Progress in Preschool but Pace Too Slow - Draft 3

Office of Early Learning June Newsletter 2015 

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Message from the Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett


Progress in Preschool but Pace Too Slow


Arne Duncan always says that the best ideas do not come from Washington, but from States and local communities.  For early learning this is really true. You all are doing a great job of advancing home visiting, child care improvements, preschool and other parts of our early learning agenda.


Last Month, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) published their annual State Preschool Yearbook, profiling state-funded preschool programs in the United States. For the second year in a row, NIEER’s data show nationally states increased preschool funding and quality, and enrollment grew by 8,335 slots.  In January 2014, Mississippi became the first state in four years not funding preschool statewide to create a new program. Of course, the data lags by a year, so the incredible surges we’ve seen in cities that have embraced preschool for all – like New York City– aren’t reflected here. 


While this expansion is exciting, as Secretary Duncan said at CentroNía early learning center during the Yearbook release, “The current pace of change is far too incremental. We have to think about transformational change.”  At the current pace, it would take 75 years to reach even half of the 4 year-olds in America. States want and need the federal government to do more.


Representatives Hanna and Scott in the House and Senator Murray in the Senate have re-introduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.  And very soon, members in both chambers will make decisions on the FY 2016 budget.  President Obama is asking for $750 million to continue funding for the Preschool Development Grants and expand to many more states, the territories and Indian lands.   Last competition, 36 states applied to partner with the federal government in expanding preschool, but there was only enough funding for 18. 


Recently at the Fordham Institute, Robert Putnam, author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, said that early childhood education does work, has a very high pay off, and is what we ought to be doing it everywhere.  Parents, educators, researchers, law enforcement, and business leaders are all calling for increased investments in early education.  I hope that our representatives will hear these bipartisan voices and pass a transformative budget that ensures more of our children enter kindergarten ready to succeed.


Voices From the Field

Beth Hyde

“China’s doing it. Everybody’s doing it. It’s time that we become an early learning nation too.”

Interview with Betty Hyde,

Director of the Department of Early Learning (DEL), Washington State

by Senior Policy Advisor Steven Hicks


Dr. Bette Hyde was appointed Director of the Department of Early Learning (DEL) by Gov. Chris Gregoire on Feb. 10, 2009. Bette’s focus is on creating one statewide early learning system that prepares all Washington children for school and life. She strongly believes that school-readiness means ready schools, ready children, ready families and ready communities. Washington is a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grantee.


Read the full interview.

Preschool Development Grants

connecticute state flag


Through Connecticut’s Preschool Development-Expansion Grant, the State’s program, entitled Quality First: Expanding and Improving Connecticut’s State Preschool Program, looks to build on a system that has already successfully expanded preschool access twice in the last two fiscal years. As well as building upon their professional development and birth-through-third grade continuum work, Connecticut has developed a number of key activities that specifically look to target low-income populations. In striving for its goal of stronger kindergarten preparedness, Connecticut’s work through the Preschool Development Grant hopes to build on its existing high-quality preschool work in the identified 14 High Needs Communities.  Read about Connecticut and the other Preschool Development Grant states here Connecticut and the other Preschool School Development Grant state. 

RTT-ELC:  Program Spotlight

New Mexico

New Mexico

In April, early learning stakeholders from state agencies, institutes of higher education, local and statewide non-profits and foundations came together to develop a unified message to increase awareness of the importance of children's earliest years. Facilitated by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation and Collective Action Strategies, attendees considered what they might accomplish through a collaborative effort and common message. The group will meet again in early June to determine next steps.  The meeting was organized by the New Mexico Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Leadership Team and co-sponsored by the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Grant.

Technical Assistance

ECTA Center logo

ELC TA Hosts Sustainability Peer Learning Exchange for RTT-ELC Grantees

In May, ELC TA hosted a Peer Learning Exchange  in Atlanta GA focused on sustainability planning for Phase 1 RTT-ELC States. The meeting provided participants with an opportunity to learn with and from their peers and to identify next steps for their sustainability work over the remainder of their grant period. National and state sustainability resources introduced during the meeting can be found at

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Our New Website for Preschool Development Grants

We are happy to announce the launch of the website for Preschool Development Grant grantees and stakeholders.  ED’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning Libby Doggett noted, “We are excited to launch this new resource for states. It will contain rich information and links for grantees and states to use as they develop and expand their high-quality preschool programs. We expect this to be a dynamic resource that programs will come back to again and again as new information is shared.” The site is managed by Preschool Development Grants Technical Assistance.  


