September Newsletter

News & Resources from the Office of Early Learning • September 2014

Early Learning at ED

                Subscribe to our monthly Early Learning at ED newsletter here.

Message from the Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett

OEL Team

 Your good work at the state and local level have resulted in more young children going “back to school.” The  Obama Administration’s newest programs, the Preschool Development Grants and the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships will assure this trend continues in 2015!

My colleagues at HHS are busy with the hundreds of Partnership proposals just received, and together we recently released applications for the Preschool Development Grants competition.  As you probably know by now we have two types of grants. Development Grants will support states with either small or no state preschool programs to implement and sustain high-quality preschool programs in one or more high-need communities.  Expansion Grants are for states with more robust state preschool programs or that have received a Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant.  These states must implement and sustain high-quality preschool programs in two or more high-need communities. It’s the communities that will really drive the implementation of these programs, with most of the funds subgranted to them to support early education for children from low- to moderate-income families.

Last week, thirty States and Puerto Rico submitted Intents to Apply for the Preschool Development Grants competition.  While these intents are optional and not required, I know other States may also submit an application by the October 14th deadline. I am thrilled that there is so much excitement out there for preschool, but I am not surprised.  We’ve seen governors and mayors – both Democrats and Republicans – stand up for providing a strong start for our children.  The message that early learning provides a lifelong foundation for success has finally broken through.  Thanks for what each of you have done to make this happen.

Preschool for All

Pre-school Newswire

First Preschool Nation Summit Held in NYC

On August 5, 2014, LAUP (Los Angeles Universal Preschool) hosted the country's first Preschool Nation Summit. Held at the world headquarters of Scholastic Inc. in New York City, the summit featured Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is currently implementing his "Pre-K for All" program, as keynote speaker. The Summit featured prominent panelists such as New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, as well as executives from the U.S. Department of Education, Too Small to Fail, First Five Years Fund, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), the National Women's Law Center, the National Governors Association, the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, Mission: Readiness, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and ReadyNation. The summit examined the short- and long-term benefits of quality early education, successes and challenges of early learning programs around the country, the need to define and improve quality and more. Read more here.

Gallop Poll

70% of Americans Favor Federal Funds for Preschool Expansion

A new Gallup poll shows that 7 in 10 Americans say they favor using federal money to make sure high-quality preschool programs are available for every child in the country. President Barack Obama has asked Congress to fund universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all 4-year-olds in his FY 2015 budget request. Many governors and mayors are also calling for an expansion of early education.  Research shows the short- and long-term benefits of attending high-quality preschool which may be one reason for Americans' widespread support for the proposal.  Read more here

Alliance for childhood

Facing the Screen Dilemma:  Young Children, Technology and Early Education

This guide is designed to help educators and parents make informed decisions about whether, why, how, and when to use screen technologies with young children. Just because products are marketed as “educational” doesn’t mean they are. How do we best support children’s growth, development, and learning in a world radically changed by technology? Read more here.

RTT-ELC: Program Spotlight and Technical Assistance


ED and HHS are pleased to release a new resource on Kindergarten Entry Assessments in Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge States.

Under their Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grants, States are revising existing or implementing new kindergarten entry assessment (KEA) tools. This document provides an overview of the assessment instruments currently in use or being developed by the 20 States that have been awarded RTT-ELC grants. It details which States are collaborating on KEA development, and it provides information on the time frames for developing and conducting the assessments. The information in this document is based on a review of State websites, RTT-ELC Annual Performance Reports, and a brief prepared by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO).

Early Learning at ED

ED blog logo

Bus Tour Stops at a Chattanooga Early Learning Center Where is Never Closes

We finished the tour’s second day with an evening event in Chattanooga, Tenn., where educators, community leaders and parents gathered for conversation and dinner at the Chambliss Center for Children. Read More 

International News

Frank Porter Graham Logo

New Study Examines the Quality of Outdoor Play in Chinese Kindergartens

A new study finds that the benefits of outdoor play for children’s well-rounded development are maximized when children experience enjoyment and, at the same time, gain physical, motor, cognitive, and social-emotional competence. Read more here.

Federal Agencies at Work


The primary focus of schools is to help students learn and develop foundational skills and knowledge to succeed in life. But with the increasing demands and pressures of improving standardized test scores and grade point averages are we defeating these goals by eliminating or significantly restricting the time students are physically active throughout the school day? Read more here.

Research and Reports


 Early Learning and the Impact on Health

The Ounce of Prevention has a new publication, Start Early to Build A Healthy Future , that analyzes the latest research on the ways that early experiences, both beneficial and stressful, can have strong impacts on the health of the developing child, and offers research, policy and practice recommendations for supporting children’s lifelong health through high-quality early learning programs.

