Over the last decade, there has been increased attention on early education, but real progress for children and families has remained out of reach. We want America’s children to become lifelong learners who are able to think critically and inventively, manage their emotions and impulses, and make smart decisions by drawing upon a rich knowledge base about how the world works. To make this goal a reality for all children, New America makes eight recommendations, suggests specific actions, and pinpoints which actors — federal, state, and local policymakers, as well as educators and administrators — should help move the work forward.
Supporting Early Learning in America: Policies for a New Decade
Bornfreund, L., Franchino, E., Garcia, A., et al, Supporting Early Learning in America: Policies for a New Decade (February 2020). Washingtron, DC: New America Foundation.
The persistence of reading and math proficiency: the benefits of Alabama’s pre-kindergarten program endure in elementary and middle school
Preskitt, J., Johnson, H., Becker, D. et al. The persistence of reading and math proficiency: the benefits of Alabama’s pre-kindergarten program endure in elementary and middle school. International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy 14, 8 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40723-020-00073-3
Preschool programs provide opportunities to improve early childhood educational outcomes as well as long-term outcomes, such as improved educational attainment, improved socioeconomic status, and improved health in adulthood. However, recent studies of long-term impacts have shown equivocal results, with some educational gains occurring immediately following participation in preschool that diminish or “fadeout” over time. The purpose of this study was to use multivariable linear regression and school fixed effects to determine the impact of Alabama’s First Class Pre-K (FCPK) program on reading and math proficiency as children progress from 3rd grade to 7th grade. Results indicate that children who received FCPK were statistically significantly more likely to be proficient in both math and reading compared to students who did not receive FCPK. Further, there was no statistical evidence of fadeout of the benefits of FCPK through the 7th grade, indicating the persistence of the benefits of FCPK into middle school.
Big Ideas, Little Learners: Early Childhood Trends Report 2019
Big Ideas, Little Learners: Early Childhood Trends Report 2019 (January 2019). Redwood City, CA: Omidyar Network.
How do we close the gap between the growing demand from a new generation of parents, educators, and policymakers who recognize the importance of early childhood education and the relative scarcity of scalable solutions that would allow each and every young child to thrive? This report showcases the megatrends driving new demand and supply in early childhood education. In addition increasing public funding for evidence-based solutions, such as quality pre-K programs, Early Head Start and home visitation programs, and increase the compensation and stature of the early childhood workforce, this report states that we need to attract entrepreneurial and leadership talent to the early childhood field along with innovation-focused capital to ultimately increase the supply of quality solutions.
Vocabulary Knowledge Mediates the Link Between Socioeconomic Status and Word Learning in Grade School
Mandy J. Maguire, Julie M. Schneider, Anna E. Middleton, Yvonne Ralph, Michael Lopez, Robert A. Ackerman, Alyson D. Abel. Vocabulary knowledge mediates the link between socioeconomic status and word learning in grade school. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Volume 166, February 2018, pages 679-695.
This study of 68 children aged 8–15 years looked at whether socioeconomic status is related to word learning in grade school and to what degree vocabulary, reading and working memory might mediate that relationship. Results revealed that differences in vocabulary growth among grade school children of different socioeconomic statuses are likely related to differences in the process of word learning. Specifically, the study found that children of lower socioeconomic status are not as effective at using known vocabulary to build a robust picture or concept of the incoming language and use that to identify the meaning of an unknown word. Reading and working memory were not found to be related. The study also provides potential strategies that may be effective for intervention. For children ages 8 to 15, schools may focus too much on reading and not enough on increasing vocabulary through oral method.
The Investing in Innovation Fund: Summary of 67 Evaluations
Boulay, B., Goodson, B., Olsen, R., McCormick, R., Darrow, C., Frye, M., Gan, K., Harvill, H., & Sarna, M. (2018). The Investing in Innovation Fund: Summary of 67 Evaluations: Final Report (NCEE 2018-4013). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
The Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund is a tiered-evidence program that aligns the amount of funding awarded to grantees with the strength of the prior evidence supporting the proposed intervention. One of the goals of i3 is to build strong evidence for effective interventions at increasing scale. The i3 program requires grantees to conduct an independent impact evaluation. This report, from the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), assesses the quality of the 67 i3 grant evaluations completed by May 2017 and summarizes the findings of the evaluations. The report found that 49 of the first 67 completed i3 grant evaluations were implemented consistent with What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards and 12 of the evaluations found a positive impact on at least one student academic outcome.
50-State Comparison: State Kindergarten-Through-Third-Grade Policies
50-State Comparison: State Kindergarten-Through-Third-Grade Policies (2018), Education Commission of the States: Denver, CO.
High-quality, early elementary years offer a critical opportunity for development and academic learning for all children. Key components of a quality, K-3 experience include kindergarten, qualified teachers, seamless transitions, appropriate assessments and interventions, family engagement, social-emotional supports and academic supports. This report from the Education Commission of the States researched the policies that guide these key components in all 50 states. The report provides a window into the myriad state policies created to support students through the critical early years of education.
Parent Education and Family Life Education: A Critical Link in Early Childhood Education Policy
Glen Palm and Betty Cooke. Parent Education and Family Life Education: A Critical Link in Early Childhood Education Policy. July 2018. National Council on Family Relations.
Research suggests that the most effective initiatives for positive outcomes for early childhood development include a focus on the whole family. By building the capacity of parents, instead of focusing exclusively on children's school readiness and academic success, greater impact is achieved in the child's early development. The brief further examines the research on parent education and Family Life Education and offers policy recommendations for implementing best practice parenting programs. An executive summary is also available.
The State of State Standards Post-Common Core
Solomon Friedberg, Diane Barone, Juliana Belding, Andrew Chen, Linda Dixon, Francis (Skip) Fennell, Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, Roger Howe, and Tim Shanahan. The State of State Standards Post-Common Core (August 2018). Washington, DC: Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
No matter how good they are, every state’s academic standards need to be updated periodically to reflect the latest advances in content and pedagogy, as well as the lessons learned during their implementation. The overarching goal of this report is to provide helpful guidance to states as they look to modernize their standards in the years ahead.This report focuses on states that have made the most substantive changes to the Common Core, or that never adopted them in the first place. By taking a close look at these states, plus a fresh look at the Standards, the authors identify ideas that are worthy of broader adoption, as well as major mistakes that states should avoid.
Closing Achievement Gaps in Diverse and Low-Poverty Schools
Public Impact (2018): Closing Achievement Gaps in Diverse and Low-Poverty Schools: An Action Guide for District Leaders. Chapel Hill, NC: Public Impact and Geneva, Switzerland: Oak Foundation.
This report suggests that higher-income schools and districts also can do more to support low-income, black, and Latino students. Closing income and racial achievement gaps in middle-class districts requires district leaders to create a "culture of equity," supporting students' basic physical and social-emotional needs while ensuring that district policies provide all students with access to rigorous coursework.
A Focus on Teaching and Learning in Pre-K through 2nd Grade: Lessons from Boston
Laura Bornfreund and Aaron Loewenberg (2018), A Focus on Teaching and Learning in Pre-K through 2nd Grade: Lessons from Boston. Washington, DC: New America.
