Saturday, May 29, 2010

NIEER early ed hot topics 5/28

Volume 9, Issue 11
May 28, 2010
Contact: Carol Shipp (732) 932-4350 x225 or Pat Ainsworth (732) 932-4350 x229

Study Finds Young Children with Autism Use Different Brain Regions
The Wall Street Journal reports that researchers scanning the brains of sleeping babies say autistic children as young as 14 months of age use different brain regions than more normally developing children. In typically developing babies, both the right and left temporal areas of the brain were active but in autistic children, the left temporal area, which deals with language, was far less active. While only 43 children were in the study sample, it appears to confirm why poor language comprehension is a red flag for autism in young children.

There's No Benefit in Delaying Immunizations in Children
Parents who delay children receiving a portion of the vaccines they are supposed to get out of fear that “vaccine overload” will negatively affect development are doing their kids no favors. If fact, they may be exposing them to disease, say University of Louisville School of Medicine researchers who studied data from speech, behavior and intelligence tests conducted years after children received their vaccines. Analyzing the data from more than 1,000 kids, they found there wasn’t a single variable where the kids with delayed vaccination did better than the kids who received 10 shots by the age of seven months. The authors also refuted the concept of vaccine overload. Their study is published in the May 24 online edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Kids Who Were Cognitively Stimulated in Three Settings Did Better in Math
Researchers who studied more than 1,000 children on the basis of the settings in which they were cognitively stimulated found that kids who were consistently cognitively stimulated at home, in preschool or child care, and in the first grade classroom had higher math achievement. Kids who were consistently cognitively stimulated at home and in preschool or child care had higher reading achievement. These effects were more pronounced for low-income children.

GAO Sting Turns Up Fraudulent Enrollment Practices in Head Start Centers
When the Government Accountability Office (GAO) used fictitious identities and bogus documents to attempt to register over-income children at Head Start centers in six states, they found that in eight out of 13 attempts, Head Start staff fraudulently misrepresented information, including disregarding part of the families' income to register over-income children into under-income slots. It its report, the GAO concluded over-income children may be getting enrolled in Head Start while legitimate under-income children are put on waiting lists. At no point was information submitted by the GAO's fictitious parents verified, suggesting parents are able to falsify earnings statements and other documents to qualify.

Will Early Education Be a Part of ESEA Reauthorization?
At least the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is considering it. This week, University of Virginia professor Robert Pianta, a NIEER scientific advisory board member, testified that "Incorporating high-quality early childhood education into reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would produce policies that would create a new portal into the education system." He and other experts, including fellow NIEER scientific advisory board member Lawrence J. Schweinhart from the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, went before the committee to address how federal policies can foster alignment between early childhood and K-12 education. A webcast of their testimony is available here.

Annie E. Casey Foundation Calls for Renewed Emphasis on Literacy
In its new KIDS COUNT Special Report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls for a renewed emphasis on reading success and spells out four steps aimed at achieving grade-level reading proficiency for all children by third grade. They include development of a coherent system of early childhood education that coordinates what happens from birth through third grade, parental supports, turning around low-performing schools, and solving the problems of chronic school absence and summer learning loss. The report provides state-level data to help parents, policymakers, educators, and concerned citizens rally around the effort.

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