Sunday, May 2, 2010

NIEER early ed hot topics 4/28

News Alert: NIEER's New State of Preschool Yearbook to be Released May 4th
The new edition of NIEER's annual State of Preschool yearbook will be released next Tuesday, May 4 at the AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. As anticipated, the new edition fills in the blanks about how pre-K is faring as the states cope with the recession and it also represents a new high in terms of data collected. Our research staff has added new categories on curriculum and family involvement to our state-by-state database. You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Science Article: Teacher Quality Moderates the Genetic Effects on Early Reading
An article in the journal Science reports that when children receive more effective instruction in early reading, they will tend to develop at their optimal learning trajectories but when instruction is less effective, children's learning potential is not optimized and the genetic differences that make it possible for some kids to read better than others are left unrealized. Said another way, poor teaching impedes the ability of children to reach their potential. In conducting the study Florida State University researchers followed 280 identical and 526 fraternal twin pairs in the first and second grades.

K-12 Common Core Standards Need Work, Say Early Ed Professionals
The K-12 Common Core State Standards proposed for comment by the Center for Best Practices at the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers have received plenty of feedback from the early education community. The mainstream consensus seems to be that while they are step in the right direction, there needs to be significant modification to accommodate children's learning in the early years. This week, NIEER co-director Ellen Frede's blog post is about achieving a "Goldilocks" set of standards in Preschool Matters … Today!

Florida’s VPK Program Escapes Big Budget Cut
The Florida Senate has agreed to a House plan that cuts the state's Voluntary Prekindergarten Program by less than 1 percent rather than the 15 percent called for in a previous legislative proposal. The old proposal would have forced programs to increase class sizes to as many as 24 kids in a pre-K classroom. Nationally, Florida ranks near the bottom in state spending for pre-K. Current funding is about $20 million less than it was when the program was launched in 2005 even though VPK now serves about 40,000 more kids, reports the Orlando Sentinel's Leslie Postal.

Illinois ELL Rules Would Require Bilingual Education in Some Pre-K Classrooms
Education Week reports that if approved by the state board of education, new rules proposed by the Illinois education agency would require districts to survey parents of preschoolers to determine language spoken at home, screen the kids for English proficiency, and provide transitional bilingual education in preschools where 20 or more pupils with limited English proficiency speak the same native language.

The Economy: Revenue Declines Less Severe, A Glimmer of Recovery
After undergoing a record five consecutive quarters of declines, tax revenues to the states are currently at roughly the same level as they were 10 years ago, while during that period the nation's population has increased by approximately 10 percent, says a new report from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. However, the severity of the declines has moderated. The National Association of Realtors reports that home purchases increased by 6.8 percent in March and home prices rose 4 percent. Meanwhile, the Labor Department says initial claims for unemployment have begun falling.

Obama Administration Decides to Do Some More Listening
The U.S. Department of Education is embarked on a listening tour to discuss critical topics in early learning. The meetings, which some see as a reaction to criticism that the Obama blueprint for re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is light on early education, take place in Washington, D.C., Denver, CO, Orlando, FL, and Chicago, IL.

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