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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 25

June 23, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Turning polls into policy; Unified voice for ECE workforce; and How to Balance digital and real life

Hot Topics

Lost in Translation 

A new national poll reports more than 3 out of 4 US voters want to see federal cooperation on improving the quality and affordability of preschool.

In fact, 57 percent of those responding to the poll from the First Five Years Fund said they would have a “more favorable” opinion of their Congressional representatives if they voted to increase funding for early education. And 86 percent said helping states and local communities improve and expand access to preschool for low- and middle-income families is “important.”

An interesting question is why this public support does not translate into the public will that Jim Minervino (“15 essential elements”) and others have identified as a key to public funding for high-quality pre-K.

In a review of states with established pre-kindergarten programs (See Implementing 15 Essential Elements for High Quality: A State and Local Policy Scan (2016) NIEER found relatively few with strong “Political will” judged primarily by the actions of the Governor and legislature–not just statements of support.

An analysis of preschool debates in California and Florida provides some insights into the problem. Instrumentally rational arguments about pre-K benefits must compete with arguments about appropriate levels of state involvement in early childhood and distrust of political leadership according to Policy logics, framing strategies, and policy change: lessons from universal pre-k policy debates in California and Florida.  Successfully translating public sentiment into political will may depend on buidling trust in political leadership and identifying programs as legitimate domains for public funding and/or provision of services.

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! Blog

States Detail Strategies to Invest in the Early Childhood Workforce in ESSA Plans

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) is proud to partner with New America on this blog series highlighting early learning opportunities and challenges under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

High-quality early learning requires a high-quality workforce with specialized knowledge and skills. To better support this under-resourced and complex workforce, state education agencies (SEAs) and state boards of education can use their policy levers to investigate and influence workforce quality in four areas: qualifications and licensure, preparation programs, professional development, and compensation. And they can leverage provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to advance changes in their states.

There are many obstacles to building a high-quality workforce: inadequate career advancement opportunities, lack of effective professional development, inconsistent policies and standards across different settings from birth to age eight due to varied funding streams, low wages and benefits, and low public perceptions of teachers’ skill sets.

NIEER Activities 

NIEER recently joined / Mamá for a bilingual Twitter chat at the #EarlyEdChat hashtag to talk about The State of Preschool 2016 report.

According to Twitter metrics, this chat reached 162,276 twitter accounts for 5,632,908 potential readers in both English and Spanish.

Participants included ECE colleagues Every Child Matters; Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children; Child Care Works, Dr. Walter Gilliam Director of Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy; along with many others. The chat also included a number of parents and bloggers contributing in both English and Spanish, including Madres Conectadas and Latina Blogger Maritere Bellas.

A Storify compilation of chat questions and responses can be found here.

CEELO Update

CEELO is pleased to announce that an updated version of the Directory of State Early Learning Contacts is now available on the CEELO website.


A Unified Foundation to Support a Highly Qualified Early Childhood Workforce

As a result of the recommendations from the report Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation (IOM and NRC, 2015), a group of representatives from national organizations came together in a series of meetings in 2016 to discuss how to work as a unified foundation to support state efforts to improve the quality of the early childhood workforce serving children from birth through age 8 in an aligned and coordinated way.

In a paper published this week, the group lays out a unified voice and a set of unified actions that if implemented could advance a highly qualified professional field of practice.

“By coming together around the scientific knowledge base and putting children first, the early childhood workforce can move from fragmentation toward working collaboratively as a unified foundation,” the paper states. “…The magnitude of the problem and importance of actionable solutions right now necessitates us to be more effective and efficient in serving children and families. Together we believe that we can address the growing disparities in quality early care and education for young children in the United States, as well as build a high-quality professional field of practice.”

Lessons from the Field: Profiles of Quality Early Childhood Education Programs and Implications for Connecticut

For more than a decade, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) has led a movement to improve educational outcomes for Connecticut’s kids and close that state’s achievement gap. This report profiles five early childhood providers: Acelero Learning, AppleTree Early Learning, Boston Public Schools pre-K, CAP Tulsa, and City Garden Montessori.

