Volume 7, Issue 3

February 14, 2008

Hot Topics

So far, 17 governors have voiced some sort of new commitment to preschool education in their State of the State speeches. NIEER's list of governors who have emphasized pre-K in their State of the State is available here.
In a newly released study, British researchers investigated the sources of unexpected performance among under-achieving and over-achieving children in the UK. Using an interview-based measure of home environment, they found that 16 percent of children achieved higher than predicted scores based on their background in both literacy and numeracy. A similar proportion achieved lower than their background would have predicted in literacy and numeracy. They looked at preschool centers in much the same way, finding that about one-third turned out children who achieved higher than expected scores and about a third turned out children achieving lower than expected. Conclusion: Most variation in children's achievement was not due to family or background characteristics.



Titled "Effects of the Home Learning Environment and Preschool Center Experience Upon Literacy and Numeracy Development in Early Primary School," it appears in the March issue of Journal of Social Science.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Mexico President Felipe Calderon has signed agreements that enable Mexico to send teachers to Illinois and Illinois to send teachers to Mexico. The pact reportedly provides for creating a certification program that can be recognized in Illinois and Mexico.
An analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) says at least 24 states, including several of the nation's largest, face budget shortfalls in FY 2009. Deficit estimates from the 20 states that have made them so far total $34 billion for FY 2009. CBPP says states that had accumulated rainy day funds are drawing them down.
President George W. Bush's recently submitted budget freezes discretionary funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant for the seventh year in a row, cuts Head Start funding by $10 million despite that program's recent reauthorization, and cuts funding for support services such as Even Start, the Social Services Block Grant and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. According to Hannah Matthews and Danielle Ewen at the Center for Law and Social Policy, the cuts will result in 200,000 children losing access to services by next year. Read their report at http://clasp.org/publications/cc_2009_budget.pdf.

New on nieer.org

Is there a rise in challenging behaviors among young children in early care and education? Is preschool a contributing factor or can it provide positive experiences that can reduce the rates of challenging behaviors? What about quality's role in ameliorating challenging behaviors? In this NIEER policy brief, authors Lisa A. McCabe and Ellen C. Frede review the research in order to answer these questions and make recommendations that can lead to better behavioral outcomes.

Calendar

March 15, 2008 - March 17, 2008
New Orleans, LA – The theme of this year's conference is "Reinventing Schools: Courageous Leadership for Positive Change."
March 26, 2008 - March 29, 2008
Atlanta, GA – The theme of this year's conference is "Beyond Standards: Reaching Every Child's Potential."
March 30, 2008 - April 1, 2008
Louisville, KY – This conference draws together national and international participants to discuss issues of relevance to family literacy.
April 16, 2008 - April 19, 2008
New Orleans, LA – This conference will host sessions on child care best practices, aiming to improve the quality of early care and education across the country.

Early Education News Roundup

February 13, 2008
Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, SD
[U]nlike the two-thirds of states that already have quality standards for pre-K programs, South Dakota has none. SB26 would give the state Board of Education the authority to adopt standards for things such as teacher-child ratios, group size, health and safety matters and developmentally appropriate materials for play and learning.
February 12, 2008
Newsday
This is a complex issue with a few simple facts and a bunch of elusive moving parts. One reliable truth is this: Children with learning disabilities who get pre-kindergarten special education do better in elementary school than kids with similar disabilities who don't.
February 12, 2008
The Beaumont Enterprise, Beaumont, TX
Linda Brumley remembers what her kindergarten classroom was like 26 years ago. She taught the students the alphabet, letter sounds, how to write their names - essentially what preschool teaches now.
February 12, 2008
The New York Sun
Today, my 4-year-old daughter will be put to the test. Along with thousands of other pre-kindergarten children in schools all over the city, she'll take the Bracken School Readiness Assessment and Otis-Lennon School Ability Test. These tests, administered one-on-one between January 22 and February 15, are the new criteria for admission into the gifted and talented programs of New York public schools.
February 12, 2008
The Daily Advertiser, Lafeyette, LA
LA4, the premier pre-school program, has proved to be exceptionally strong in preparing kids for regular classes. With additional funds granted recently, LA4 will be even more effective in bridging the academic gap between poor students and their more affluent classmates.
February 11, 2008
The Intelligencer, Doylestown, PA
Teachers of school-age children with autism usually have a good array of resources upon which to draw, said Deborah Schadler, head of the Autism Institute. Teachers of preschool age children, though, often aren't so lucky. And those teachers will probably have more and more children with autism coming into their classrooms, as more parents push to get their children into mainstream preschools.
February 11, 2008
The Star-Bulletin, Honolulu, HI
Expanding high-quality preschool programs in Hawaii would help students land good jobs and ultimately prevent social problems like homelessness and crime, according to a new study. [The report] says preschool teachers need to be paid more and that families, especially poor families, should be informed about the importance of early learning programs for their children.
February 10, 2008
Kalamazoo Gazette, Kalamazoo, MI
[C]hildren who start school behind typically stay behind. That's why improving and expanding preschool is critical to ensuring the success of The Kalamazoo Promise and building the area's reputation as the Education Community, Kalamazoo County leaders said.
February 6, 2008
MyFox Memphis
An early assessment of Tennessee's pre-kindergarten initiative shows the program is beneficial but critics say it's still too early to gauge its effectiveness.
February 6, 2008
Cumberland Times News, Cumberland, MD
In coming years, all young Maryland children may have the opportunity to attend preschool classes. Making preschool available to all 4-year-olds by 2014 is one of the primary recommendations of a new 46-page state task force report.
February 5, 2008
The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC
Expanding full-day 4-year-old kindergarten would significantly raise the cost of public education in South Carolina. A failure to expand it, however, would produce major long-term costs of its own. A commitment to strengthening early education programs clearly would be a wise investment in our state's economic future.
February 3, 2008
Press-Register, Mobile, AL
The good news is that Alabama has a plan to make high-quality pre-kindergarten available to more families who want it for their 4-year-olds.

Resources

This policy paper from the Center for Law and Social Policy examines the influence of the No Child Left Behind Act on school districts' use of Title I funds for early education programs and kindergarten.
This new web site, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, aims to help educators discover and put to use effective, research-based teaching practices.
This annual report from Education Week evaluates states' public education systems and gives each a grade based on its performance outcomes and policy efforts. The report can be found on the Education Week web site.