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A monthly dissemination of research and policy updates about developments in the Pre-K–3 field

June 2015artwork-4

New from ECS

2015 National Forum on Education Policy
This year’s National Forum on Education Policy – a 50th anniversary celebration – will be held June 29 through July 1 in Denver. While sessions will focus on education at all levels, those interested in early childhood will care about Monday’s presentation on Advantages to Early Learning. Tuesday, NAEYC Executive Director Rhian Allvin will deliver a plenary on Early Learning and the K-12 Divide; also that day will be School Turnaround: Making Efforts Count Early. Wednesday, early childhood will be a topic in Dual Language Immersion and the Achievement Gap.

What's Happening in the States

Dayton won’t give up on universal preschool
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has asked the legislature for $173 million to make his state among the first to offer free, voluntary, half-day early learning programs for every 4-year-old, but they sent him a budget without his pre-K program and he vetoed it. Minnesota now ranks last out of 41 states with pre-K programs in access for 4-year-olds.

Target the early grades
Class size reductions have been most effective for students in kindergarten through 3rd grade, according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. Children in kindergarten and 1st grade classes can benefit the most from smaller class sizes partly because more individual attention from teachers can be most beneficial for students during the critical early elementary years where basic academic concepts, social skills and school behavior are formed.

Good Reads

Findings from executive function study called into question
Jackie Stachel, senior coach and director of communication for Beyond BookSmart, recently responded to an analysis by Robin Jacob of the University of Michigan and Julia Parkinson of the American Institutes for Research that concluded there is little evidence that executive function interventions boost student achievement. Stachel looked into the study and called the findings into question. Read her response here.

Diversity in early childhood
Racial, ethnic and economic disparities persist in preschool classrooms across America. This report calls for policymakers to focus on the value of diversity in early education classrooms to increase equity and quality. It finds Hispanic children and those from low-income families are less likely than high socioeconomic and non-Hispanic children to be enrolled in center-based early childhood programs and, when they do, they are most likely to attend low-quality preschool programs. Most children in public preschool programs attend classrooms that are segregated by family income and often by race/ethnicity as well.

The pre-K yearbook
The good news: state funding for pre-K increased by nearly $120 million in 2013-14. The bad news: programs have yet to fully recover from the impacts of $500 million cuts in 2011-12, according to The State of Preschool 2014. Enrollment growth grew modestly by 8,535, nearly half of which went to recouping 4,000 seats lost in 2012-13. State pre-K quality standards improved. Mississippi started a program in January 2014 and simultaneously met all 10 NIEER benchmarks. An analysis of each state is featured.

Kindergarten entry age, 2nd-grade achievement
A snapshot of children who were first-time kindergartners in the 2010-11 school year and in 2nd grade in 2012-13 finds that there were no significant differences in reading knowledge and skills, by age of entry. However, children who were 66-71 months when they entered kindergarten had higher average math scores than those who were younger than 60 months at kindergarten entry.

New York City’s rapid preschool expansion
Over a year into his term as mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio’s administration launched pre-K expansion with remarkable speed, nearly tripling the number of children in full-day pre-K programs from fall 2013 to fall 2014. The program is on track to meet the full expansion goal of serving more than 70,000 children total in full-day pre-K programs by fall 2015. A study in two parts, this brief first provides background; the second takes an in-depth look at the issue of preschool classroom diversity.

Determining pre-K eligibility: Policies and risk factors
States expanding access to pre-K have several goals: public fund accountability, efficient processes for documenting risk, prevention of unintended burdens on eligible families. This report provides information on eligibility policies and risk factors used to prioritize enrollment: children of teen parents, families in poverty, mothers with low maternal education, housing instability, involvement with state child welfare, disabilities and English language learners or those living in migrant or seasonal families.

How states vary in eligibility determination
States that received federal preschool development grant funds are seeking to expand access for eligible children. The question is, how to determine eligibility. This brief describes how different states accomplish that.

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