes for children and their families.
    October 27, 2008 - October 30, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN – Attendees at this conference will explore ways to improve outcomes for young children with special needs.
    October 28, 2008 - October 31, 2008
    Washington, DC – This conference aims to describe and disseminate approaches and resources that foster dual language development in young children, including their acquisition of the English language.

    Early Education News Roundup

    August 29, 2008
    The Wall Street Journal
    Parents and policy makers have long debated whether preschools provide any educational benefit -- and whether it makes sense for states to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to fund them. A study appearing Friday in the journal Science could reignite the debate. In the study, researchers in England found that the benefits of attending a good preschool, including improved mathematic and reading ability and social skills, can last for several years and give children a leg up when they enter elementary school.
    August 29, 2008
    The Boston Globe
    Children who went to preschool perform better in math at age 10 than classmates who didn't get the early education, according to a study in the United Kingdom.
    August 28, 2008
    ABC 7, Chicago, IL
    "Preschool for all" is the motto of Stock School, one of the best Chicago Public preschools. Located on Chicago's Northwest Side, Stock School has excelled in integrating children with and without disabilities in all of their education programs.
    August 26, 2008
    Statesman Journal, Salem, OR
    You probably know that the more education you have, the more you are likely to earn. Did you know that some economists say social skills learned in early childhood are important to acquiring that education?
    August 26, 2008
    The Washington Post
    The most important predictor of children's attachment, as well as their cognitive and social development, researchers found, was the sensitivity of their mothers and the characteristics of their families, such as parental income and educational levels. The influence of these factors trumped any effects of day care.
    August 25, 2008
    Education Week
    Across the country, one of the education programs that's grown exponentially in dollars and enrollment since the last economic downturn is prekindergarten, especially for at-risk students, which is thought to save states money down the road in terms of remediation and even prison costs. With tighter budgets, pre-K funding could be a target for cuts or could see slower growth.
    August 23, 2008
    The New York Times
    More than 10 years after New York's political and education leaders promised to work toward providing access to pre-kindergarten classes to every 4-year-old across the state, more than a third of the 677 local school districts have no such programs. Last year, fewer than 91,000 children attended state-financed pre-kindergarten classes — 38 percent of the state's 4-year-olds.
    August 22, 2008
    Education Week
    According to [Wichita State audiology professor Ray] Hull, the average adult speaks at a rate of almost 170 words per minute. But the average 5- to 7- year-old processes speech at a rate of only 120 words per minute. The gap between what a child hears and what he or she understands can appear to parents and teachers as inattention, confusion or outright defiance.
    August 21, 2008
    The Washington Informer
    All children ages three and four in the District will soon have access to high quality pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) programs, thanks to the Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2008, which was passed by the D.C. City Council in July. City officials are working to ensure that all District children have access to these programs by 2014.
    August 21, 2008
    Tacoma Weekly
    The term "achievement gap" refers to the void in academic success among white students, minorities and low-income students. According to [Dr. Ronald] Ferguson, through an intelligence test for infants at around a child's first birthday, studies have shown no major discrepancies in intellect among racial groups at that age.
    August 21, 2008
    Lansing State Journal
    K.P. Pelleran, state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan, said it is essential to start more preschool programs. The group is calling on Congress and state lawmakers to expand and pay for pre-kindergarten programs such as Head Start.
    August 21, 2008
    The Jackson Sun, Jackson, TN
    The state hired Ohio-based Strategic Research Group to evaluate results of the three-year-old program. The report shows that children who participated in the Pre-K program performed better in reading and math in kindergarten and first grade.
    August 21, 2008
    Catalyst Chicago
    Since then, third-shift preschool has become a fast-growing slice of the early childhood pie, especially in predominantly Latino schools and communities that are strapped for space and need new ways to serve children who otherwise are likely to go without services. Even with the expansion, some schools with third-shift classes report that children are still going unserved.
    August 20, 2008
    The Dispatch, Clay Center, KS
    A local program that helps parents be better teachers is full and has a waiting list, overwhelming the three member staff of Parents as Teachers. The voluntary program provides home visits, regular group meetings, developmental screening, a resource library and time for children to meet with parents and other children in the program to play and learn together.


    In this report, Arizona State University professor James Paul Gee proposes a new policy framework for using digital technologies and different assessment techniques to avoid the "fourth-grade reading slump." Gee examines how conventional and "new" literacy strategies can converge with emerging media to produce a new learning equation.
    In this article, Benjamin Michael Superfine, University of Chicago, and Roger D. Goddard, University of Michigan, analyze the trend of courts to experiment with new remedial orders requiring the implementation of particular educational programs or systems of governance by analyzing the judicial consideration of preschool programs in school finance cases in New Jersey and North Carolina.