Tag Archives: Early Childhood Learning

Final report of ‘Head Start’ study: Early gains may not last

25 Dec

In Embracing parents as education leaders, moi said:

Moi wrote about the importance of parental involvement in Missouri program: Parent home visits:

One of the mantras of this blog is that education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be involved.  Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well. A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Class Matters

Teachers and administrators as well as many politicians if they are honest know that children arrive at school at various points on the ready to learn continuum. Teachers have to teach children at whatever point on the continuum the children are. Jay Matthews reports in the Washington Post article, Try parent visits, not parent takeovers of schools. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/try-parent-visits-not-parent-takeovers-of-schools/2012/05/30/gJQAlDDz2U_story.html

The key ingredient is parental involvement. The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (Council) has a great policy brief on parental involvement.http://www.wccf.org/pdf/parentsaspartners_ece-series.pd

https://drwilda.com/2012/05/30/missouri-program-parent-home-visits/

Julia Lawrence of Education News reports in the article, Kentucky Venture Aims to Train Parents to Become Ed Leaders:

When the Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership opens its doors in Kentucky, it will do so with the goal of getting parents more involved in their children’s academic lives. The Institute’s mission will be to empower parents to take a more active role in determining the future direction of their local education system, which includes greater participation in parent-teacher groups, local school boards and school councils.

Kentucky residents who wish to get involved will have an opportunity to enroll in a 24-month mentoring program offered by the Institute, which will introduce them to the ins and outs of the state’s academic system. Institute leaders say that parents will graduate from the course having learned “the business of education,” leaving them more able to understand the problems confronting state schools today.

Their attempts at involvement will no longer be thwarted by unfamiliar jargon and impenetrable quantitative reports. The goal at graduation will be to have parents not only fully cognizant of the current issues facing K-12 education in the state but also ready to provide solutions for those issues as well….

The CIPL will be building on top of the work done by the existing Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership, which has been working for more than 15 years on ways to keep parents in the loop on education. Over 1,600 Kentucky parents have gone through the programs offered by the CIPL, with many going on to take leadership positions in their schools, districts and even at state level. According to KYForward.com, CIPL boasts recruiting two people who have served on the Kentucky Board of Education.

Furthermore, as CIPL expanded its reach, it created a self-perpetuating network among the state’s parents. Those who go through CIPL later go on to recruit and mentor up to 20 other parents each – all in service of giving parents a greater voice in their children’s education…..

In the end, the aim of the Institute is to convince parents that with the right preparation they can have a real, positive impact on student achievement statewide.  http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/kys-new-venture-aims-to-train-parents-to-become-ed-leaders/

https://drwilda.com/2012/11/28/embracing-parents-as-education-leaders/

Parental support is a key ingredient in learning.

Lesli A. Maxwell reports in the Education Week article, Head Start Advantages Mostly Gone by 3rd Grade, Study Finds:

In the first phase of the evaluation, a group of children who entered Head Start at age 4 saw benefits from spending one year in the program, including learning vocabulary, letter-word recognition, spelling, color identification, and letter-naming, compared with children of the same age in a control group who didn’t attend Head Start. For children who entered Head Start at age 3, the gains were even greater, demonstrated by their language and literacy skills, as well their skills in learning math, prewriting, and perceptual motor skills.

The second phase of the study showed that those gains had faded considerably by the end of 1st grade, with Head Start children showing an edge only in learning vocabulary over their peers in the control group who had not participated in Head Start.

And now, in this final phase of the study, “there was little evidence of systematic differences in children’s elementary school experiences through 3rd grade, between children provided access to Head Start and their counterparts in the control group,” the researchers wrote in an executive summary…

Specifically, by the end of 3rd grade, 4-year-old Head Start participants showed only a single advantage in the areas of literacy, numeracy, and school performance over their peers in the control group. Only their performance on one reading assessment showed that they still retained some benefit over their control group counterparts. But, according to the study, their participation in Head Start showed no significant positive impacts on math skills, prewriting, promotion, or teachers’ reports of children’s school accomplishments. About 40 percent of the children in the control group did not receive formal preschool services; the rest did, just not through Head Start.

In the 3-year-old cohort, researchers found a learning disadvantage for those who had been in Head Start. Parents of the Head Start children reported lower rates of grade promotion than parents of the students who were not in the Head Start group….

When researchers examined the impacts on children’s social-emotional development, their findings were significantly different for the two age groups. For 4-year-olds, parents of Head Start participants reported less aggressive behavior at the end of 3rd grade than did the parents of the control group children. In contrast, teachers reported higher incidences of emotional problems in Head Start students, and less positive relationships with them. For the 3-year-old group, parents of Head Start participants reported better social skills in their children, compared to the control group parents.

In examining impacts on health, the researchers similarly found no remaining advantages of Head Start participation at the end of 3rd grade. Parenting practices however, still showed some positive benefits of Head Start participation in both age groups. For 4-year-olds in the Head Start group, parents reported spending more time with their children than did the control group parents, and in the 3-year-old group, researchers found that parents in the Head Start group were more likely to use a parenting style characterized by high warmth and high control.