This report explains the work that has taken place over the last decade in Boston to not only improve pre-K, but to build on the successes of pre-K through reform of classroom environments, instructional practices, and curricula in pre-K, kindergarten, and, more recently, in first and second grade. Reform happens from the bottom up; the work of increasing student achievement is not confined to a single grade, but requires sustained efforts to improve the grades that follow, efforts that persist despite multiple changes in district leadership. Research and data is used to drive continuous improvement. States and districts across the country can learn from these efforts to build on the gains made as a result of high-quality pre-K programs.
STEM Starts Early: Grounding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education in Early Childhood
McClure, E. R., Guernsey, L., Clements, D. H., Bales, S. N., Nichols, J., Kendall-Taylor, N., & Levine, M. H. (2017). STEM starts early: Grounding science, technology, engineering, and math education in early childhood. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.
Tomorrow’s inventors and scientists are today’s curious young children — as long as those children are given ample chances to explore and are guided by adults equipped to support them. This report aims to better understand the challenges to and opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning as documented in a review of early childhood education research, policy, and practice and encourages collaboration between pivotal sectors to implement and sustain needed changes. The report provides key recommendations for education leaders, researchers, and policymakers across the country to improve opportunities for children to become confident learners in science, technology, engineering and math.
The Best Teachers for Our Littlest Learners? Lessons from Head Start's Last Decade
Kaplan, M. and Mead, S. The Best Teachers for Our Littlest Learners? Lessons from Head Start's Last Decade. (2017) Bellwether Education Partners: Washington, D.C.
This paper traces the evolution of Head Start Workforce policies over 50 years and detail how shifts in the broader early childhood landscape, especially state-funded pre-k programs, have influenced these policies. Based on this analysis, the authors make five recommendations: (1) Provide equitable compensation and benefits to Head Start teachers; (2) Include Head Start in state initiatives to build the early childhood workforce; (3) Develop systemic approaches to improve preparation for early childhood teachers; (4) Continue to support high-quality, ongoing, job-embedded professional development for Head Start teachers; and (5) Make Head Start a vehicle for promoting innovation in early childhood teacher preparation, support, and development.
PK-3: What Does it Mean for Instruction?
Stipek, D., Clements, D., Coburn, C., Franke, M. and Farran, D. PK-3: What Does it Mean for Instruction? Social Policy Report 30:2 (2017). Ann Arbor, MI: Society for Research in Child Development.
PK–3 has become a rallying cry among many developmental scientists and educators. A central component of this movement is alignment between preschool and the early elementary grades. Many districts have made policy changes designed to promote continuity in children's educational experiences as they progress from preschool through third grade — to provide children with a seamless education that will sustain the gains made in preschool and lead to better developmental and learning outcomes overall. This report addresses the issues facing school districts seeking to promote continuity in children’s educational experiences as they progress from preschool through third grade in hopes of providing a seamless education that sustains gains made in preschool and leads to better developmental and learning outcomes. The report considers ways in which schools might seek to achieve continuity in parents’ and children’s experiences and proposes specific state and district policies and school practices to promote continuous and meaningful learning opportunities.
Kids Today: The Rise in Children’s Academic Skills at Kindergarten Entry
Bassock, D. and Latham, S. Kids Today: The Rise in Children’s Academic Skills at Kindergarten Entry. Educational Researcher Vol. XX No. X, pp. 1-14 (February 2017). Washington, D.C.: American Educational Research Association.
Private and public investments in early childhood education have expanded significantly in recent years. Despite this heightened investment, we have little empirical evidence on whether children today enter school with different skills than they did in the late nineties. Using two large, nationally representative data sets, this article documents how students entering kindergarten in 2010 compare to those who entered in 1998 in terms of their teacher-reported math, literacy, and behavioral skills. Our results indicate that students in the more recent cohort entered kindergarten with stronger math and literacy skills. Results for behavioral outcomes were mixed. Increases in academic skills over this period were particularly pronounced among Black children. Implications for policy are discussed.
Unlocking ESSA's Potential to Support Early Learning
Bornfreund, L., Dichter, H., Calderon, M., and Garcia, A. Unlocking ESSA's Potential to Support Early Learning (March 2017). Boston, MA: BUILD Initiative and Washington, D.C: New America.
The authors offer an introduction to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA), exploring major provisions that have implications for our nation’s youngest learners — to enable the early childhood community to better understand how ESSA can be a resource. The new law both strengthens and expands allowable uses for early learning, birth through third grade. As with the previous version, it remains up to state and local authorities to decide whether to invest. This paper looks at key opportunities for state and local leaders in: Title I: Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; Title II: Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Educators; Title III: Language Instruction for English Learners and Immigrant Students; and Title IX: Preschool Development Grants.
The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects
The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects. Brooking Institution and the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.
A Pre-Kindergarten Task Force of interdisciplinary scientists reviewed the evidence on the impact of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, and what research can tell us about what works and what doesn’t. Among their key findings is that while all kids benefit from preschool, poor and disadvantaged kids often make the most gains. Children who are dual-language learners show relatively large benefits from pre-K education — both in their English-language proficiency and in other academic skills. Part of what may render a pre-K classroom advantageous for a poor student or a child learning English is the value of being immersed among a diverse array of classmates. Not all preschool programs are alike; features that may lead to success include a well implemented, evidence-based curriculum and an emphasis on the quality and continuous training of pre-K teachers.
Education inequalities at the school starting gate
Emma García and Elain Weiss. Education inequalities at the school starting gate: Gaps, trends, and strategies to address them. September 2017. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute.
Extensive research has conclusively demonstrated that children’s social class is one of the most significant predictors — if not the single most significant predictor — of their educational success. Moreover, it is increasingly apparent that performance gaps by social class take root in the earliest years of children’s lives and fail to narrow in the years that follow. That is, children who start behind stay behind — they are rarely able to make up the lost ground. The positive news is that the gaps have not grown, even as economic inequalities between these two groups of students have grown. The negative news is that the gaps have not narrowed, despite the fact that low-SES parents have substantially increased their engagement in their children’s early education.
Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium- and Long-Term Educational Outcomes
Dana Charles McCoy, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, Greg J. Duncan, Holly S. Schindler, Katherine Magnuson, Rui Yang, Andrew Koepp, Jack P. Shonkoff. Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium- and Long-Term Educational Outcomes. Educational Researcher, Vol 46, Issue 8, pp. 474 - 487. First Published November 15, 2017.
Despite calls to expand early childhood education (ECE) in the United States, questions remain regarding its medium- and long-term impacts on educational outcomes. Researchers used meta-analysis of 22 studies conducted between 1960 and 2016 to find that on average, participation in ECE leads to statistically significant reductions in special education placement and grade retention and increases in high school graduation rates. These results support ECE’s utility for reducing education-related expenditures and promoting child well-being. The findings contrast with other research, such as on the federal Head Start program and on Tennessee's preschool program, that have found that the behavioral and academic benefits of those programs fade over time. The Head Start and Tennessee studies, however, examined child outcomes a few years into participants' elementary school years. This analysis took a longer view; many of the studies tracked children into high school and beyond.
