Volume 8, Issue 21

September 11, 2009

Hot Topics

A new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) urges governments to give a higher priority to spending on early education during the current economic crisis since that spending is likely to have higher returns in the long run. The Doing Better for Children report points out that the U.S. spends about $20,000 per child up to age 6 whereas the average OECD member country spends the equivalent of $30,000. The pattern reverses as children get older. Total spending per child in the U.S. is $140,000, significantly exceeding the OECD average of $125,000.
The leader of a European research team studying language acquisition says interim results suggest children can learn a second language as early as their preschool years through the application of immersion teaching. Christina Schelletter at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK says the study focuses on bilingual preschools in Germany, Sweden and Belgium where teachers are from the respective countries but there is at least one teacher who is a native speaker of English. The kids are addressed in each language by the native speaker and asked to respond in that language.
Flu season is approaching and the race is on to get vulnerable populations vaccinated for seasonal flu and H1N1 swine flu. Trouble is vaccine for the latter won't be available for another month. When it does, targeting children first would be the most effective way to minimize the spread of H1N1 flu, say researchers at the University of Washington. Their study, based on computer modeling, recommends that 70 percent of children between 6 months and 18 years old be vaccinated first. Doing so in a concerted effort could lead to coverage of 70 percent of the entire U.S. population since children are prime spreaders of flu, they say. They project that the typical school child contracting H1N1 flu will infect 2.4 schoolmates. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control has issued a set of flu prevention guidelines for child care and preschool settings as well as a technical report for policymakers.
The figures released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau on income, poverty and health insurance confirm that over the last decade, the average U.S. household has ended up with a lower income. The median household income fell to $50,303 last year — down about $1,000 from the 1998 level of $51,295. These charts from The New York Times illustrate key points in the report.
According to Education Week, a Cornell study has found that students show test score gains when their teachers experience improvements in observable characteristics of their fellow teachers. In other words, teachers, particularly beginning teachers, tend to "teach up" when a high-quality teacher comes on board. The positive peer effects seem to persist.
NIEER and the Division of Early Childhood Education at the New Jersey Department of Education are co-sponsoring a free conference on curriculum decision making to take place October 30 at Princeton University. Participants will learn about the philosophy of six preschool curricula, the research supporting each, how each approaches differentiated learning, and implementation issues. Among those on hand to present the curricula will be NIEER Scientific Advisory Board Member Lawrence Schweinhart of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, Diane Trister Dodge of Teaching Strategies, and Deborah Leong of Tools of the Mind. Learn more here.
The Rutgers Graduate School of Education, New Jersey Department of Education, and the Center for Effective School Practices at Rutgers have teamed up for its first annual conference for pre-K and kindergarten educators, supervisors and administrators to be held on October 1. A number of NIEER staff and fellows are scheduled to present, including distinguished fellow Dorothy Strickland, co-director Steve Barnett, associate research director Debra Ackerman, assistant research professor Shannon Riley-Ayers, and research fellow Sharon Ryan.

Calendar

September 16, 2009 - September 18, 2009
Scottsdale, AZ – The annual NACCRRA conference provides participants with the opportunity to expand their skills while networking with colleagues from around the country.
October 1, 2009


Piscataway, NJ – Join educators, supervisors, and administrators at the first annual conference for prekindergarten and kindergarten from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, New Jersey Department of Education, and the Center for Effective School Practices.
October 16, 2009 - October 18, 2009
Garden Grove, CA – The theme for the American Montessori Society 2009 Fall Conference is "Montessori Education: Inquiry, Involvement, Insight."
October 24, 2009 - October 27, 2009
Atlanta, GA – Join early childhood educators, administrators and other professionals in education, policymakers, researchers, and child development experts for the National Black Child Development Institute's 39th annual conference.
November 12, 2009 - November 13, 2009
Quebec City – This conference from the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development is designed for researchers, policymakers, and early childhood education professionals.
November 13, 2009


New York, NY – The theme for this one-day conference is "Building Empathy & Resilience: The Role of the Early Childhood Educator."

