April 2012 Archives

Guest post by Louise Stoney Since my focus is finance, I always worry about sustainability. As states craft QRIS, they struggle with the inevitable financial trade-offs. Most states are challenged with budget deficits and hesitant to make long-term financial commitments. They frequently structure QRIS technical assistance as a short-term intervention from a contractor (such as a CCR&R or educational institution) and QRIS financial incentives as small grants, often one-time, focused largely on materials. This is understandable, given resource limitations. But unfortunately this approach doesn't address the very real institutional capacity challenges. To stay focused on continuous quality improvement, most ...

Guest post by Louise Stoney Quality standards have meaning only when compliance with them results in improved practice among a significant percentage of programs and practitioners. Results come from a combination of factors -- standards that focus on what matters most, programs that have the desire and resources needed to improve, and access to the technical assistance, training and coaching needed to improve quality. State Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) include a technical assistance (TA) component aimed at strengthening ECE program capacity to meet standards. Today's blog will explore the challenges and opportunities of QRIS-related technical assistance. It is ...

Guest post by Louise Stoney. In my previous post I described QRIS as a powerful tool for early care and education (ECE) system reform if it is used as a framework for co-creating a new, cross-sector structure for quality, accountability and finance. Let's look more closely at what that statement means and how it might look in various states. The ECE system has multiple funders, regulatory agencies and planning entities, and each typically has its own set of standards and requirements. However, if one maps the program and practitioner and child standards from multiple places - state child care licensing, ...

Guest post by Louise Stoney As someone who has worked on early care and education policy and finance in many states, I have come to believe that Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) are an incredibly powerful tool for system reform. Why? Because a QRIS is more than just a way to involve parents and funders who seek to differentiate early care and education (ECE) programs by quality, or a way to encourage programs to invest time and resources into improving quality; it can also be a way to structure and shape ECE markets. QRIS is a unique accountability and ...

*Office of Head Start Director Yvette Sanchez Fuentes makes the case for competition in Politico. *Head Start Redesignation Blog has a state-by-state listing of the funding opportunities announced yesterday. *Ed Week's Nirvi Shah reports. In a brief programming note: I'm going to be traveling next week and will be off the blog. In my place, Louise Stoney will be guest blogging about QRIS. Louise and I don't always agree on this issue, but she's one of the smartest and most thoughtful people working in early childhood policy today and I know you'll find what she has to say interesting. I'll ...

So it begins: The Department of Health and Human Services today officially announced Head Start funding opportunities in 97 geographic areas across the country where current grantees have been identified for designation renewal. Applicants, including current grantees, will have 90 days to prepare their applications, longer than the 60 days many expected. A separate group of 100 funding opportunities will be announced in in May. HHS has also set up a resource site for organizations applying or re-applying for a grant. I'm on the road today and haven't had much chance to look further at the site or the applications, ...

Per yesterday's post on the new NIEER Pre-K Yearbook and declining state per-pupil spending on pre-k: I think it's useful to contrast these trends in state pre-k spending with the contemporaneous trends in per pupil spending for public elementary and secondary schools over the past decade. As the above chart shows, per-pupil spending on pre-k has trended down pretty consistently over the past decade--declining by about 12% from 2002 through 2009 (unfortunately, I could only find average per-pupil spending on K-12 through 2009, so I didn't run the comparison past that point--If I had, the % decline in pre-k spending would ...

The National Institute for Early Education Research released its annual "State of Preschool Yearbook" today. The report, which my colleague Andrew Rotherham teased at TIME last week, is a comprehensive national look at spending, enrollment, and a host of other features in state-funded pre-k programs. The big headline for this year's report is that states cut spending on pre-k in 2010-11: To the tune of some $50 million in nominal terms and $60 million after adjusting for inflation. At the same time, state pre-k enrollment increased nationally--and in 22 states--bringing the total number of children served to 1.3 million, ...

Useful new report from NAEYC outlines key considerations in implementing Kindergarten entry and other large scale assessments for young children. It's a very thorough and informative piece and is, given the subject matter, shockingly clearly written. I particularly liked this refreshingly truthful discussion of standardized assessment: In early childhood, there is great sensitivity to the idea of "standardized assessment." The popular concern is that of very young children completing paper and pencil assessments en masse, similar to perceptions of large-scale standardized assessments used for older children. The use of this type of assessment is not appropriate for young children. However, ...

My colleague Andy Rotherham has a new TIME column looking at early childhood education and the cuts that states have been making in pre-k in recent years. Andy doesn't mention it, but states have also made sharp cuts in childcare funding, which enables low-income parents to work and helps some of their children attend preschool. These trends highlight an odd irony in federal early childhood policy in recent years--on the one hand, early childhood advocates in D.C. are ecstatic that the U.S. Department of Education has allocated a share of this year's Race to the Top funds for ...

If you haven't already, you should really, really read my fellow Ed Week blogger Stephen Sawchuck's exemplary coverage of what's happening with the negotiated rulemaking for HEA Title II, which addresses teacher preparation programs. Basically, the feds want to grade teacher prep programs on a mix of measures that include their graduates' impact on student learning, and they want to allow an institution's students to receive federal TEACH grants--additional student aid for students who plan to go into teaching--only if they receive higher grades. The details here may sound boring and tedious, but this is actually really important for two ...

Delaware is one of only 2 states nationally to win a federal Race to the Top, Early Learning Challenge Grant, and a competitive Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program grant. This shows that--contrary to the rhetoric you sometimes hear in education debates--a state can simultaneously lead on both early childhood and K-12 reform. It also means Delaware has a unique opportunity to tie all these pieces together to create a truly seamless early childhood through high school learning experience for children. Why should Delaware do that, and what does it need to do to make that a reality? ...


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