Dual-Language Immersion Programs Raise Student Achievement in English
Jennifer L. Steele, Robert Slater, Gema Zamarro, Trey Miller, Jennifer J. Li, Susan Burkhauser, Michael Bacon. Dual-Language Immersion Programs Raise Student Achievement in English (2017). Rand Corporation Research Brief.
English learners assigned to dual language immersion were morelikely than their peers to be classified as English proficient by grade 6. This effect was mostly attributed to English learner students whose native language matched the classroom partner language.
Job One: Build Knowledge. ESSA Creates an Opportunity— and an Obligation — to Help Every Child Become a Strong Reader
Hansel, L., Pondiscio, R. (May 2016) Job One: Build Knowledge. ESSA Creates an Opportunity— and an Obligation — to Help Every Child Become a Strong Reader. Knowledge Matters, Issue Brief #4.
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), policymakers have the flexibility to incentivize districts and schools to make long-term investments in building students’ knowledge and vocabulary. This brief offers seven flexible, adaptable recommendations that will lead to better reading comprehension. With ESSA, states have the flexibility to rethink how reading test results are used, and to support schools in developing children with both strong word-reading skills (e.g., decoding) and a substantial foundation of academic knowledge and vocabulary. Given the large knowledge and vocabulary gaps that already exist when children enter school, systematically building skills, knowledge, and vocabulary throughout the elementary grades is our best hope for closing the reading achievement gap.
The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States
Wechsler, M., Kirp, D., Tinubu Ali, T., Gardner, M., Maier, A., Melnick, H., & Shields, P. (2016). The road to high-quality early learning: Lessons from the states. Palo Alto: Learning Policy Institute.
This report describes and analyzes how four states — Michigan, West Virginia, Washington and North Carolina — have built high-quality early education systems. These states share a common commitment to advancing foundational elements of a quality preschool education and have relied on common overarching strategies. Their experiences provide important insights into how best to leverage resources and develop policies and practices to improve and expand early learning opportunities. Key lessons include: prioritize quality and continuous improvement; invest in training and coaching; coordinate the administration of birth-through-grade-3 programs; combine multiple funding sources to increase access and improve quality; and create broad-based coalitions and support.
Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction: A Literature Review
Drummond, K., Holod, A., Perrot, M., Wang, A., Munoz-Miller, M., and Turner, H. (August 2016) Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction: A Literature Review. Washington, D.C.: American Institutes for Research. Prepared for: Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, U.S. Department of Education.
This literature review provides a summary of policies, programs, and practices that have the potential to help students sustain the positive effects of preschool as they progress from kindergarten through grade. The review focuses on two specific approaches: (1) preschool and K–3 alignment, and (2) differentiated instruction in kindergarten and first grade.
Reading, Writing, and the Common Core Standards
Lazarin, M. (August 2016). Reading, Writing, and the Common Core Standards. Washington, D.C.: The Center for American Progress
This report examines these key shifts in the ELA standards more closely, as well as the research basis for their inclusion and the potential benefits for students. In order to fully realize the promise of more rigorous standards to help all students achieve at high levels and graduate from high school truly prepared for college and a career, the Center for American Progress offers the following recommendations to state and district leaders: (1) Push ahead with the Common Core standards and aligned assessments; (2) Strengthen training supports for prospective and current teachers, including teachers of other subjects; and (3) Ensure that teachers have access to and are using high-quality curricular materials and tools aligned to the Common Core.
Book Deserts: The Consequences of Income Segregation on Children’s Access to Print
Neumann, S.B. and Moland, N. Book Deserts: The Consequences of Income Segregation on Children’s Access to Print, Urban Education, July 5, 2016 doi:10.1177/0042085916654525
Researchers examine the influence of income segregation on a resource vital to young children’s development: a family’s access to books in early childhood. Income segregation reflects the growing economic segregation of neighborhoods for people living in privilege (1%) compared with those in poverty or near-poverty (20%). After describing recent demographic shifts, we examine access to print for children in six urban neighborhoods. Results indicate stark disparities in access to print for those living in concentrated poverty. We argue that such neighborhoods constitute “book deserts,” which may seriously constrain young children’s opportunities to come to school “ready to learn.”
The effects of Tulsa’s CAP Head Start program on middle-school academic outcomes and progress.
This study presents evidence pertinent to current debates about the lasting impacts of early childhood educational interventions and, specifically, Head Start. A group of students who were first studied to examine the immediate impacts of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Community Action Project (CAP) Head Start program were followed-up in middle school, primarily as 8th graders. Using ordinary least squares and logistic regressions with a rich set of controls and propensity score weighting models to account for differential selection into Head Start, we compared students who had attended the CAP Head Start program and enrolled in the Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) as kindergarteners with children who also attended TPS kindergarten but had attended neither CAP Head Start nor the TPS pre-K program as 4-year-olds. CAP Head Start produced significant positive effects on achievement test scores in math and on both grade retention and chronic absenteeism for middle-school students as a whole; positive effects for girls on grade retention and chronic absenteeism; for white students on math test scores; for Hispanic students on math test scores and chronic absenteeism, and for students eligible for free lunches on math test scores, grade retention, and chronic absenteeism. We conclude that the Tulsa CAP Head Start program produced significant and consequential effects into the middle school years.
Recent Trends in Income, Racial, and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry
This study found that low-income kindergarten students have reversed the trend of growing academic achievement gaps between them and their higher-income peers. Academic achievement gaps grew from the 1970s to the 1990s, but from 1998 to 2010 the gaps shrank 10-16%. During this time frame, the White-Hispanic kindergarten readiness gap and the White-Black gap each dropped. Researchers attributed the improved preparedness, in part, to low-income parents spending significantly more time reading to their children, taking them to museums, and introducing them to educational games on computers. Despite the narrowing of these readiness gaps, they remain large and, in fact, progress is so slow that at the rate that improvements are occurring, it will take at least 60 years for disparities to be eliminated.
Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth
Catherine H. Augustine, Jennifer Sloan McCombs, John F. Pane, Heather L. Schwartz, Jonathan Schweig, Andrew McEachin, Kyle Siler-Evans. Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth (September 2016) Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.
The largest-ever study of summer learning finds that students with high attendance in free, five to six-week, voluntary summer learning programs experienced educationally meaningful benefits in math and reading after two summers (20-25 percent annual gains in math and reading) compared with the control group. High attendance in voluntary summer programs isn’t the only factor in student outcomes. Students who received at least 25 hours of math or 34 hours of English Language Arts instruction did better than control group students on tests in fall 2013 and fall 2014. For students to experience lasting benefits from attending summer programs, the report recommends that districts: run programs for at least five weeks; promote high attendance; include sufficient instructional time and protect it; invest in instructional quality; and factor in attendance and likely no-show rates when staffing the programs in order to lower per-student costs.
The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program
Garcia, J.L., Heckman, J.J., Leaf, D.E., and Prados, M.J. The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program white paper (December 11, 2016). University of Chicago, Department of Economics: Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group (HCEO).