CEELO has recently produced some resources of interest to SEAs. A FastFact by Kirsty Clarke Brown, Diane Schilder, and Lori Connors-Tadros, outlines how some states manage eligibility issues around early childhood programs. The document includes links to specific resources and provides examples of state guidance to programs for determining eligibility. A policy briefApproaches to State Pre-K Eligibility Policy: Considerations for Policy Makers in Revising Policy to Increase Access for High Needs Children by Megan Carolan and Lori Connors-Tadros, provides policymakers with information on state-funded pre-K programs’ eligibility policies and the common risk factors used to prioritize enrollment. A Discussion Guide: State Financing Strategies for Early Care and Education Systems, is intended to help state policymakers make decisions about which financing strategies are needed to support early care and education (ECE) programs in their state.

Early Learning at ED

ED logo

Peer Reviewers Sought for Ready to Learn Television

The Ready to Learn Television (RTL) Grant Program is seeking peer reviewers for two opportunities this summer. RTL is a US Department of Education program that funds much of the educational television and media that you see on PBS, such as Peg+Cat, Odd Squad, WordWorld, Super Why! The two opportunities are:

·         June 24th – 25th - Reviewing and providing feedback on the media products of the current RTL grantees, during a 2-day event in Washington, DC.

·         A few weeks in June – July (but not over July 4th weekend) - Reviewing applications at home and discussing them over a series of conference calls. This year’s focus is on science and literacy programing, as well as emphasis on embedded assessments. If you are interested in these opportunities, please contact

ERIC logo

Early Childhood Teachers Need Language Knowledge  

A new study discusses how early childhood teachers should have extensive knowledge about language and language development, because these facets of professional knowledge are considered as important requirements for fostering language development in early childhood education settings.

OSEP logo

States Identify Child and Family Outcomes for Early Learning Improvement Planning

In April 2015, Part C Early Intervention Programs submitted Phase 1 of their State Systemic Improvement Plans (SSIP) to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).   The SSIP is a comprehensive, multi-year plan focused on improving results for infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities.  States used data to identify gaps in child and family outcomes, analyze State systems, and plan targeted, evidence-based reforms to address the gaps.  Over the next year, OSEP staff will be working closely with States as they develop Phase 2 of their SSIPs.

White house initiative logo

White House Initiative Celebrates “Anniversary Year of Action: Fulfilling America’s Future”

September 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. To commemorate this historic occasion, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Initiative launched the “Anniversary Year of Action: Fulfilling America’s Future” from October 2014 through September 2015. Throughout the Anniversary Year of Action, the Initiative is encouraging the public and private sectors to invest in increasing educational outcomes and opportunities for Hispanic students across the country. This national call for Commitments to Action will help make meaningful and quantifiable contributions to further increasing and supporting educational attainment and outcomes for Hispanics, from cradle-to-career. Learn more on the Anniversary Year of Action here.

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Webinar on New Early Learning Research Networks Competition On June 11

Thursday, June 11th, 2015 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM ET

During this webinar, IES Staff will provide an overview of NCER's new grant program, Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Policy and Practice including an Early Learning Research Network to identify malleable factors that support early learning from preschool through early elementary school grades. The Early Learning Network will comprise up to four Research Teams who will conduct in-depth, exploratory research in states, regions, cities, or school districts that are providing preschool opportunities for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Topics will include program objectives, eligible applicants, and application requirements. To register for the webinar, please click here.

International News

Association for Childhood Education International

What Makes Children Happy?

A comprehensive, participatory study was released concerning children in African countries tend to be more pleased with their time in school, whereas children in European countries tend to be happier with their friendships. Children in England, Poland, Estonia, and South Korea spend more time on homework, while children in Norway, Israel, and Poland spend more time exercising or playing sports.

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The participants at Salzburg Global’s strategy session on Designing a Social Compact for the 21st Century: Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) (April 15-18, 2015), urge the international community to address the needs of young children and families across the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.” The complete Salzburg Statement:

Please read Quality Early Childhood Development and Education for all Girls and Boys for more information.

Federal Agencies at Work


Food Safety for Children Under 5

USDA released a new Food Safety for Children Under 5 infographic to promote the importance of food safety, especially for young children.


Depression in Mothers:  More than the Blues

This toolkit from SAMHSA, delivers background information about depression and offers ideas that providers can use daily when helping mothers, and their families, who may be suffering from depression. The toolkit also includes useful resources and handouts for mothers with depression.

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Doctors and Infant Hearing

Medical homes should obtain, document, and discuss all hearing screening results. Physicians should provide education and support to families.  How Children Can Be "Lost" to the Early Hearing System.