Early Education News Roundup

September 10, 2009
Asheville Citizen-Times, Asheville, NC
Locally, a state-funded organization and a key state-funded program will continue to have a significant impact on our youngest population. They are Smart Start of Buncombe County and the More at Four Pre-Kindergarten Program.
September 10, 2009
The Daily Iowan
The statewide program is a four-year initiative to provide preschool education for children from low-income families. New districts are added each year. This summer, Gov. Chet Culver announced the addition of 53 more school districts to the program, an addition that brings preschool education to 3,247 more children across the state.
September 10, 2009
Lansing State Journal, Lansing, MI
Investing in early childhood education could reduce the amount the state spends on its corrections system, one advocacy group said Wednesday. The Lansing office of national nonprofit Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is urging state legislators to continue funding early childhood programs in order to curb future crime.
September 10, 2009
USA Today
But teachers are also starting to feel pressure against this academic bent, as middle-class parents demand reassurances that kindergarten will still include playtime. The shame is that the options have turned into "either-or," as if play and education are diametrically opposed.
September 9, 2009
The Parthenon, Huntington, WV
The Luke Lee Listening, Language, and Learning Lab is sharing the gift of oral communication to hearing impaired children from across the state. This preschool for deaf children is the only one in West Virginia that offers a completely oral education, as opposed to an only sign language curriculum.
September 8, 2009
North Platte Telegraph, North Platte, NE
Nebraska's kindergarten teachers are sounding the alarm about the push for rigorous academic instruction in their classrooms, calling instead for more playtime that scientists say stimulates young brains.
September 8, 2009
The Wall Street Journal
Children so small shouldn't need mental-health help, it seems, and having therapists or counselors working in classrooms seems to risk stigmatizing them with labels, or simply interfering with the innocence of childhood.

However, a growing body of research shows that the programs are benefiting entire classrooms of children by reducing behavior problems and supporting overburdened teachers.

September 6, 2009
DeSoto Times-Tribune, Hernando, MS
Dr. Laurie Smith, executive director of the Mississippi Building Blocks Program, said a new statewide initiative is aimed at improving early childhood education. The program includes a three-year comprehensive study that will be used to analyze and improve early childhood education within the state.
September 4, 2009
The Vindicator, Youngstown, OH
Test results released Thursday show that 78 percent of Pennsylvania public schools are meeting federal academic performance targets, an increase of 4 percentage points over last year. The governor said the results showed the value of his administration's efforts to boost pre-K education, full-day kindergarten, after- school tutoring and other "targeted investments."
September 4, 2009
WDBJ7-TV, Roanoke, VA
"The rating system is set up by the state to provide some accountability for all preschool education programs," says Regional Coordinator Gayle Lucado. It's still a voluntary program, but it could someday become mandatory for everyone.
September 2, 2009
USA Today
That's just one of several findings in the growing body of research on "self-regulation" — people's ability to stop, think, make a plan and control their impulses. It turns out the ability to control your impulses is critical for choosing to study instead of watching TV, and the ability to plan how to solve a problem is vital for processing new math or science topics.
September 2, 2009
The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, PA
Modern research shows that infants are more than simply passive observers of their surroundings. They are active learners, processing information at a much earlier age and in a much more complex way than was previously thought.
September 1, 2009
The Morning News, Fayetteville, AR
The report, which plugs in numbers on what Arkansas spends on its prisons, makes the argument that this state could save one in four of the $289 million it spends annually to lock people up if Arkansas spent more money and effort on high-quality education of at-risk children before they are 5 years old.
September 1, 2009
WBAL TV
Baltimore city has increased the number of spaces it has for pre-Kindergarten students by nearly 1,000, but it is still running out of space, putting some parents on edge.

There are more than 200 pre-K programs throughout the city serving almost 5,000 students, and the numbers keep growing.

August 30, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Just as parents have been encouraged to read to their children in the preschool years, the Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics of the National Research Council made a similar push for math with a report issued this summer, "Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity."

Resources

Using NIEER quality standard benchmarks, this report from the National Association of Child Care Resources & Referral Agencies compares state licensing regulations for child care centers with state standards for publicly funded preschool programs. The study found that state-funded preschool education initiatives met more quality benchmarks than did licensed child care.
This report from Child Trends examines how family income, race/ethnicity, home language, and mother's educational attainment relate to children's cognitive development, general health, and social-emotional development. The authors studied a nationally representative sample of infants to draw their conclusions, which include that child outcome disparities are present in infants as young as nine months.
This report from Pre-K Now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States, examines partnerships between public schools and community-based preschool providers, and proposes policy recommendations to promote and facilitate collaboration in offering pre-K education.