Volume 16, Issue 1

Hot Topics

Democracy in Action  
2017 brings a new president, new Congress, new legislative sessions and budgets—all providing both opportunities and challenges for policies supporting high-quality early learning for all children.

ASCD, formerly known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, is rallying educators to play a vital role in shaping both the present and future of education at local, state and national levels.

An ASCD blog by Amy Mount, director of curriculum and instruction at Gateway Regional School District in New Jersey, warns “if educators don’t speak up and advocate for our students and our profession, we can’t blame other people for not acting in the best interests of public education” and lists five ways to share your voice in upcoming education discussions.

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law recently issued a policy brief speaking to the role of research. “Why Data Matters for Securing Justice” notes that “without being keenly aware of disparities, we could miss opportunities to close them — or we could unwittingly advance policies that make the problems we want to solve even worse.” The Shriver Center recently submitted comments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) — an agency within the White House — on its proposed changes to the standards used by federal agencies to maintain, collect, and present data on race and ethnicity.

Research can demonstrate what programs, policies and practices best prepare young children to succeed in school and beyond. But putting best practices in action will require participation in the process, too. As educators, we have a responsibility to share evidence-based research with policymakers and to raise concerns about the consequences of legislative action—or inaction.


New on Preschool Matters…Today!

Keeping the “Kinder” in Kindergarten: Developmentally Appropriate Practice in New York

by Kate Abbott Ph.D.

Take a moment to think of your most meaningful learning experience as a student. What stands out as having the greatest impact, some lesson you still carry today?  Now, please think of your favorite worksheet. I’m guessing the answer to the first question was perhaps the reason you have dedicated so much of your life to the field of education. And I’m guessing the second question was difficult to answer.

In the first 15 days of school this year, my kindergartner came home with 70 completed worksheets. I am not one to question the importance of mastery learning and practice of rote skills, such as handwriting or letter and number identification. The significance of random automatic letter identification as a predictor of later mastery of reading skills is beyond question (Christo & Davis, 2008). However, the curricular tools adopted to address the Common Core Expectations in my child’s school district rely heavily on a didactic approach to imparting knowledge and, unfortunately, this methodology falls short in the exact arena that Common Core standards were intended to enhance: the domain of critical thinking.


NIEER Activities

NIEER Associate Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers Ph.D. will discuss creating programs that are both developmentally appropriate and academically rigorous for primary school students during the 2017 Early Childhood Summit on January 23 at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township NJ.

Dr. Riley-Ayers and Rutgers University Graduate School of Education colleague Dr. Sharon Ryan, worked with the NJ Department of Education to develop Implementation Guidelines for best practices to seamlessly blend instruction to address academic standards, approaches to learning, and students’ interests and motivation. Key initiatives underway in NJ around primary education will be discussed including preliminary results of a research study of quality in kindergarten through grade three throughout the state. Additionally, opportunities for districts to participate in future research and professional learning for the primary years will also be presented.


CEELO Update

CEELO this week shared SRI International’s Preventing Suspensions and Expulsions in Early Childhood Settings: A Program Leader’s Guide to Supporting All Children’s Needs, a new resource designed to help early educators avoid suspensions and expulsions that deny young children the academic and social-emotional development learning opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Education (ED) have made eliminating all forms of exclusion a key priority and issued a Joint Policy Statement on Expulsion and Suspension Policy in Early Childhood Settings.

The SRI guide provides relevant, specific recommended policies and practices that address root causes and provide effective alternatives, based on research for eliminating suspensions and expulsions in early childhood settings and developed with guidance from a panel of national experts. An interactive guide provides resources on supporting social-emotional development, reducing challenging behavior, and recognizing the role of cultural differences and implicit biases.


Opportunities

Early Childhood Research Quarterly invites manuscripts for a special issue focusing on research examining access, utilization and impacts of early care and education (ECE) programs for Latino children and their families.

This special issue grows out of work conducted by the National Center for Research on Hispanic Children and Families, funded by the Administration for Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services, along with other relevant work by early childhood research colleagues in the field.

Guest editors, Drs. Michael L. López and Todd Grindal from Abt Associates, invite papers featuring original quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research as well as review articles focused on these topics—particularly contributions that examine these issues within the context of current ECE policy and with an understanding of the linguistic and cultural diversity of Latino children in the United States.

Click here for a detailed description of the call for papers.

Manuscripts should be submitted online via EVISE between February 1 and June 1, 2017.  


Resources

Aligning P-3 Education
U.S. Department of Education just released findings from a descriptive study that examined the implementation of P-3 alignment, including differentiated instruction, in five programs.

The report looks at Boston Public Schools, Chicago Child-Parent Centers, Early Works Initiative, FirstSchool, and Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL).  All five programs focus on elementary schools that include on-site/co-located PreK classrooms and strive to create greater coherence across the PreK-3rd grade continuum.

In addition to identifying common practices and alignment strategies, the case study highlights programs’ self-reported observed improvements in student outcomes.

Assessing School Climate for ESSA
A recent report from the Center for American Progress urges states to be creative when selecting indicators for school and district accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Innovation in Accountability recommends assessing school climate, social and emotional learning, and resource equity measures.

“School accountability in the United States is evolving—and for good reason,” the report states. “Rather than merely labeling failure, accountability should provide information on school progress and inspire a culture of continuous improvement. To accomplish this goal, the concept of accountability must become much broader…”

Linguistic Diversity Key to Better Early Childhood Education System
A recent blog post by Karen Nemeth underscores the importance of addressing linguistic diversity as advocates seek to build a cohesive, high-quality system that benefits all young children.

A few of Nemeth’s suggestions include increasing spending on childcare subsidy, preschool and home visiting programs with explicit requirements for linguistically appropriate outreach and application processes, and building a workforce that is both diverse and prepared to support diversity. Read more.


Calendar

January 26—The Dual Language Learners Forum, will be hosted by Early Edge, in partnership with First 5 Fresno County in Fresno, CA, a focal point for innovative work in improving early learning opportunities for DLLs.

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.


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: Happy New Everything! Name your favorite worksheet? Calling all authors