This paper estimates the large array of long-run benefits of an influential early childhood program that worked with children from infancy to age 5, targeted to disadvantaged children and their families. The researchers studied the effects of the 1970s-era Carolina Abecedarian Project (ABC) and a largely similar project called Carolina Approach to Responsive Education, jointly referred to as ABC/CARE. The cost of the ABC/CARE interventions were substantial — an estimated $18,500 per child per year in 2014 dollars. But the rate of return for ABC/CARE was about 13 percent when researchers looked at the participants' improved health, IQ, education, and decreases in their involvement in crime, as well as the increased labor participation of the mothers whose children were a part of the program.
State(s) of Head Start
Barnett, W.S. and Friedman-Krauss, A.H. (December 2016) State(s) of Head Start. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
State(s) of Head Start is the first report to describe and analyze in detail Head Start enrollment, funding, quality, and duration, state-by-state. The report focuses on the 2014-2015 program year but also provides longitudinal data beginning with the 2006-2007 program year. Despite the fact that Head Start is a federally funded, national program, the report reveals that access to Head Start programs, funding per child, teacher education, quality of teaching, and duration of services all vary widely by state. This report’s findings underscore the need for greater coordination between Head Start and state and local government agencies to build high-quality early learning programs with widespread reach and adequate funding. The authors call for an independent bipartisan national commission to study the issues raised in this report and develop an action plan to ensure every eligible child in every state has an equal opportunity to benefit from Head Start.
Examining Teacher Effectiveness Between Preschool and Third Grade
Herzfeldt-Kamprath, R. and Ullrich, R. (January 2016). Examining Teacher Effectiveness Between Preschool and Third Grade. Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress.
This report examines the consistency of children’s access to effective teachers between preschool and third grade—as well as how that access differs by a child’s race/ethnicity and socio-economic status — within three broad factors of teacher effectiveness: qualifications, attitudes, and environment. The analyses presented utilize two nationally representative data sets: the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort, or ECLS-B, and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11, or ECLS-K: 2011. Results support that the factors that contribute to effective teaching are inherently interconnected and typically accessed at lower rates by African American and Hispanic children, as well as children from low-income households. Furthermore, access to effective teachers varies between the prekindergarten year and the kindergarten through third, or K-3, grades because the standards, expectations, and supports for teachers are different for these two systems. The authors offer policy suggestions to improve Prer-K to Grade 3 alignment and access to quality teachers.
Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform
International Literacy Association (2016) Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform [White paper]. Newark, DE
The central tenet of the white paper is that classroom literacy instruction should be grounded in rigorous, peer-reviewed research — not politics, ideology, or speculation. Rather than settling on a specific reform strategy, the white paper offers frameworks for use in drafting or evaluating reform proposals. The frameworks address four key education sectors: literacy learning and teachers; schools and schooling; student support; and families and communities. For each sector, the white paper offers a list of research-validated approaches to literacy advancement, which is designed to function as a rubric to inform, refine, and assess reform proposals. In addition, each framework includes a detailed list of supporting sources to facilitate exploration into the underlying research base.
How Much Can High-Quality Universal Pre-K Reduce Achievement Gaps?
Friedman-Krauss, A.; Barnett, W.S.; and Nores, M. (April 5, 2016) How Much Can High-Quality Universal Pre-K Reduce Achievement Gaps? Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress.
The study, conducted by the National Institutes for Early Education Research, determined that universal high-quality preschool could reduce the achievement gap at kindergarten entry in math by 78 percent for Hispanic students and 45 percent for African-American students. The gap in reading would be virtually eliminated for both groups, the analysis found. Students from low-income families would also close the gap with higher-income families by 27 percent in math and 41 percent in reading. Establishing a high-quality universal pre-K program is a critical first step toward creating equity in access to early education and ensuring that all children begin kindergarten with an equal opportunity to succeed.
2014-15 Study of Mississippi Teacher Preparation for Early Literacy Instruction
Barksdale Reading Institute (March 2015). 2014-15 Study of Mississippi Teacher Preparation for Early Literacy Instruction. Oxford, MS: Barksdale Reading Institute and The Institutions of Higher Learning.
The study led to nine key findings, including an improved level of emphasis on the five essential components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The study also highlights a serious gap in the understanding and application of evidence-based practices for early reading instruction both in teacher preparation and in K-3 field experiences. The report culminated in several major recommendations: (1) Adopt research-based practices at every level of reading education (specifically those practices endorsed by the National Reading Panel); (2) Improve P-20 educator knowledge and communications to better inform policy; (3) Repurpose the state’s Reading Panel to include educators and literacy experts from all levels of the system to oversee the credentialing of undergraduate instructors assigned to teach early literacy courses.
The Multiple Roles of School-Based Specialized Literacy Professionals
International Literacy Association. (2015) The Multiple Roles of School-Based Specialized Literacy Professionals (Research Brief). Newark, DE: International Literacy Association.
This research brief identifies three distinct roles for school-based specialized literacy professionals: reading/literacy specialists, literacy coaches, and literacy coordinators/supervisors. While responsibilities often overlap across these roles, there are specific distinctions in terms of the primary emphasis and professional qualifications required to be effective in each role. The brief provides school administrators with guidance on how to define the role of each specialty and to clarify what type of literacy professional their schools may need to hire. The descriptions aim to help those hiring literacy professionals to better understand what skill set is required and which qualifications to look for in the hiring process. Further, the new definitions will support college and university teaching programs in developing curricula to better prepare teachers for these specific literacy positions.
How Well Are American Students Learning? With Sections on the Gender Gap in Reading, Effects of the Common Core, and Student Engagement
Loveless, T. The 2015 Brown Center Report on American Education How Well Are American Students Learning? With sections on the gender gap in reading, effects of the Common Core, and student engagement (March 2015) Washington, D.C. The Brown Center on Education Policy, The Brookings Institution.
Part I of the 2015 Brown Center Report on American Education: Girls score higher than boys on tests of reading ability. They have for a long time. This section of the Brown Center Report assesses where the gender gap stands today and examines trends over the past several decades. The analysis also extends beyond the U.S. and shows that boys’ reading achievement lags that of girls in every country in the world on international assessments. The international dimension — recognizing that U.S. is not alone in this phenomenon — serves as a catalyst to discuss why the gender gap exists and whether it extends into adulthood.
Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation
Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academies of Science (April 2015) Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Washington, DC
Children are already learning at birth, and they develop and learn at a rapid pace in their early years. This provides a critical foundation for lifelong progress, and the adults who provide for the care and education of young children bear a great responsibility for these children’s health, development, and learning. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) were commissioned to explore the implications of the science of child development for the professionals who work with children birth through age 8. In this report, the committee finds that much is known about what professionals who provide care and education for children need to know and be able to do and what professional learning supports they need. However, that knowledge is not fully reflected in the current capacities and practices of the workforce, the settings in which they work, the policies and infrastructure that set qualifications and provide professional learning, and the government and other funders who support and oversee these systems. The report offers recommendations to build a workforce that is unified by the foundation of the science of child development and early learning and the shared knowledge and competencies that are needed to provide consistent, high-quality support for the development and early learning of children from birth through age 8.
