Early Education in the News
Delaware is launching a plan this month to collect data on 8,500 babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and post the information on its existing Web-based databank. The project is part of an ambitious—and, to some observers, troubling—effort to link individuals' educational information from birth through graduate school. . . . The system aims to arm families, teachers, principals, and state policymakers with evidence-based data for decisionmaking at many levels, its advocates say. Its expansion to the youngest children could be up and running as early as the next school year, officials say.
The study’s investigators will look over time at children’s test scores and grades, grade retention, special education placement, as well as so-called executive function — a term that encapsulates a range of skills, from focus and short-term memory to impulse control, that experts think are closely tied to children’s success in school.
The Cleveland school district, Cuyahoga County and more than 30 area agencies have joined in a partnership to more than double the number of Cleveland children attending a quality preschool within the next two years.
The goal of placing 2,000 more four-year-olds in Cleveland into quality preschool – up from 1,200 in Cleveland today – is the most dramatic and immediate target of the PRE4CLE plan that the newly-formed Cleveland Pre-K Task Force announced this morning.
The governor's call to pay for low-income children to attend preschool won broad bipartisan support in the House earlier this year but ran aground in the Senate.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, suggested Pence may have to rely on money he saved through the December budget cuts — also called reversions — if he wants to pay for a preschool voucher program this year. But he declined to release further details.
Children who attend Georgia’s universal Pre-K program have significantly better outcomes on language, math, and general skills, according to a rigorous evaluation by researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
“Results showed that participation in Georgia’s Pre-K Program significantly improved children’s school readiness skills across most domains of learning,” the authors write. Using a regression analysis to account for differences in age, gender, ethnicity, race, family income, the education level of the primary caregiver, learning disabilities, English language proficiency, and the type of Pre-K provider, they examined nearly 2,000 children, comparing those who had been enrolled in Pre-K and were just entering Kindergarten and those just after the cutoff date who were about to enter Pre-K.
Nearly 90 percent of the city's 3- and 4-year-olds already are enrolled in preschool, fully funded by the state in poor, mostly urban so-called Abbott districts under a 1998 Supreme Court order. Fewer than 57 percent of preschool-age children were enrolled a decade ago, administrators said.
In January, Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard announced he wanted to do better, to enroll every 3- and 4-year-old by fall 2014. "Access to a high-quality early-childhood education program can have a dramatically positive effect on a young person's development," he said. "All young people deserve the opportunity to start their education by learning the fundamental academic and social skills they need to be successful." . . .
A March study by the National Institute of Early Education Research and Rutgers University tracked preschool children in Abbott districts (including 60 Camden students) to determine preschool's long-term impact. The study found children in fifth grade who attended preschool programs were three-quarters of a year ahead of children who did not. It also found that two years of preschool cut the achievement gap by 50 percent.
"It's very clear from the research in the U.S. that our problems with inequality [and] school failure are set when children walk in the school door," says Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. Sixty percent of the poorest 4-year-olds in the U.S. get no preschool. Most, says Barnett, start school 18 months behind.
"Those kids are going to be in a spiral of failure, and we set that up by not adequately investing before they get to kindergarten," Barnett says. "We certainly can learn from countries like Finland."
A significant expansion of full-day preschool in the state is likely in the coming years, though a fight continues between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio over the best way to pay for it. Left unsaid, however, is that 7,100 students, or 4 percent of New York’s kindergartners, are now in school for only about three hours a day, according to the State Education Department.
As New York state officials debate how to pay for universal prekindergarten, upstate Valley Central School District is considering a painful option: terminating kindergarten programs.The 4,400-student district about 70 miles north of Manhattan is one of eight public school districts in New York that offer only half-day kindergarten. With Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposing hundreds of millions of dollars this year to pay for a pre-K expansion, a small group of school officials are arguing that the state should shore up its kindergarten offerings first.
