Volume 9, Issue 10

May 14, 2010

Hot Topics

The latest report from the NICHD child care study that has tracked more than 1,000 kids from birth to age 15 finds benefits of high-quality child care last into the teenage years. "The effects (from high-quality programs) didn't fade away," said NIEER Scientific Advisory Board member Deborah Lowe Vandell, the report's lead author and chair of the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine. Although the effects were small, teenagers who had the higher quality care did better academically than those given low-quality care or no care outside the home.

The study, which appears in Child Development, also found that the more time children spent in child care outside the home, the more they were likely to engage in risky or impulsive behaviors at age 15 regardless of the quality of early care they had received. Those effects were also relatively small, and benefits did not differ between advantaged and disadvantaged children. The study's finding of persistent effects is consistent with the results of NIEER's meta-analysis of the entire literature, but also reinforces the notion that intensive educational programs are required if preschool is to make a substantive difference in the poor achievement of disadvantaged children.
Children were more likely to become better readers and need less in the way of special education if they attended a full day of Head Start pre-K in the Montgomery County, Maryland public schools, according to a research report issued by the district's Office of Shared Accountability. Pupils in the full-day program were 44 percent more likely to meet the district's reading benchmark Level 4 by the end of kindergarten than those in the half-day Head Start program. The full-day program favored African-American and male kids on meeting the reading benchmark.
A study in the May issue of Developmental Psychology reports that Latino children entering kindergarten have similar or only slightly lower levels of various social skills compared to white non-Latino children. The researchers also reported an association between Latino children's approaches to learning and their gains in math skills during the kindergarten year.
Researchers from the UK say they used advanced scanning technology to study more than 200 6-year-olds and found that there was a relationship between the amount time the kids spent in vigorous activity and the strength of their hip and thigh bones. The increased bone density resulting from the increased exercise was independent of factors such as diet, lifestyle, and physical size. They said the findings could inform public health strategies aimed at preventing osteoporosis later in life.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the Michigan state Board of Education has unanimously approved a long-range plan for education that includes provision of pre-K for all 4-year-olds and mandated kindergarten for all children. The product of months of testimony and debate, the board's report says increasing the number of college graduates and reducing drop-outs are essential to reviving the state's economy. While the recommendations, which include tax increases, received bipartisan support on the board, they are expected to receive a mixed reception in the legislature.
The Hechinger Report, a web publication recently launched by the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, brings a new dimension to the organization's media-centric mission by providing articles written in collaboration with leading titles like Education Week, U.S. News & World Report, and The Washington Post. Richard Lee Colvin, Hechinger's director, says The Hechinger Report represents a change of focus that reaches beyond the organization's traditional mission of outreach journalists to "informing the public about education through quality journalism."

Among articles in the current issue are a piece about the declining fortunes of state pre-K by Liz Willen and another addressing whether President Obama's commitment to early education has waned by Linda Jacobson.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

NIEER Research Project Coordinator Alex Figueras-Daniel reflects on a recent lecture by Linda Darling-Hammond on the NJ Abbott preschool program while NIEER Assistant Research Professor Dale Epstein tells us there's more than meets the eye in her post about the print and online editions of The State of Preschool 2009.


June 6, 2010 - June 9, 2010
Phoenix, AZ – The theme for this year's conference is "Emotional Intelligence: A 21st Century Skill for Children and Adults."
June 8, 2010 - June 9, 2010
Perthshire, Scotland – This conference will feature leaders in outdoor experiences who will share their thinking about the conference theme "A Child's Right to be Heard."
June 14, 2010 - June 16, 2010
Lake Geneva, WI – This conference is targeted for professionals who work with children from birth through age 5.
June 22, 2010 - June 24, 2010
Orlando, FL – This professional development event covers four approaches to better teaching and learning.
June 29, 2010 - July 1, 2010
New Brunswick, NJ – The Rutgers University Institute for Improving Student Achievement's Summer Institute 2010 will begin a series of professional development sessions based on McREL's research on the effects of leadership on student achievement.
July 11, 2010 - July 14, 2010
Columbus, OH – The conference aims to guide participants towards the development of innovative strategies integrating early learning in elementary schools.
July 11, 2010 - July 14, 2010
Riga, Latvia – This conference will discuss research, evidence-based practices, and innovations in special education and inclusive services.
July 15, 2010 - July 17, 2010
Nashville, TN – Topics addressed at this conference for family child care providers include child-based curriculum, policies, and quality improvement.
July 19, 2010 - July 21, 2010
Anaheim, CA – This year, the Department of Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will offer a separate Early Learning and Development Strand at the 2010 Reading Institute.
July 27, 2010 - July 29, 2010
Atlanta, GA – At this conference, participants will learn about the Piramide Method of Early Learning as a framework for early care and learning.
August 11, 2010 - August 13, 2010
Goteborg, Sweden – This conference will focus on children's rights and education for sustainable development in a local and global context.
August 18, 2010 - August 20, 2010
Portland, OR – This year's forum provides participants with opportunities to learn innovative approaches connecting theory to action.
September 22, 2010 - September 24, 2010
Arlington, VA – This annual event provides participants with the opportunity to discuss and influence federal education policy.

Early Education News Roundup

May 14, 2010
The Washington Post
Low-quality care in the first few years of life can have a small but long-lasting impact on a child's learning and behavior, according to new results from the largest, most authoritative assessment of child rearing in the United States.
May 12, 2010
WFAA TV, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
The Dallas Independent School District is discussing whether to make pre-kindergarten available for a full day system-wide. Doing so would nearly double the number of full-day classrooms, but it could also mean cutting the number of teachers.
May 11, 2010
The Washington Post
The study found that among African American students and boys in general, those who attended full-day pre-kindergarten classes outperformed their Head Start peers who had only half-day programs on reading benchmarks. But the results also applied more broadly.
May 11, 2010
The Oklahoman
Oklahoma is the only state where almost every 4-year-old can attend a quality pre-K program, according to the report.
May 7, 2010
The Baltimore Sun
Last year, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill directing the state education department to plan a gradual expansion of pre-K eligibility that would eventually include every child in the state. The first stage would have seen the eligibility limit on family income rise from 185 percent to 300 percent of the federal poverty line, increasing the programs' current $101 million cost by $19 million.


While the Early Learning Challenge Fund (ELCF) remains in the proposal stage, this paper by NIEER Associate Research Director Debra Ackerman and NIEER Research Project Coordinator Rachel Sansanelli informs potential ELCF grantees as to strategies they might want to consider in regard to program standards. The authors report the results of a New Jersey survey of child care center directors and suggest that potential ELCF grantees might be better positioned to help child care centers incorporate stricter program and learning standards if they design varying levels of training and technical assistance based on the variety of child care quality "starting points."
This edition of Early Childhood in Focus addresses questions about what constitutes good parenting and parenting support programs by looking at examples of parenting support programs from the UK, USA, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Australia, and identifies practical questions for policymakers, advocates, and practitioners to consider.