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A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

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Ideas Requested on Gov’t Proposal to Start Collecting Data on Pre-K

Published:  February 6, 2013

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, is proposing to collect data for the annual State of Preschool Survey, which for the last nine years has been administered by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).  Public comments on this proposal are due February 12.

Many people in early childhood education know these survey data from the annual “yearbooks” that NIEER publishes each year that show how many children in each state are supported by state-funded pre-K programs and Head Start.  But as we’ve previously mentioned, the grant that enabled NIEER to administer the survey and publish its yearbooks is expiring this year .  Without additional funds to continue the surveys, the early education community would lose a vital resource. That’s why we support NCES stepping in to fund the data collection. The hope is that if NCES can support data gathering, institutions like NIEER and others will be able to continue publishing the data in yearbooks and other resources that help policymakers make smart decisions about increasing access to early education. Additionally, just like with our incorporating pre-K data into the FEBP database, NCES collections and reporting alongside other K-12 NCES data can further legitimize pre-K’s place in education.

We will submit our formal comments next week and keep you posted on our recommendations. But in the meantime, if you or your organization has ever relied on the NIEER State of Preschool Yearbook, or has ever wished we had better numbers on how many children have access to preschool, we encourage you to submit your own comments.

The full solicitation is here.  To submit comments go to http://www.regulations.gov/ and select Docket ID number ED-2012-ICCD- 0040. Below are the most relevant sections of the solicitation:

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES),  within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department  of Education (ED), is seeking approval to conduct in 2013, 2014, and  2015 the annual, web-based State of Preschool survey, which centralizes  data about publicly provided early childhood education opportunities.  Data are collected from state agencies responsible for providing early  childhood education and made available for secondary analyses…The data and  annual report resulting from  the State of Preschool data collection provide a key information  resource for research and for federal and state policy on publicly  funded early childhood education.

The  Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to  the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be  processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden  accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility,  and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the  Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents,  including through the use of information technology. Please note that  written comments received in response to this notice will be considered  public records.

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