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NIEER's weekly newsletter for the latest in early education news

NIEER Weekly

Volume 15, Issue 27

December 2, 2016

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Moving beyond the divisive campaign on early education issues; Making the early years count and State progress reports on PDG

Hot Topics

If the kids are united, they will never be divided

In the aftermath of the election that many found divisive, it has never been more important to understand that policies addressing the changes and challenges in today’s world need to avoid “binarisms”–such as rural v. urban, conservative v. liberal. In a recent article, New America writer Hana Passen counsels that “these binaries reduce the varied interests of large populations into monolithic blocs and oversimplify the truth…” Recognizing that “supposedly opposed groups face the same challenges” can create opportunities for genuine solutions.  Nowhere is this more true than in early childhood care and education.  

In the early childhood field we already have much to do in responding effectively to new guidelines for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) focused on early learning as well as new Head Start regulations–all issued just weeks ago. President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to make childcare more affordable for working families opens the door for additional policy change and raises questions about what else will become priorities for the new administration. Curiosity surrounds the implications for young children of the nominations of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga. as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

As we in the field work together on evidence-based policy, developmental science can contribute a great deal to conversations about the common needs of all young children and families and the role of federal policies and programs in ensuring that no child is left behind regardless of where they live.

New on Preschool Matters…Today!

Building Bridges: Linking Early Learning and Primary School

by Shannon Riley-Ayers, Ph.D.

As highlighted by recent reports, today’s system of care and education for our youngest learners is both fragmented and inadequate. Too often, early learning opportunities are undermined by developmentally inappropriate academic expectations that create anxiety, misaligned teaching and learning practices that create confusion and myopic policies that create competition rather than collaboration. Happily, a consensus is growing for repairing this fragmentation and building sturdy bridges from early childhood education to primary school.

During a recent webinar hosted by REL Northwest, I discussed what is needed to create a successful continuum for children moving from preschool to Kindergarten and beyond.

CEELO Update

Strengthening the Kindergarten-Third Grade Continuum

As educators and policymakers seek to build on the success of quality pre-K, the National Conference of State Legislatures offers a look at what is happening across the states K-3 in a new report, Strengthening the Kindergarten-Third Grade Continuum.

States are exploring comprehensive early childhood assessment systems to answer key questions about young children’s learning and development and the effectiveness of early childhood programs. Research and best practice will help states as they make decisions and provide leadership. For more resources, click here.


Predicting Second Grade Listening Comprehension Using Prekindergarten Measures in Topics in Language Disorders

CCEC GRA Gloria Yeomans-Maldonado with the Language and Reading Research Consortium and former CCEC GRA, Kim Murphy, recently published, Predicting Second Grade Listening Comprehension Using Prekindergarten Measures in Topics in Language Disorders. Check out their latest research on Google Scholar.

The purpose of this study was to determine prekindergarten predictors of listening comprehension in second grade. A prekindergarten measure of listening comprehension—the Test of Narrative Language—and a prekindergarten measure of foundational language skills and working memory—the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-4 Recalling Sentences—were significant predictors of second grade listening comprehension.

Conclusions: Findings show that a quick, reliable measure of sentence imitation and/or listening comprehension, administered in prekindergarten, provides insight into a child’s second grade listening comprehension. Knowing who is at risk for comprehension failure will allow educators to make informed, evidence-based decisions on the need for further in-depth assessment and language-intensive instruction to stave off future reading disabilities.

Time for Action: Building the Educator Workforce Our Children Need Now

The Center for Great Teachers and Leaders’ recent publication guides states developing plans to implement ESSA and serve as the basis for their federal education spending. Time for Action: Building the Educator Workforce Our Children Need Now urges education policymakers to rethink systems and strategies, and to focus funds and effort on what matters most for learning: great teachers and leaders for every student and school. The report provides:

  • A bold, long-term vision for creating a talent system that gives every student a great teacher every year.
  • Key state actions for building the right talent system for their state.
  • Guidance for using ESSA-consolidated state planning to drive high-leverage talent systems.

K-3 Policymakers Guide to Action: Making the Early Years Count

Education Commission of the States released a new resource K-3 Policymakers Guide to Action: Making the Early Years Count summarizing the top policy components 12 of the nation’s top content experts convened by Education Commission of the States prioritized for a high-quality K-3 system. This was an outcome of a K-3 “Thinkers Meeting” held this summer coupled with the results of the 50-State Comparison: K-3 Quality resource released earlier in the year. The national partnership producing this work includes ECS, NCSL, New America, National P-3 Center and NIEER/CEELO.

Preschool Development Grants

This week, Secretary King announced more than $247 million in awards to 18 states under the Preschool Development Grants(PDG) program, jointly administered by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, to continue expanding access to high-quality preschool for children from low- and moderate-income families.  The awards are the third year of grants to states working with local communities to prepare the nation’s most vulnerable children for success in school and beyond. At the same time, the agency released a national report and state progress reports on the PDG program.  These reports detail how states are meeting high standards and improving access to early learning for at-risk children.

Separately, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released a joint report to help states refine their capacity to use existing data from early childhood programs to improve services for young children and families.  The report covers critical considerations when states integrate data and details progress in eight states developing and using early childhood integrated data systems (ECIDS).


Call for Studies: The Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE), Mathematica Policy Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Mathematica Policy Research® seeks studies for a comprehensive review of the evidence base for home visiting programs. The review is being conducted for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) by Mathematica Policy Research and will be used to help inform policy, new initiatives, and program directions at the federal level. This call for studies aims to identify studies that the HomVEE team has not previously reviewed, including unpublished manuscripts (past or recent), conference papers, and new publications (currently in press) that are not included in databases searched for the review. Authors also may submit new evidence or findings that build on or expand previously reviewed studies (if the results are reported as new, stand-alone articles). Submission deadline is January 4, 2017.

Early Education in the News

ICYMI: Read this week’s key stories on early childhood education issues.

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