Volume 8, Issue 27

December 4, 2009

Hot Topics

In a small randomized trial, early intervention with autistic toddlers as young as 18 months yielded significant improvements in their cognitive skills and helped with adaptive behavior. After two years, children who received the intervention known as Early Start Denver Model improved by a mean of 17.6 IQ points. Treatment group children also maintained their adaptive behavior scores over the two years while kids in the control group saw theirs decline.

U.S. News and World Report parenting columnist Nancy Shute discusses early autism intervention and offers guidance to parents.
A new push from the White House for better math and science education comes on the heels of the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress Report showing that fourth grade math scores have remained essentially unchanged since 2007. President Obama has enlisted corporations and non-profits in a joint effort to increase American students' learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Among the organizations participating are Intel, Kodak, Time Warner Cable, PNC Foundation, Sesame Workshop, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation. On the early education front, Sesame Workshop and PNC Foundation, through its Grow Up Great program, will create a new math initiative for preschool children and a two-year science initiative with a focus on scientific inquiry. More science discussion will also be featured in the Sesame Street tv program. NIEER recently blogged on this critical subject on Preschool Matters … Today!
The Washington Department of Early Learning and Thrive by Five Washington have submitted a plan to upgrade the state's early learning system to Governor Christine Gregoire. Beginning with health care in pregnancy and extending through third grade, the 10-year plan recommends new supports for parents and teachers, better transitions between pre-K and the first four grades of school, and elimination of the barriers that currently exist between agencies providing services. The plan comes in time to apply for federal Race to the Top funding. Thrive by Five Washington's Paul Nyhan discusses the plan in his blog.
A survey of child care programs in four states has found that toddlers in home-based care watched 1.6 hours of television while there each day and that children 3 to 5 years old watched 2.4 hours a day in home-based settings. That’s substantially more than children attending programs that are not home-based, says Dimitri Christakis, lead researcher and author of the article appearing in the journal Pediatrics.
Early learning councils have been established in a number of states to foster improved and better-coordinated early care and education systems. They are already eligible for federal funds, and they'll play a big role if and when the Early Learning Challenge Fund, which ties $10 billion in new funding to program improvement, becomes law. A timely report from New America Foundation's Early Education Initiative takes a look at the progress of these councils, finding that it has been uneven.
A new report from The Brookings Institution says there is very little national media coverage of education. By their calculations, in the first 9 months of 2009, only 1.4 percent of national news coverage on television, in newspapers, on news web sites and on radio dealt with education. Education coverage was even less for the previous two years. What's more, when education news was reported, little of it related to school policy or ways to improve the learning process. The decline in newspaper circulation and number of reporters assigned the education beat have contributed to the problem. Citizen-generated journalism through blogs and other web-based applications is on the rise, but it is by no means clear that these efforts replace what has been lost.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Does it really surprise you that children entering kindergarten unprepared places them at a disadvantage over the long term? No, right! Well, it did surprise many Americans, according to a recently released survey from the Pearson Foundation.
Read more
When Michigan's leaders finally settled on a FY 2010 budget, it looked as if the cuts to the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) weren't so bad, considering the dire condition of the economy there. The part of GSRP that's formula-funded received the same $88.1 million allotted to it in FY 2009. The portion that is competitively funded was reduced from $15 million to $7.5 million. That’s a big hit, especially considering those funds had gone to Head Start and other providers serving kids most at risk of school failure. Still, total state pre-K allocations appeared to have dropped by about seven percent — less than many had feared.

Or did it?
Read more

Calendar

February 3, 2010 - February 6, 2010
Denver, CO – The National Association for Bilingual Education's annual conference is designed for parents, teachers, administrators, and policymakers dedicated to serving English Language Learners in the United States.
March 9, 2010 - March 13, 2010
Washington, DC – The theme for this year's symposium is "Making Connections: All Children, All Families, All Settings."
March 25, 2010 - March 28, 2010
Boston, MA – The theme for this year's AMS conference is "Montessori in the 21st Century."

