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A Closer Look at FirstSchool’s PreK-3rd Grade Approach

October 31, 2013
The September/October 2013 edition of Principal Magazine, a publication of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, spotlights early learning in the context of aligning pre-kindergarten with the early grades.

Pre-K is Win-Win, Concludes a New Report

October 23, 2013

Early education is one of the most powerful ways to close the achievement gap between low-income and minority children and their more-advantaged peers. But all too often, pre-K advocates cite the same, decades-old research studies – the Abecedarian Project and the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, in particular – to prove the value of high-quality programs. A new report, Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education, published by the Society for Research in Child Development and the Foundation for Child Development earlier this month, offers an updated view of the research, and a path forward for scaled-up pre-K programs.

Researchers were on hand for an event at the New America Foundation last week to answer some questions (click here for the event video, or here to see a Storify summary of the Twitter conversation). Here are the report’s headline findings:

Storify: Too Much Evidence to Ignore

October 16, 2013

This week, New America's Early Education Initiative hosted an event reviewing the research on pre-K, published in a new report, “Investing in Our Children: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education," from the Foundation for Child Development and the Society for Research in Child Development.

Shutdown Got Your Data? Check Out Our Federal Education Database

October 15, 2013
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The federal government has been officially shut down for over two weeks now, and the impact has been real: furloughed employees across the country, Head Start programs shut down (and some reopened), and confusion and delays in many federal programs. But for education experts and data geeks, another issue has been highly inconvenient, if less severe: the disabling of federal education data websites.

Fortunately, Early Ed Watch’s sister initiative, the Federal Education Budget Project, maintains one of the most comprehensive federal education databases in the country for every state, school district, and institution of higher education. The data are collected from state and federal sources and updated regularly. The PreK-12 data for more than 13,700 school districts and every state include:

  • Federal funding information, like per pupil expenditures, Title I and IDEA allocations, and school lunch awards;
  • Pre-K information for state-funded pre-K, Head Start, and special education preschool grants;
  • Demographic information on enrollment and racial, economic, and academic subgroups; and
  • Achievement data for math and reading in 4th grade, 8th grade, and high school, both for state standardized tests and the NAEP exam.

Check it out now, and until the shutdown is over! For some background on the data and on other education policy topics, check out our Background & Analysis pages.

Focusing on the ‘Word Gap’ With Help from Hillary Clinton

October 11, 2013
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Help babies and toddlers learn words. This seemingly simple task has become a rallying cry for early childhood advocates over the past decade. Well-trained preschool teachers can cite chapter and verse on why it is important to immerse children in environments where they hear new words and are encouraged to speak and engage in conversation.

Tired of Federal Gridlock? Take a Look at Education Reform in the States

October 14, 2013

As the government shutdown continues (with no end yet visible), it’s easy—and wholly understandable—to get cynical. If we can’t manage basic stuff like funding the federal government, it’s hard to expect any sort of meaningful, exciting, education (or otherwise) policy reforms. In times like these, it’s good to keep an eye on the states.

So, if you’re looking for evidence for the potential of new education policy reforms, take a look at the National Governors Association’s recent report, “A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy: Getting All Students Reading By Third Grade.”

Amid Financial Collapse Detroit Builds a Promising Early Learning Model

October 7, 2013
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This guest post was written by Paul Nyhan, a journalist and early education expert. He writes about early education at Thrive by Five Washington.

In the next few months, guest blogger Paul Nyhan will provide a window onto four places around the country where federal grant programs, including Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, the Social Innovation Fund, Investing in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhoods, are triggering changes in early childhood systems. In this post, the second in Nyhan’s series, he explores how Detroit is using a Social Innovation Fund grant to help improve early learning. The first post in the series was "Washington Races Forward In First Year of its Early Learning Challenge Grant."

Detroit may be bankrupt, but it is also home to an early learning model that was promising enough to win a Social Innovation Fund grant in 2011 to figure out just how effective it is.

It began five years ago, when the United Way for Southeastern Michigan started building its Early Learning Communities platform. The intent was to nearly double the percentage of low-income children ready for kindergarten in Detroit. But the effort had been slowed by challenges documenting which parts worked and by a lack of money to pay for expansion.

Then two years ago the group won a $4 million Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant to do both. The grant allowed the United Way to be a middleman and a mentor. It started by awarding smaller grants to 11 non-profits that formed a web of nearly every aspect of early learning in the city, from family, friend, and neighbor child care to nutritional counseling. Then it helped these groups develop tools to measure, evaluate, and replicate what they were doing.

Measuring What Matters in Quality Rating & Improvement Systems

September 26, 2013

For more than the past decade, states have worked to build quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs) to help rate and improve child care centers and preschool programs. The quality ratings, often displayed as symbols (such as stars), inform families about the quality of prospective child care centers. The ratings also help leaders identify programs that are not meeting quality standards set by the state.

But is a highly-rated pre-K program more effectively preparing children for kindergarten in comparison to preschool programs with lower ratings? Not necessarily, according to a new study published in Science Magazine.

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