Accelerating Achievement Through Summer Learning
National Summer Learning Association (June 2015). Accelerating Achievement Through Summer Learning. Los Altos, CA: David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
This report is designed as a resource for program providers, education leaders, policymakers, and funders who are making important decisions about whether and how to strengthen and expand summer learning programs as a way to accelerate student achievement. In addition to 13 case studies of diverse program models, the report includes a look at key research on what works in summer learning and an overview of supportive state policies.
Not Getting Our Money’s Worth
Clifford, K., Christeson, B., O'Connor, J. (2015) Not Getting Our Money’s Worth: An Outdated School Schedule Is Costing New York $2.3 Billion a Year. Washington, D.C.: ReadyNation.
This report spotlights the many reasons why six-hour school days and nine-month school years were better suited to the nation's agrarian past than to the 21st century's demands and opportunities. U.S. schools are losing an estimated $21 billion each year because of summer learning loss among children from lower-income families. The report advocates adding more and higher quality learning time, with an emphasis on improved curriculum, more effective teaching, more enrichment activities, and better accountability.
Identifying and supporting English learner students with learning disabilities: Key issues in the literature and state practice
Burr, E., Haas, E., and Ferriere, K. (July 2015). Identifying and supporting English learner students with learning disabilities: Key issues in the literature and state practice, U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, Regional Educational Laboratory at WestEd.
This review of research and policy literature — aimed at district and state policymakers — distills several key elements of processes that can help identify and support English learner students with learning disabilities. It also describes current guidelines and protocols used by the 20 states with the largest populations of English learner students. The report informs education leaders who are setting up processes to determine which English learner students may need placement in special education programs as opposed to other assistance. The report acknowledges that the research base in this area is thin.
The Next Chapter: Supporting Literacy Within ESEA
Haynes, M. (August 2015). The Next Chapter: Supporting Literacy Within ESEA. Alliance for Excellent Education, Washington, D.C.
Noting that 60 percent of both fourth and eighth graders currently struggle with reading, this report urges the U.S. Congress to focus on students’ literacy development from early childhood through grade twelve as it works to rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). As part of a solution, the report highlights proposed federal legislation, the Literacy Education for All, Results for a Nation (LEARN) Act, which would encourage schools and educators to use research-based strategies to teach reading and writing within subject areas and across grade levels. In addition to its legislative recommendations, the report examines why students struggle to read and measures the success of other federal efforts to improve literacy, including Reading First and the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program.
Mapping the Early Attendance Gap
Chang, H., Jordan, P., Davis, R., Bishop, M., and Mays, A. (September 2015). Mapping the Early Attendance Gap: Charting a Course for School Success. Attendance Works (San Francisco, CA) and Healthy Schools Campaign (Chicago, IL).
This report shows how disparities in school attendance rates starting as early as preschool and kindergarten are contributing to achievement gaps and high school dropout rates across the country. The report also highlights connection between health and attendance and the power of states to tackle absenteeism by tapping key champions, leveraging data, and learning from places that have improved attendance despite challenging conditions.
Building Strong Readers in Minnesota
Lieberman, A., Bornfreund, L. Building Strong Readers in Minnesota: PreK-3rd Grade Policies That Support Children's Literacy Development (September 2015). New America Foundation: Washington, D.C.
An examination of state policies and local initiatives in Minnesota that aim to improve literacy outcomes for all students by shaping their learning trajectories from a young age. Intentional alignment of education systems from pre-K and into the early grades of elementary school — a ‘PreK–3rd grade’ framework — can help narrow opportunity and achievement gaps. In this report, the researchers explore how Minnesota’s early learning policies are helping or hindering the ability of school districts, schools, and teachers to ensure that all children are on track to read on grade level by the end of third grade.
The Power of a Good Idea: How the San Francisco School District Is Building a PreK-3rd Grade Bridge
Nyhan, P. (2015). The power of a good idea: How the San Francisco school district is building a prek-3rd grade bridge. Washington, DC: New America Foundation.
This report tells the story of the San Francisco Unified School District's transformative shift to a PreK-3rd grade approach in an effort to shrink the achievement gap. The district rethought its approach to PreK-3 by strengthening its public pre-K program, aligning curricula, professional development, assessments, and even classroom layouts. The district's successes and struggles over the last six years have much to teach other school districts in California and around the nation.
From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth-3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers
Bornfreund, L., Cook, S., Lieberman, A., and Loewenberg, A. (November 2015) From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth-3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers. Washington, D.C.: New America Foundation.
This comprehensive report ranks states on 65 policy indicators in seven policy areas that promote strong literacy skills by the end of third grade. States are grouped into one of three categories that indicate the relative strength of their policies and programs across all seven policy areas combined and within each individual policy area. The report evaluates states’ third grade reading laws on eight criteria related to assessment, intervention, communication with parents, and retention. At the time of this report, only six states stand out due to their promising third grade reading laws: New York, Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, Utah, and Colorado.
Early Grade Teacher Effectiveness and Pre-K Effect Persistence
The researchers utilized data from a public pre-K evaluation in Tennessee, matched with school administrative records and data from a new teacher evaluation program, to examine the interaction between pre-K participation and a factor that is as elusive to measure as it is universally accepted as vital to student outcomes — teaching quality. The researchers found that students who had attended a state-funded preschool and subsequently had a highly rated 1st grade teacher performed better than children who had a highly rated teacher, but did not attend a state-supported preschool. Analyses indicate a small positive interaction between teaching quality and state pre-K exposure on some but not all early elementary cognitive measures, such that better teaching quality in years subsequent to pre-K is associated with more persistent positive pre-K effects.
Subprime Learning: Early Education in America Since the Great Recession
Guernsey, L., Bornfreund, L., MccCann, C., and Williams, C. Subprime Learning: Early Education in America Since the Great Recession, New American Foundation, January 21, 2014.
Starting with 2009 as our baseline, the authors examined objective indicators across the birth-through-eight age span that pertain to student achievement, family well-being, and funding. We also provide subjective but research-based assessments of policies for improving teaching and learning and the creation of more cohesive systems. The aim is to provide a clearer picture of where America stands today by highlighting what is improving, in stasis, in flux, imperiled, or ignored. While bright spots are visible in some states, funding has fluctuated wildly, millions of children still lack access to quality programs, the K–3 grades have received little attention, and achievement gaps in reading and math have widened between family income levels. Meanwhile, child poverty rates have shot up.
Early Reading Proficiency in the United States
Early Reading Proficiency in the United States (2014) The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Children who are proficient readers by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and to be economically successful in adulthood. This KIDS COUNT data snapshot finds 80 percent of fourth-graders from low-income families and 66 percent of all fourth-graders are not reading at grade level. While improvements have been made in the past decade, reading proficiency levels remain low. Given the critical nature of reading to children’s individual achievement and the nation’s future economic success, the Casey Foundation offers recommendations for communities and policymakers to support early reading. Early reading proficiency rates for the nation and each state are provided.
Redesigning and Expanding School Time to Support Common Core Implementation
David A. Farbman, David J. Goldberg, and Tiffany D. Miller (2014) Redesigning and Expanding School Time to Support Common Core Implementation. Center for American Progress and the National Center on Time and Learning.
