Volume 9, Issue 22

November 12, 2010

Hot Topics

Washington D.C. saw the federal government return to divided power with Republicans gaining majority in the House and Democrats retaining majority in the Senate, albeit narrowly so. Susan K. Urahn, managing director for the Pew Center on the States notes, however, that even though there were 28 new state governors, fewer than half a dozen state legislatures seem likely to have their two chambers controlled by different parties. How the elections will impact early childhood education is anybody's guess. A recent Pew Center survey of five fiscally stressed states found majorities of respondents willing to pay higher taxes to keep K-12 public schools at current funding levels.
Pollster Michael J. O'Neil tells azcentral.com Arizonans showed their distrust of politicians by refusing to allow the legislature to raid funding for early-childhood education. By a wide margin, voters said "No" to Proposition 302 which would have transferred an estimated $325 million from First Things First, the early childhood program that is funded by a voter-approved tax on cigarettes to the general fund.
The fourth report from NIEER's study of New Mexico PreK shows kids attending the program scored significantly higher on assessments of vocabulary, early math and literacy in comparison to children who did not attend. These skills include addition and subtraction, telling time, knowledge of letters, and familiarity with words and book concepts. The vocabulary test is predictive of reading success and general cognitive abilities. "During the time of this study, New Mexico began to assume a leadership role in the western U.S. by making steady progress toward a widely available prekindergarten initiative in a region of the country where enrollment in such programs has been low," said NIEER senior research fellow Jason Hustedt, the report's author. He writes on the subject in our latest blog post on Preschool Matters … Today!
When conducting research, it's good to know the lay of the land. The Pew Home Visiting Campaign completed that step with the release of its home visiting inventory. Among the findings: The U.S. has 117 home visiting programs across 46 states and the District of Columbia. Thirty-three states support more than one program within and across their health, education and human services agencies. Twenty states administer three or more programs. Alaska, Idaho, Nevada and Mississippi administer none. State health departments are the most common agency overseeing home visiting.
After nine years at the helm, Parents as Teachers president and CEO Susan Stepleton will depart next June and join the faculty at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. In recent months, Parents as Teachers has adopted a new three-year strategic plan and won a $14.2 million federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant. A national search is underway for her replacement.
The man whose skill as a public administrator and navigator of bureaucracies is credited with successfully launching Head Start died last week in his Seattle home. Jule Sugarman had no background in early childhood issues but as secretary of the program's planning commission cut through red tape, developed a streamlined grant process, and met one legendary deadline by figuring out the per-child cost of the program over a ham sandwich in an hour.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In a recent blog post, NIEER Assistant Research Professor writes about her collaboration with Moisés Román, director of the University Village site of UCLA Early Care and Education, as educational advisors to the popular PBS Kids program, Sid the Science Kid.

Calendar

December 9, 2010 - December 11, 2010
Phoenix, AZ – The annual Zero to Three conference will offer participants opportunities to discover the latest research on infants and toddlers and to discuss the history and future of the field with colleagues.
February 5, 2011 - February 8, 2011
Columbus, OH – The theme of this year's professional development conference is "Building a Literacy Future."
April 15, 2011 - April 16, 2011
Denver, CO -- This regional conference will offer workshops covering early childhood education topics relevant to teachers, administrators, researchers, health professionals, and policymakers.

Early Education News Roundup

November 11, 2010
The Oklahoman
Oklahoma Champions for Early Opportunity has enlisted more than 30 business and community leaders throughout the state to spend a year pushing to better prepare infants and toddlers for school.
November 10, 2010
Public News Service
Start with the very youngest children. That's the suggestion of a new report about how to close Connecticut's biggest-in-the-nation educational achievement gap between middle-class and low-income students, most of whom are Black or Latino.
November 10, 2010
Mass High Tech, Boston, MA
At a time when competition for jobs is at an all-time high, it is crucial for our schools to begin teaching the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, as early as possible. Pre-K would be a great place to start. However, that can't happen without providing STEM training and support to our teachers.
November 9, 2010
KWES TV, Midland, TX
A university study of New Mexico's pre-kindergarten program says the initiative has helped children improve their math, vocabulary and early literacy skills. The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University conducted the study and sampled more than 1,300 children in the 2008-2009 school year.
November 8, 2010
Tri Valley Central, Casa Grande, AZ
Learning and physical disabilities, lack of social skills - there are many reasons kids fall behind in school. An innovative Arizona City preschool exposes children who are developing at different rates to a classroom setting and one another before they even start kindergarten.
November 7, 2010
The Seattle Times
Early life experiences are built into our brains and bodies. Lots of negative stress for a baby can show up later as poor school performance, high blood pressure, risky behavior.
November 7, 2010
The Forum, Fargo, ND
The emphasis on getting more students to graduate from high school and to be smarter when they do is taking a new tack. Experts now look to the beginnings of formal learning – pre-kindergarten – as a way to turbocharge learning from kindergarten to diploma.
November 7, 2010
The Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD
The research is clear: Poverty is the single greatest threat to children's well-being. Lacking economic security, safe, affordable housing, health care, nutrition and quality education - especially during the early years, when 85 percent of brain development occurs - can hamper children's ability to flourish.
November 7, 2010
The Indianapolis Star
Young children, who bond quickly with their teacher and who make friends with other children trying to adapt to the new world of school, get ripped from familiar surroundings with little understanding of why. In a new school, they must learn anew the routines of a different classroom, find new friends in a place where pecking orders have been well established and adjust to the tolerances and guidance of a new teacher when their original teacher – their "real" teacher – is back at their last school, or the one before that.
November 5, 2010
The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC
More at Four, the state's preschool program for disadvantaged children, helps close the school achievement gap between poor and middle class students, according to research studies. A report on the program's results was presented to the State Board of Education on Thursday, a few months before legislators begin to search in earnest for ways to pull out of a $3.5 billion budget hole projected for next year.
November 5, 2010
Norwich Bulletin, Norwich, CT
With all the talk — and recorded success — of early childhood education programs, we were surprised to hear that state Department of Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan is proposing to push back the minimum age that a child can enter kindergarten, thus delaying the start of public school for an estimated 10,000 children a year.
November 4, 2010
WSPA TV, Spartanburg, SC
But according to the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies, providers in South Carolina, like Mayes, are not required to do any training before they open.

Resources

This analysis of Vermont's preschool program by the Public Assets Institute looks at the costs of expanding enrollment at a 15 percent annual growth rate over five years, finding that the expansion can be achieved for a relatively small investment.
This evaluation from the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance compares the relative effects, including differences in teacher training, instructional strategies, content coverage, and materials, of four curricula on the math achievement of first and second graders in 110 schools in 12 participating districts in 10 states. Schools were randomly assigned within each district to implement one of the four curricula in first and second grade. After one year, this study found significant impacts on student achievement of two curricula relative to the other two curricula in the study.
This brief provides descriptive statistics on algebra enrollment for the cohort of students in the first-grade class of 1999-2000 who had progressed to eighth grade in the 2006-07 school year (representing about 80 percent of the eighth-grade class of 2006-07). It examines mathematics performance at the end of eighth grade by algebra enrollment and other characteristics, including prior mathematics ability and schools' level of eighth-grade algebra enrollment.