Tag Archives: Early Childhood Education

Week of the Young Child Family Fun in the Park Fest to be held April 19th

This week is the Week of the Young Child, and in Maryland, the MDAEYC — Montgomery County Chapter is hosting a Family Fun in the Park Fest to celebrate!  The Park Fest will be held at Cabin John Regional Park on Sunday, April 19th, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.  Families with young children are invited to come out and join us for some fun hands-on activities, including sensory play experiences, craft projects, and face painting.  The park is located at 7400 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817.  The Park Fest will be held near the playground. Flyer for Week of the Young Child Park Fest

The Week of the Young Child runs from April 12th- 18th this year, and is an annual celebration to focus attention on the needs of young children and their families, and to recognize early childhood education programs that serve their needs.  The National Association for the Education of Young Children, the world’s largest early childhood education association, hosts this celebration each year.  Local communities around the nation are hosting events celebrating young children this week.

MDAEYC — Montgomery County Chapter is a membership organization of early childhood education professionals who live or work in Montgomery County, Maryland.  You can follow the Montgomery County Chapter on Twitter or Facebook.  We hope to see you at the Park Fest on Sunday!

Family Fun in the Park Fest Flyer in PDF

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Study of North Carolina Pre-K and Child Care Explores Community Effects, Finds Improved Reading and Math Scores

Recently published research on the community-level effects of pre-K (More at Four) and child care (Smart Start) in North Carolina finds that both programs led to increases in reading and math scores in third grade.

  • North Carolina third graders had higher reading and math scores in counties that had received more funding for Smart Start and More at Four when the children were younger.
  • The estimated effects of Smart Start and More at Four investments were equal to test score gains of about four months of third grade reading instruction and two months of math instruction.  Notably, these results are for all children in the community, not just children who participated in either early childhood program.
  • While the authors did not do a full benefit-cost analysis, they note that the benefits in math and reading gains outweighed the program costs.  The expected savings from reduced instructional costs for children whose community received Smart Start or More at Four funding was at least equal to the cost of those programs.

Community-level effects – the concept of spillover:  One really interesting aspect of this study was that the researchers assessed the outcomes of children at the county level, including children who participated in the preschool or the child care initiative as well as children who did not.  The authors note that this approach allows them to measure the potential spillover effects of the program; that is, children living in the county but not participating in the program may also be affected indirectly, by other students’ participation in the program.  In theory, spillover could be positive or negative.  Positive spillover effects could occur in the elementary school classroom, for example, with a larger proportion of classmates arriving at elementary school ready to learn, enhancing the learning environment in that classroom.

More study details:  The article by Duke University researchers Helen Ladd, Clara Muschkin, and Kenneth Dodge and published in the Winter 2014 issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, examined the effects of two North Carolina early education initiatives:  Smart Start, the comprehensive child care and community services initiative, and More at Four, the state-funded preschool initiative.  The study used county-level program spending data matched with children’s birth records for children born between 1988 and 2000 and their third grade test scores to look at changes in test scores that took place after the introduction of More At Four and Smart Start in those counties.  The differences in when counties invested in these initiatives across the state allowed the researchers to assess the impact of More At Four and Smart Start on children’s math and reading performance.  To address other potential differences over time in counties which could also affect children’s math and reading scores, the researchers included statistical controls for related variables, a common and appropriate technique.

The numbers behind the basic benefit-cost results reported in the study were:  math and reading test score gains of two to four months translate into cost savings of $1,700 and $3,400 per child in the community (based on per-month costs out of a 10-month school year, which was $8,500 per child in North Carolina).  This was compared to program costs for More at Four and Smart Start of $1,100 per child in the community for each program.

Another benefit of measuring community-wide effects is that the authors were able to avoid a common potential problem in research studies that do not randomly assign people:  selection bias.  Selection bias is the potential bias that is created in a study based on how participants are chosen, such as when people self-select into the “treatment” being studied.  In this case, the treatment is preschool or child care, and the children whose parents sent them to public preschool may be different in meaningful ways (such as child health, family income, or parent education level, to name a few) than the children whose parents did not send them to preschool.  The differences observed between kids in preschool and those not in preschool may be due to preexisting differences between those groups of kids, rather than due to the experience of preschool itself.  Since this study examines outcomes for all children in the county, those participating and not participating in the preschool and child care initiatives studied, the researchers avoided this self-selection problem.

