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The NIEER blog reporting on research, policy, and practice

Preschool Matters Today

State(s) of Head Start: Funding, enrollment and quality are all over the map


December 14, 2016
by Allison Friedman-Krauss, Ph.D.

Research is clear that developmental trajectories in the first five years profoundly influence later success in school and life. That is why it is so important that every child have access to high-quality early learning experiences, especially those growing up in the most adverse circumstances. Head Start is the nation’s most ambitious effort to support…

Building Bridges: Linking Early Learning and Primary School


December 1, 2016
by Shannon Riley-Ayers, Ph.D.

As highlighted by recent reports , today’s system of care and education for our youngest learners is both fragmented and inadequate. Too often, early learning opportunities are undermined by developmentally inappropriate academic expectations that create anxiety, misaligned teaching and learning practices that create confusion and myopic policies that create competition rather than collaboration. Happily, a consensus…

Putting the ‘Every’ in ESSA: How States Can Prioritize PreK to Grade 3


November 16, 2016 FederalState & Local
by Lori Connors-Tadros, Ph.D.

What would it take for “every child to succeed,” as our new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) suggests?  States can choose to use this major federal education legislation, which at its core is intended to address inequities in educational opportunities, to refocus on the early years–birth to third grade.  State forerunners in addressing early learning…

Special Report: Shortcomings of Pre-K Policies for Children Who are Dual Language Learners


November 8, 2016
Alexandra Figueras-Daniel, Ph.D.

The largest ethnic group among children age five and under is Hispanic, including many families whose home language is not English. How to best meet the early learning needs of these Dual Language Learners–taking into account risk factors such as poverty and limited English proficiency, as well as benefits such as a rich culture–is an…

He Said; She Said: Candidates Promote Competing Visions for Child Care


November 1, 2016 AccessFederal
by Michelle Horowitz

For the first time in many years, both major political party candidates for President have acknowledged child care as an important national policy issue. Indeed, both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have campaigned on the issue, promising that child care would be a priority for their administration. But that’s where the agreement ends;…

Questions of Access and Equity: Suspension and Expulsion in PreK


October 26, 2016 AccessOutcomesState & Local
by Kate Abbott, Ph.D.

Expanding access to quality preschool has been a focus of recent policies at both the state and national levels.  The 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act includes federal support to states that can be used to expand access to quality prekindergarten.  Individual states have varied in their adoption of prekindergarten initiatives. Vermont, for…

Don’t Just Nod—Do Something


October 19, 2016 Quality and CurriculumUniversal and Targeted
by W. Steven Barnett

Policymakers often sidestep complicated or controversial issues by nodding– to indicate how much they would really like to be on your side–then sighing loudly and, finally, remarking that, indeed, “The devil is in the details.” Well, say hello to the “devil.” Last year, more than 1200 researchers signed a consensus statement describing in some detail…

Learning from Leading States: Building P-3 Systems


October 14, 2016 Quality and CurriculumState & Local
by David Jacobson

In western Oregon, a regional early learning hub supports 30 partnerships of elementary schools, neighboring family childcare providers and community-based preschools focused on professional learning and family engagement. In Lowell, MA, elementary schools, preschool centers, and family childcare providers working in the same neighborhoods participate in “communities of practice” to improve teaching and family engagement….

Lost in Translation: State PreK Must Meet Needs of Dual Language Learners


September 23, 2016 English Language Learners
by GG Weisenfeld

As educators, we are continually striving to close the well-researched and identified achievement gaps, including those between children who speak a language other than English at home and children who speak only English. We know the earlier we start with high-quality education programs the better. So if we look at states’ pre-K policies, we hope…

Being There: Absenteeism Undermines Pre-K Benefits


September 20, 2016 OutcomesQuality and Curriculum
by Melissa Dahlin

The early childhood field is committed to increasing access to high quality early learning experiences. But the work doesn’t stop at enrollment –we need to ensure children are consistently attending in order to reap the benefits. Every day in high quality programs provides ongoing learning opportunities. Missing out on that can have both short- and…