With last night's State of the Union proposal to expand pre-k access, there's a lot of buzz out there on pre-k today--and, as always with D.C. or the internet, a lot of misconceptions. I want to clear up a few common myths about the evidence on pre-k. The following statements are not true. The evidence for pre-k impacts comes exclusively from "boutique" programs that were small, expensive, and can't be replicated: Not true. To be sure, the most frequently cited study of pre-k impacts, the High/Scope Perry Preschool Study, which employed "gold standard" randomized controlled tried methods, does ...


My colleague Andrew Rotherham is an astute analyst of education politics, and his analysis of the significant obstacles facing any federal push on pre-k coming out of tonight's State of the Union is pretty dead on. I would quibble with one point is his analysis, however. Andy writes: 3) There is no center to hold. The basic battle lines are people who think expanding access to pre-K is paramount and those who think improving quality in pre-K is. Three quick points here: First, I don't think there's anyone participating seriously in these debates at a policy level who doesn't think ...


Big early childhood proposal in President Obama's State of the Union address: Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on - by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their ...


If you haven't yet, you should definitely read David Kirp's NYT op-ed on Union City, New Jersey's approach to education reform and his forthcoming book on the same. A few years ago I had the opportunity to spend some time learning about Union City's work on pre-k and early literacy and was duly impressed by their success there. Union City's embrace of quality pre-k and systematic effort to create a truly language-rich learning environment and effective literacy instruction across all their elementary schools are truly worth learning from. And their success educating a primarily immigrant and English language learner population ...


Last week, the Center for American Progress published a brief white paper calling for major new federal investments in Universal Pre-k and childcare. Specifically, CAP called for a major new federal program to match state expenditures on universal pre-k programs for 3- and 4-year-olds. The programs would be free for families up to 200% of poverty, with parents paying on a sliding scale above that, and would be required to meet certain quality standards. Estimated 10-year federal cost of $98.4 billion. CAP also calls for a significant increase in federal child care spending for children ages 0-3, to double ...


As politicians and policymakers focus increasing attention on both current and long-term federal fiscal deficits, the intergenerational distribution of federal spending is coming in for heightened scrutiny. One stat--the federal government spends more than 6 times as much per elderly person in the U.S. as it does per child--is particularly striking. Local, state, and federal governments combined spend a little over $26,000, on average, on each elderly person over 65, compared to $11,822 on each child 18 and under. Moreover, the bulk of spending on the elderly comes from federal funds, while more than 2/3 of ...


Exciting news for District of Columbia residents: Enrollment in D.C. public schools (both public and charter) rose 5% for 2012-13, the fourth consecutive year of enrollment gains following a long period of declining enrollments. D.C. school enrollment is now at the highest level in 20 years. Both DCPS and charter schools experienced increased enrollment. Increasing public school enrollment in D.C. is good news for several reasons: First, it suggests that efforts to improve the quality of education in D.C.--through both DCPS reforms and the growth of quality charter options--are making the District's public schools more ...


One tangential thought from yesterday's post about new research on gender gaps in the elementary grades. This is a good example of the federal role in education research working. It doesn't appear that this study was funded by the Department of Education, but the researchers used data made available by the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort, a massive, long-term study that collected information on over 17,000 children starting in kindergarten and tracked them (with some attrition) through 5th grade. The resulting data set, along with the data set from its companion Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, has been an ...


This recent Journal of Human Resources article on gender gaps in elementary school students test score performance and teacher-assigned grades contains a lot of fascinating stuff, so it's unfortunate that the media coverage it inevitably attracts has been reduced to "elementary school-aged boys are actually smarter than girls, but teachers screw them over by giving them lower grades based on their behavior." (Give Christina Hoff Sommers credit for not jumping on that stupid bandwagon in this NYT article over the weekend--although her piece is also much more about ideas she already had than what this study found.) Here's what you ...


In my previous post, I explained why disagree with Russ Whitehurst's characterization of preschool as "oversold." Here, I'll explain why I think he's wrong about how to make Head Start better. Russ wants to devolve Head Start to the states and turn it into a voucher program. Here's the problem with that: It's basically a "kick the can" approach. It says "Fine, the feds don't have a clue how to make Head Start effective! So let's pass the problem to someone else: Let's pass it to states. Not only that, let's tell them to pass the problem along to parents." ...


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