Redesigning schools with significantly more time for both student learning and teacher professional development and collaboration is one significant way to make certain that Common Core implementation is successful. Americans’ willingness to break out of the box of the 180-day, 6.5 hours-per-day school schedule can help with the transition to the Common Core State Standards, especially when targeting schools serving high concentrations of disadvantaged students. This report offers policy and strategy recommendations to support expanded learning time and help meet the demands associated with the Common Core.
Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? The Changing Nature of Kindergarten in the Age of Accountability
Bassok, D. and Rorem, A. (2014). Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? The Changing Nature of Kindergarten in the Age of Accountability. EdPolicy Works, University of Virginia.
Recent accounts suggest that accountability pressures have trickled down into the early elementary grades, and that kindergarten today is characterized by a heightened focus on academic skills. This paper documents substantial changes in kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2006, using two large nationally-representative data sets. Nearly all measures examined changed substantially over this period, and always in the direction consistent with a heightened academic focus. While in 1998, 31 percent of kindergarten teachers indicated that most children should learn to read in kindergarten, in 2006 65 percent of teachers agreed with this statement. Time on literacy rose by 25 percent from roughly 5.5 to 7 hours per week and exposure to social studies, science, music, art and physical education all dropped.
The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children
Naidoo, Jamie C. The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children, adopted by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) on April 5, 2014.
This white paper explores the critical role libraries play in helping children make cross-cultural connections and develop skills necessary to function in a culturally pluralistic society. The paper calls for libraries to include diversity in programming and materials for children as an important piece in meeting the informational and recreational needs of their community. The white paper also includes a comprehensive list of diversity resources, online collection development resources, awards for culturally diverse children’s literature, multicultural children’s program resources and more.
Time for Teachers: Leveraging Time to Strengthen Instruction and Empower Teachers
Claire Kaplan, Roy Chan, David A. Farbman, and Ami Novoryta (2014) Time for Teachers: Leveraging Time to Strengthen Instruction and Empower Teachers. National Center on Time and Learning and Teach Plus.
This report examines 17 high-performing and fast-improving schools around the country that have taken advantage of expanded school schedules to provide students with more time for engaging academic and enrichment classes and teachers with more time to collaborate with colleagues, analyze students data, create new lesson plans, and develop new skills. On average, U.S. teachers spend approximately 80 percent of their time on instruction, while the international average for countries is 67 percent. Meanwhile, teachers in the schools featured in Time for Teachers spend 60 percent of their expanded school schedule on direct instruction with 40 percent of their time on collaboration, coaching, one-on-one support, and other activities.
Beyond "Subprime Learning": Accelerating Progress in Early Education
Laura Bornfreund, Clare McCann, Conor Williams, and Lisa Guernsey (July 2015). Beyond "Subprime Learning": Accelerating Progress in Early Education. Washington, D.C.: New America Foundation.
This report urges education policymakers to put more focus on teaching and learning in the early years and continue that work up through third grade. States and the federal government must do more to foster real teaching and learning, which means structuring policies to put a priority on promoting language-rich interactions between children and adults. The authors also proposes new policies related to Head Start, dual-language learners, elementary school principals, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).
Kindergartners' Skills at School Entry: An Analysis of the ECLS-K
Sara Bernstein, Jerry West, Rebecca Newsham, and Maya Reid (July 15, 2014) Kindergartners' Skills at School Entry: An Analysis of the ECLS-K Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.
Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 data set, this brief examines the school readiness and abilities of beginning kindergartners across several academic and behavioral areas and highlights those areas where attention before kindergarten might benefit all children, as well as help close the gaps between more- and less-advantaged children. The brief reports that 44 percent of children enter kindergarten with one or more risk factors based on their home environment; these risk factors are incrementally associated with lower school readiness scores for children than for those with no such circumstances; and despite an increase in programs to level the playing field by giving disadvantaged children opportunities for preschool education, these gaps persist.
Culture Counts: Engaging Black and Latino Parents of Young Children in Family Support Programs
Shannon Moodie, Manica Ramos (2014) Culture Counts: Engaging Black and Latino Parents of Young Children in Family Support Programs. Child Trends: Bethesda, MD.
This report provides an overview of family support programs and aims to identify the features and strategies that may be most effective for reaching and engaging black and Latino families, with the ultimate goal of supporting young children’s development. The report presents a synthesis of available research on parent engagement — as well as potential barriers to their engagement — in family support services and programs, and recommendations, for both policymakers and practitioners, for designing, adapting, and evaluating culturally-relevant family support programs and services.
Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-Up
Barnett, W.S., Jung, K., Youn, M. J. & Frede, E.C. (2013) Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-Up. National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers — The State University of New Jersey.
Findings from the latest study of New Jersey's Abbott Preschool Program showed that children in the state's most disadvantaged communities who participated in the preschool program made significant gains in literacy, language, math and science through 4th and 5th grade. The study found larger gains for children who participated in two years of the preschool program. Additionally, participation was linked to lower retention rates and fewer children needing special education. These findings build on previous results from kindergarten entry and second grade follow-up.
Student Center Activities Aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects K-5
Verhagen, C. (2012). Student center activities aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects K-5. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.
The Center on Instruction released a publication to help educators create differentiated reading instruction experiences for their students by showing the relationship between two distinct resources: Student Center Activities (SCAs) created by the Florida Center for Reading Research for K-5 classroom teachers as differentiated reading activities for use in small student groups, and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It contains crosswalks that map the relationships between each SCA and corresponding, grade-specific standards in CCSS in English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects K-5 (ELA-literacy). These resources provide support in the alignment of instruction in schools that are implementing School Improvement Grants (SIG) and/or College and Career Ready Standards (including Common Core State Standards).
The Nation's Report Card: Vocabulary Results from the 2009 and 2011 NAEP Reading Assessments
National Center for Education Statistics (2012). The Nation's Report Card: Vocabulary Results From the 2009 and 2011 NAEP Reading Assessments (NCES 2013–452). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.
A National Assessment of Educational Progress report reveals gaps in vocabulary achievement among students from families of different income levels and students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. While the assessment only recently began measuring vocabulary, officials say results already show connections between vocabulary skills and reading comprehension.
Third Grade Follow-up to the Head Start Impact Study: Final Report
Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (2012). Third Grade Follow-up to the Head Start Impact Study: Final Report Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, D.C.
This evaluation studied children who entered the Head Start program in the fall of 2002. The final report presents impacts on children and families through the children's third grade year, as well as impacts on subgroups of children and families. Researchers examined several developmental areas, including measures of cognitive, social-emotional, language and literacy, and health outcomes. They found that Head Start improved the preschool experience of participating children, but the program had "few impacts on children in kindergarten through 3rd grade." Researchers concluded, that 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.
Is Retaining Students in the Early Grades Self-Defeating?
West, M.R. Is Retaining Students in the Early Grades Self-Defeating? (2012) Brookings Institution, Center on Children and Families.
