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Kindergarten

A Path to PreK-12: How Good Data Will Lead To Better Policy

October 24, 2012

Last month, the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative and Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) partnered to roll out a major expansion to FEBP’s education database. For the first time, the site now includes data on pre-K in states and school districts. In collecting the data, we found states and districts face significant obstacles in collecting reliable, comparable pre-K  data.

While data can seem very technical (and, yes, occasionally boring), in pre-K’s case, the struggle for reliable data gets to the core of thorny issues like the priority that the U.S. places on pre-K. In fact, solving pre-K’s data issues could lay the groundwork for a tectonic shift in the perception of early education in this country.

A Role for Early Ed Tech: Strengthening Connections Among Teachers, Librarians and Coaches

October 10, 2012

Apps on iPads are dominating the ed-tech conversation these days, but last week I had an opportunity to move beyond a trumpeting of the touchscreen and examine how online, digital media could change the early ed workforce. In a presentation for a meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers in Indianapolis, I talked to early childhood specialists in state education agencies about some untapped areas for enhancing training and forming partnerships among educators , including librarians, via digital technology.

Digital Intersections

October 9, 2012

On October 2, 2012, Lisa Guernsey gave a presentation on technology's role in early education at a meeting in Indianapolis for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The presentation, Digital Intersections: Where and How Digital Technology Should Meet Early Childhood Policy, explored the science of learning via media for young children and charted several areas, such as teacher training, library partnerships and parent engagement models, where state leaders could encourage more thoughtful adoption of technology among early educators. 

FEBP Expansion Provides New Pre-K Data Resource, But Challenges Remain

September 19, 2012
Publication Image

This post also appeared on our sister blog, Early Ed Watch.

Even as the availability of data on K-12 education programs has exploded over the past decade, the American education system suffers from an acute lack of some of the most basic information about publicly funded programs for young children. Data on funding and enrollment for these programs at the local level have not been publicly available, obscuring the public and policymakers’ basic understanding of these services. Until now.

Today, the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative and Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) announced an expansion of the FEBP database to include pre-kindergarten data at the state and school district levels. The FEBP database is the only centralized location that makes this information available to the public, the media, and policymakers.

But the data are far from perfect. Accompanying the release of the data is a report, Counting Kids and Tracking Funds in Pre-K and Kindergarten: Falling Short at the Local Level, which details the continued shortcomings of early education data. The report finds that some states with state-funded pre-K programs do not make data available on some of the most basic information, such as how many children are enrolled in a given district. And even those that do provide such data are missing details on whether their pre-K programs are full- or half-day programs.

The data also illustrate the difficulty in providing a full picture of local pre-K access when many pre-K programs are run by community-based organizations (CBOs), such as non-profit child care centers, that are not organized along school-district lines. FEBP provides education data by school district, the common unit of measure for education at the local level, and not by city or county. This structure means that the vast majority of FEBP data can only reflect district-run state-funded pre-K programs, district-run Head Start programs and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) services provided by school districts. With the exception of Florida (an exception explained in the issue brief), FEBP does not include district-level data on programs operated by CBOs unless they receive funding from local school districts or use teachers paid by the districts. This is a large omission, as many CBOs receive public funds to operate Head Start centers and state-funded pre-K programs and are a critical part of pre-K delivery in the United States.

The authors, Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative, and Alex Holt, a program associate for the Education Policy Program, also find that kindergarten, assumed to be an integral part of public schools, is plagued by a lack of information and comparable data. District-level data are unavailable on funding specifically for kindergarten or enrollment that distinguishes between half-day and full-day programs.

This lack of data carries serious consequences for equity in educational opportunities and could affect children’s academic growth. For example, if teachers and school leaders don’t know what interventions children receive before they enter kindergarten, it is difficult for them to best target their instruction to students’ needs. While FEBP’s pre-K expansion is a good start, states must invest in comprehensive data systems that allow for comparisons between districts.

Readers can head over to www.edbudgetproject.org to view pre-K data for their states and school districts. The Federal Education Budget Project has provided data on funding, demographics, and achievement for states, PreK-12 school districts, and institutions of higher education since 2007. The pre-kindergarten expansion includes funding and enrollment information for state-funded pre-K programs, Head Start programs, and federal IDEA preschool services at the state and school-district levels.

