Volume 9, Issue 7

April 9, 2010

Hot Topics

A broad-based meta-analysis of 123 studies reported in the Teachers College Record found that preschool education had positive effects on cognitive and social and emotional development as well as schooling outcomes. The largest effects were observed for cognitive outcomes. Specific aspects that positively correlated with gains included teacher-directed instruction and small-group instruction. "If we focus on the rigorous studies, we find that the immediate impact is to close about 70 percent of the achievement gap. After third grade, it's about 30 percent of the gap," said study co-author and NIEER co-director Steve Barnett, who adds, "This should put the final nail in the coffin of the idea that preschool education's effects fade out after third grade." Watch the video here.
If approved by Congress, the federal FY 2011 budget will add $200 million to the $10 million allocated to the Promise Neighborhoods program in the current budget. The idea behind Promise Neighborhoods is to replicate the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), which claims to have successfully raised disadvantaged children's achievement — sometimes spectacularly so — through a network of high-quality schools and services. The money will go for planning grants for communities that show they have what it takes to develop a feasible plan for replicating HCZ. That will be easier said than done, points out New America Foundation's Lisa Guernsey who looks at HCZ and what it might take to assemble those ingredients elsewhere in this week’s Early Ed Watch blog.
Thirteen years after New York state adopted its universal pre-K initiative, it's time to refocus the effort, says a report just out from Winning Beginning NY, the statewide early learning coalition. The report points out that while New York Universal Pre-K (UPK) now serves 109,000 children, there are some 120,000 kids who don’t yet have access. Among its recommendations are developing a five-year plan to prepare an early childhood workforce, revising the UPK funding statute so pre-K funding is sustainable and able to support full-day services, and enacting legislation to implement a quality improvement system.
Beginning this year, the Pew Home Visiting Campaign will support statewide advocacy and public education efforts aimed at expanding and improving home visiting programs in Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington. John Schlitt, who directs the effort, says those states were chosen because they have a variety of approaches to home visiting and leaders there have voiced a desire to expand and improve these services. He and his team are also involved in field research aimed at bridging gaps that exist in the home visiting research literature, particularly as regards what program ingredients generate the most positive results, home visiting's effect on school readiness, and how best to engage fathers.
Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution and Nicholas Zill, a consultant and former director of Head Start's Family and Experience Survey (FACES), say the Head Start Impact Study was delayed in its issuance and ignored by the press. Whitehurst said the six-year delay between the time key data were gathered and the report's issuance as well as the appearance of a positive bias in reporting the findings suggests the Office of Management and Budget needs to get involved in setting standards for agencies on conducting and issuing evaluation reports. They spoke at a recent Heritage Foundation event.
A timely new report from The New Teacher Project reviews the process by which the U.S. Department of Education reviewed Race to the Top applications and chose Delaware and Tennessee as the first round winners. The analysis provides a detailed look at the scoring and draws lessons for states to consider in applying for the $3.4 billion in funding that is available for Round 2. Among its insights is this: politics appears not to have entered into the decision making since none of the three states considered political battle grounds (Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida) won and three of the six top-scoring states went to candidate Sen. John McCain in the most recent presidential election.
Harold W. McGraw, the grandson of a school teacher who headed McGraw-Hill during the company's most dramatic growth years in the 1970s and 1980s and who urged employees to think like teachers, died recently at 92. Under his leadership McGraw-Hill became a world class publisher of books and curricula for education, including early education. McGraw's philanthropy focused heavily on literacy. In 1983, he established the Business Council for Effective Literacy that enlisted corporations in the fight for literacy. He also funded The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton University.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Lt. General Norman R. Seip (Ret.) answers questions on why he believes that expanding public pre-K is critical to addressing the skills gap that exists among many military recruits and to maintaining our nation's future security. Seip, who was a fighter pilot and Commander of the 12th Air Force, serves on the Executive Advisory Council of Mission: Readiness.

Also featured: NIEER Consultant Marcie Weber reviews Good Morning Children: My First Years in Early Childhood Education by Sophia Pappas, a Teach for America volunteer who taught pre-K in New Jersey's Abbott Preschool Program. Pappas was also a blogger for the national advocacy group Pre-K Now.