Whether a child is a proficient reader by the third grade is an important indicator of their future academic success. Indeed, substantial evidence indicates that unless students establish basic reading skills by that time, the rest of their education will be an uphill struggle. This evidence has spurred efforts to ensure that all students receive high-quality reading instruction in and even before the early grades. It has also raised the uncomfortable question of how to respond when those efforts fail to occur or prove unsuccessful: Should students who have not acquired a basic level of reading proficiency by grade three be promoted along with their peers? Or should they be retained and provided with intensive interventions before moving on to the next grade? This paper looks at the background on grade retention, a case study of test-based promotion in Florida, and policy implications.
Third Grade Literacy Policies: Identification, Intervention, Retention
Rose, S. and Schimke, K. Third Grade Literacy Policies: Identification, Intervention, Retention (2012) Education Commission of the States.
This paper examines policies to promote 3rd-grade reading proficiency, including early identification of and intervention for struggling readers, as well as retention as an action of last resort. The authors outline case studies in both Florida and New York City, and identify decisions policymakers must consider as they implement policies around 3rd-grade literacy.
Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation
Hernandez, Donald J. 2011. Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation. The Annie E. Casey Foundation: New York, NY.
This report finds that students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave without a diploma than proficient readers. The report is a longitudinal study of nearly 4,000 students and their parents. It is notable in breaking down for the first time the likelihood of graduation by different reading skill levels and poverty experiences.
Transforming Family Engagement in an Era of Data Driven Reform
Weiss, H.B., Lopez, M.E., & Stark, D.R. (2011) Breaking new ground: Data systems transform family engagement in education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project.
A new policy brief from the Harvard Family Research Project and the National PTA highlights ways that data can be used to engage families and improve parent–teacher communication. The brief describes three key elements of a data system (access, understanding, and action) and cites six case studies demonstrating how early childhood programs and school districts are using data systems to improve family engagement. One example: a pre-K program in Colorado that uses children's drawings as data, allowing early childhood teachers and parents to track a child’s developmental progress.
Learning Time in America: Trends to Reform the American School Calendar
Farbman, D. (2011). Learning time in America: Trends to reform the American school calendar. Boston, MA: National Center on Time & Learning .
This report shows that while some states and local governments have reduced learning time in response to severe budget pressures — typically by reducing the number of days in the school year — others have prioritized expanding learning time to better prepare students for success in high school, college and the workforce. Schools, school districts, and states around the country are developing and implementing innovative and cost-effective ways to expand learning time for students in an effort to boost students' academic achievement and provide a well-rounded education, according to the most comprehensive study of time and learning policies ever conducted.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Early Education Program
Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., White, B. A., Ou, S., & Robertson, D. L. (2011). Cost-benefit analysis of the Child-Parent Center early education program. Child Development, 82, 379-404.
Children who attended an intensive preschool and family support program attained higher educational levels, were more likely to be employed, and less likely to have problems with the legal system than were peers who did not attend the program, according to a study funded by the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The Child-Parent Center (CPC) early education program is a large-scale, federally funded intervention providing services for disadvantaged 3- to 9-year-olds in Chicago. The researchers identified five key principles of the CPC that they say led to its effectiveness, including providing services that are of sufficient length or duration, are high in intensity and enrichment, feature small class sizes and teacher-student ratios, are comprehensive in scope, and are implemented by well-trained and well-compensated staff.
Head Start and the Changing Demographics of Young Children
Golden, O. (2011). Head start and the changing demographics of young children. NHSA Dialog, 14(1).
Head Start and Early Head Start programs have always understood that high-quality services are grounded in a thorough understanding of the children and families in their communities. And the portrait of our nation's children is changing rapidly. Results from the 2010 Census show a dramatic change in the racial and ethnic composition of children, particularly increases in Hispanic and Asian children and declines in white children (and a slight decline nationally in the number of black children). Other recent national surveys show a sharp increase in the proportion of children, and young children in particular, whose parents are immigrants. Based on these trends and recent Urban Institute research, this paper makes four recommendations about how local Head Start practitioners can best meet the needs of today's young children and their families.
Building and Supporting an Aligned System: A Vision for Transforming Education Across the Pre-K-Grade Three Years
National Association of Elementary School Principals. (2011). Building and Supporting an Aligned System: A Vision for Transforming Education Across the Pre-K-Grade Three Years. New York, NY.
Children who attend high-quality pre-kindergarten programs are more likely to graduate from high school, says a report from the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) that calls on states and communities to build an aligned system to support early childhood learning and kindergarten programs. The report addresses the need for kindergarten programs to be included in national standards, noting that "the availability of kindergarten is highly variable, with unstable funding in many districts and parents paying for full-day programs." NAESP recommends 10 action steps for policy makers to improve fragmented early childhood learning.
Take a Giant Step: A Blueprint for Teaching Young Children in a Digital Age
Barron, B., Cayton-Hodges, G., Bofferding, L., Copple, C., Darling-Hammond, L., & Levine, M. (2011). Take a Giant Step: A Blueprint for Teaching Children in a Digital Age. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.
In January 2010, the Cooney Center and the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute convened a Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council to look at current practices for teaching young children and to design a professional development action plan for integrating the effective use of technology in preschool and the primary grades. This report describes the Council's action plan to enhance teacher education and a higher quality, 21st century approach to the learning and healthy development of children in preschool and the primary grades. The report sets forth several goals for the nation to meet by 2020, including advancing technology integration and infrastructure; a more robust professional training program for early education professionals; the expanded use of public media as cost-effective assets for teachers; and the establishment of a Digital Teacher Corps.
Study Links Academic Setbacks to Middle School Transition
Schwerdt, G. and West, M. (2011). The Impact of Alternative Grade Configurations on Student Outcomes Through Middle and High School. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6208.
While policymakers and researchers alike have focused on improving students' transition into high school, a new study of Florida schools suggests the critical transition problem may happen years before, when students enter middle school.
The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood
Chetty, R., Friedman, J.N. and Rockoff, J. (2011), The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood, NBER Working Paper 17699.
Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students' standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students' lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years. This study shows that great teachers create great value — perhaps several times their annual salaries — and that test score impacts are helpful in identifying such teachers. Nevertheless, it is clear that improving the quality of teaching — whether using value-added or other tools — is likely to have large economic and social returns.
Income and Education as Predictors of Children's School Readiness
Isaacs, J. and Magnuson, K. (2011). Income and Education as Predictors of Children's School Readiness. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.
Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study — Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), the Brookings Institution recently published a paper that looks at how factors such as family income and maternal education are associated with children's school readiness. The authors find that both factors have a significant influence on children's ability to learn long before they enter the classroom. The paper includes a discussion of the challenges of implementing policies to increase family income and maternal education.
Performance Counts: Assessment Systems that Support High-Quality Learning
Darling-Hammond, L. (2010) Performance Counts: Assessment Systems that Support High-Quality Learning. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.
A new white paper written by Stanford researcher Linda Darling-Hammond describes what a student assessment system could look like if built from the principles and best practices found in current research and effective programs in the U.S. and high-achieving countries around the world.
Family and Neighborhood Sources of Socioeconomic Inequality in Children's Achievement
Sastry, Narayan, and A.R. Pebley. 2010. "Family and Neighborhood Sources of Socioeconomic Inequality in Children's Achievement." Demography, 47(3): 777-800.