To read the full report, Counting Kids and Tracking Funds in Pre-K and Kindergarten: Falling Short at the Local Level, click here. To view the data in the FEBP database, click here.

The database expansion and report were made possible with grants from the Foundation for Child Development.

New Pre-K Data Resource Available, But Challenges Remain

September 19, 2012
Publication Image

This post also appeared on our sister blog, Ed Money Watch.

Even as the availability of data on K-12 education programs has exploded over the past decade, the American education system suffers from an acute lack of some of the most basic information about publicly funded programs for young children. Data on funding and enrollment for these programs at the local level have not been publicly available, obscuring the public and policymakers’ basic understanding of these services. Until now.

Today, the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative and Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) announced an expansion of the FEBP database to include pre-kindergarten data at the state and school district levels. The FEBP database is the only centralized location that makes this information available to the public, the media and policymakers.

Counting Kids and Tracking Funds in Pre-K and Kindergarten

  • By
  • Lisa Guernsey,
  • Alex Holt,
  • New America Foundation
September 18, 2012

This issue brief, produced by the New America Foundation's Early Education Initiative, addresses the dearth of reliable, complete, and comparable data on pre-K and kindergarten in school districts and local communities.

Study on Low-Income ELL Students Shows Benefit of Bilingualism: Better Self-Control

September 13, 2012

Previous research has pointed to bilingualism having cognitive benefits, such as an increased ability to focus and direct attention. Thesebenefits, however, had never been examined on students with low-income backgrounds, a key omission that makes it difficult to use lessons from research on the bilingual brain to better educate America’s large-and-growing population of English language learners.

A Conversation with Greg Taylor, CEO of the Foundation for Newark's Future

September 6, 2012

In 2010, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a $100 million donation over five years to help the Newark Public Schools in New Jersey (assuming that another $100 million in matching funds could be found). From that contribution, the Foundation for Newark’s Future was born. Its mission is to make grants to initiatives to improve the district's schools. Last month, staff members for the Early Education Initiative sat down with Greg Taylor, the foundation’s CEO and a former program officer at the Kellogg Foundation, to learn about his priorities for improving early education in the city and throughout the school system. The following is an edited and abridged version of that conversation.

Q: I understand that early childhood is one of the priorities laid out for the Foundation’s vision. Tell us more.

When I came on board in June of 2011, early childhood education actually wasn’t one of the top strategies. What happened initially was many folks invested in the foundation were really focused on teachers, principals and school options, both district and charter. And one of the things we tried to do was to broaden the initiative. There are now six areas:  early childhood education, out-of-school youth, teacher quality and principal leadership, helping the district to effectively implement the Common Core standards and tie them to early childhood education, school options (We want to grow the number of high-quality school options for Newark families. We’re agnostic on the question of charter-district dynamic; more than 50 percent of our investment goes to the Newark Public School System), and community engagement.

Ed Dept’s District-Level Competition Keeps Door Open for PreK-3rd Reforms

August 13, 2012

The spotlight in school reform turns now to school districts instead of states with the U.S. Department of Education’s release Friday of its invitation for a new $383 million Race to the Top competition.  Districts can compete for up to $40 million each, with awards based on their sizes and abilities to personalize learning for students, become transparent in how they are spending money, engage community groups and implement systems for evaluating teachers and leaders based in part on student test scores.

The department, which said it would make 15 to 25 awards, asked districts to let it know by August 30 if they intend to apply. [UPDATE: On September 4, the department announced that 893 districts said they would.] Applications are due October 30 and winners announced in December.

The competition provides openings for school districts that recognize the need to pay more attention to the PreK-3rd grade years.

Does Minecraft Have a Place in Elementary Schools of the Future?

August 6, 2012

On Thursday this week, the Early Education Initiative and the Future Tense project at Slate magazine will kick off the back-to-school season with an event here in Washington, D.C. designed to shake up typical notions of elementary school. Today's young kids are now using technology to express themselves, make things, and share ideas. What do they have to teach us about the way they learn? 

Getting Schooled by a Third Grader: What Kids’ Gaming, Tweeting, Streaming and Sharing Tells us About the Future of Elementary Education

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