Yasmina Vinci, the executive director of the National Head Start Association, called the vanishing impacts of Head Start in the early grades “troubling,” but noted that Head Start does its core job well by preparing disadvantaged children for kindergarten. “Our work with students ends when children graduate from Head Start, but it is clear that for many, their circumstances continue to hinder their success; circumstances including, but not limited to, the quality of their primary and secondary education,” she said in a prepared statement.

Ms. Guernsey said to sustain the positive impacts of any early-learning experience into the first years of elementary school requires more emphasis on improvements in kindergarten, first, and second grades.

“The idea that one or two years of preschool is a silver bullet really needs to be stripped from our minds,” she said. “The impact study from two years ago and this one now reminds us that the quality of the learning experience in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade really matters too.” http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/early_years/2012/12/head_start_advantages_mostly_gone_by_third_grade_study_finds.html

Here are some key points from the executive summary:

Key Findings

Looking across the full study period, from the beginning of Head Start through 3rd grade, the evidence is clear that access to Head Start improved children’s preschool outcomes across developmental domains, but had few impacts on children in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Providing access to Head Start was found to have a positive impact on the types and quality of preschool programs that children attended, with the study finding statistically significant differences between the Head Start group and the control group on every measure of children’s preschool experiences in the first year of the study. In contrast, there was little evidence of systematic differences in children’s elementary school experiences through 3rd grade, between children provided access to Head Start and their counterparts in the control group.

In terms of children’s well-being, there is also clear evidence that access to Head Start had an impact on children’s language and literacy development while children were in Head Start. These effects, albeit modest in magnitude, were found for both age cohorts during their first year of admission to the Head Start program. However, these early effects rapidly dissipated in elementary school, with only a single impact remaining at the end of 3rd grade for children in each age cohort.

With regard to children’s social-emotional development, the results differed by age cohort and by the person describing the child’s behavior. For children in the 4-year-old cohort, there were no observed impacts through the end of kindergarten but favorable impacts reported by parents and unfavorable impacts reported by teachers emerged at the end of 1st and 3rd grades. One unfavorable impact on the children’s self-report emerged at the end of 3rd grade. In contrast to the 4-year-old cohort, for the 3-year-old cohort there were favorable impacts on parent-reported social emotional outcomes in the early years of the study that continued into early elementary school. However, there were no impacts on teacher-reported measures of social-emotional development for the 3-year-old cohort at any data collection point or on the children’s self-reports in 3rd grade.

In the health domain, early favorable impacts were noted for both age cohorts, but by the end of 3rd grade, there were no remaining impacts for either age cohort. Finally, with regard to parenting practices, the impacts were concentrated in the younger cohort. For the 4-year-old cohort, there was one favorable impact across the years while there were several favorable impacts on parenting approaches and parent-child activities and interactions (all reported by parents) across the years for the 3-year-old cohort.

In summary, there were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts found for either cohort in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices. The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children.

In addition to looking at Head Start’s average impact across the diverse set of children and families who participated in the program, the study also examined how impacts varied among different types of participants. There is evidence that for some outcomes, Head Start had a differential impact for some subgroups of children over others. At the end of 3rd grade for the 3-year-old cohort, the most striking sustained subgroup findings were found in the cognitive domain for children from high risk households as well as for children of parents who reported no depressive symptoms. Among the 4-year-olds, sustained benefits were experienced by children of parents who reported mild depressive symptoms, severe depressive symptoms, and Black children. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/head_start_executive_summary.pdf

In addition to parent support affecting education outcome, another major factor is the impact of poverty.

In Study: Poverty affects education attainment, moi said:

In 3rd world America: Money changes everything, moi wrote:

The increased rate of poverty has profound implications if this society believes that ALL children have the right to a good basic education. Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Because children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. There is a lot of economic stress in the country now because of unemployment and underemployment. Children feel the stress of their parents and they worry about how stable their family and living situation is.

Sabrina Tavernise wrote an excellent New York Times article, Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say:

It is a well-known fact that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. Yet the income divide has received far less attention from policy makers and government officials than gaps in student accomplishment by race.

Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period….http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/education/education-gap-grows-between-rich-and-poor-studies-show.html?emc=eta1

Teachers and schools have been made TOTALLY responsible for the education outcome of the children, many of whom come to school not ready to learn and who reside in families that for a variety of reasons cannot support their education. All children are capable of learning, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not serve all children well. Different populations of children will require different strategies and some children will require remedial help, early intervention, and family support to achieve their education goals.

