Category Archives: Early Childhood Education

Massachusetts Universal Pre-Kindergarten Pilot Program: FY08 Evaluation

Source: Education Week, September 16, 2008

A 2-year-old effort to create universal access to preschool in Massachusetts has done little to get more children in programs, a new report says.

The report released last week by the state board of early education and care says efforts have instead provided more than 100 programs with new classroom materials, computers, or teacher bonuses, but have done little to make those programs more affordable to more children. There is still a waiting list of 4,400 children seeking state financial assistance to attend preschool.

THE EARLY YEARS: Preschool Influences on Mathematics Achievement

Source: Edward C. Melhuish, Kathy Sylva, Pam Sammons, Iram Siraj-Blatchford, Brenda Taggart, Mai B. Phan, Antero Malin, Science, Vol. 321. no. 5893, August 29, 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The advantages of home learning environment and preschool are apparent years later in children’s math achievement.

Hard Times Hit Schools

Source: Michele McNeil, Education Week, August 25, 2008

These hard-to-grasp dollar amounts are forcing real cuts in K-12 education at a time when the cost of fueling buses and providing school lunches is increasing and the demands of the federal No Child Left Behind Act still loom large over states and districts.

But that may be a difficult task in the dozen states–including Alabama, Kentucky, Rhode Island, and Nevada–that have made targeted cuts to certain education programs, according to a June report by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many U.S. Public Schools In ‘Air Pollution Danger Zone’

Source: Pollution Online, August 19, 2008

One in three U.S. public schools are in the “air pollution danger zone,” according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC).

UC researchers have found that more than 30 percent of American public schools are within 400 meters, or a quarter mile, of major highways that consistently serve as main truck and traffic routes.

Research has shown that proximity to major highways–and thus environmental pollutants, such as aerosolizing diesel exhaust particles–can leave school-age children more susceptible to respiratory diseases later in life.

Report Offers Guidance on Evaluating Children in Preschool Programs: Urges Caution in Implementing High-Stakes Assessments

Source: Catherine E. Snow and Susan B. Van Hemel, National Research Council/National Academies Press, 2008

From the press release:
Growing interest in publicly funded programs for young children has drawn attention to whether and how Head Start and other early childhood programs should be asked to prove their worth. Congress asked the National Research Council for guidance on how to identify important outcomes for children from birth to age 5 and how best to assess them in preschools, child care, and other early childhood programs.

The Research Council’s new report concludes that well-planned assessments can inform teaching and efforts to improve programs and can contribute to better outcomes for children, but poor assessments or misuse of the results can harm both children and programs. The report offers principles to guide the design, implementation, and use of assessments in early childhood settings.

Federal agencies, states, school systems, and other organizations that evaluate early childhood programs or the children they serve should make the purpose of any assessment explicit and public in advance, the report says. For example, a state should specify whether an assessment will be used to help teachers gauge the progress of individual children or to help public agencies decide whether to continue a program’s funding.

Budgeting on Shifting Sand

Source: Kathy Christie, Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 89 no. 10, June 2008

The headlines are daunting. Plunging home values, skyrocketing fuel costs, declining state revenues, and a multitude of other budget worries add up to nightmares for state budget officials and school business directors. Even the most conservative observers will admit that budget cuts in most districts go beyond trimming fat and are cutting deep into the meat.

Soaring Food Prices Are Making it Harder for Schools and Child Nutrition Programs to Provide Healthy Meals to Children, Witnesses Tell House Education Committee

Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and Labor, Press release, July 9, 2008

With Americans already feeling the strain of higher grocery costs, soaring food prices are making it more difficult for schools, child care programs, and summer food service programs to provide healthy, low-cost meals for children, witnesses told the House Education and Labor Committee today. Today’s hearing was the first held by Congress to examine how rising food costs are affecting U.S. child nutrition programs and the millions of families who rely on them.

According to preliminary results of a new survey unveiled by the School Nutrition Association at the hearing, to help cope with higher food costs in the coming year, 75 percent of school nutrition directors plan to increase school meal prices for students, and 62 percent plan to reduce staff. In addition, 69 percent of the survey’s respondents reported they will have to dip into their “rainy day funds” intended for capital improvement projects.
See also:
Testimonies (PDFs) and archived webcast

Early Childhood Program Evaluations: A Decision-Maker’s Guide

Source: National Forum on Early Childhood Program Evaluation, December 2007

Despite increasing demands for evidence-based early childhood services, the evaluations of interventions such as Head Start or home-visiting programs frequently contribute more heat than light to the policy-making process. This dilemma is illustrated by the intense debate that often ensues among dueling experts who reach different conclusions from the same data about whether a program is effective or whether its impacts are large enough to warrant a significant investment of public and/or private funds.

Because the interpretation of program evaluation research is so often highly politicized, it is essential that policymakers and civic leaders have the independent knowledge needed to be able to evaluate the quality and relevance of the evidence provided in reports. This guide helps prepare decision-makers to be better consumers of evaluation information. It is organized around five key questions that address both the substance and the practical utility of rigorous evaluation research. The principles we discuss are relevant and applicable to the evaluation of programs for individuals of any age, but in our examples and discussion we focus specifically on early childhood.

Governors and Public Education: A Trend Analysis Of Gubernatorial Messages 2004-2008

Source: Communities for Quality Education, 2008

From the press release:
A new report from Communities for Quality Education (CQE) analyzes State of the State gubernatorial addresses between 2004-2008 and highlights specific education policy trends. The report shows that between 2004 and 2007, every governor who delivered a State of the State address stressed the importance of education to economic growth. In fact, no issue surrounding education has been focused on as much by governors in their State of the State addresses as the link between education and economic prosperity.
See also:
Governors’ Statements

School Enrollment in the United States: 2006

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division,
Education & Social Stratification Branch, May 08, 2008

From the press release:
A national-level update of characteristics of the nation’s more than 75 million students. Eight tables include number of students by attributes such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, family income, type of college and vocational course enrollment. This Internet-only release comes from data collected each October as part of the Current Population Survey. The full report with analysis of the details is expected later this summer.