Volume 9, Issue 5

March 12, 2010

Hot Topics

Kindergartners should, among other things, be able to count to 100, says a set of proposed national learning standards released this week. The standards, drafted at the behest of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, are an evidence-based list of what children should learn at each grade level. They are intended to replace the patchwork of standards that now exists across the country and enable more standardization of textbooks and testing. While some have criticized the effort as representing a step toward nationalizing education, most welcome it. Only Texas and Alaska chose not to participate. The public comment period runs until April 2.
A vaccination trial conducted in isolated Canadian Hutterite colonies found that immunizing children for the flu protected the entire community. Children ages 3 to 15 in 25 colonies received the flu vaccine while children of the same ages in 24 colonies received a hepatitis A vaccine instead. More than 10 percent of the people of all ages in the colonies receiving the placebo contracted the flu while less than 5 percent of those in treatment group colonies came down with it. Experts say the study confirms that when it comes to the flu, vaccinating children goes a long way toward conferring "herd immunity" on the entire community. It also affirms the wisdom of the Centers for Disease Control H1N1 flu shot recommendations that called for vaccinating children.
A study tracking the lives of children born between 1968 and 1975 found that poverty during the period when children are infants to age 5 has a lasting detrimental impact on outcomes related to attainment such as earnings and hours worked. Negative impacts from poverty during this early period could be measured as late as age 37. Subsequent periods of poverty, when children were older, had fewer effects. Greg Duncan, University of California, and colleagues found that an increase in income of $3,000 per year between a child’s prenatal year and fifth birthday is associated with 19 percent higher earnings and an increase in hours worked.
A new white paper by Arizona State University's Jay Blanchard and Terry Moore says that developmental milestones are changing as a new generation of young children approach learning and literacy in ways not thought possible in the past because of the availability of mobile digital devices such as cell phones. Funded by the Pearson Foundation, the report was released at the annual Consortium for School Networking international symposium. Blanchard says new opportunities to develop emergent literacy skills are occurring worldwide, in such disparate places as video game rooms in Mumbai, cybercafés in Nicaragua, and Internet-enabled schools in Senegal.
Teachers with bachelor’s degrees and specialized training in early childhood education support stronger social-emotional and cognitive development for children, says Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at Stanford and co-author of a new report from the Pew Center for the States. She and Danielle Gonzales, formerly of Pre-K Now, examined the research on pre-K teacher preparation, children's learning and program quality to determine how preparedness influences effectiveness. The report recommends that states move toward requiring a bachelor's degree and specialized training in early education, and highlights some models for doing so.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

The latest issue of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) quarterly journal American Educator features two articles devoted preschool education, including "The Promise of Preschool," by NIEER Co-Directors Ellen Frede and Steve Barnett. Read about it in today's blog post on Preschool Matters ... Today!

Calendar

March 25, 2010 - March 28, 2010
Boston, MA – The theme for this year's AMS conference is "Montessori in the 21st Century."
April 7, 2010 - April 7, 2010
CANADA – This webcast from the Council for Early Child Development is designed for practitioners and educators who want to learn more about the economic arguments for investing in the early years.
April 8, 2010 - April 11, 2010
Houston, TX – The theme for this year's National Association of Elementary School Principals convention and expo is "Mission Possible: Enrich Your World and Beyond."
April 11, 2010 - April 13, 2010
San Antonio, TX – This conference draws together national and international participants to discuss issues of relevance to family literacy.
April 20, 2010 - April 23, 2010
Chicago, IL – The theme of this year's conference is "Winds of Change."
April 27, 2010 - April 27, 2010
New Brunswick, NJ - The lecture will address educational inequities and discuss how New Jersey's system can be a model for reform.
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.

Early Education News Roundup

March 12, 2010
The Tampa Tribune
The latest preschool ratings are out for centers that offer the state's Voluntary Prekindergarten program. The scores, compiled by the state Department of Education, allow parents to compare providers. Known as VPK Provider Kindergarten Readiness Rates, they measure how well preschools prepare 4-year-olds for kindergarten.
March 12, 2010
American Educator (American Federation of Teachers)
Based on our research, and our review of others' research, we have consistently advocated for universal access to high-quality preschool. The United States faces serious problems that effective early education can help alleviate, most notably high rates of school failure, dropout, crime, and delinquency, as well as far too many youth who are not well prepared for the workforce.
March 10, 2010
Reno Gazette-Journal
Nevada is among the states that require the most education and training for pre-kindergarten teachers, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Institute. The report advocates more uniform training to improve early childhood education, raising salaries for pre-K educators and consequently improving teacher retention.
March 9, 2010
The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA
A 12-year-old state program to help children in low-income families get off to a healthy start and get ready for school has such scattered oversight that it could be prone to fraud, according to the state budget director.
March 9, 2010
Education Week
Studies suggest, [a Pre-K Now report] says, that teachers with bachelor's degrees and specialized training in early education are more effective than those educators who don't hold such credentials. In other words, it's not enough to be good with kids or to like working with them; teachers benefit from specific training.
March 4, 2010
The Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD
For a fourth straight year, lawmakers have said no to a preliminary step toward state-funded, voluntary preschool programs.
March 3, 2010
The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, LA
While other Southern states are slicing pre-school funding to cover budget deficits, Louisiana's Cecil J. Picard LA-4 Early Childhood Program is safe — for now.
March 2, 2010
The Daily Reflector, Greenville, NC
North Carolina's programs for children younger than age 5 are a national model, said Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton told educators at summit on early childhood education Tuesday.
March 1, 2010
Honolulu Advertiser
Lawmakers are considering a measure that would eliminate junior kindergarten in Hawai'i public schools and move up the date children are eligible to enter kindergarten, changes that would require thousands of late-born 5-year-olds to wait an additional year before they can start school. Despite junior-K's problems, educators, parents and early-education advocates say the program is helpful and that the proposed changes will create a burden for parents at a time when they can least afford it.
February 28, 2010
The Roanoke Times, Roanoke, VA
Alongside the many millions of dollars Virginia is considering shearing off of its support of public schools is a little nick that would have an outsized impact on children's education. The $1.5 million a year the state now puts into the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation is a small investment in a big initiative, a public/private partnership dedicated to making sure youngsters reach school ready to learn.

Resources

This new book by Diane Ravitch, New York University education historian, re-examines the strategy of achieving education reform through testing and other measures contained in the No Child Left Behind law that garnered bipartisan support in its passage during the Bush administration. "What makes Ravitch's critique so convincing is the historian's attentiveness to facts on the ground, the careful collection and synthesis of data and the demonstrations that what sounds good in theory may not work in practice," writes University of California, Berkeley Professor David L. Kirp in his review appearing in the current issue of American Prospect.
This issue of Social Policy Report from the Society for Research in Child Development looks at the history of lead research as well as recent findings, the Centers for Disease Control standards and mechanisms of lead neurotoxicity, and the effects of high lead levels on children’s cognition and behavior. Also discussed are the current state of lead control policy, societal costs of lead exposure, and lead abatement.
This article examines the play behavior of 70 preschool children and its relationship to television violence and regulatory status. Linear regression analysis showed that violent program content and poor self-regulation were independently and significantly associated with overall and physical aggression. Advanced maternal age, child age, and better self-regulation were independently and significantly associated with pro-social behavior.
This brief from the Center for Law and Social Policy looks at the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program's effect on children's health and development, finding that children who are eligible for but not receiving WIC are more likely to be underweight, in poor health and at risk for developmental delays. The program is especially effective at protecting the health of children younger than 12 months. It receives the highest rating from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's Program Assessment Rating Tool.