Early Education in the News
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood focused on one audience: preschoolers. Rogers dedicated his entire career to the pre-K set. And for good reason. Today, increasing evidence points to the importance of early childhood education. Its impact can be felt decades down the road — in adults' education levels, incomes, even health. That's why several states are moving toward universal, public preschool, and President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have proposed
From an educator’s standpoint, preschool is pivotal in the education continuum. It lays the groundwork for third grade reading, a major indicator of future academic success. Beginning in 2014, all Ohio third graders must pass the state-based reading test or they will not advance to fourth grade.
“Five hundred to 750 kids [in Cincinnati Public Schools] will be held back this year because they did not pass the third grade reading test. That will cost the district between $5 and $7 million,” Landsman says. “The number one predictor of third grade reading success is whether or not a kid shows up to kindergarten, and whether or not a kid shows up to kindergarten ready, has a lot to do with whether or not they have access to affordable quality preschool.”
Based on numbers from the United Way, roughly half of the students who attend Cincinnati Public Schools kindergarten have received some form of preschool education. However, recovering data about quality remains difficult.
A bill to coordinate enrollment in Louisiana’s revamped prekindergarten system was approved Wednesday by the House Education Committee.
The measure, which has passed the Senate, next faces action in the full House.
State Superintendent of Education John White said the plan, Senate Bill 533, would ensure accurate headcounts of applicants and vacancies at child care, private and public pre-K and Head Start locations.
California Democrats on Thursday dramatically scaled back their proposal for universal pre-kindergarten under opposition from Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat who has charted a moderate fiscal course despite pressure from many within his party to use a projected surplus to increase spending on social services.
The $2.5 billion plan to offer free preschool to all 4-year-olds had been the top legislative effort this year by the state senate's highest ranking Democrat, Darrell Steinberg, who is leaving office at the end of the year.
"My aspiration, which has not changed, is universal preschool for all 4-year-olds regardless of income," Steinberg said in an interview on Thursday. "But that's a significant cost over the short term."
Nevada ranks near the bottom nationally for enrollment and funding of early-childhood education, according to the latest "State of Preschool" report from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. The institute's director, professor Steven Barnett, said Nevada ranked 34th in the 2013 study for funding pre-kindergarten programs, out of 40 states and the District of Columbia that have early-education programs. He said the ranking is even lower when it comes to enrollment. "Nevada only enrolls 3 percent of 4-year-olds," he said. "The average across all programs in the states is 30 percent."
For now, Indiana remains among just 10 states – most of them rural western states – without state-funded preschool, according to the “State of Preschool 2013,” a survey by the National Institute for Early Education Research released last week. Only 15 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds and 10 percent of its 3-year-olds were enrolled in a federally funded Head Start or school-based preschool program. Unless their parents paid tuition or their local school district picked up the cost, the rest of the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds were out of luck.
Contrast those numbers to Georgia, where 58 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded preschool and another 8 percent were in Head Start or a federally funded special education preschool. Oklahoma, the pioneer in state-funded preschool, had 74 percent of its 4-year-olds enrolled in programs last year, with an investment of about $145 million.
In today's global economy, education is key to giving our kids that critical opportunity to succeed. Both early education and higher education provide invaluable skills and helps close gaps of inequality that many Texans and Americans now face. . . San Antonio is leading the way in early education with the innovative Pre-K 4 SA initiative, which aims to close the achievement gap and improve the educational trajectory for over 22,000 four-year-old children. Additionally, the program invests in our teachers through professional development that betters quality of education.
Retired Air Force Major General Mark Musick says Mission Readiness wants more investment in early childhood education, so children are prepared for kindergarten. He says a focus on preschool is important not just for education, but also the economy and future national security.
On the heels of a report that gave mixed reviews to Alabama’s pre-K efforts came good news for Andalusia.
The National Institute for Early Education Research last week cited Alabama as one of only four states whose pre-kindergarten programs meet all its quality standards. . . . Unfortunately, the program has been a limited success.
The NIEER report pointed out that just 6 percent of 4-year-olds in Alabama attended Pre-K classes in 2012-13, the year whose data was ranked. The program will never be fully effective unless there’s full access to it, and progress is being made there, too.
Early childhood education saves states money a few different ways, according to Steve Barnett, a Rutgers University professor and director of the National Institute for Early Education Research.
"If those kids move into the education system, they're going to start generating cost savings, not repeating grades, not needing as much special ed," Barnett said. In addition, there are economic benefits of children being better adjusted and not getting in trouble with the law as they get older.
Education has long been the traditional route to opportunity for American families of modest means. But a growing educational achievement gap between low-income and affluent kids is making that path both harder and less accessible.
And the gap is getting wider, mostly because wealthy kids' test scores have been improving dramatically while middle-class kids' have improved only slightly over time. "The top has pulled away from the middle," says Sean Reardon of Stanford's Graduate School of Education.
Strikingly, much of that income differential in test scores shows up among kids who are tested in the first months of kindergarten, before they've spent significant time in school. "It's preschool," Reardon said, along with "the out-of-school environment, that creates the gap." Affluent kids are far more likely to get a good preschool education and have parents who read to them and nurseries full of educational toys.
Alabama’s First Class Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program leads the nation in quality for the eighth year in a row, according to a new study released May 13. Alabama is one of only four states in the country to meet all 10 quality benchmarks established by the National Institute for Early Education Research.
“The NIEER study recognizes Alabama’s commitment to the quality and design of our pre-K program, and the results show that this program is a powerful investment with short-term and long-term benefits for children,” said Jeana Ross, commissioner of the Department of Children’s Affairs. Alabama’s voluntary pre-K program is managed by the Office of School Readiness, which is part of the Department of Children’s Affairs.
According to a new report from the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers, Rhode Island is just one of four states to meet all ten of their quality-standard benchmarks.
Four-year-olds in several of the most rural states lack access to state-funded preschool programs, but those who do have access are most likely in high-quality programs, according to the State of Preschool Yearbook 2013.
Although increasingly more recognize the benefits of starting education at an early age, enrollment of four year-olds decreased for the first time in a decade, registering a reduction of 9,000.
State funded preschool enrollment declined for the first time since 2002 but local school officials say the number is set to rise back up. A study released by the National Institute for Early Education Research says in the 2012-2013 school year, less students were enrolled in state funded preschools. The findings show that only one in five four 4-year-old were enrolled in the program. A recent statement from the Colorado Preschool Program says those numbers are only temporary
A new State Preschool Yearbook looking at California's early learning programs found that our state is moving in the wrong direction. We are one of only five states in America that meet fewer than half of 10 quality benchmarks. . .
De Blasio’s efforts to expand pre-K are part of a nationwide trend, with dozens of cities and states, governors and city council members considering ways to boost early childhood learning programs.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray believes that making preschool free or at least affordable for all families in Seattle would be his most important work in office. But he doesn’t want to rush it.
On Thursday he proposed placing a four-year, $58 million property-tax levy on the November ballot that would focus first on boosting the quality of existing programs, then on ramping up enrollment.
Almost 1 in 5 DC preschoolers had more than 10 unexcused absences last year, according to a study recently released by DC Action for Children, a nonprofit that focuses on disadvantaged children in DC. And because that figure doesn't count excused absences, it almost certainly understates the problem. . .