Resources You Can Use


Webinar on Supporting SEAs implementing B-3rd Grade

On August 21, CEELO presented a webinar on Supporting State Education Agencies With Implementing a Birth-Third Grade Approach. CEELO director Lori Connors-Tadros and senior fellow Jim Squires were joined by national expert Dr. Kristie Kauerz, founding director of the University of Washington’s National P–3 Center and David Jacobson, director of Cambridge Education’s Birth–3rd Grade Learning Hub. Following an overview of birth–3rd grade approaches, Dr. Kauerz presented information about her publication Planning, Implementing and Evaluating a PreK-3rd Grade Approaches and forthcoming work on designing a state-level policy framework for use by SEAs and others. Mr. Jacobson discussed his work documenting projects in several Massachusetts communities as they implemented a P–3 approach to early education.

CEELO has developed an advisory board to advise the center regarding its activities and strategies for: (1) monitoring and addressing the education needs of the nation on an ongoing basis; (2) maintaining a high standard of quality; and (3) carrying out its activities in a manner that promotes improved student achievement.

The board will convene in October in Washington, DC, and includes the following members: Bobby Cagle, Commissioner, Bright from the Start; Brenda Cassellius,

Commissioner of Education, Minnesota; Cathlin Gray, Associate Superintendent for Family, School, and Community Partnerships, Evansville, Indiana; Reyna Hernandez, Assistant Superintendent, Center for Language and Early Child Development, Illinois State Board of Education; Tony S. Lewis, Executive Director, Donnell-Kay Foundation; Camille Maben, Executive Director, First 5 California; Jeanne Russell, Chief Strategist, SA2020; Larry Schweinhart, Past President, High/Scope Educational Research Foundation; Deborah Stipek, I. James Quillen Dean and the Judy Koch Professor of Education, Stanford University; Amanda Szekely, Senior Policy Analyst, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.

Frank Porter Graham Logo

Seminal Publication on Early Childhood Teacher Education Wins Article of the Year

The Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education has awarded FPG senior scientist Pamela J. Winton, University of Pennsylvania scholar Marylou Hyson, and University of Oklahoma-Tulsa lead author Diane M. Horm with the Taylor & Francis Distinguished Article of the Year for 2013. Horm, Hyson, and Winton published “Research on Early Childhood Teacher Education: Evidence from Three Domains and Recommendations for Moving Forward” in a special issue of the journal.  Read more here.

National black child

Early Care and Education

Since its inception, NBCDI has been dedicated to supporting the development of a high-quality, accessible, affordable and aligned system of early care and education for children birth through age eight. Each of these years is critical to the socio-emotional and educational success of students, particularly students of color, because they provide the foundation for all subsequent learning and development. Read more here.

In this issue: 

Voices from the Field

David Kass

Voices from the Field

Interview with David Kass, President of the Council for a Strong America

By Senior Policy Advisor Steven Hicks

Steven: How did you begin your career in early learning?

David: I’ve been here for eleven years.  From my first jobs, it was really clear in looking at the research that starting early made sense.  That’s how you get the biggest bang for your buck. I certainly saw that in my own family life – my son just started kindergarten. We were fortunate enough to be able to have my son go to a terrific preschool. He started kindergarten last week. He knows circle time, he knows his numbers, and he knows how to read a little bit.  He’s starting kindergarten really ready to learn. It’s just so obvious to me that we want to make sure all children have those same opportunities.  I think we can do that. I think we can do that as a country.

Steven: What do you see as the role of the Council for a Strong America in improving the quality of early learning?

David:  We know from the research that when preschool is very high quality, that’s when we get great results.  I think our role is to help everyone understand that when kids have access to high-quality preschool, we are going to get kids on the right track and they’re less likely to end up in the back of a squad car from our 5,000 law enforcement officers.   We know that 75% of young Americans can’t join the military right now because one of the big reasons is they didn’t graduate high school. We know with quality preschool, you’re much more likely to succeed in life and graduate from high school. Our evangelical pastors know that it’s pro-family and our business leaders know that they’re going to get better employees who are more productive and are able to generate more profits for the business.  And our athletes and coaches know that if you want to compete in the game of life, getting this early start is so critical. So our role is to help everyone understand that these different constituencies feel strongly that high-quality preschool is incredibly important for America.

Steven: Why is the President’s proposal to provide high-quality preschool for all four-year olds important to our country and what do you see as some of the challenges and opportunities?

David: I think that the fact that there is funding for improving quality, expanding access, I think particularly expanding access for very young children birth to three.  There are so many important pieces to that proposal.  The legislation, which as you know is bi-partisan on the Hill, helps us to understand where we need to be going. From our members’ perspective, we have Republican members, Democratic members, and I think they agree that this isn’t a partisan issue, that high-quality preschool –as one of our members said— “It’s not Republican common sense.  It’s not Democratic common sense. It’s just common sense.”  So I think the challenge is—look we know that it’s tough to come together, but I think that research I so strong that this makes such a difference, I think it’s breaking through enough so that everyone understands this is the right approach.  I think we’ve made a lot of progress in people understanding this. 

Monthly Multimedia

Get KnowBullying, the free app from SAMHSA that can prevent bullying.


Research shows that parents and caregivers who spend at least 15 minutes a day talking with their child can build the foundation for a strong relationship and help prevent bullying. Read more here.