Richard D. Kahlenberg, , a senior fellow at The Century Foundation wrote the informative Washington Post article, How to attack the growing educational gap between rich and poor. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/how-to-attack-the-growing-educational-gap-between-rich-and-poor/2012/02/10/gIQArDOg4Q_blog.html

There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/3rd-world-america-money-changes-everything/

https://drwilda.com/2012/08/29/study-poverty-affects-education-attainment/

Related:

Tips for parent and teacher conferences                                    https://drwilda.com/2012/11/07/tips-for-parent-and-teacher-conferences/

Common Sense Media report: Media choices at home affect school performance                                                                      https://drwilda.com/2012/11/01/common-sense-media-report-media-choices-at-home-affect-school-performance/

Making time for family dinner                                                       https://drwilda.com/2012/09/10/making-time-for-family-dinner/ 

Policy brief: The fiscal and educational benefits of universal universal preschool https://drwilda.com/2012/11/25/policy-brief-the-fiscal-and-educational-benefits-of-universal-universal-preschool/

Studies: Lack of support and early parenthood cause kids to dropout                                                                                https://drwilda.com/2012/11/19/studies-lack-of-support-and-early-parenthood-cause-kids-to-dropout/

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr. Wilda.com

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Why I support the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS

15 Jul

Moi’s local PBS stations are KCTS Channel 9 and NPR’s KUOW. It had been a few years since moi had been inside the KCTS building as a member of the KCTS Advisory Board. The specific reason for moi’s return was a July 10, 2012 lunch speech featuring PBS President, Paula Kerger. Ms. Kerger provides competent and forward-looking leadership for PBS, but more important, she symbolizes PBS’s commitment to adapting and serving the areas in broadcasting which are under-served, whether it is in content of programing or geography.

Mayer N. Zald of Vanderbilt University writes in the 2008 article, Politics and Symbols: A Review Article:

The relation of symbols, myths and rituals to the functioning of the state and the social system is a venerable concern of social philosophy and social science. In social theory symbols and rituals have been variously presented as a means of evoking symbols of solidarity, and as representing and reaffirming the power and authority of the state, of signalizing the power within the state. Furthermore, symbols can be seen as reaffirming and rewarding the virtues held dear in the polity and as a means of reassuring the citizenry that all goes well. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1533-8525.1966.tb02268.x/abstract

Symbols are very important to what happens in society.

Moi remembers that when she was a member of the KCTS Advisory Board, there was the relentless drum roll in Congress to “defund” public broadcasting. Not much has changed. The reason this post begins with a discussion of symbols is evident when one looks at the PBS funding mix. According to Alternative Sources of Funding for Public Broadcasting Stations:

For public television and radio stations system-wide, the share of funding derived from the federal appropriation to CPB is approximately 15 percent, with larger percentages to smaller and rural stations, and smaller percentages to larger stations.

According to information reported to CPB by public television licensees during fiscal year 2010 (the latest information available),38 individual contributions accounted for 22 percent of system revenue, the largest single source of revenue. The share of revenue for public television from CPB was 18 percent. System-wide, public television revenue sources were as follows:
Source of Funding Percentage of TV System Revenues
Contributions by individuals 22%
CPB (federal appropriation) 18%
State government support 14%
Underwriting by businesses 13%
University support 8%
Foundation support 7%
Other federal grants and contracts 5%
Local government support 4%
All other sources 9%
The revenue received from these various funding sources differs significantly from licensee to licensee. Smaller licensees (those with less operating revenue) and licensees that provide service in small television markets tend to receive a greater percentage of their revenue from federal sources than large licensees and those operating in large television markets.

According to an earlier study by the GAO,39 for public television stations with annual budgets less than $3 million, the federal share of their revenue is approximately 33 percent, while for the largest public television stations the federal share is approximately 10 percent.

Public radio revenue sources are similar to those for public television, with individual contributions again being the largest source of revenue. The share of revenue for public radio from CPB in FY 2010 was 11 percent. System-wide, public radio revenue sources were as follows:
38 Each public television and radio station that receives a Community Service Grant from CPB must file an Annual Financial Report (AFR) or Annual Financial Summary Report (FSR) reporting its revenues and expenditures, and a Stations Activities Benchmarking Survey (SABS) on non-financial activities.
39 GAO Report at 29.

Source of Funding Percent of Radio System Revenues
Contributions by individuals 34%
Underwriting by businesses 19%
University support 13%
CPB (federal appropriation) 11%
Foundation support 8%
State government support 3%
Local government support 1%
Other federal grants and contracts 1%
All other sources 10%
Again, the relative sources of funds differ significantly from licensee to licensee. Smaller licensees and licensees that provide service in small markets receive a greater percentage of their revenue from federal sources than large licensees and those operating in large markets.

http://cpb.org/aboutcpb/Alternative_Sources_of_Funding_for_Public_Broadcasting_Stations.pdf

What critics of public television are really saying is that they do not like the symbolism of a public broadcasting system.

Prior to the luncheon, moi sent a series of questions to KCTS. Here are the key questions and the responses:

1.     Any stats that you have about how educational programs help teachers and students as well as parents

FROM RAISING READERS 2008 STUDY:

See the attached PDF on Raising Readers Success Stories, p. 13 (includes link to full study)

Children who watched SUPER WHY! scored 46% higher on standardized tests than those who did not watch the show.

