The State of Preschool 2011: Rising Media Star

This week we released The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook, our annual survey of state-funded pre-K, at a press conference at the Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C. This year’s report included 10 years worth of data as well as recommendations for the next decade. Speaking at the press conference, NIEER Director Steve Barnett opened his discussion of the report’s findings by emphasizing the impact of high-quality preschool. “One of the few facts that economists of all stripes agree on is that preschool is a good public investment. It’s an investment that can decrease school failure, cut crime, and increase employment.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

NIEER Marks Decade of Study by Releasing State of Preschool 2011 Yearbook

Today, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined me for the release of The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook at Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C. The new Yearbook not only provides insights on the state of state-funded pre-K for 2010-2011 but also for the entire past decade. Where is the nation headed in preschool education? How do states compare on access, quality standards, and funding for pre-K? How much progress have they made over the decade?

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

State Support for Head Start Over the Years

In addition to offering state pre-K and child care subsidies some states support pre-K by adding on to the federal Head Start program. Supplementing Head Start programs with state funding allows states to build upon the federal Head Start program–funding more children, providing extended-day and/or extended-year services, or making quality improvements. This is especially important for several states that don’t otherwise fund pre-K at the state level. In 2009-2010 this included Idaho and New Hampshire. Delaware, Minnesota, and Oregonserved enough additional children through their Head Start state supplements for these to qualify as de facto state pre-K programs by NIEER’s definition.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Filling an Assessment Need with the Early Learning Scale: NIEER’s New Preschool Assessment

As NIEER noted in a 2004 policy brief, “Child assessment is a vital and growing component of high-quality early childhood programs. Not only is it an important tool in understanding and supporting young children’s development, it is essential to document and evaluate program effectiveness. For assessment to be widely used though, it must employ methods that are feasible, sustainable and reasonable with regard to demands on budgets, educators and children. Equally important, it must meet the challenging demands of validity (accuracy and effectiveness) for young children. It is the balance between efficiency and validity that demands the constant attention of policymakers — and an approach grounded in a sound understanding of appropriate methodology.”

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Where State Pre-K Assessment Stands

Assessment of children participating in state-funded pre-K programs has been highlighted recently, in part due to the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funding competition’s focus on assessment strategies for our youngest learners. In response, Educational Testing Service (ETS) has submitted to the field State Pre-K Assessment Policies: Issues and Status, a timely report on the status of policies for the assessment of learning outcomes at the pre-K level.

“Privatizing” Pre-K Is About More than Saving Money

It was with no small measure of alarm that we learned this week of a proposal in the North Carolina legislature to completely privatize pre-K classrooms by the summer of 2013. It’s part of a draft report that calls for pre-K to be the exclusive domain of child care centers and to be removed from the public schools that currently serve about half the state’s preschoolers. It also would decrease eligibility from an annual family income of about $50,000 to $22,000— for all practical purposes, the poverty line.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Investing for Today and Tomorrow: Early Learning in the Federal FY 2013 Budget Proposal

Starting the week on an exciting note for elected officials, advocates, and policy wonks, President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 on Monday morning. Education was a clear priority throughout the press conference at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia, particularly on preparing students for 21st century jobs by focusing on career and technical skills. As readers of this blog can attest, early education is an important building block in preparing students for a life of learning and earning.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

The Pre-K Debates: What the Research Says About Teacher Quality

The body of research on teacher quality is, if nothing else, a mixed bag, in terms of both quality and approach. Studies of the effects of preschool education levels have employed techniques ranging from simple correlations to complex statistical analyses that seek to account for the complexities of interrelated policies and practices that affect teaching and learning. Given just how complex policy and practice are, it may be that the simple correlations are just as informative for policy purposes, but neither approach is particularly satisfactory.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Early Education on the International Scene

Continuing its focus on the importance of early childhood education, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held its high-level roundtable“Starting Strong: Implementing Policies for High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)” in Oslo, Norway this week. The OECD, a collaborative organization with 34 member nations, provides a forum for governments to share best practices and address common problems in a variety of areas.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Lack of Economic Mobility Adds Urgency to The Pre-K Debates

Economic mobility is in the news of late thanks to Republican presidential hopefuls drawing attention to recent studies showing that Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe. This comes as sobering news to many who persist in believing the U.S. is the land of utmost opportunity. Not so if you are at the bottom of the income scale, it turns out.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.