Early Education News Roundup

December 4, 2009
The Press of Atlantic City
Some potential preschool students in four area school districts -- and about 7,000 children across the state -- are now ineligible for a preschool program focused on educating students in low-income neighborhoods.
December 4, 2009
The Honolulu Advertiser
Starting the first of the year, 1,600 low- to moderate-income families may have to dig into their own pockets for more of their child care tab. In a move designed to cover more families with subsidized child care, the state Department of Human Services has revamped its payment plan for the 7,792 families receiving child care subsidies for 14,577 children.
December 3, 2009
Chicago Tribune
Research shows that children raised in violent homes are more likely to be violent themselves, perpetuating a pattern of aggression that has gripped Chicago in recent months. But a growing body of science suggests there are critical stages when interventions can interrupt the cycle. And new findings in brain development, human behavior and economics suggest that early childhood is the most critical and cost-effective time.
December 2, 2009
The Reporter, Somerset, NJ
In 2009 the state of New Jersey adopted what it terms Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards in all subject areas. The state has four goals with these standards: defining good learning environments for children, giving guidance on ways to assess children, showing optimal relationships among preschool educators, members of the community and families, and giving the state expectations about what preschool children should be learning.
December 2, 2009
The Norwood Post, Norwood, CO
The goal is to promote children's social and emotional competence. Using the social-emotional curriculum in early childhood settings statewide will help reach that goal, and PTELC and Norwood Preschool staff will help other educators and community members see how it works.
December 2, 2009
The Triangle Tribune, Durham, NC
Black children's academic skills lag behind their peers before they enter kindergarten, a new report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education finds. Lastly, children who participated in regular early care and education arrangements the year prior to kindergarten scored higher on fine motor skill than children who had no regular early care and education.
December 1, 2009
School Library Journal
Do videos and interactive games help kids better prepare for kindergarten? According to a new study, low-income children in preschool classrooms improved their literacy skills when their teachers incorporated videos and online technology into the curriculum.
December 1, 2009
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is telling Kentucky's public school superintendents to brace themselves for $20 million in cuts this year to programs such as preschool for at-risk and disabled children, reading help and dropout prevention.
December 1, 2009
The Seattle Times
It includes a broad range of suggestions, including some that are free or low-cost and others that would be phased in over the next decade. The plan covers all aspects of preschool life, from health and nutrition to literacy and special needs.
November 28, 2009
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL
In 2008, a group of community leaders participating in the Jacksonville Journey anti-crime initiative identified early intervention at child-care centers as one long-term answer to reducing crime. The city came up with $1.5 million for the Early Learning Coalition to work with 25 child-care centers — about 800 children — in a high-crime area of Northwest Jacksonville.
November 28, 2009
The News Journal, Wilmington, DE
In Delaware, state-supported pre-kindergarten is offered to families at or below the federal poverty level, which is $22,050 a year for a family of four. The fiscal crisis has tabled any discussion of expanding the program, said Jim Lesko, early childhood education associate for the Delaware Department of Education. But across the border, Delaware can monitor what is going on in Maryland. If the results are overwhelming there, it could look into its own initiative.

Resources

This guide by John Gasko, director of state initiatives at the Children's Learning Institute, University of Texas, looks at the various models of collaborative partnerships aimed at providing an integrated pre-K system. Based on data collected from more than 100 Texas stakeholders and interviews of professionals in the field, the guide details an 8-step process to serve as a model for collaboration.
In this 26-minute video, panelists Samuel Meisels and Barbara Bowman, Erikson Institute; Cornelia Grumman, First Five Years Fund; and Harriet Meyer, Ounce of Prevention, discuss "The Future of Early Childhood Education." Among subjects addressed are future policy directions and funding challenges.
This 3-episode video series from the library of the International Society for Early Intervention highlights core early childhood development issues in Brazil, Uganda, and Moldova. The series is an advocacy tool emphasizing the four cornerstones of early childhood development necessary to securing a strong foundation for young children. Each 25-minute video focuses on a specific program.