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Transforming the Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance System

Operating on national and regional levels, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) early childhood training and technical assistance (T/TA) system supports high-quality services for children and families. These Centers develop and disseminate high-quality, evidence-based resources and practices, and provide training and technical assistance. Their approaches build capacity and create sustainable early childhood practices at the regional, state and local levels. Learn more about ACF’s Early Childhood T/TA System online

ED and HHS logo

The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge and Preschool Development grants required states to maintain an active, fully functioning State Advisory Councils (SAC) on Early Childhood Education and Care that meets federal requirements. The SAC’s Final Report released this month illustrates the accomplishments of the State Advisory Councils as they forged ahead to eliminate existing barriers between programs and support stronger early childhood systems.

Resources You Can Use

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Exciting Partnerships in NHSA

This month the National Head Start Association (NHSA) is excited to partner with the Stern Center’s Building Blocks for Literacy to provide Head Start staff and parents with the science, knowledge, and practice to ensure Head Start children enter kindergarten ready to learn to read. Together, NHSA and Building Blocks for Literacy aim to close the word gap by teaching early childhood educators and parents how to foster early learning skills in our children and inspire a lifelong love of reading. 

Council for Professional Recognition

In her role as a Teachstone Ambassador, Council for Professional Recognition Chief Executive Officer Valora Washington just released a new article on the importance of data-gathering in the professional development of early childhood educators. The Teachstone Ambassador Initiative aims to bring together thought leaders from across the ECE community to discuss the vital issues of the day and foster a fruitful dialogue that unifies and professionalizes the field.

National Women's Law Center Logo

State by State CCDBG Implementation Fact Sheets from NWLC and CLASP

National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released  51 state by state fact sheets that summarize the specific information related to the requirements of the CCDBG reauthorization law in each state, as outlined in the guide, Implementing the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization: A Guide for States.  NWLC’s 51 state child care assistance policies fact sheets may also be useful. 

NIEER logo

NIEER released the State of Preschool 2014 in May. State pre-K programs may have turned a corner in 2013-2014, but progress remains slow. If pre-K is to be available to even all children under 200 percent of the poverty level within the next 20 years, state investments will have to grow at a much faster pace. Read more here and see the Yearbook. Tim Bartik used the data from the Yearbook to estimate costs of funding high quality preschool for all 4-year-olds: see his analysis.   Governors Robert Bentley of Alabama and Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia authored an op-ed in Forbes, highlighting the excellent investment early education represents for policymakers (and children). See some video from the press release event, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaking to the press and reading to preschoolers.

Ducan in the classroom

Child Mind Institute

Tantrums and defiance may mask issues that aren't apparent to adults. Most children have occasional temper tantrums or outbursts, but when kids repeatedly lash out, are defiant, or can't control their tempers, it can seriously impair their functioning in school and cause serious family turmoil. Disruptive Behavior:  Disruptive Behavior:  Why It's Often Misdiagnosed.

Zero to Three Logo

New Career Center

ZERO TO THREE is pleased to announce the launch of the ZERO TO THREE Career Center, a new online resource designed to help you find the best job opportunities in the early childhood field.

Supporting Fathers and Mothers as Coparents:  The Next Frontier for Infant Toddler Mental Health

Zero to Three, we are delighted to collaborate with Guest Editors James McHale and Vicky Phares, professors at the University of South Florida, to explore how fathers are included in services to families with very young children.  Read the article in the May 2015 Issue.

Research and Reports

National Black Child Development Institute

NBCDI Newest Publication!

The National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) is excited to share our newest publication! From the foreword by Barbara Bowman of the Erikson Institute to a closing essay by David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans,  Being Black Is Not a Risk Factor: A Strengths-Based Look at the State of the Black Child is designed to challenge the prevailing discourse about Black children–one which overemphasizes limitations and deficits and does not draw upon the considerable strengths, assets and resilience demonstrated by our children, families and communities.

A new report from Too Small to Fail

Word Health: Addressing the Word Gap as a Public Health Crisis,  explains the research about early brain development and the importance of empowering parents to talk, read and sing with their children in order to close the word gap.

Too Small to Fail

Monthly Multimedia

Ted talk logo

In her talk, "The Healthy Child Assembly Required", Kathleen Gallagher, one of University of North Carolina’s TED Talk 2015 Faculty Speakers, talks about the power of high-quality early education to build physically, emotionally, cognitively, and socially healthy children. Watch It; Share it; Spread the Word!  

Child Trends

The Spring Indicators is here!

Read the latest news  in the world of child and youth indicators. Indicators typically refer to measures of populations rather than individuals, so they’re more inclusive.

Brain development and programs for youth

There’s increasing global attention to brain research, and what we’re learning can inform programs for children and youth.  The Developing Brain:  Implications for Youth Programs.

Last Word

Arne and two students

Secretary Duncan interacts with two students exploring math concepts at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia. A new practitioner guide on teaching math to young children from the Institute for Education Sciences can be found here.