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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 44

November 10, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Early Ed Finance, Best Practices and DLLs

Hot Topics

Follow the Money

Key facts about funding for early care and education (ECE) are summarized by a recent presentation to the Education Writers Association from NIEER’s Dr. Steve Barnett with assistance from NIEER Research Associate Rich Kasmin. The presentation also highlights useful resources for researchers and policy makers.

OECD data provide an international perspective, and indicate the USA is a relatively low public spender judged by either total spending as percentage of GDP or expenditure per child under age six. However, such estimates for the USA must be viewed as very rough because not all public spending on ECE is tracked.

Tapping multiple sources to estimate total government spending on ECE in the US, Barnett and Kasmin identify about $32 billion for 2016, mostly from the federal government. And while dozens of federal programs spend something on ECE, the vast majority comes from just a few programs: Head Start and Early Head Start, child care subsidies for low-income families, the child care food program, and child care tax credits.

At the state level, pre-K and child care subsidies account for most of the identifiable spending, while identified local spending is primarily for pre-K. However, there may be substantially more unreported state and local spending targeted to young children. In particular, identified spending on special education and early intervention is far less than what estimates of the costs of these services suggest, and data on these expenditures is not systematically collected and reported. Also, cities have increased spending on ECE with a view toward increasing access to quality — but these expenditures also are not systematically tracked.

Public funding varies widely from state to state and from one zip code to another in ways that do not correspond to children’s needs. State and local differences in spending are an obvious source of variation. However, even federal programs like Head Start and Early Head Start vary in distribution of funds and spending per child in ways that just don’t seem to make sense, partly because there is just not enough money in these programs to accomplish their goals. See State(s) of Head Start executive summary.

Finally, the National Survey of Early Care and Education provides information on how providers blend and braid funding, along with how much parents spend. Barnett and Kasmin estimate parents spend about $60 billion “out of pocket” annually on ECE. What parents are charged and how much they spend differs a great deal from one family to another, with higher-income families spending much more.

The median hourly fee charged is only about half the average fee, suggesting that a relative few charge much higher fees than others. Similarly, families with incomes above $100,000 pay about twice as much per year for ECE as those with incomes of $50-$75,000. Clearly, those at the top of the income ladder spend far more on ECE than others, including middle-income families who are unlikely to have access to subsidized higher-quality early learning opportunities for their children.

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New on Preschool Matters Today! Blog

Building a Better Classroom Experience

Learn to read. Learn to make friends. Learn to add. Learn to follow directions. The early learning “To Do List” is filled with academic and social-emotional milestones. Whether young learners acquire these skills depends a great deal on what happens in their classrooms, with their teachers.

To help teachers provide instruction that is both developmentally appropriate and academically rigorous, the New Jersey Department of Education in 2015 teamed up with NIEER and the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education to develop the First through Third Grade Implementation Guidelines outlining best practices for early elementary school educators.

However, state guidelines, no matter how great, cannot change practice. To encourage and support teachers adopting better practices, NIEER developed a Professional Learning Series using the key components of effective practices and recently published a new Professional Learning Community Guide.

CEELO Update

CEELO this week shared a new resource analyzing how specific instructional school leadership and teacher leadership variables correlate to student achievement. While the importance and impact of school and teacher leadership has been widely understood by policymakers and practitioners, the field has lacked a comprehensive, research-based analysis to identify the specific elements of school and teacher leadership that can increase student achievement.


When Degree Programs for Pre-K Teachers Go Online

Recognition that teaching young children takes skills and knowledge has led policymakers and the early childhood field to push to professionalize the workforce. Today, 35 state-funded public pre-K programs require that lead teachers hold a bachelor’s degree, and many of those states require a major or specialization in early childhood.

This New America report explores teacher preparation, early childhood policy, and online degree programs through published reports on the state of teacher preparation, interviews with experts, information from online degree programs, national data sets on early childhood teacher preparation programs, and surveys of the early childhood workforce.

