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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 13

March 31, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: State of mind, There is an I in QRIS, and Cultural Competence

Hot Topics

State of Mind

A new report finds widespread support for expanding public financing of early childhood programs in… Nebraska. Surprised?

The Buffet Early Childhood Institute/Gallup Survey revealed that two-thirds of residents in this Midwestern deep red state—the last time voters went Democratic was 1964—agree the state should make early care and education a higher priority, while majorities in both urban (61%) and rural (55%) communities say the state is investing too little in these programs.

According to the 2015 State of Preschool Yearbook, Nebraska’s publicly funded preschool program served roughly 12,075 children, about a third of the state’s 4-year-olds and less than 15% of 3-year-olds; another 4,200 children were served in the federal Head Start program. Adjusted for inflation, state spending per child has declined from $4,125 in 2002 to $2,759 in 2015.

Nationally, states seem to have become more responsive to the public’s demand for greater attention to early education. The 2015 State of Preschool Yearbook found total state spending on pre-K programs increased by 10 percent, or $553 million, from the previous year. The number of children served by state-funded pre-K served increased by 37,167 in 2014-2105. With an average rate of $4,489, states also made a substantive increase in spending per child.

NIEER is now compiling state data for the upcoming 2016 State of Preschool Yearbook, focusing on both national trends and state outcomes. In the future, Congress and the new administration may shift further authority and responsibility for education to states and localities. The future of early education may be determined even more by local opinion than in the past.

This shift is occurring as recently released data shows nonparental care decreased over the decade while costs to families rose dramatically.

The Years Before School: Children’s Nonparental Care Arrangements From 2001-2012The big news is an increase in what parents paid.

The National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES) Early Childhood Program Participation (ECPP) Survey of 2012 provides rich information about trends in early education and care over the past decade when combined with earlier survey data. About 60 percent of children, ages 0-5 and not yet in kindergarten, participate in nonparental care arrangements, according to this new report from The National Center for Education Statistics. Overall, enrollment in services outside the home saw little change. From 2001 to 2012, the percentage of children who participated only in relative care increased from 14 to 16 percent. The number of hours that children spent per week in their primary care arrangement declined by 2 hours for nonrelative and center-based care. The most striking finding is that after adjusting for inflation, out-of-pocket hourly expenses for care rose from 2001 to 2012: with expenses rising for relative care to $4.18 from $2.66, for nonrelative care to $5.28 from $4.23, and for center-based care to $6.70 from $4.23.

NIEER Activities

Teaching Kindergarten: Where Did the Garden Go? Practice, Policy, and Advocacy

NIEER Associate Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers Ph.D. will present a keynote speech, “Transforming Kindergarten: Supporting Teachers to Strengthen Quality,” on Saturday April 22 during the Bank Street College of Education Kindergarten Conference.

NIEER and Rutgers, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Education, last year created and published guidelines outlining a comprehensive, continuous, developmentally appropriate, and academically rigorous approach to K-3 education. Dr. Riley-Ayers now is working with 20 school districts participating in a study of their current practice, along with professional development, to enhance their K-3 teaching and learning.

CEELO Update

The “I” in QRIS Survey: Collecting Data on Quality Improvement Activities for Early Childhood Education Programs 

CEELO this week shared this survey developed by the Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest in partnership with the Iowa Quality Rating System Oversight Committee to help states collect information on improvement supports and activities for early childhood programs participating in a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). Such assessment systems are intended to provide families and policymakers with information and to guide program improvements.


Developing Culturally Responsive Approaches to Serving Diverse Populations: A Resource Guide for Community-Based Organizations

As the U.S. grows more diverse, community based organizations (CBOs) are serving an increasingly diverse group of children and families. In this changing environment, developing cultural competence—behaviors, attitudes, and policies that enable organizations to work effectively in cross-cultural situations—is critical.

new resource guide from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families helps community-based organizations find relevant resources for choosing, adapting, or developing interventions; ensuring workforce diversity; budgeting for culturally competent programs, and more.

Coordinated Spending Guide: Braiding and Blending Funds

Tennessee Department of Education recently published a guide to encourage coordinating spending to maximize use of federal funds that includes strategies applicable to many school districts or programs seeking to make the most of federal funding.

The guide encourages local education agencies (LEA) to coordinate grant spending for support activities, while acknowledging such collaboration requires a “shift in mindset” to best meet the needs of children.

Pre-K in DC: Leading in Access and Working to Improve Instructional Quality

recent report from the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) emphasizes the positives of high levels of access and funding, but also acknowledges that work remains to ensure all pre-kindergarteners receive a high-quality education that prepares them for future academic and life success.
The OSSE report reveals that the quality of pre-K instruction needs attention. By utilizing the CLASS Pre-K evaluation tool as a measure of program quality, the researchers were able to see how DC teachers are doing in three domains: emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support (see the below graphic explaining the domains).

Convenience plus a conscience: Lessons for school integration

Brookings’ new study explores the status of public school integration, in light of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ support for school vouchers and the renewed debate over school assignment, funding and segregation.

Some progress has been made since Chief Justice Earl Warren affirmed 62 years ago that separate was unequal, the report states, yet some of that progress has stalled.

“If the average American public school reflected the demographic composition of the general population, about half of black students’ peers would be white,” the report states. “Instead, according to research by the Urban Institute 28 percent of all black students attend schools in which minority children represent more than 90 percent of enrollment and more than 75 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch. The highly segregated schools that many black and Latino students attend also isolate them among disproportionately low-income peers.”



NIEER is seeking a Research Professor/Co-Director to assume major leadership responsibilities for the development and management of research, development of assessments including assessments of practice, and the provision of professional development and technical assistance relating to systems design and large-scale implementation of early learning initiatives.

To apply, please use this link provided by Rutgers University. Applicants are expected to provide a cover letter, CV, and three letters of recommendation.


Tennessee Department of Education is seeking quality contractors to score 2017-18 Voluntary Pre-K Program applications. The contract period will begin April 10, 2017 and end on May 26, 2017.  Please see attached solicitation. Contact Director of Voluntary Pre-K Programs Candace Cook for more information.

Early Education in the News

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

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