Volume 9, Issue 17

August 27, 2010

Hot Topics

Seven of the 10 winners in Phase 2 of the Race to the Top (RTT) competition addressed the early learning challenge priority in their applications even though this section didn't accrue points toward winning. Reforms cited ranged from improving the quality of state pre-K in Georgia to linking early learning standards with K-3 curricula and assessments in Massachusetts. As with any competition of this type, there were disappointments. New Jersey narrowly lost due in part to a data error in its application. Colorado also came close but lost, in part because the state's plan for developing a collaborative for school readiness content contributed nothing toward its point total. Lisa Guernsey discusses RTT in her Early Ed Watch blog post.
Two recent studies point to a tendency for the youngest children in class to be diagnosed as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when their inattentiveness and impulsiveness is probably due to immaturity. Todd Elder, Michigan State University, found that the youngest kids in kindergarten were 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than their oldest classmates. He estimates the costs of unneeded medication alone at as much as $500 million annually.

Another article in press at Journal of Health Economics studied children born just a few days apart, finding that those born before the kindergarten cut-off date had an ADHD diagnosis rate of 9.7 percent and those born after it had a 7.6 percent diagnosis rate.
The 50-state report on black males in public education from the Schott Foundation says nationally, only 47 percent of this group graduate from high school. New York City, home of the nation's highest enrollment of black students, graduates 28 percent of black males. Among school districts with more than 10,000 black males enrolled, Newark, New Jersey has the highest graduation rate at 76 percent. Among states with more than 100,000 black males enrolled, New Jersey has the highest graduation rate at 69 percent. The report credits the state's "Abbott" school finance and education reforms for achieving these rates. The report makes an interesting juxtaposition to the news on Race to the Top (RTT) awards and raises questions about an apparent lack of attention to school finance in RTT.
A Stanford University study of Arizona's home language survey, used to identify potential English Language Learners (ELLs), found that as many as 11 to 18 percent of students who are eligible for ELL designation could be denied services to which they are entitled if a single home language survey question is used to identify potential ELLs. The researchers said it is also highly unlikely that a fail-safe mechanism established by the state, whereby teachers can nominate potential ELLs for language testing, will successfully identify most students the survey fails to identify.
Parenting author Pamela Paul attempts to answer that question in this weekend's New York Times Magazine. Among her sources are Joan Luby, professor of child psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine; Daniel Klein, professor of clinical psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook; and Arnold Sameroff, developmental psychologist at the University of Michigan's Center for Human Growth and Development. Luby is one of the first researchers to systematically study the criteria for preschool depression. Diagnosing it in children so young is controversial.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In today's blog post NIEER Co-Director Steve Barnett points out three recent, easy-to-understand pieces of research that look at different impacts of investments on young children and underscores the importance of prioritizing investments in early learning and development.

Calendar

September 22, 2010 - September 24, 2010
Arlington, VA – This annual event provides participants with the opportunity to discuss and influence federal education policy.
October 15, 2010 - October 15, 2010
New Haven, CT – The presentations and sessions at this conference will focus on four areas: play, policy, practice, and research.
November 3, 2010 - November 6, 2010
Anaheim, CA – This conference will address best practices, innovative programs, and research in child care, child welfare, education, family support, parenting, and youth development.
November 7, 2010 - November 9, 2010
St. Louis, MO -- The annual Parents as Teachers conference will focus this year on the future of early childhood and family support programs.

Early Education News Roundup

August 27, 2010
USA Today
The profile of the 4 million children starting kindergarten reveals the startling changes the USA has undergone the past decade and offers a glimpse of its future. In this year's class, for example, about one out of four 5-year-olds will be Hispanic.
August 27, 2010
Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, MA
The state Department of Early Education and Care has posted draft early-learning guidelines for infants and toddlers on its website, www.mass.gov/eec. Anyone with young children in daycare will be especially interested in the last section on best practices, which gives concrete examples of what the best approaches should look like, from how to make the most of diapering time to what type of physical activity young children should get.
August 26, 2010
Calgary Herald, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Most studies do support the fact that additional school time translates into academic benefits. In 2006, researchers in the U.S. collected information from more than 8,000 kindergartners to try to determine if there was a link between academic achievement and full-day programs versus half-day kindergarten programs.
August 26, 2010
The Dispatch, Lexington, NC
Parents that have taken part in the School Readiness Program gave firsthand testimonies to special guests former N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt and state Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson, at the facility on East Center Street. Hunt, one of the champions of the program from its inception, said the program is important because 95 percent of brain development happens in the first five years of a child's life.
August 24, 2010
MetroNews, Charleston, WV
New regulations went into place at the start of this school year for meals served in Pre-K programs whether they're at public schools, day care or church schools. The regulations were approved by the West Virginia Department of Education last year when they learned that some state-funded Pre-K's weren't offering meals even though some ran as long as 7 hours.
August 24, 2010
The Sacramento Bee
For decades, millions of Californians with children who have fall birthdays have struggled over whether to pack their 4-year-olds off to kindergarten – or hold them back because they might be too young to start school. This week, California state legislators may be the closest they've ever come to making that decision for parents, with room for some exceptions.
August 22, 2010
The Telegraph, Macon, GA
Many parents save for more than a decade for their children's college education. There are scholarships and federal assistance to help young adults and their parents afford that huge investment in their future. But many parents are surprised to realize that four years in day care generally costs more.
August 22, 2010
The Kansas City Star
Decades of research demonstrate the efficacy of quality early learning. Reading, military preparedness, college entrance and graduation, and workforce development are dependent on quality early learning.
August 20, 2010
The New York Times
In 2008, the most recent year for which census data is available, 17 percent of children were 6 or older when they entered the kindergarten classroom. Sand tables have been replaced by worksheets to a degree that's surprising even by the standards of a decade ago.
August 19, 2010
Times Union, Albany, NY
One of the best ways to address the need for more skilled workers in our region is investment in quality early care and education.
August 16, 2010
Telegraph Herald, Dubuque, IA
For some Iowa parents, the state's push for public preschool will come at a high cost as some districts charge tuition for 4-year-old students -- even those covered by state funding. The charges come despite nearly $65 million in taxpayer funding for public preschool.
August 16, 2010
Post-Tribune, Merrillville, IN
Quality early childhood education is essential for Indiana's youngest residents especially as the state focuses on third-grade literacy, according to those involved in the field.

Resources

This report from Educational Testing Service (ETS) looks at the achievement gap and changes in the size of it, beginning with the first signs of it narrowing and contining to the present. It tracks the gap in test scores, beginning with the 1970s and 1980s when the National Assessment of Educational Progress began, and summarizes the results of years of research that has focused on the consequences of children growing up in areas of concentrated poverty.
This policy brief from the Education Law Center describes the federal law requiring states to provide homeless children with equal access to public education and provides policy recommendations to increase the enrollment of homeless children in preschool education programs.
This report from the New America Foundation recommends a transformation of primary schooling to include children at age 3 by using a pre-K—3 approach.
This brief from the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education examines pre-K teachers, and in particular teacher-child interactions, in relation to school readiness success.
This issue brief, developed by the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices, studies the current state of early childhood professional development and provides recommendations for building statewide systems of professional development for pre-K teachers and other staff who work with young children.