Volume 16, Issue 41

Hot Topics

Think Globally, Act Locally

A new publication from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) compiles for the first time in one volume key indicators on international early childhood education policy and practice, including a scoreboard showing data underlying comparisons. Download it here.

Starting Strong 2017 reflects a research consensus that high-quality early childhood education and care can improve children’s cognitive abilities and socio-emotional development, help close the achievement gap and reduce poverty. The report also highlights challenges for countries regarding different dimensions of early childhood education and care (ECEC).

OECD finds “universal or quasi-universal access to at least one year of early childhood education and care (ECEC) has become the norm.” Access is on the rise in all countries, thanks in part to increased public spending to extend legal entitlements to ECEC and efforts to ensure free access—at least for some ages and selected population groups.

The age children enroll matters because participation in high-quality ECEC not only can help reduce inequalities but also has been a strong predictor of the level of performance later in school.

Enrollment rates in pre-primary education at age 3 have risen over the last decade in most OECD countries, and pre-primary education for most children now begins well before five years old. In the US, enrollment falls below OECD average for every age group:

  • Below 3 – 28 percent in the US, 34 percent OECD average
  • 3-years-old – 42 percent in the US, 73 percent OECD average
  • 4-years-old – 68 percent in the US, 86 percent OECD average
  • 5-years-old – 90 percent in the US, 95 percent OECD average

While The State of Preschool 2016 yearbook showed state-funded preschool program enrollment reached an all-time high in 2015-16, serving nearly 1.5 million children—enrollment rates remained low at 32 percent of 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year-olds. Head Start programs currently serve less than 40 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds living in poverty and less than 5 percent of the number in poverty under age 3, according to NIEER’s State(s) of Head Start report.

OECD has conducted analysis and developed new early education data for more than 15 years to inform policymakers as they consider enhancing and expanding access to early learning. NIEER will be highlighting more of these OECD international comparisons in upcoming issues.

We invite you to follow NIEER on Twitter @PreschoolToday and Facebook at Preschool Today. Please share your social media handles so we can connect.

New on Preschool Matters Today! Blog

Using Digital Tools to Connect with Vulnerable Families and Improve Child Outcomes

New America and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop have joined forces to document initiatives that use digital tools to connect with vulnerable families and improve educational outcomes. This project culminated in a public, interactive map which uses data visualization to show where innovative programs are located, how those programs are designed, and what evidence of impact they are able to share. The map and an accompanying report, Integrating Technology in Early Literacy: A Snapshot of Community Innovation in Family Engagement, has been used since 2015 by policymakers and philanthropy leaders in early learning to better understand the current landscape of programs across the country.

New America and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center now are working to update the map. They are asking family engagement and early learning program leaders to fill out a survey before December 31, 2017.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Assistant Research Professor Jessica Francis Ph.D. and Research Project Coordinator Kaitlin Northey today are presenting research on various early learning curriculum models at the New Jersey Association for the Education of Young Children conference. They will discuss ways to determine which are more effective and appropriate for young children overall or specific populations such as dual language learners or children with disabilities. View slides


How Well Are Early Care and Education Providers Who Serve Hispanic Children Doing on Access and Availability?

This National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families brief finds roughly one in five providers serve a high proportion of Hispanic children—where 25 percent or more of the children enrolled are Hispanic—and suggests ways providers—and home-based providers in particular—are likely responding to the needs of Hispanic families, as well as possible areas of unmet need.

Will public pre-K really close achievement gaps? Gaps in prekindergarten quality between students and across states

This recent study from Stanford University, Center for Education Policy Analysis finds large “quality gaps” in public pre-K between poor/minority students and non-poor/non-minority students, as well as much between-state variation in gap magnitudes, and that state-level quality gaps are related to state-level residential segregation. These findings are particularly troubling, the report states, if a goal of public pre-K is to minimize inequality.

Does universal preschool hit the target? Program access and preschool impacts

A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper explores how particular program attributes might influence the achievement gains of disadvantaged preschoolers using one key program attribute—whether disadvantage is a criterion for preschool admission.

Findings demonstrate “that universal state-funded prekindergarten programs generate substantial positive effects on the reading scores of low-income 4-year-olds; state pre-K programs targeted toward disadvantaged children do not.”

Caring for children while working in agriculture—The perspective of farmworker parents

A new study published by Child Care and Early Education Research Connections reports most farm workers facing challenges finding childcare and expressing a desire to work in an area based on childcare availability. Findings offer agribusiness leaders important data to consider, suggesting that industry support of childcare may be an important workforce investment.

A separate Research Connections report, Employers’ Perspective on Childcare Services for Hired Farm Workers, describes the employers’ perspectives on childcare needs of hired farm workers’ families and their barriers and motivators to facilitating off-farm childcare services. 

The Gallup 2017 Survey of K-12 School District Superintendents

This annual research study found more than three-quarters of superintendents say that early-childhood care and education means “a great deal” to a child’s future success. They also believe quality early education is hard to find and their own states invest too little in it.

The survey queried K-12 superintendents of public school districts across the U.S. to understand their opinions on education topics and policy, such as the biggest challenges facing K-12 education today, recruiting, selecting and retaining talented teachers, and the effects of federal education policy.

Providing High-Quality Public Education to All New Jersey Children  

New Jersey needs to step up efforts on education funding, reducing segregation, and making college degrees more attainable, according to new report from The Fund for New Jersey.

The report, one in a series on state issues, recommends increasing spending on state preschool programs, expanding access to public pre-K and maintaining the high-quality program standards and mixed delivery system “essential to New Jersey’s preschool success.”

Experts estimate that full funding of preschool expansion under the SFRA will cost $600 million, but the report warns that “without prompt action, many more of our children will lose the opportunity to obtain the education promised in New Jersey’s Constitution.”


Technology Teacher Grant

The Beacon invites teachers to share tech-focused lesson plans for a chance to receive up to $1,000 for classroom supplies, educational subscriptions and apps for your students, and more. Plans are due no later than 11:59 PM ET December 9, 2017. View the Technology Teacher Grant guidelines.


NAEYC is expanding its policy team and seeks a Senior Director for Federal Relations who will be responsible for advancing NAEYC’s vision and goals at the federal level, as NAEYC ramps up to meet its strategic goals with a keen focus on equitable access to high-quality early learning and advancing the profession. Find more information here.


National Research Conference on Early Childhood (NRCEC) 

June 25 – 27, 2018
Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel
Arlington, VA

The Administration for Children and Families’ NRCEC Program Committee invites poster, paper symposium, and poster symposium proposals discussing recent research (published or unpublished) or synthesizing findings already published in the literature. Proposals must be submitted online at www.nrcec.net Deadline for submissions is Nov. 20, 2017.

Early Education News Roundup 

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

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Thinking Globally, Closing Gaps, On the Farm