“We’ve seen a pattern of increasing state funding for early childhood learning, even when we saw flat or declining K-12 spending,” said Mike Griffith, a school finance consultant with the Education Commission of the States, a nonpartisan group that tracks policy trends. “It’s one of those programs that the general public gets, and the general public tends to have a positive view about.”
Expanding preschool access, reducing the “stigma” against career education, and raising standards through Common Core are three issues State Superintendent John White highlighted Wednesday at a Baton Rouge Rotary Club meeting, discussing how to continue to “modernize” Louisiana’s education system.
A group of local philanthropic organizations has announced a $4.5 million fund to go toward Head Start early childhood education programs in Detroit.
The group, which calls itself the Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, includes the Kresge Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the McGregor Fund, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, The Jewish Fund and the PNC Foundation.
The group’s Detroit Head Start Early Childhood Fund will award competitive grants to Head Start sites. The fund was formed in response to a federal competition for $48 million in Head Start funding in Detroit.
An Idaho Democratic lawmaker is pushing to implement a preschool pilot program in five Idaho schools. The bill won support of the House Education Committee on Monday after being introduced by Rep. Hy Kloc of Boise.
“I’ll be the first to say preschool is not a silver bullet, but it is a start,” Kloc said. “It’s similar to building a house. You have to make sure the foundation is secure and sturdy.” Idaho is one of 11 states without a state-funded preschool program. The state also doesn’t require children to go to preschool or kindergarten.
Obama is again seeking funding for his “Preschool for All” plan to expand early childhood education to most low and middle-income four-year-olds across the country – a 10-year, $76 billion program that would be funded with an increase in the federal tobacco tax. While there is bipartisan support for increasing access to high quality preschool, especially among governors, there has been little appetite on Capitol Hill to fund the plan, especially when it relies on a tax increase.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama pushed for at least $750 million in targeted funds in his $3.9 trillion 2015 budget to lay the foundation for universal preschool programs. Obama spoke at a D.C. elementary school that participates in a pre-kindergarten program.
"Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education," Obama wrote in his introductory budget message about his desire to expand preschool to all four-year olds. "I am again calling on the Congress to make high-quality preschool available to every four-year-old child."
Three-fourths of Iowans want to make free preschool accessible to every 4-year-old.
The state has offered preschool classes since 2007, but inadequate funding has created waiting lists and prevented some 4-year-olds from participating. A Senate proposal would ratchet up funding by several million dollars to expand school capacity and eliminate the waiting lists statewide.
Making high-quality preschools like this one available to all California 4-year-olds will be one of the most hotly debated issues in Sacramento this spring as lawmakers wrangle over Gov. Jerry Brown's budget blueprint. . . . "Making this kind of investment would begin to restore California's reputation as the golden state for education," said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. He said California would "send a signal" to other states and Congress about the importance of early childhood education if it joins Georgia, Oklahoma and West Virginia in offering rigorous classes to all 4-year-olds.
The path toward universal preschool for the city’s children could be started Tuesday.
A proposal by Vice Mayor Robert Garcia and Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal asks city staff to examine providing free preschool for residents and return within 120 days with a way to provide the service without a major budget impact.
Whitehurst claims that “Not one of the studies that has suggested long-term positive impacts of center-based early childhood programs has been based on a well-implemented and appropriately analyzed randomized trial.” This claim is false based even on the studies he does cite. His own statements in the blog regarding the Perry Preschool study and its re-analyses by Jim Heckman contradict this claim, as do older analyses demonstrating that minor departures from random assignment in the Perry study had no substantive effects on the results.
Nationwide, enrollment in publicly funded preschool has exploded over the past decade. From the 2001-2002 school year to 2011-2012, the percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled in state-funded preschool increased from 14 percent to 28 percent, according to The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, although enrollment stalled in 2011-2012.
While state spending on preschool has also increased, from $3.47 billion to $5.12 billion over the same decade, the dollars have not kept pace with enrollment, according to NIEER, causing per-child spending to drop by more than 23 percent, adjusting for inflation.