Researchers examined family and neighborhood sources of socioeconomic inequality in children's reading and mathematics achievement using data from the 2000-2001 Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey. The researchers found no inequality in children's achievement by family income when other variables in the model were held constant. Mother's reading scores and average neighborhood levels of income accounted for the largest proportion of inequality in children's achievement. Neighborhood economic status appears to be strongly associated with children's skills acquisition.
The Long Reach of Early Childhood Poverty
Duncan, G, Magnuson, K, Boyce, T, & LaShonkoffst, J. (2010). The Long reach of early childhood poverty: pathways and impacts. Center on the Developing Child.
In this research brief, the authors review the evidence linking early childhood poverty to long-lasting negative outcomes and discusses strategies to mitigate the effects of poverty-induced stress on vulnerable families with young children. Emerging research in neuroscience and developmental psychology suggests that poverty early in a child's life may be particularly harmful because the astonishingly rapid development of young children's brains leaves them sensitive (and vulnerable) to environmental conditions.
Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters
Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2010). Early warning! why reading by the end of third grade matters. Baltimore, MD.
Children who read on grade level by the end of third grade are more successful in school, work, and in life. This KIDS COUNT special report affirms a commitment by the Casey Foundation to help ensure that all students are proficient in reading by the end of third grade and help narrow the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children.
Learning to Read: Developing 0-8 Information Systems to Improve Third Grade Reading Proficiency
Bruner, C. (2010). Learning to read: developing 0-8 information systems to improve third grade reading proficiency. Des Moines, IA: Child & Family Policy Center.
This resource guide provides background on the importance of third grade reading proficiency, resources and promising practices for developing information systems to address third grade reading proficiency, and recommendations for next steps at both the state and community levels.
PreK-Grade 3 Reading and Literacy Practices That Matter
Ryan, M. PreK-Grade 3: Reading and Literacy Practices That Matter. (2010). Education Commission of the States. New York, NY.
This snapshot of five recent research studies addresses reading and literacy in the early grades. Policy recommendations on practices that matter are included for each of the five studies.
Are Achievement Gaps Closing and Is Achievement Rising for All?
Chudowsky, N., Chodowsky, V., and Kober, N. (2009). State Test Score Trends Through 2007-08: Are Achievement Gaps Closing and Is Achievement Rising For All? Washington, DC: Center on Education Policy.
This report examines testing data from all 50 states to determine if achievement gaps between subgroups of students are narrowing. The report also looks at the achievement trends of subgroups of students at the elementary school level.
Tracking an Emerging Movement: A Report on Expanded-Time Schools in America
Farbman, D.A. (2009). Tracking an Emerging Movement: A Report on Expanded-Time Schools in America. Boston, MA: National Center on Time and Learning.
This article presents a report on expanded-time (ET) schools in America produced by the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL). Extracting and analyzing information from NCTL's database of 655 schools, this report describes trends emerging among these schools, including issues related to costs, time use, and student outcomes. The searchable database is available at www.timeandlearning.org. Though findings cannot be considered conclusive — the field of expanded-time schools is too new and decentralized to be confident that the database is fully representative — they do highlight the relatively widespread use and potential benefits of expanded time. Data analysis suggests a positive relationship between student achievement and school time. The characteristics of expanded-time schools and trends in teacher and student time are discussed.
America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being
Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2008. Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
This brief serves as a report card on the status of the nation's children and youth, presenting statistics compiled by 22 federal agencies in one convenient reference.
Preschool Education and Its Lasting Effects: Research and Policy Implications
W. Steven Barnett (2008). Preschool Education and Its Lasting Effects: Research and Policy Implications. National Institute for Early Education Research Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
All children benefit from preschool, and increasing the public's investment in effective preschool can have lasting educational, social, and economic benefits. Recommendations for capitalizing on these conclusions include using proven models, training preschool teachers, and working to increase the number of disadvantaged kids attending preschool.
Tough Choices or Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce
National Center on Education and the Economy. (2007). Tough Choices or Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. Jossey-Bass: Hoboken, NJ.
America's approach to education has lagged behind as industry and technology has continued to advance. To truly prepare student's for the 21st century workforce, and to remain competitive in the global economy, the National Center on Education and the Economy has ten policy recommendations for America's schools.
America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future
Kirsch, I., Braun, H. Yamamoto, K and Sum, A. (2007) America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
This report from ETS says we are in the midst of a perfect storm, a confluence of three powerful forces: divergent skill distributions, the changing economy and demographic trends. It projects the impact of these interactions upon the nation 25 years into the future, and sets out the challenges facing schools in America with up-to-date statistical info and comparisons with other developed countries.
Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades
Gersten, R., Baker, S.K., Shanahan, T., Linan-Thompson, S., Collins, P., & Scarcella, R. (2007). Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades: A Practice Guide (NCEE 2007-4011). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides.
The target audience for this guide is a broad spectrum of school practitioners such as administrators, curriculum specialists, coaches, staff development specialists and teachers who face the challenge of providing effective literacy instruction for English language learners in the elementary grades. The guide also aims to reach district-level administrators who develop practice and policy options for their schools.
On the Clock: Rethinking the Way Schools Use Time
Silva, E. (2007). On the clock: Rethinking the way schools use time. Washington, DC: Education Sector.
This report examines both the educational and political dimensions of time reform. It presents the findings of a wide range of research on time reform, discusses the impact of various time reforms on the life of schools and beyond, and makes recommendations for policymakers about how to best leverage time in and out of school to improve student achievement.
Leading After-School Learning Communities
National Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals. (2006). Leading After-School Learning Communities: What Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do. Washington DC: National Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals.
By collaborating with afterschool programs and accepting them as vital partners in education, principals can strengthen their schools and move closer to the overriding, common goal of maximizing learning for every child.
Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind
Wright, P.W.D., Wright, P.D., Heath, S.W. Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (2003). Harbor House Law Press.
The No Child Left Behind Act is confusing to parents, educators, administrators, advocates, and most attorneys. In this comprehensive book, you'll find the full text of the No Child Left Behind Act with analysis, interpretation and commentary, advocacy strategies, tips, and sample letters.
Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read
Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read (April 2000). National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and U.S. Department of Education.
In 1997, Congress asked NICHD, through its Child Development and Behavior Branch, to work with the U.S. Department of Education in establishing a National Reading Panel that would evaluate existing research and evidence to find the best ways of teaching children to read. The 14-member panel included members from different backgrounds, including school administrators, working teachers, and scientists involved in reading research. The report summarized research in eight areas relating to literacy instruction: phonemic awareness instruction, phonics instruction, fluency instruction, vocabulary instruction, text comprehension instruction, independent reading, computer assisted instruction, and teacher professional development. The National Reading Panel's analysis made it clear that the best approach to reading instruction is one that incorporates: explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, systematic phonics instruction, methods to improve fluency, and ways to enhance comprehension.
Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners
Institute of Museum and Library Services (2012). Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners. Developed in partnership with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
This report calls upon policymakers, practitioners, and parents to make full use of libraries and museums, and the skills and talents of those who work in them, to close knowledge and opportunity gaps and give all children a strong start in learning. The type of learning that occurs in these institutions — self-directed, experiential, content-rich — promotes executive function skills that can shape a child’s success in school and life.