Here is the link: http://www.pbs.org/about/media/about/cms_page_media/146/raising_readers_a_story_of_success_1.pdf

FROM READY TO LEARN (2005-2012 Report)

Here is the link:

http://pbskids.org/readytolearn/

2.     How programs help children of color, low-income children and children in families where English is not the first language

FROM RAISING READERS 2009 STUDY:

See attached PDF on Raising Readers Success Stories, pp. 5-6 (includes link to full study)

The study found that preschoolers from low-income communities who participated in the PBS KIDS Raising Readers media-rich curriculum outscored their peers who did not participate in the curriculum on all tested measures of early literacy, such as naming letters and knowing their sounds. Furthermore, children who

started out with the lowest literacy skills gained the most, learning an average of 7.5 more letters than children in the comparison group.1 Ultimately, the study showed that utilizing PBS KIDS Raising Readers content for both kids and teachers helps build critical literacy skills to better prepare children from low-income communities for success in kindergarten.

Here is the link:

http://www.pbs.org/about/media/about/cms_page_media/146/raising_readers_a_story_of_success_1.pdf

4.     Any information about how PBS presents diverse views and engages its audience in thoughtful discussion about sometimes contentious topics.

Building on a long tradition of educational value, KCTS 9 and PBS are in the midst of developing new projects that extend the value of public media to teachers and learners both inside and outside of traditional classrooms. With more and more users looking to mobile and web-based platforms, public media is placing greater emphasis on “transmedia” content – content that follows users and learners across devices. For example, a child may watch SuperWHY! via broadcast as well as access its themed learning games through mobile/tablet. At the same time, her teacher might be pulling an interactive literacy game for a classroom Smartboard via PBS LearningMedia and taking an online professional development course on supporting early literacy via PBS TeacherLine.

What’s new with KCTS 9?

·         KCTS 9 is in the midst of rolling out a localized version of www.PBSLearningMedia.org (see below) and will begin producing standards-aligned digital learning assets geared particularly toward the needs of Washington schools. In-house educators have initiated listening sessions with districts and ESDs in the region.

·         This year KCTS 9 will institute a permanent home for its community-generated media projects. Dubbed the 9 Media Lab, this effort will include a comprehensive home for digital storytelling projects, with full time staff support, technical training and production support for community and youth participants, and a full complement of small, consumer grade video cameras, basic audio equipment and desktop editing units. As a preview to the 9 Media Lab, students and educators produced video diaries exploring education reform efforts at Lincoln High School in Tacoma. (Learn more at http://kcts9.org/education/golden-apple-awards/lincoln-center).

·         In connection with its documentary on the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair, KCTS 9 teamed up with HistoryLink.org and others to produce a ten unit curriculum on the World’s Fair which is available free, online at http://kcts9.org/education/worlds-fair-curriculum and which won a Heritage Award from the Association of King County Historical Organizations (AKCHO).

·         This past year marked the 20th Golden Apple Awards, a ceremony and program that honors outstanding educators from across Washington state.

·         KCTS 9 continues to extend early learning support in Spanish as well as English. Vme, the Spanish language broadcast presented by KCTS 9 in Washington, offers 30 hours/week of high quality educational programming in Spanish – close to ten times the amount of children’s programming on commercial Spanish networks. Vme recently hosted a teacher training and family science night for migrant families in Toppenish.

What’s new with PBS?

·         As referenced above, PBS is ambitiously pursuing a transmedia approach. That means new resources are being developed to work in sync with the broadcast offerings of programs like Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Kid, Curious George, Word Girl, Electric Company, Martha Speaks and other valuable programs. These new resources include mobile apps for phones, tablets and Smartboards, as well as strong web presence for PBS Kids, PBS Parents and PBS Teachers.

·         PBS LearningMedia (www.PBSLearningMedia.org) is a new online library of over 20,000 learning assets designed especially for use in the classroom. Teachers can search assets by subject, theme, grade level, media type and soon by standard. From STEM to early literacy, arts and social studies, the collection has resources for preK – post12. PBSLM allows teachers to stream content from children’s shows, American Experience, Frontline, NOVA, etc – it also allows them to access focused 2-4 minute clips that resonate with a particular classroom activity. This free service also allows teachers to create class lists to email links for clips, along with related questions to students and parents. (eg. a teacher message might be: “Tomorrow we are going to discuss federal vs. state power. Examine this clip from Freedom Riders and be ready to discuss how the federal government responded to states’ segregation laws during the Civil Rights Movement. Can you find any parallels to the recent Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration laws?”)

·         PBS TeacherLine (www.pbs.org/teacherline) offers a catalog of online professional development for educators. Courses in the areas of literacy, math, science, ELL strategies, instructional technology are available quarterly at competitive prices and teachers in Washington can receive clock hours and graduate credit through several institutions.

·         American Graduate (http://www.americangraduate.org/) is an effort by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that uses media to highlight the challenges of secondary education, examines disparities, and supports efforts at improved graduation rates.

Clearly, for those who value early learning programs for at-risk children, PBS is a valuable instrument of delivery of quality programming for these children. Much of the PBS allocation goes to support under-served rural areas that are not competitive in a for-profit model.