These programs were selected because they have evidence that children who are enrolled in the programs make meaningful learning gains and enter school better prepared to succeed. The programs profiled represent diverse student populations, delivery systems, funding environments, and program lengths.

First Five Years Fund 2017 Poll

As political polarization becomes more extreme, early childhood education unites American voters, according to a 2017 poll released this week by the First Five Years Fund.

The First Five Years Fund’s 2017 national bipartisan poll found that every single proposal tested — including expanding the federal partnership with states and communities through grants to improve access to preschool, tripling the current child care tax credit, and even providing greater funding for programs like Head Start — received overwhelming voter support regardless of partisan affiliation.

Equity in Education: Key Questions to Consider

This Education Commission of the States special report encourages increased intentionality of policy assessment and development through exploring equity-minded questions across four key state policy levers: teaching and leading, learning and transitioning, measuring and improving, and financing.

Starting Strong 2017: Key OECD Indicators on Early Childhood Education and Care

For more than 15 years, the OECD has been conducting policy analysis and gathering new data on ECEC. For the first time, this report brings together all the key ECEC indicators in one volume. It presents an exhaustive overview of ECEC systems and provision as well as trend data and information on recent reforms. The report takes a hard look at issues such as access and governance, equity, financing, curriculum, the teaching workforce and parent engagement. Key challenges for improving the ECEC sector are identified.

With around 45 charts and data for the 35 OECD countries and a number of partner countries, the publication also includes a great deal of new material. It offers new data on ECEC provision and intensity of participation for children under the age of three (based on an improved typology of settings). It also presents new indicators on the profile of ECEC staff (e.g. level of qualification, teacher salary and organization of working time) and on equity in access to ECEC. New PISA 2015 analyses help highlight the relationship between the number of years of ECEC and academic performance at age 15, and the effects of ECEC attendance on health and well-being, and mothers’ employability.

American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use

AAP this week released a new set of recommendations and resources, including an interactive media use planning tool, to help families balance digital and real life from birth to adulthood.

Today’s children grow up immersed in digital media, which has both positive and negative effects on healthy development. The AAP recommends parents prioritize creative, unplugged playtime for infants and toddlers.

Some media can have educational value for children starting at around 18 months of age, but it’s critically important that this be high-quality programming, such as the content offered by Sesame Workshop and PBS. Parents of young children should watch media with their child, to help children understand what they are seeing.


OPRE Grant Announcement

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 a discretionary research funding announcement titled “Family Strengthening Scholars.” If you have questions regarding this grant announcement, please email the OPRE grant review team at or call 1-877-350-5913.

The full announcement for “Family Strengthening Scholars” is available online.

OPRE intends to award up to three grants to support dissertation research on healthy marriage policy issues. These grants are meant to build capacity in the research field to focus on questions that have direct implications for the healthy marriage field, and to foster mentoring relationships between faculty members and high-quality doctoral students. These grants are intended to address issues of significance to inform policy decisions and solutions, particularly for under-served/understudied populations (e.g., low-income families, minority populations), use rigorous research methodology (both primary data collection and secondary data analysis), and help inform the development of future intervention research.

Applicants may apply for project periods up to 24 months with two 12-month budget periods. Up to $25,000 may be awarded for each budget period. Letters of intent are due by June 26, 2017 and applications are due by July 14, 2017. 


Rutgers University Annual Conference on Reading and Writing

Friday October 27, 2017
7:15 am – 4:15 pm
Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick NJ

This year’s 50th Annual Conference offers national literacy experts and authors in a one-day conference. Participatns select three workshops from more than 20 offered. The event features three keynote speakers: author Henry Winkler and literacy authors Nell Duke and Lester Laminack. There will be breakfast, High Tea, lunch, vendors, book signing and networking throughout the day.  Click here for more information.

Early Education Roundup

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

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