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Filed under early childhood education, research for policy, state policy

QRIS Status in the States: 37 States and DC Have Statewide Systems

The QRIS National Learning Network has a handy map showing QRIS status in the states, updated May 2013.  This map shows that:

  • 37 states and the District of Columbia have launched a statewide QRIS;
  • 2 states (California and Florida) have regional QRIS;
  • 3 states (Virginia, New Jersey, and Hawaii) have a QRIS pilot program launched or completed;
  • 1 state (Missouri) requires legislation to implement a QRIS; and
  • 7 states (Alaska, Connecticut, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Alabama, and West Virginia) are planning a QRIS.

Quality Rating and Improvement Systems have made great strides in the past few years; estimates from even two years ago indicated that approximately half of states had a QRIS in place.

Quality Rating and Improvement Systems provide ratings of the quality of early childhood education programs, so parents, child care providers and the state will know the level of quality of a given program.  Rating systems typically use star ratings, ranging from one to four or five stars, not unlike hotel or restaurant ratings.  The criteria used for different ratings levels are far more substantive than satisfaction ratings, generally based on research evidence and professional practice for program quality in the early childhood education field (here is a fuller definition of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems).

QRIS is a major strategy being used by states to provide better information to parents, and to incentivize providers to improve their quality, often for enhanced funding. States vary in whether QRIS participation is voluntary or required for programs, and in the range of early education programs participating (child care centers, family child care providers, pre-k and Head Start).

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Early Learning Innovations in Washington, Virginia, and Texas

While significant federal early learning initiatives have been proposed recently by the Obama Administration, today’s briefing on early learning highlighted how some states and cities are leading the way with innovative approaches to comprehensive early childhood initiatives.

The briefing (webcast available), hosted by the First Five Years Fund and The Pew Charitable Trusts, featured three examples of systemic approaches to delivering birth to five services. Elliot Regenstein of the Ounce of Prevention Fund moderated the panel, and Libby Doggett, Director of Pew’s home visiting campaign, delivered closing remarks.the U.S. Capitol

Dr. Bette Hyde, Director of the Washington State Department of Early Learning, emphasized the importance of building an early learning system.  After noting research evidence on the benefits of early learning, Dr. Hyde described Washington’s approach, noting the components of a system foundation the state has, including a 10-year early learning plan. She also explained the continuum of early learning services the state has, starting with infants and supporting continuity into the K-3 elementary years.  Infants are served by home visiting and infant/toddler child care consultation services, and preschoolers are served by the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program.  At kindergarten entry, the WaKIDS kindergarten assessment includes three components: input from the family, a whole child assessment, and collaboration between the kindergarten teacher and the early learning provider.  For additional detail, Dr. Hyde’s presentation slides are available.

Dr. Tammy Mann, President of the Campagna Center in Alexandria, Virginia, spoke next.  Dr. Mann described the range of services her agency offers, focusing on its Early Head Start (EHS) services.  The Campagna Center’s EHS program employs a diverse delivery model, providing services using several different approaches:  center-based services, home-based services, and via a partnership with family child care providers.  The family child care providers are employees of the agency, serve only EHS families, meet higher qualifications, and are provided coaching and outreach.  The Center’s approach to providing center-based services and partnering with child care providers illustrates an approach that may be mirrored in the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships provision of the Administration’s early learning proposal.

Madeline McClure, Executive Director of TexProtects, the Texas Association for the Protection of Children, and final panelist, spoke about Texas’ home visiting initiatives. She provided a good overview of home visitation services and features of the major models. She presented research findings on the impressive outcomes from quality home visiting services, and the high return on investment possible with these programs. Texas provides home visiting services using a combination of federal and state funds. (For further details, Ms. McClure’s presentation slides are available). Ms. McClure noted the bipartisan support in Texas for home visiting and the maintained investments despite budget challenges. The compelling return on investment evidence has helped child abuse prevention advocates make the case and garner bipartisan support in this politically conservative state.

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