The issue is the symbolism of a public entity model. Many of those who attack the PBS model do not want to admit that there is a value to having some institutions outside the for-profit model. These institutions provide “public” goods which do not readily translate into a for-profit model. One only has to look at the amount of reality television programming currently on television because these programs bring in advertising dollars. Do we, as a society, need more shows like, “Ice-Road Truckers” and “Cajun Pawn-Stars?” Moi supports PBS because it delivers quality, diverse programming, gives voice to under-served communities, provides a forum for the arts, and has children’s programming with high quality learning content. Yes, PBS is a powerful symbol, but the fact that it exists is a symbol of this society’s strength, not weakness.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

The state of preschool education is dire

10 Apr

In Early learning standards and the K-12 contiuum moi said:

Preschool is a portal to the continuum of life long learning. A good preschool stimulates the learning process and prompts the child into asking questions about their world and environment. Baby Center offers advice about how to find a good preschool and general advice to expectant parents. At the core of why education is important is the goal of equipping every child with the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR dream, whatever that dream is. Christine Armario and Dorie Turner are reporting in the AP article, AP News Break: Nearly 1 in 4 Fails Military Exam which appeared in the Seattle Times:

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit.

The National Institute for Early Childhood Research has released its 2011 report, Pre-K Spending Per Child Drops to Levels of Nearly a Decade Ago:

Low Quality of Many State Preschool Programs Threatens Nation’s Progress

Washington, D.C. — Funding for state pre-K programs has plummeted by more than $700 per child nationwide over the past decade — keeping the quality of many states’ preschools low even as enrollment has grown, a new report from the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) shows.

Parents would be outraged if we had such low expectations for the first grade or kindergarten,” said Steve Barnett, the longtime director of NIEER, a nonpartisan center at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. “As economic conditions improve, states need to provide more adequate funding, step up quality, and make pre-K available to all children.”

The State of Preschool 2011 Yearbook ranks states on funding of pre-K programs and their availability to children. The report finds that most states fail to adequately fund their programs, and only five meet NIEER’s 10 benchmarks for preschool quality standards. Only seven states require pre-K teachers to have the same level of preparation and pay as kindergarten teachers, the report explains. 

High-quality early learning is arguably the greatest investments we can make, which is why our Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge supports states committed to providing this important opportunity to more children,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Raising the quality of early learning and expanding access to effective programs plays a pivotal role in improving our children’s chances at being successful in grade school through to college and careers. It’s the kind of investment that benefits us all.”

The Yearbook findings, which include NIEER’s data over the past 10 years and recommendations for policymakers, were released at 10 a.m. today at Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

Though enrollment in state pre-K programs has soared over the past 10 years, just 28 percent of all 4-year-olds and only 4 percent of all 3-year-olds are enrolled. Many states expanded enrollment without maintaining quality, Barnett said.

Pre-K funding has dropped by $715 per student, when adjusted for inflation, between the 2001-2002 and 2010-2011 school years. Per-student funding dropped by $145 in 2010-2011 alone compared with the previous year.

Overall funding for state pre-K programs, when adjusted for inflation, dipped for the second straight year, by $60 million nationally in 2010-2011.

The falling levels of funding for preschool are having a major impact on program quality. Only five states met all 10 NIEER benchmarks for state quality standards in 2010-2011, the new report shows. Fifteen states met eight or more quality standards. These standards include important basics such as having well-trained teachers and monitoring quality.

Some states are making progress, while others have taken steps back. Maine, Kentucky, and Nebraska all raised per-child and total pre-K funding by more than 5 percent over the previous year. In addition, five states — Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — increased total funding by more than 5 percent from the previous year.

Twenty-two states increased pre-K enrollment, ranging from small gains in California, Connecticut, Georgia, and Minnesota to 24 percent in Vermont.

But Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania cut total state pre-K spending by 10 percent or more from the previous year.

Nine states cut pre-K enrollment, from 1 percent in Kentucky, Nebraska, and North Carolina, to 12 percent in New Mexico. Arizona entirely eliminated its program. Counting Arizona, 11 states do not offer pre-K: Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

In 2010-11, two states gained benchmarks on NIEER’s quality standards, New York and Georgia. Four states — California, Kansas, New York, and South Carolina — lost benchmarks, all for reducing program monitoring.

In addition, several battleground states face additional threats to pre-K programs in 2012:

  • California cut spending per child by 10 percent for 2010-2011. The state’s program, which achieves only three of NIEER’s 10 benchmarks for quality, is under threat of further budget reductions.
  • Florida ranks first in the nation in pre-K access, with 76 percent of all 4-year-olds attending. But it ranks near the bottom in program quality and spending per child. It has repeatedly cut funding and has not raised per-child spending to adequate levels. Class sizes have been raised, and more funding cuts may be ahead.
  • Georgia, the first state to adopt a goal of state pre-K for all children, and which met all 10 NIEER quality standards in 2010-2011, subsequently cut its pre-K school calendar from 10 months to nine, reduced teacher salaries, and increased maximum class sizes to 22 children. Experienced teachers fled the program. Bringing quality back will require a new revenue source because lottery proceeds are no longer sufficient.
  • Illinois launched its Preschool for All program in 2006 with the goal of achieving universal access by 2012. Instead, it has cut total enrollment and has seen no appreciable funding increase.
  • Massachusetts has cut per-child funding by about 45 percent from 2001-2002 levels and operates two new programs using federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds that will go away. Without new funding, these programs are threatened.
  • North Carolina moved its well-regarded More at Four program from the Department of Public Instruction to Health and Human Services to align it with child care, renamed it, and reduced staff and enrollment. The program faces additional possible cuts.
  • Texas, which ranks in the bottom half of states for spending per child, reduced spending per child in 2010-2011 and faces the prospect of further cuts.