Kids’ Share 2017: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2016 and Future Projections

This 11th edition of the annual Kids’ Share report from the Urban Institute provides an updated analysis of federal expenditures on children from 1960 through 2016. It also projects federal expenditures on children through 2027 to give a sense of how budget priorities may unfold absent changes to current law.

Half of all federal expenditures on children comes from four spending and tax programs: Medicaid, the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit, and the dependent exemption, according to the report. Children’s programs are projected to receive just one cent of every dollar of the projected $1.5 trillion increase in federal spending over the next decade and under current law, the children’s share of the budget is projected to drop from 9.8 to 7.5 percent over the next decade, as spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest payments on the debt consumes a growing share of the budget.

Are States Recognizing and Responding to the Needs of Their Dual Language Learner Children?

Dual Language Learners (DLLs) now make up nearly one-third of all children ages 8 and under in the United States. And although DLLs stand to benefit disproportionately from high-quality early learning opportunities, they are significantly less likely than their native, English-only peers to be enrolled in pre-K programs.

On this webinar, Migration Policy Institute analysts outline key findings from the national demographic and policy profile and discuss their implications for ECEC programs and systems that seek to provide equitable access and quality for DLLs and support them in building a strong foundation for their future success.

A Framework for the Dual Language Assessment of Young Dual Language Learners in the US

This framework from Educational Testing Service lays out a conceptual approach for dual language assessment tasks designed to measure the language and literacy skills of young DLLs entering kindergarten. Although examples focus on Spanish–English DLLs, recommendations could be broadly applied to other language combinations with appropriate adaptations for each language.

Early Childhood Educators’ Self-Efficacy in Science, Math, and Literacy Instruction and Science Practice in the Classroom

This new study published in Early Education and Development explores how teachers’ beliefs about their skills in a content area relate to classroom practice based on survey and observation data from 67 Head Start classrooms.

The study focuses on early science education as a way to address the low science achievement of US elementary students compared to international peers and finds teacher self-efficacy was highest for literacy, significantly lower for science and lowest for math. For more on STEM early learning, see NIEER’s STEM Professional Development for Pre-K Teachers.

A QRIS practical data user’s guide: The findings of a Quality Rating and Improvement System Community of Practice on using data effectively

This BUILD Initiative guide describes a collection of data practices and strategies for more effectively implementing a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). Designed as a practical user guide, it doesn’t focus on statistics or database language but features concepts and ready-to-use resources.

 Montessori Preschool Elevates and Equalizes Child Outcomes: A Longitudinal Study

This longitudinal University of Virginia study published in Frontiers of Psychology measured children’s academic achievement, social skills, executive function, relative enjoyment of school, and creativity to determine whether Montessori education would have a significant influence.

Findings, based on a sample including 71 children in the control group and 70 children in the Montessori group, showed that over time the Montessori children fared better on academic achievement, social understanding, and mastery orientation. In addition, Montessori preschool also equalized outcomes among subgroups that typically have unequal outcomes.


Head Start Data Access

Tuesday, November 14  
Wednesday, November 15  
1-2:30 pm EST 

Research Connections and Westat researchers host a two-part webinar series on the Head Start Impact Study Center Analysis File, soon to be added to the Head Start Impact Study Data Collection via a secure, virtual data enclave (VDE). Register.

The first webinar, Head Start Impact Study Center Analysis File Overview, will show how to apply for access to the data and use the VDE to work with the data; introduce the Center Analysis File.  The next webinar, Working with the Head Start Impact Study Center Analysis File, will provide tips on using the Center Analysis File.

California’s Gold: An Advocacy Framework for Young Dual Language Learners

Thursday, November 16
10-11 a.m. EST 

Webinar to introduce a new resource: California’s Gold: An Advocacy Framework for Young Dual Language Learners, including a report and interactive website outline the breadth of needs and opportunities to incorporate a DLL focus into Early Learning advocacy work in California. Register.

Early Education News Roundup 

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

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