October 2010 Archives

This week, West Virginia's Beckley Register-Herald carried a story on the implementation of universal pre-K for 4-year-olds. Beckley is located in Raleigh County, near the southern end of the state. According to ePodunk, a web site started by journalists to offer quick access to community information, in 2000 Raleigh County's median household income was $28,181. Despite the sputtering economy, both the state and the county are moving ahead with universal pre-K for four-year-olds. Last year West Virginia spent $120 million in federal, state and local funds on pre-K. An associate superintendent in Raleigh County interviewed for the story says ...


A key question for early-childhood research and practice is how to prevent the dropoff in academic gains that studies show often happens when children transition from pre-K to kindergarten and the primary grades. On Friday, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Texas, Houston, released a report, "Lifting PreK Quality: Caring and Effective Teachers," that indicates improving teacher instruction is a more effective strategy in improving preschool quality than regulating the credentials of teachers, capping class sizes, and even setting child-teacher ratios. The researchers recommend mentoring and training preschool teachers to help them plan challenging learning ...


Last Friday, the Gesell Institute of Human Development released a study comparing when children reach certain cognitive milestones today and when they did in the 20th century. Originally, early-childhood pioneer Arnold Gesell and colleagues published observation-based developmental schedules starting in 1925 and updating through the 1970s. (For a brief overview of the study and links to a related FAQ, click here.) Guess what? Kids haven't changed. As the Harvard Education Letter reports, researchers observed more than 1,200 children ages 3-6 in public and private schools across the country and found remarkable stability in the ages at which they could ...


About 10 years ago, I was reporting in a struggling elementary school on Chicago's South Side. It had a well-regarded state prekindergarten program, but the pre-K director and the school principal barely had a nodding relationship with one another. It was hard to tell how many of the kids in the pre-K program ever went to the elementary school. But no one seemed to think that was a problem. Today, that kind of situation continues to take place, and now it's considered a big problem, and possibly the root of the famous drop-off in academic achievement that happens when kids ...


A hot trend in the world of early-childhood education is home visiting by a professional to a family with an infant or toddler. Ideally, the visiting professional builds a relationship with the primary caregiver and other family members, helping them understand infant and toddler development and behavior and helping the family through any special challenges their child presents. In the policy world, home visits are mostly talked about for low-income families and teen moms, but others can benefit, too. (Full disclosure: I've been receiving home visits from Chicago's Fussy Baby Network, a project of the Erickson Institute, because my son ...


U.S. Department of Education money will help public television develop projects promoting math and literacy for children ages 2 to 8.


Maybe it's a tempest in a teapot, but Tennessee Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam told the Associated Press last week he's hot and bothered by his opponent's charge he's soft on pre-K. In an earlier interview with AP, Democratic candidate Mike McWherter called Haslam's commitment to pre-K tepid and noted Tennessee's Republican legislators have been suspicious of the program since its expansion began in 2005. "I've said all along that I think pre-K, where it is, should remain in place," Haslam told the AP. "And when we have the money available we should look at expanding it." Since 2005, Tennessee's ...


Some thing the tough, new proposed regulations on Head Start will spur more centers to use data to guide instruction.


Despite millions of federal dollars pushing states to create data systems that would track children from preschool through high school and college, states are still struggling to include their youngest students, says a report released Friday by the New America Foundation. Over the last five years, the federal government has invested roughly $515 million to help states build and expand longitudinal data systems. The latest round of funding, $250 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), went to 20 states in May 2010 and required states to link data on early-childhood programs and the traditional K-12 system. But ...


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