Barnett praised the federal $500 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge that is providing grants to nine states for improving quality, but said more needs to be done. President Obama has called on Congress to increase the federal commitment to states for early childhood education.

The National Institute for Early Education Research (www.nieer.org), a unit of the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on research.

http://www.nieer.org/news-events/news-releases/pre-k-spending-child-drops-levels-nearly-decade-ago


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See, Study Points to Drop in Per-Pupil Spending for Pre-K http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/04/10/28prek.h31.html?tkn=UNRFxUnNrL3edER%2FCdofTxr4Myujm07PFBxT&cmp=clp-edweek

Moi is using “preschool” to mean the same thing as “nursery school,” the schooling for children around three and four years of age. Professionals sometimes use the term “early childhood education” to mean the same thing.

There is an important distinction, however, between preschool and child care. Child care refers to the day-to-day, routine care of children from birth to three years, and to those parts of an older child’s day in which the primary focus is not on education. Preschool, on the other hand, refers to the portion of the day in which the main goal is developmentally appropriate education. (This isn’t to say that there isn’t some overlap, of course. A lot of what goes on in a preschool classroom involves taking care of a child’s physical and emotional needs, and a lot of what goes on in a good child-care setting is, in fact, educational.)

Kayla Webley has written an excellent report in Time magazine about Pew Charitable Trusts’ findings on a studies of preschool. In Rethinking Pre-K:5 Ways to Fix Preschool

Our goals should be: A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

Think small, Not small minded ©

Money spent on early childhood programs is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.

Resources:

Why Preschool Matters?

Why Preschool is Important?

The Benefits of Preschool

Will Preschool Education Make a Child Ready for Kindergarten

Preschool, Why it is the Most Important Grade

National Conference of State Legislatures Resources on Kindergarten

Education Commission of the States, Full Day Kindergarten: A Study of State Policies in the United States

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

‘Redshirting’ kindergarteners

5 Mar

Morley Safer of 60 Minutes reported the excellent story, Redshirting: Holding kids back from kindergarten:

Kindergarten “redshirting” is on the rise. That’s the practice of parents holding their children back from kindergarten so they can start school at age 6 – older, bigger, and more mature than their 5-year-old peers. Some research shows that redshirting will give these youngsters an edge in school, and maybe even in life. But is it fair? After all, as Morley Safer reports, boys are twice as likely to be held back as girls. Whites more than minorities. And the rich redshirt their kids more than the poor.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57390128/?tag=currentVideoInfo;videoMetaInfo

Web Extras

Parents consider “redshirting” in the hope that they will give their children an advantage.

Tom Matlock writes in the Huffington Post article, Redshirting Kindergarten:

It reminded me of what a kindergarten teacher at a private school in Boston recently told me: “I was cornered by an applicant’s father who asked that if he sent his child to me in pre-K, could I promise that his child would get into to Harvard in 14 years.”

Most particularly it made me think of the increasing number of families who are holding back their sons at the age of five, particularly in private schools, in order to increase their competitive advantage, following, perhaps without knowing it consciously, the line of thinking that has been used to produce professional hockey players.

“I got paid $100 for that shot,” one of my players told me as we warmed up for our basketball game, referring to a close-range layup the prior week. No, I’m not an NBA coach. The player wasn’t referring to some elaborate point shaving scheme cooked up by would-be sports agents to high school prodigies. The player was six years old.

The kid’s parents had paid him to make a basket. I was floored. Speechless. He said it in passing like it didn’t really matter, like even he thought it was kind of weird.

Pretty soon the boys were laughing and chasing each other around cones I had set up, trying without much success to dribble the miniature balls while playing tag. Clearly, having fun was way more important to this kid than any parent’s $100 payout. But it stuck with me as a sign of something profoundly wrong with our generation of parents, and a potential danger to the generation of kids, especially boys, that we are raising.

It reminded me of what a kindergarten teacher at a private school in Boston recently told me: “I was cornered by an applicant’s father who asked that if he sent his child to me in pre-K, could I promise that his child would get into to Harvard in 14 years.”

Most particularly it made me think of the increasing number of families who are holding back their sons at the age of five, particularly in private schools, in order to increase their competitive advantage, following, perhaps without knowing it consciously, the line of thinking that has been used to produce professional hockey players.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the odd distribution of birth months among NHL players. In Canada, youth hockey is a highly policed sport where players are registered strictly by calendar year. The oldest, therefore, at each level are those born earliest in the year. Just by virtue of age they tend to be bigger and stronger. Gladwell argues convincingly that a disproportionate number of successful hockey players end up being born in the first few months of the year (see graph below). This selection process starts as early as age 8, and the effect persists all the way up to the NHL. It has been very consistent over time.

