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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 9

March 3, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Equal pay for equal work, Urban Innovation and Unlocking ESSA

Hot Topics

Equal Pay for Equal Work

In Massachusetts, at least 23,000 eligible children in low-income families are on waiting lists for preschool due to a lack of teachers.

“It’s a serious crisis,” Amy O’Leary, director of the Boston-based Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign, told the Gloucester Times. “We can’t get kids off the waiting list, because we can’t fill classrooms with teachers, because we’re not paying them enough.”

Roughly 90,000 early childhood teachers are working in Massachusetts, earning a median salary of about $25,000 per year–just above the federal poverty level for a family of four, O’Leary said. The average public school teacher in Massachusetts earned more than $74,000 in the previous school year, according to state data.

NIEER found similar salary gaps hampering Head Start programs as well. Our State(s) of Head Start  report found that in Massachusetts Head Start teachers with 4-year college degrees were paid nearly $47,000 less per year than public school teachers.  Massachusetts is a national leader for public school teacher pay as well as for educational achievement (the top performer  on NAEP and near the top on international tests as well).

Nationally, Head Start teachers earned almost $24,000 less than public elementary school teachers with the same credentials. The discrepancy was even larger for Early Head Start teachers. Poor compensation can lead to high turnover and an inexperienced workforce throughout the early childhood field, not just in child care.

If early childhood programs are ever to live up to the high expectations we as a nation have for them, the problem of low pay will have to be addressed and not just enough to get enough bodies into the classroom.

New on Preschool Matters…Today!

Cities are Leading the Way to Innovation

High-quality early education is one of the best investments we can make with public dollars: an effective weapon against academic failure, high school dropout, crime and poverty and for a healthier, more academically, socially, and economically successful future. No wonder then, cities–with both high aspirations and stubborn problems–are taking up arms.

A recently published report shows how the 40 largest US cities are doing on providing universal preschool, along with eight other key policies proven to improve lives. Funded by the de Beaumont Foundation, the CityHealth initiative for the first time provides an evidence-based analysis of how major cities are implementing policies helping communities thrive and residents lead healthier lives.

NIEER Activities

Variations in Head Start Teacher Qualifications, Compensation, and Turnover

NIEER Assistant Research Professor Allison Friedman-Krauss spoke this week during the Child Care and Early Education Policy Research Consortium Annual Meeting regarding policy implications of new research on qualifications and compensation of the early childhood workforce.

Dr. Friedman-Krauss, co-author of the groundbreaking State(s) of Head Start report, presented findings related to the Head Start and Early Head Start workforce across states. The report, published in December 2016, focuses on the 2014-2015 program year but also provides longitudinal data beginning with the 2006-2007 program year.

Despite the fact that Head Start is a federally funded, national program, the report reveals that access to Head Start programs, funding per child, teacher education, quality of teaching, and duration of services all vary widely by state.

CEELO Update

Building our Future: Supporting Community-Based Early Childhood Initiatives

This week CEELO shares findings and themes from a meeting hosted by Child Trends, with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, that brought together practitioners, policymakers, business leaders, researchers, and philanthropists to figure out what makes for a successful community-based early childhood initiative aimed at improving that well-being. It highlights lessons learned from three community-based initiatives.


Unlocking ESSA’s Potential to Support Early Learning

New report from New America and BUILD Initiative details how the Every Student Succeeds Act can support state early learning programs. In addition to providing resources, ESSA gives state and local education agencies significant flexibility, much more than was allowed under the previous iteration of the law, No Child Left Behind.

“Everybody agrees that the ESSA shifts significant discretion to states and districts, and while that shift may present some challenges, it also presents opportunities. ESSA provides an open door for states to expand early learning opportunities…” The report states. “But because the law does not mandate any early learning spending, state and local leaders interested in seeing ESSA support early learning will need to work hard to make sure that it does so.”

Quality 101: Identifying the Core Components of a High-Quality Early Childhood Program

This Center for American Progress brief showcases three core indicators for a high-quality early childhood program and six structural supports  necessary to achieve and maintain high quality.

The brief cites research co-authored by NIEER Director Steve Barnett Ph.D. NIEER in 2015 published a consensus statement describing in some detail what quality early care and education looks like and why it’s a sound public investment. More than 1200 researchers have added their signatures. You can read the full letter and see the signatories here.

Building Mathematical Competencies in Early Childhood

This video from Erikson Early Math Collaborative deals with the “whys,” “whats,” and “hows” of including rich, developmentally appropriate mathematics experiences for young children in pre-kindergarten classrooms. It features Early Math Collaborative instructors discussing measurement. It is part of an award-winning video series released by Davidson Films.

How Cities Embrace Their Infants and Toddlers 

The Early Childhood Action Collective is pleased to share the third in an ongoing series of briefs intended to inform the implementation of early childhood programs in Philadelphia.

The new brief focuses on the need to maintain and expand services for infants and toddlers, while developing preschool systems and provides examples from several city projects. Examples include Baltimore, Boston, Cambridge, Cincinnati, District of Columbia, Memphis, Minneapolis, New York, Providence, San Antonio and Seattle.  An Executive Summary is also available.



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 contact information for three references.


Identifying and Assessing Young Dual Language Learners 
USDOE Webinar 
3 p.m. EST  
Tuesday March 7, 2017
The Preschool Development and Expansion Grant Technical Assistance Program’s (PDG TA) upcoming webinar on Identifying and Assessing Young Dual Language Learners on March 7, 2017 at 3:00pm ET. Register here!

PDG TA’s resource page features a range of webinars and relevant presentations 
Please note: The 2017 Education Information and Resource Center Primary Educators Conference scheduled for March 10 had been canceled. 

Early Education in the News

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

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