Calendar

April 20, 2010 - April 23, 2010
Chicago, IL – The theme of this year's conference is "Winds of Change."
April 21, 2010 - April 24, 2010
Nashville, TN – This conference is the largest professional development event for professionals working with children with exceptionalities and their families.
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.
April 28, 2010 - April 30, 2010
Ypsilanti, MI – This conference offers attendees a variety of sessions on a range of early childhood topics and opportunities to network with professionals from around the world.
April 28, 2010 - May 1, 2010
Phoenix, AZ – This conference, intended for childhood educators around the globe, will discuss innovative practices, cutting-edge research, and unique strategies.
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 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

April 8, 2010
Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL
Though the economic downturn has impacted the state's ability to grow its top rated pre-K program, teachers and advocates say they're not giving up. More than 100 pre-K teachers from all over Alabama rallied on the steps of the state Capitol on Wednesday and thousands more will converge on the city today for the fifth Alabama Pre-K Conference hosted by the state Department of Children's Affairs Office of School Readiness.
April 7, 2010
Bucks County Courier Times, Levittown, PA
The proposal has a $9 billion price tag. But the benefits of expanding childhood education nationally would outweigh the costs, panelists told U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., at a Senate hearing at Morrisville High School Tuesday.
April 7, 2010
The Oregonian
In a move that has escaped much public attention, the Oregon Legislature in its February special session came up with $1 million for the state's first spending on Early Head Start, a program to help prepare disadvantaged children under age 3 for school.
April 6, 2010
Tallahassee Democrat
Duggan and Steven Barnett, co-director of NIEER, also said that because pre-kindergartners are not tested before they start the program, there's no way to tell how much they have improved throughout the year. A pre-VPK test would help determine whether VPK itself made the difference.
April 4, 2010
The Telegraph, Macon, GA
Two-thirds of Georgia day care center classrooms offer low-quality care for infants and toddlers, according to an independent study released in late March. Preschool programs are generally somewhat better, and the Georgia Pre-K program was found to provide "medium" quality care and education.
April 2, 2010
The MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA
As state education officials prepare Massachusetts' application for round two of federal "Race to the Top" funds, it is urgent not only to retain but also to emphasize important initiatives that address early childhood education, one of the most effective strategies to ensure later school success and help close the achievement gap. Economist James Heckman, a Nobel laureate, observes: "Because skills are accumulated starting early and over time, investing in young children is an investment in future productivity."
April 1, 2010
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, LA
A recent decision at Audubon Charter School to charge tuition for pre-kindergarteners underscores a broader dilemma: As demand for pre-K mounts, inadequate financing makes it increasingly difficult for public schools to offer the early childhood programs. Meanwhile, some charter schools might drop their pre-K programs altogether if they cannot attract grants or private donations.
April 1, 2010
The Reporter, Vacaville, CA
Matt Regan worries about two things: high school dropout rates of 25 percent in California and the need to make preschool education a priority. He sees them as inextricably linked, asserting, as many educators do, that a child's enrollment in early education programs significantly increases the likelihood of graduation from high school, success in college and, ultimately, a better life.
March 31, 2010
The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA
The Des Moines school district has expanded its preschool programs in the past three years, and educators say more students are entering kindergarten prepared to learn, as a result. Officials plan to continue expanding the preschool program next year - despite significant budget cuts that will force the district to eliminate dozens of teachers' jobs.
March 31, 2010
The Morning Sun, Pittsburg, KS
Proposals in the both the Kansas House and Senate, if passed, could pull significant amount of dollars away from early childhood programs statewide.
March 30, 2010
Reading Eagle, Reading, PA
Funding was reduced midyear to help the state deal with its financial difficulties. Early-education advocates expected the funding to be restored in the 2010-11 budget. The money, however, wasn't included in the House bill approved last week.

Resources

This research brief from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University addresses the impact of pre-K expansion on the supply of child care by examining two Ohio counties—one that employs a universal pre-K model that allows centers to participate in state pre-K and one county that serves as a comparison.
This brief from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University is based on a telephone survey and addresses questions about how the expansion of Pre-K might provide low-income, working families with access to high-quality early learning environments when pre-K services are delivered in collaborative partnerships with local child care centers.
This product from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) asks a series of questions to state advocates and policymakers for use in developing or improving policies for infant and toddler care.
This report ranks state regulations for small family child care homes based on 14 quality standards for a maximum score of 140. Of the 50 states, 17 received zero points and the remaining 35 averaged 63 points. The report concludes with recommendations for policymakers.
This brief from the Foundation for Child Development provides examples of successful birth through third grade learning systems in Washington state.