So if it is true of youth hockey players in Canada why wouldn’t it be true of kindergarten boys in Boston, or San Francisco, whose parents are hoping they will grow up to be President one day. That makes sense right?

I asked one admissions officer what he says to the parents of boys entering kindergarten about the idea of holding their son back. He said, “I often tell parents that if allowing their children to be on the older end, rather than the younger end, results in any of the following: starting for a sports team as opposed to sitting on the bench; being one of the first to drive as opposed to one of the last (huge social advantage); the possibility they will be an A and B student as opposed to a B and C student; (for the dads) getting the girl or not getting the girl, then it is worth considering.” (All the sources for this article asked to remain anonymous given the sensitive nature of their day-to-day relationships with children and their parents.)

But a different admissions officer disagreed strongly: “The trend is disgusting, but it fits with any arms race or conflict cycle model. I’ve been wondering more broadly about what age we push kids through all the school factories. All they have in common is age and since they all develop at different ages, that system often makes little sense anyway.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-matlack/redshirting-kindergarten_1_b_859824.html

There is a huge debate regarding “redshirting.”

Sam Wang, an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton, Sandra Aamodt, a former editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience. Wang and Aamodt have written “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows From Conception to College.” They have written an interesting New York Times opinion piece, Delay Kindergarten at Your Child’s Peril:

Teachers may encourage redshirting because more mature children are easier to handle in the classroom and initially produce better test scores than their younger classmates. In a class of 25, the average difference is equivalent to going from 13th place to 11th. This advantage fades by the end of elementary school, though, and disadvantages start to accumulate. In high school, redshirted children are less motivated and perform less well. By adulthood, they are no better off in wages or educational attainment — in fact, their lifetime earnings are reduced by one year.

In short, the analogy to athletics does not hold. The question we should ask instead is: What approach gives children the greatest opportunity to learn?

Parents who want to give their young children an academic advantage have a powerful tool: school itself. In a large-scale study at 26 Canadian elementary schools, first graders who were young for their year made considerably more progress in reading and math than kindergartners who were old for their year (but just two months younger). In another large study, the youngest fifth-graders scored a little lower than their classmates, but five points higher in verbal I.Q., on average, than fourth-graders of the same age. In other words, school makes children smarter.

The benefits of being younger are even greater for those who skip a grade, an option available to many high-achieving children. Compared with nonskippers of similar talent and motivation, these youngsters pursue advanced degrees and enter professional school more often. Acceleration is a powerful intervention, with effects on achievement that are twice as large as programs for the gifted. Grade-skippers even report more positive social and emotional feelings.

These differences may come from the increased challenges of a demanding environment. Learning is maximized not by getting all the answers right, but by making errors and correcting them quickly. In this respect, children benefit from being close to the limits of their ability. Too low an error rate becomes boring, while too high an error rate is unrewarding. A delay in school entry may therefore still be justified if children are very far behind their peers, leaving a gap too broad for school to allow effective learning.

Parents want to provide the best environment for their child, but delaying school is rarely the right approach. The first six years of life are a time of tremendous growth and change in the developing brain. Synapses, the connections between brain cells, are undergoing major reorganization. Indeed, a 4-year-old’s brain uses more energy than it ever will again. Brain development cannot be put on pause, so the critical question is how to provide the best possible context to support it.

For most children, that context is the classroom. Disadvantaged children have the most to lose from delayed access to school. For low-income children, every month of additional schooling closes one-tenth of the gap between them and more advantaged students. Even without redshirting, a national trend is afoot to move back the cutoff birthdays for the start of school. Since the early 1970s, the date has shifted by an average of six weeks, to about Oct. 14 from about Nov. 25. This has the effect of making children who would have been the youngest in one grade the oldest in the next-lower grade; it hurts children from low-income families the most.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/dont-delay-your-kindergartners-start.html

Most parents no matter their class or ethnicity want to give their children a good start in life. A key building block to a solid education foundation is early childhood learning. There are many different considerations. The overall considerations should center on the quality of the early childhood learning and whether it meets the needs of the child. For some, those concerns take a back seat to whether the preschool is the “right” place rather than the appropriate place. “Right” meaning where the parents and child can mingle with the “right” sort or type or meet the parent’s definition of a successful life. The focus of my comment is to urge parents to look at what will in the long term make a happy, healthy, well adjusted child who is secure enough to take on the challenges of life. Nothing in life is guaranteed, even to the most well connected. How one copes with survival in a world that often presents challenges, which upend what people thought they knew, depends on internal fortitude and a sense of security.  

Resources:

Kindergarten Redshirting http://www.education.com/topic/kindergarten-redshirting/

The Redshirting Debate Continues http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/the-redshirting-debate-continues/

The Pros and Cons of Holding Out http://www.wceruw.org/news/coverStories/pros_cons_holding_out.php

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Jonathan Cohn’s ‘The Two Year Window’

18 Dec

Moi has got plenty to say about hypocrites of the conservative persuasion, those who espouse family values, but don’t live up to them or who support corporate welfare while tossing out that old bromide that individuals must pull themselves up by their bootstraps even if they don’t have shoes.

