Volume 15, Issue 29

Hot Topics

All Over the Map

Early education research shared this week shows how location and other factors influence opportunity, especially for low-income families and children. Both reports also illustrate the challenges researchers face when evaluating Head Start coverage. All too frequently, the numbers reported can be seriously misleading about the level of coverage. Steve Barnett explains why here.

“Disparate Access” an analysis by The Center on Law and Social Policy(CLASP), reviewed coverage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and access to Head Start programs for racial and ethnic groups.  Among other findings, their analyses indicate that Hispanic and Asian children have below average participation rates in these programs. A webinar this week with diversitydatakids.org explored policy implications of that research, particularly for Hispanic and immigrant families. At the state level, CLASP concluded, “the differences in access to the Head Start preschool program are striking.”

In State(s) of Head Start, NIEER for the first time analyzed Head Start program data from all 50 states and six territories and found that access, funding per child, teacher education, quality of teaching, and duration of services all vary widely by state.  

NIEER’s findings underscore the need for additional funding as well greater coordination between Head Start and state and local government agencies to build high-quality early learning programs with widespread reach and adequate funding. The report calls for an independent bipartisan national commission to study the issues raised in this report and develop an action plan to ensure every eligible child in every state has an equal opportunity to benefit from Head Start.

“Our report for the first time reveals the extent of disparities in Head Start funding and coverage state by state,” said NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D. “We urge local, state and federal policymakers to work with Head Start providers and the broader early childhood education community, including researchers, to address issues raised in this report.”

New on Preschool Matters…Today!

Understanding Head Start Coverage: Why it’s Less (and More) than You Think

by W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D.

Research in the news this week from the Center on Law and Social Policy, and NIEER’s own State(s) of Head Start report, focused on Head Start enrollment and revealed how location and other factors influence opportunity, especially for low-income families and children.

These reports also bring to fore common misunderstandings in the way access to early care and education is typically reported; misunderstandings that can confuse the public and policymakers.

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

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 children birth to five and their families, but NIEER’s new report shows just how short it falls state by state.

NIEER Activities

FOX 5 NEWS in New York City recently reported on Early Childhood Center Public School in Union City, NJ, where teachers are using programs developed at NIEER and funded by the National Science Foundation to encourage STEM in preschool. NIEER also has provided supports including workshops, reflective coaching and professional learning community activities.

Today, FOX 5 reported, “Toddlers are speaking Spanish and Mandarin and others are learning science and technology at one local preschool that is breaking barriers and creating successful students. It has educators from around the world coming through its doors to learn how.”

CEELO Update

Preschool Development Grants: Year 2015 Progress
Through the Preschool Development Grants (PDG) program, 18 states are expanding access to high-quality programs for 4-year-olds from low- to moderate-income families in over 230 high-need communities. Data from all grantees and subgrantees, as reported in the Annual Performance Reports (APRs) covering January 1 to December 31 of 2015, found that over 28,000 additional children benefited from high-quality preschool in their local communities because of these grants.


Office of Civil Rights Reports
This month, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released two reports spotlighting the achievements and challenges in protecting students’ fundamental right to receive a quality education.  According to OCR’s annual report, the number of complaints filed last fiscal year jumped to a record 16,270 at a time when OCR’s staffing levels remained at a near all-time low.  Still, OCR resolved 8,625 cases and initiated 13 proactive compliance reviews.  According to OCR’s second narrative — describing progress from 2009 to 2016 — 76,022 complaints were filed over the previous eight years, with 66,102 cases resolved and 204 compliance reviews initiated.  Also, during the same time period, OCR issued 34 guidance documents; monitored, on average, 2,000 resolved cases a year to ensure compliance with resolution agreements; and conducted three major Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) surveys (see video on civil rights progress and webcast of release event).

Handbook of Early Childhood Special Education
This handbook discusses early childhood special education (ECSE), with particular focus on evidence-based practices. Coverage spans core intervention areas in ECSE, such as literacy, motor skills, and social development as well as diverse contexts for services, including speech-language pathology, physical therapy, and pediatrics. Contributors offer strategies for planning, implementing, modifying, and adapting interventions to help young learners extend their benefits into the higher grades. Concluding chapters emphasize the importance of research in driving evidence-based practices (EBP).

Starting Early: Education from Prekindergarten to Third Grade
A new journal published by The Future of Children addresses the idea of starting education before kindergarten and the claim that children arriving in school ready to learn is the best way to generate happy, healthy,and productive adults. In brief, quality pre-K experiences can teach children the skills that make it easier for them to learn new skills in early elementary school: that is, skills beget skills. At the same time, we see long-term effects on adult outcomes—for example, people who attended prekindergarten commit fewer crimes and attain more years of schooling… All three articles that examine aspects of curricula—literacy; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); and executive function—conclude that young children are capable of learning more than we currently teach them. In each case, we have curricula and practices whose efficacy has been clearly demonstrated—if teachers receive the training and professional development to use them well.

Build Your Own NSECE Calendar Variable
Research Connections is sponsoring a free virtual data training to build your own child- or household-level calendar-based variable using the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) Household Survey. Training will be provided by NSECE project staff using a web-based learning platform and video conferencing. Collaborative sessions will take place on Wednesdays from January 11-February 1, 2017. Researchers interested in using the NSECE to answer policy relevant questions in early care and education are encouraged to apply. See the NSECE Household Survey User’s Guide to familiarize yourself with this dataset.

Exploring Pre-K Age 4 Learning Standards and Their Role in Early Childhood Education: Research and Policy Implications
The report by Andrea DeBruin-Parecki and Carly Slutzky, analyzes responses by early childhood state and territory directors and administrators and explores the differences and commonalities of prekindergarten learning standards throughout the United States.


January 23, 2017--USDOE announced the availability of the online application for the 2017-18 School Ambassador Fellowship.  This program is designed to broaden the agency’s Teaching Ambassador Fellowship and Principal Ambassador Fellowship programs to allow other professional school personnel — like counselors, librarians, parent liaisons, and assistant principals — to apply.  The goal is to create a cadre of outstanding educators to inform the work of the Department, while expanding their own knowledge and expertise as they participate in and help lead the national education dialogue.  As in previous years, applicants may choose to apply as Washington Fellows — a full-time appointment where fellows are based in residence at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. — or as Campus Fellows — a part-time appointment where fellows collaborate with the agency while maintaining their regular school responsibilities in their home communities.  The application closes January 23, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

February 1, 2017—Interactive event aimed at navigating the challenges of the Every Student Succeeds Act rollout. Education Week journalists and other invited experts will answer your questions on testing and assessments, non-academic factors in weighing school quality, federal regulation and oversight, teacher professional development, states’ capacity role in stakeholder engagement, and whatever else you need to know. Click here for more information.

April 23-25, 2017Child Care Aware® of America Policy Summit will engage professionals in the field and our Child Care Works grassroots advocates and provide information on policy that informs, educates, and assists attendees in building their policy strategies. Sessions will cover action items around discussing public policy as well as legislation and regulations with policymakers across the local, state, and federal levels. Finally, the Policy Summit will include our annual Day on the Hill event.  The summit will take place April 23 – 25, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

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: Research Shows Head Start is All Over the Map, Union City NJ Preschool in the Spotlight and Mark Your Calendar for ECE Events