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Preschool NJ and Nation

Preschool NJ and Nation

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Published by Education Justice

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Published by: Education Justice on Jul 13, 2010
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News rom the ETS Policy Inormation Center
Volume 17, Number 2 Policy Evaluation & Research Center Summer 2009
Preschool Education:New Jersey and the Nation
A child’s chance or success in school and in lie can begreatly enhanced by their participation in a high-qualitypreschool program. This message was made loud and clearby participants in a policy orum, “Preschool Education: NewJersey and the Nation,” sponsored by ETS, the New JerseyDepartment o Education and the Public Education Instituteo Rutgers University.“The research has shown us clearly that early educationis critically important in shaping a child’s academic andintellectual development. And literally, the early years o a child’s lie present a once-in-a-lietime opportunity,”noted ETS Senior Vice President and Edmund W. GordonChair
Michael Nettles
as he opened the policy orum andthe discussion on trends, policies and eective preschoolprograms. “Our three organizations are co-sponsoring today’sconerence because o the shared belie in the undamentalimportance o early childhood education — or individuals,or our economy and, ultimately, or our democracy.”
‘Our three organizations are co-sponsoring today’s conerence becauseo the shared belie in the undamental importance o early childhoodeducation — or individuals, or our economy and, ultimately, or ourdemocracy.’
— Michael Nettles 
ETS’s President and CEO
Kurt M. Landgraf 
also stressedthe critical importance o preschool education to the childrenthemselves, to society and to our economy. He cited theresults o a 2006 study by the Brookings Institution that oundthat high-quality, universal preschool could add $2 trillion to
Preschool Education:New Jersey and the Nation
Highlights from a policy forum co-sponsored by ETS, the New Jersey Department of Education,and the Public Education Institute of Rutgers University.
The policy orum attracted more than 150policymakers, educators and researcherswho came together to examine some othe most signifcant trends and policiesregarding the state o preschool in NewJersey and in the United States. Theconerence was held at ETS’s worldheadquarters in Princeton, N.J., on March3, 2009. This issue o
ETS Policy Notes 
 provides an overview o the issues,research and insights discussed duringthe policy orum.
Symposium sessions included:
 States: Trends and Policies
 o Preschool
 Challenges Ahead
(continued on page 11)
the nation’s GDP by 2080. While Landgra described preschool education and theimpact it has on children as a “no-brainer,”he lamented the act that public policy hasnot always caught on.Landgra cited evidence — gathered bythe National Institute or Early EducationResearch (NIEER) and other researchers— that preschool education can make ahuge dierence. For example, a study thatexamined the impact o preschool programsin ve states, including New Jersey, oundthat children attending high-quality, state-unded preschool programs experiencedsignicant improvements in language,literacy and math development regardless o their socioeconomic background. In addition,data rom the Chicago Child-Parent Centercalculated a $10 return or every $1 investedin preschool programs. And in New Jersey,new research points to gains rom preschoolprograms mandated by the Abbott legislation.“The acts all point in one direction,”concluded Landgra. “Devote more resourcesto preschool and you will have a verydierent outcome in K–12”.Keynote speaker
Jerlean Daniel
, DeputyExecutive Director o the NationalAssociation or the Education o YoungChildren, echoed Landgra’s belie in theimportance o preschool education, butshe also explained that there is still muchwork to do as there are signs that all o us— researchers, program administrators,teachers, teacher-educators, communityactivists, legislators and parents — are stilltrying to get it right.While the work is not easy and oten isrustrating, Daniel assured the audiencethat there are signs that we are beginning tolook in the right place. Preschool programslike Perry Preschool and Abecedariandemonstrate that when we employ thekey elements that have been shown to beeective, we can help ulll the dreams thatparents have or their children and or theircommunities. Daniel also pointed to recentsuccesses in New Jersey, where data areincreasingly positive. For example, as a resulto the Abbott preschool programs, retentionin second grade is on the decline.“We have learned many lessons regardinghow to do a better job in early childhoodeducation, but we are always looking or thesilver bullet — it is in our nature,” statedDaniel. “We’ve learned, however, that thereis no silver bullet — one size does not tall. The work must continue. It is critical tostudent outcomes to continue examining andrethinking preschool programs to make surethey are as eective as they can be in meetingthe needs o our children while having apositive impact on the community.”Daniel posed what she termed thecounterintuitive notion that early childhoodeducation is “rocket science,” and sheasserted that “it will take all o us working
together to get it right.” As we learn lessonsabout the “rocket science” o early childhoodeducation, Daniel reminded the audiencethat we need to be mindul o several issuesas we build our systems. One issue is theinterrelatedness o all aspects o earlychildhood care and education. For example,as research ndings accumulate, teachersneed support and proessional development.Teachers need the time and opportunityto refect on new developments andmodiy teaching.She also reminded the audience that weneed to ocus on the whole child — thesocial, emotional and cognitive aspects. Weknow that children who do well in schoolare those who are emotionally and sociallywell-adjusted. They know how to engage andinteract with teachers and other adults andare better able to get what they need.Researchers also are making new discoveriesabout developmental learning progressionsin reading, math and writing that are havinga positive impact on the eld. The challenge,she said, is how to avoid taking the researchout o context and considering it as thesilver bullet. “How do we think about theresearch in the context o the system thatwe need to build — the outcomes we wantor the children, the skill sets they need todevelop, issues around teacher preparation,assessment and screening systems andlearning standards? How do we avoid gettingcarried away and putting all our marbles inone basket?,” she asked. Daniel suggestedthat perhaps the recognition that we arebuilding a system and an inrastructure tosupport our eorts will keep us rom ocusingon the silver bullet. In closing, Daniel notedthat New Jersey is starting to gure out this“rocket science” and can provide valuablelessons to others around the country.
‘How do we think about the research in the contexto the system that we need to build — the outcomeswe want or the children, the skill sets they needto develop, issues around teacher preparation,assessment and screening systems and learningstandards?’
— Jerlean Daniel 
Where We Are: The State o Preschoolin the United States
Creating a structure that is useul indiscussing trends and policies in preschooleducation across the nation,
Jana Martella
,Executive Director o the NationalAssociation o Early Childhood Specialists inState Departments o Education, provided a visual depiction o the systematic approachthat goes into a ull-scale successul eort oryoung children.Martella outlined the ollowing elements o an early childhood development program andwhat is happening across the United States:
For example, New Jersey now has a Pre-K through third-grade initiative within itsDepartment o Education.

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