Category Archives: Education

What Do We Know About the Impact of Publicly funded Preschool Education on the Supply and Quality of Infant/Toddler Care?

Source: Debra J. Ackerman and W. Steven Barnett NIEER Working Paper, 2009

From the summary:
As public support for the education and care of 3- and 4-year-olds has increased, questions have arisen about the impact of those efforts on programs for infants and toddlers. This report reviews what is known about the impact of publicly funded preschool education on the supply of infant and toddler care, including:

* The availability and use of infant/toddler care
* Influences on the supply of infant/toddler care and how today’s supply compares to historic trends; and
* Potential links between preschool education policies and the supply and quality of infant/toddler care.

Financial Conditions Survey Report: The Current Financial Crisis and Its Effects on Public Systems and Institutions

Source: Cristin Toutsi and Rich Novak, Ingram Center for Public Trusteeship and Governance Association of Governing Board of Universities and Colleges, April 2009

This report provides an overview of current financial conditions in public higher education. Using such metrics as funding levels, budget cuts, strategies for cost reductions, creative board actions, tuition and financial aid levels, enrollment projections, private support, and current board practices, we have tried to capture the essence of the challenges college and university boards are facing and how they are responding.

Providing Preschool Education for All 4-Year-Olds: Lessons from Six State Journeys

Source: Debra J. Ackerman, W. Steven Barnett, Laura E. Hawkinson, Kirsty Brown and Elizabeth A. McGonigle, NIEER Policy Brief, Issue 18, March 2009

From the summary:
Over the last decade, state-funded preschool education programs have grown and now enroll more than one million children. However, preschool access in most states is limited to at-risk children. Three states currently offer “preschool for all” – Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma. Three other states are slated to have preschool for all by the next five years – Illinois, New York and West Virginia. This policy brief examines the journeys of these six states in achieving a plan for preschool for all.

Center for the Study of Collegiate Mental Health – 2009 Pilot Study

Source: Center for the Study of Collegiate Mental Health, 2009 Pilot Study, Executive Summary, 2009

The following report outlines a preliminary effort to describe the range of information on college student mental health that could be accessed via a comprehensive long-term strategy. As a result of nearly five years of unprecedented collaboration, a pilot test of the CSCMH infrastructure produced data on over 28,000 students receiving mental health services at 66 institutions during the fall semester of 2008. Though substantial, this accomplishment represents a fraction of the theoretical capacity of a mental health informatics infrastructure. Because it is not possible to discuss the entire range of findings in this summary, we have instead chosen to offer an overview of salient findings observable in the data. Whereas many of the findings described here will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals, we trust that these preliminary, informal findings will serve to educate, inspire, and enhance efforts to understand and improve college student mental health.

The Fiscal Effects of Investing in High-Quality Preschool Programs

Source: William T. Dickens, Charles Baschnagel, Brookings Institution, CCF Briefs, no. 42, April 16, 2009

From the summary:
Randomized treatment-control experiments suggest large returns to investments in prekindergarten education. Several studies consider the social benefits of such investments, but none have considered the full potential gains to government budgets. We embed estimates of the effects of two model programs in a growth model of the U.S. economy to judge the impact they would have on federal, state and local government budgets. Assuming a 3 percent discount rate we find that both programs would pay back in reduced costs and increased revenues in excess of three-fourths of their costs within a seventy-five year budget window. Both programs would eventually reap a positive return for government budgets if policymakers were sufficiently patient.

USDA Study Shows States Failing To Connect Many Needy Children to Free School Meals

Source: Zoë Neuberger, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 3, 2009

Key Findings

Federal law requires school districts to automatically enroll children for free school meals if their families receive SNAP benefits. This automatic enrollment, known as direct certification, is highly accurate and reduces paperwork for school districts and poor families.

* A new USDA study finds that states vary widely in the performance of their direct certification systems. Sixteen states miss more than two in five children who could be automatically enrolled for free school meals.
* Many children overlooked by direct certification fail to receive free school meals because their parents do not complete a paper application.
* States can take steps to improve direct certification, such as automatically connecting children who begin receiving SNAP benefits in the middle of the school year to free school meals.

2009 Education Appropriations Guide

Source: Jason Delisle, New America Foundation, Issue Brief, March 12, 2009

Congress completed the fiscal year 2009 appropriations process on March 10th, 2009, finalizing annual funding for nearly all federal education programs through September 2009 at $62.6 billion, up $3.4 billion from the prior year. Making sense of the federal education budget and the appropriations process can be a frustrating task for education advocates, state and local policymakers, the media, and the public. The now concluded fiscal year 2009 appropriations process is no exception due to numerous stopgap funding measures and emergency economic stimulus legislation.

This issue brief is intended to be a helpful guide to the appropriations process and recently enacted fiscal year 2009 education funding, including economic stimulus funding signed into law earlier this year through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The State of Preschool 2008

Source: W. Steven Barnett, Dale J. Epstein, Allison H. Friedman, Judi Stevenson Boyd, Jason T. Hustedt, National Institute for Early Education Research, 2008

The 2007-2008 year was one of impressive progress for state-funded preschool education. Overall, state programs made major progress in expanding enrollment and continued to raise quality standards. For the second year running per-child funding increased, reversing the prior downward trend in expenditures. However, despite the modest upward trend in spending overall, fewer states were confirmed as providing sufficient funding per child to meet our benchmarks for quality standards. In current economic circumstances, this shortfall is especially worrisome.

In the United States today, more than 80 percent of all 4-year-olds attend some kind of preschool program. About half of those (39 percent of all 4-year-olds) are enrolled in some kind of public program (state pre-K, Head Start or special education), with the other half enrolled in a private program. Most of the 4-year-olds in public programs attend state pre-K, which enrolls almost a quarter of the population at age 4. Unfortunately, these numbers vary tremendously by state. In Oklahoma nearly 90 percent of the 4-year-olds receive a free public education. At the
other extreme, as few as 10 percent are enrolled in public programs in some states. Private enrollment does not make up the differences in enrollment between these extremes.

Pre-K enrollment at age 3 is much more limited, primarily because public provision is so much lower. Enrollment in private programs is very similar at ages 3 and 4. Only 14 percent of 3-year-olds attend some type of public program, with barely 4 percent of 3-year-olds attending a state-funded pre-K program. Enrollment also varies dramatically by state, but most states serve less than 1 or 2 percent of their 3-year-olds outside of special education and Head Start.

Weak Community College Budgets

Source: Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 8, 2009

Community college budgets were in a weakened state even before the full impact of the economic downturn hit. That’s the conclusion of the 2008 survey of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges.

The survey documents an increasing trend of midyear budget cuts — even before the recession neared its current magnitude — and notes past state patterns of responding to economic downturns in ways that do not bode well for community colleges or their students.