Media Coverage of Tennessee Preschool Study

Education Week’s Early Years blog has a helpful round-up of a wide range of media coverage of the Tennessee preschool study. A few choice excerpts:

Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, whose work on the return of investment on prekindergarten has been cited eagerly by early-education advocates, has weighed in on a study that found Tennessee’s prekindergarten program didn’t help children.

“Vanderbilt University’s study of Tennessee’s Voluntary Preschool Program evaluates a low-quality early-childhood program using a flawed methodology,” Heckman said.


Writing for The Hechinger Report on Sept. 29, I [Lillian Mongeau] focused on the quality question: “Moreover, Farran and her fellow researchers did a separate study that used a commonly accepted research tool to evaluate 160 state preschool classrooms on a scale of one to seven. Only 15 percent of the classrooms they observed met the benchmark for ‘good’ or better.”


Steven Barnett, director of the Rutgers-based National Institute of Early Education Research, wrote a long, undated, post on his institute’s blog urging readers to take the study as a lesson that high quality is important in practice, not just in name.


On Oct. 3, David Kirp, in an opinion piece for The New York Times, pointed to Boston, New Jersey, North Carolina and other public programs that have seen stronger results. He urged readers to recognize the expensive nature of providing high-quality preschool. “In education, as in much of life, you get what you pay for,” Kirp wrote.

“What’s the Difference between Boston and Tennessee?”

In a word, quality. “Tennessee doesn’t have a coherent vision,” Dale Farran, a Vanderbilt professor and the Tennessee study’s co-author, told me. “Left to their own devices, each teacher is inventing pre-K on her own.”

See David Kirp’s article, Does Pre-K Make Any Difference?, in response to the recent Pre-K study in Tennessee.

Interesting Takes on the Kindergarten Social Competence Study

A new study shows that kindergarten teachers’ ratings of social competence strongly predict important adult outcomes. The study has received much attention in the popular press, including a number of thoughtful reactions:

The gist from a summary by the study’s funder, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

Overall, research findings show that teacher-rated social competence in kindergarten was a consistent and significant indicator of both positive and negative future outcomes across all major domains: education, employment, criminal justice, substance use and mental health. Study results also showed the greater the difference between students’ social competence scores in kindergarten, the more pronounced the difference in their outcomes by the age of 25. Children who scored “well”—at the higher end of the spectrum for social competence—for example, were four times more likely to obtain a college degree than children who scored “a little”—at the lower end of the spectrum.

Continue reading “Interesting Takes on the Kindergarten Social Competence Study”

“Out of the Books in Kindergarten, and Into the Sandbox”

From today’s New York Times:

As American classrooms have focused on raising test scores in math and reading, an outgrowth of the federal No Child Left Behind law and interpretations of the new Common Core standards, even the youngest students have been affected, with more formal lessons and less time in sandboxes. But these days, states from Vermont to Minnesota to Washington are again embracing play as a bedrock of kindergarten.


“People think if you do one thing you can’t do the other,” said Nell Duke, a professor of education at the University of Michigan. “It really is a false dichotomy.”

“Let the Kids Learn through Play” in the New York Times

Don’t miss Let the Kids Learn Through Play, which includes some interesting research and has been getting much attention since it appeared over the weekend.

Also, Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, includes early childhood education in his recent New York Times piece on social programs that have been shown to produce positive outcomes:

A body of research on the long-term effects of high-quality preschool programs and other early-childhood interventions, like home visits by health professionals, consistently finds that they improve a range of adult outcomes, from higher earnings to reduced crime rates. Other research has found that Head Start achieves similar results.

Chicago Summit on the District Role in Birth–3rd Efforts

The Ounce of Prevention Fund is holding a summit on March 25-26, Excellence in the Early Grades: District Leadership SummitSenior district leaders (e.g., superintendents, assistant superintendents, and directors of instruction) are invited to attend. Registration, accommodations, and meals are provided free of charge. Libby Doggett and Steve Tozer will present as keynote speakers. I’ll be leading a session with a excellent roster of panelists on Developing Community Partnerships to Support Alignment. Other breakout sessions will cover, among other topics, Allocating Resources to Achieve Your Vision, Kindergarten as a Critical Link, and Supporting Effective Teaching through Instructional Leadership.

Check out the agenda at the link above and share with district leaders in your area!

Aligning for Success

To sustain student gains from high-quality early childhood programs, research shows that we must invest in aligning children’s educational experiences through 3rd grade to truly close the achievement gap before it starts.

Hosted in partnership with the Urban Education Institute, Excellence in the Early Grades will highlight innovative alignment models and district-level policy and practice designed to achieve better student outcomes. With in-depth seminars and opportunities to network with other committed local leaders, attendees will leave with inspiring new ideas for approaching this critical work in their own district. The Summit will bring together district education leaders, including superintendents, assistant superintendents and school board members.

The District Leadership Summit is an outgrowth of the Birth-to-College Collaborative funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, and the Foundation for Child Development.

Announcing: New Early Educators Leadership Institute in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is sponsoring Getting It Right for Children: Early Educators Leadership Institute, a series of four full-day workshops that begins in late February. The EEC has contracted with Early Childhood Associates to offer the Institute. The Institute will feature prominent national and state early learning leaders, including:

  • Albert Wat (National Governors Association)
  • Valora Washington (The CAYL Institute)
  • Amy O’Leary (Strategies for Children)
  • Saeyun Lee (Massachusetts Department of Higher Education)
  • Kristie Kauerz (University of Washington)
  • Gail Joseph (University of Washington)

I’m working with ECA’s planning team and will be presenting at the Institute as well. The Institute will convene over 100 educational leaders for workshops that include presentations, case studies, interactive discussions, and small group work. Participants are asked to attend all four workshops:

  • February 27 at Clark University
  • March 20 at Clark University
  • April 10 at the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center
  • May 1 at the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center

See the Early Educators Leadership Brochure 2015 for additional information. Use this link to submit your online application.

Hope you and leaders from your community can make it. The Institute promises to be an excellent opportunity for learning and exchange.