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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 16

April 21, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Apples to Oranges; Leadership; and Mobility Across Generations

Hot Topics

Apples to Oranges: Early Education Success at Scale

NIEER Director Steven Barnett, Ph.D. authored the chapter “Challenges to Scaling Up Effective Pre-Kindergarten Programs” for a Brookings Institution report released this week.  

For those who care deeply about children and understand the impacts of poverty on their lives, such studies as the Perry Preschool and Abecedarian projects have been a beacon of hope. They demonstrate the potential of high-quality early education to substantively alter not just the conditions of their early lives but their learning, development, and well-being over the life course. 
Advocates and policymakers have promoted public investments in early care and education based on the promise of similar benefits. Unfortunately, public programs have fallen short of that promise, sometimes spectacularly so. 
The set of articles released at a Brookings Institution event seek to explain why public programs fall short and what can be done about it.  
These new articles summarize the current state of our knowledge regarding effective early care and education from a variety of perspectives. My own take, set out in one of the articles, is that it is unrealistic to expect today’s public programs to reproduce the results of those highly lauded programs from decades past. 
The most obvious reasons are that (1) society spends far less on the quality and intensity of large-scale public programs and (2) times have changed mostly for the better (e.g., increased access to health care, cleaner air and water, less exposure to lead and second-hand smoke, and a much better counterfactual generally in both the home environments and out-of-home care of disadvantaged children). 
What the ECE field needs most is a combination of more realistic expectations and programs better designed to meet those expectations. Positive examples of contemporary programs in New Jersey, North Carolina and elsewhere demonstrate that successful scaling up is possible–if difficult.  
We invite you to follow NIEER on Twitter @PreschoolToday and Facebook at Preschool Today. Please share your social media handles so we can connect.

New on Preschool Matters…Today!

The Great Pretender

Paths to early education leadership are as varied and unique as the people in such positions. Some consider the path one of happenstance, fate or LAS (last one standing); others as the result of inspiration, aspiration and opportunity. Regardless of the road taken, responsibilities associated with being a leader are demanding with unpredictable, yet potentially impactful and fulfilling, rewards. 

CEELO Update

Puzzling it Out: The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects: A Consensus Statement

CEELO shared the Brookings Institution publication referenced above featuring six consensus statements on what is known about the effects of pre-K and highlighting the importance of gathering further evidence to answer three important questions: What features of pre-K programs, specifically, put children on a positive developmental trajectory? What’s the best way to scale up small pre-K programs to a school-district or state-wide level? How can we use evaluations of an earlier generation of programs to guide the development of today’s pre-K programs? The statement is part of a broader report. 


The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program

A new study, led by James J. Heckman, a Nobel laureate economist at the University of Chicago, followed children from birth until age 35 and found that high-quality care during the earliest years can influence whether both mothers and children born into disadvantage lead more successful lives.

“They’re engaged more in the work force, they’re now active participants of society, they’re more educated, they have higher skills,” the author explained to the New York Times. “So what we’ve done is promoted mobility across generations.”

City Universal Preschool Initiative Evaluations and Research: Research-to-Policy Resources

Child Care and Early Education Research Connections this week shared a Resource List providing a comprehensive list of city universal preschool initiative evaluations and research in the Research Connections collection. To count as universal, a city’s program must aim to eventually provide universal access to publicly-funded preschool for all 4-year-olds using at least some city funds, even if it does not currently achieve universal access. Some well-known programs do not meet these criteria, either because they are the city-based implementation of a state universal preschool program (Tulsa, Oklahoma) or because they do not aim for universal access (Chicago’s Child-Parent Centers; Salt Lake City, Utah).

City universal preschool initiatives that have produced research or evaluation publications and are included here are: Boston, Massachusetts; Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; San Antonio, Texas; San Francisco, California; and Washington, District of Columbia.

Child Care and Development Block Grant Investment Could Support Bipartisan Reforms, Stop Decline in Children Served

The administration has proposed an 18% cut in funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the agency administering the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)–the primary federal funding source providing low-income families with child care subsidies.

In a recent factsheet, CLASP estimates that an increase of $1.4 billion is needed in FY 2018 to fully fund the CCDBG reauthorization without further reducing the number of children served. Absent new investment—even if CCDBG were flat funded—up to 217,000 children could lose child care assistance in 2018, CLASP estimates.

Help Wanted: Must Play Well with Others

A recent report from ReadyNation says managers are increasingly frustrated by a “troubling” lack of punctuality and problem-solving, perseverance in overcoming challenges and other social-emotional qualities critical in the workplace, based on a new national survey of business leaders.

More than 90 percent of business decision-makers polled agreed that experiences during a child’s first five years of life affect the development of their social-emotional skills as adults.

“Business leaders understand the vital link between experiences in early childhood and the later character skills that their employees will need,” the report concludes. “Simply put, providing high-quality early care and education to young children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is a critical first step toward building the strong workforce that will drive America’s economy forward in the years to come.”

Head Start and QRIS Working Together for Quality

A webinar produced by the Build Initiative and QRIS National Learning Network explores Head Start program participation in quality rating and improvement systems, featuring Head Start program staff sharing their perspectives and collaboration models, which involve alignment of standards (QRIS and Head Start Program Performance Standards), reciprocity, and alternative pathways. A Powerpoint Presentation accompanies the webinar.


OPRE Grants

The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has recently published two discretionary research funding announcements titled “Early Care and Education Research Scholars: Head Start Graduate Student Research Grants” and “Early Care and Education Research Scholars: Child Care Research Scholars.”

For more information, email or, respectively, or call 1-877-350-5913.

Potential applicants should sign up for updates on to receive notifications and updates regarding these Funding Opportunity Announcements.


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.


The Learning Lab on Coaching for Practice Change
May-August 2017
3:30 – 4:30 pm EDT

The Learning Lab on Coaching for Practice Change will provide learning opportunities to explore how coaching can be supported by states and used within programs to improve implementation of evidence-based practices in four online sessions offered from May through August. Sign-up here.

Early Education in the News

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

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