Because of changes in family structure and the fact that many children are now being raised by single parents, who often lack the time or resources to care for them, we as a society must make children and education a priority, even in a time of lack. I know that many of the conservative persuasion will harp on about personal responsibility, yada, yada, yada. Moi promotes birth control and condoms, so don’t harp on that. Fact is children, didn’t ask to be born to any particular parent or set of parents.

Jonathan Cohn reports about an unprecedented experiment which occurred in Romanian orphanages in the New Republic article, The Two Year Window. There are very few experiments involving humans because of ethical considerations.

Nelson had traveled to Romania to take part in a cutting-edge experiment. It was ten years after the fall of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, whose scheme for increasing the country’s population through bans on birth control and abortion had filled state-run institutions with children their parents couldn’t support. Images from the orphanages had prompted an outpouring of international aid and a rush from parents around the world to adopt the children. But ten years later, the new government remained convinced that the institutions were a good idea—and was still warehousing at least 60,000 kids, some of them born after the old regime’s fall, in facilities where many received almost no meaningful human interaction. With backing from the MacArthur Foundation, and help from a sympathetic Romanian official, Nelson and colleagues from Harvard, Tulane, and the University of Maryland prevailed upon the government to allow them to remove some of the children from the orphanages and place them with foster families. Then, the researchers would observe how they fared over time in comparison with the children still in the orphanages. They would also track a third set of children, who were with their original parents, as a control group.

In the field of child development, this study—now known as the Bucharest Early Intervention Project—was nearly unprecedented. Most such research is performed on animals, because it would be unethical to expose human subjects to neglect or abuse. But here the investigators were taking a group of children out of danger. The orphanages, moreover, provided a sufficiently large sample of kids, all from the same place and all raised in the same miserable conditions. The only variable would be the removal from the institutions, allowing researchers to isolate the effects of neglect on the brain….

Drury, Nelson, and their collaborators are still learning about the orphans. But one upshot of their work is already clear. Childhood adversity can damage the brain as surely as inhaling toxic substances or absorbing a blow to the head can. And after the age of two, much of that damage can be difficult to repair, even for children who go on to receive the nurturing they were denied in their early years. This is a revelation with profound implication—and not just for the Romanian orphans.

APPROXIMATELY SEVEN MILLION American infants, toddlers, and preschoolers get care from somebody other than a relative, whether through organized day care centers or more informal arrangements, according to the Census Bureau. And much of that care is not very good. One widely cited study of child care in four states, by researchers in Colorado, found that only 8 percent of infant care centers were of “good” or “excellent” quality, while 40 percent were “poor.” The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found that three in four infant caregivers provide only minimal cognitive and language stimulation—and that more than half of young children in non-maternal care receive “only some” or “hardly any” positive caregiving. http://www.tnr.com/article/economy/magazine/97268/the-two-year-window?page=0,0&passthru=YzBlNDJmMmRkZTliNDgwZDY4MDhhYmIwMjYyYzhlMjg

Because the ranks of poor children are growing in the U.S., this study portends some grave challenges not only for particular children, but this society and this country. Adequate early learning opportunities and adequate early parenting is essential for proper development in children.

 

Michael A. Fletcher reported in the Washington Post article, Nearly one in six in poverty in the U.S.; children hit hard, Census says:

The economic turmoil has pummeled children, for whom the poverty rate last year — 22 percent — was at the highest level since 1993. The rate for black children climbed to nearly 40 percent, and more than a third of Hispanic children lived in poverty, the Census Bureau reported. The rate for white children was reported as above 12 percent.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/us-poverty-rate-hits-52-year-high-at-151-percent/2011/09/13/gIQApnMePK_story.html

Cohn recognizes that in a time of economic distress it is difficult to call for massive spending on parent support and early learning programs, but that is what he says the implications of the Romanian study are if early damage to poor children is to be avoided. A conference where MIT was a participant described the economic benefit of early childhood programs NPR has an audio debate about the MIT report

Legislators are correct in their prudence about the budget, but the question is whether they are being, as the saying goes, “penny wise and pound foolish.” So much of economic development and full employment is based on an educated and skilled population. Third world countries are undeveloped for many reasons including unsustainable debt, corruption, and being disadvantaged in the world system of trade. One of the primary reasons that third world countries are third world is the limited education opportunity for the majority of their population.

Politics has always been a tough business, the Ides of March is one example of how brutal politics can be. Many times those who serve do so under tough conditions, often with little thanks. Still it is time to recognize that there must be some investments made for the future and early childhood programs are an example of necessary investment. Just as there are those who reflex ably say no to school choice, there are those who just as reflex ably say no to investing in this country’s future.

Cohn’s article is a must read.

Resources:

The changing face of poverty
Millions of Americans live in poverty, more families are suffering and hunger is seen growing. (more)

Hard at work but can’t buy food
While the ranks of the working poor grow in number, should employers step up to stop the trend? (more)

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©