Volume 15, Issue 24

Hot Topics

The Elephant–or Donkey–In The Room

No matter what early education issue is up for discussion–quality, access, cost, teacher compensation–-one can’t help but reflect on how early education policy will be influenced by the Nov. 8 elections. Does it take a village or should parents alone make decisions about their young child’s education? How much will public investment tilt in favor of those with low incomes? Tax credits or tax deductions? Will parental leave be available to dads or only to moms?

Democrat Hillary Clinton opened her campaign with a detailed plan to provide universal preschool for four-year-olds across the US, cap child care costs at 10 percent of household income and provide 12 weeks of paid family leave to parents. Republican Donald Trump replied with a plan including tax deductions for child care expenses, expansion of the EITC for low-income families and 6 weeks paid maternity leave for new moms.

For both major political parties the struggle to balance family and work life is now a national campaign issue. This week, advocates and journalists alike shared their assessments.

With the presidential election a few days away, Federal Flash examined education proposals and how a new president could impact implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and staffing at the U.S. Department of Education. And The Hechinger Report talked with families about how their lives might change.

No Guarantees

A new study published by USDOE and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research challenges common assumptions about a lack  of effective teaching in schools serving low-income neighborhoods and any guarantee of effective teaching in districts serving wealthier families.

The study assessed low-income students’ access to effective teachers in grades 4 through 8 in 26 school districts nationwide over a five-year period.

While children from wealthier families generally score higher on achievement tests than children from lower income families, the study found both groups have similar chances of being taught by the most–and the least–effective teachers. And teachers of low-income students are nearly as effective as those teaching higher-income students.

“This suggests that the achievement gap arises from factors other than students’ access to effective teachers,” said Mathematica Senior Researcher Eric Isenberg, the principal investigator. Details are available in the study snapshot, executive summary, and full report.

It’s Urgent

The agenda for improving care and education for vulnerable young children–specifically migrant families and those living in poverty–is “both urgent and extensive,” according to a new policy report from the Transatlantic Forum for Inclusive Early Years.

The report lays out  key policy recommendations for improving access, professional development, curricula, cultural and linguistic responsiveness, family involvement, integration of services, monitoring and evaluation as well as funding.

Many issues should be tackled simultaneously, the report states, which requires “shared responsibility” among stakeholders.

Addressing these issues — in the EU and US — would lay foundations for successful, inclusive societies, the report concludes. “A failure to respond to the current challenges and barriers in early childhood facing so many disadvantaged and marginalized communities will have long-term consequences and costs which far outweigh the cost of thoughtful investments.”

New on Preschool Matters…Today!

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

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. But that’s where the agreement ends; as they diverge over what should be done and for whom.

New on NIEER.org

Early Learning Scale Preschool Assessment

Developed by researchers at the National Institute for Early Education Research (Riley-Ayers, S., Stevenson-Garcia, J., Frede, E., & Brenneman, K.) the Early Learning Scale (ELS) is an authentic, observation-based performance assessment that provides educators with a practical tool for assessing the progress of students ages 3 to 5. Read a technical report from NIEER researchers on the Early Learning Scale offering information on the use and reliability of the instrument and on the validity of the data, along with a report on the Kindergarten Early Learning Scale.

To order or for more information contact (224) 366-8581 or email: support@myelsonline.com

CEELO Update

Insights on new ESSA ECE Guidance

The U.S. Department of Education recently released non-regulatory guidance to help ensure young children from birth through third-grade get the strong start they need to achieve success in school and in life. This is the Department’s first comprehensive look at how the nation’s new education law supports our youngest learners.

This week, CEELO and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE) hosted a webinar sharing information from the USED Office of Early Learning on the guidance and views from three states – North Carolina, Colorado and Arizona – on their efforts to strengthen early learning in their ESSA planning. View the webinar and slides.


A 10-Year Strategy of Increased Coordination & Comprehensive Investments in Early Child Development

The Behavioral Science and Policy Association recently released recommendations to address what it considers “a fragmented and inadequate system of early childhood care and education.”  The policy paper proposes a 10-year strategy for a coordinated set of reforms to significantly improve and integrate the major public and private early childhood programs into a coherent whole. The goal is to better meet children’s needs, with a special focus on leveling the development and learning gaps that exist before kindergarten. The strategy consists of paid parental leave, child-care assistance for children with working parents, universal early education that starts when children are 3 years old, and a re-envisioned role for Head Start to reach the most disadvantaged children with intensive services from birth.

Peer Effects on Head Start Children’s Preschool Competency

A report recently published in Developmental Psychology explores peer relationships and their effects on preschool competency among Head Start participants and finds “clear evidence that Head Start peers exert influence…” More research is needed, the report concludes, so a more complete understanding can inform educators how best to use classroom relationships to encourage academic success.

The Next President Must Make Data Work for Students

The Data Quality Campaign offers proposals to help the next president change the role of data in education from a tool of compliance to an instrument that informs families’ education decisions and choices, empowers teachers to personalize learning, increases transparency, enriches public accountability, promotes equity, and fuels schools’ efforts to continuously improve. Use of data becomes even more important, DQC argues, because the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), gives states more responsibility for closing achievement gaps and improving overall student achievement. Effective data use can be critical to states’ ultimate success in improving outcomes for every child.

New Data Report Documents ‘Patchwork’ Early Education System

The Care Index, a data set developed by New America’s Better Life Lab and Care.com, and the New America Care Report, one of the most comprehensive analyses on the subject to date, found that the early care and learning infrastructure in the United States is a patchwork, forcing families to make trade-offs between cost, quality, and availability.

On Monday, Nov. 7, you can join New America’s Better Life Lab and the Royal Norwegian Consulate General  to examine how public investment in high-quality, early childhood programs can create a better care infrastructure for today’s families and for a stronger, safer society. Register.

Unequal from Birth: The Case for Universal Child Care
Monday Nov. 7, 2016
6:30 pm EST
156 Fifth Avenue, Second Floor
New York, NY 10010

The Impact of Universal Prekindergarten on Family Behavior and Child Outcomes

A recently published study in Australia measuring the effect of universal preschool on cognitive and non-cognitive skills among four-year-olds found positive effects across socioeconomic status. Authors found that five months of access to universal prekindergarten increases children’s school readiness by 0.23 standard deviations. Such positive effects “appear to be driven by the use of higher-quality formal early education and care, with some indication of increased maternal employment,” the study states.


NAEYC’s 2016 Annual Conference
November 2-5
Los Angeles, CA

NIEER research was featured at the NAEYC Annual Conference & Expo, with the ELS assessment tool developed by Associate Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers Ph.D showcased at booth 1649 in the exhibit hall and Assistant Research Professor Alissa Lange Ph.D. presenting slides on how to make the most of science in preschool.

The NAEYC Annual Conference & Expo is the largest gathering of thought leaders, classroom teachers and faculty, administrators, researchers, and other critically important practitioners and contributors in early childhood education. This year’s program features more than 40 sessions in Spanish, building on sessions hosted at NAEYC’s Professional Development Institute that address race, equality, and inequality and becoming a more effective advocate for the field.

Early Education in the News

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

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Is there an elephant--or a donkey--in the room? Get your ELS Assessment Tool and View the ECE Guidelines webinar