He Said; She Said: Candidates Promote Competing Visions for Child Care

November 1, 2016

by Michelle Horowitz

For the first time in many years, both major political party candidates for President have acknowledged child care as an important national policy issue. Indeed, both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have campaigned on the issue, promising that child care would be a priority. But that’s where the agreement ends; as they diverge over what should be done and for whom.

The Trump plan includes:

  1. For families with children ages birth to 13, costs of childcare would be 100 percent tax deductible
  2. For low-income families, the Trump plan offers a “boost” in the Earned Income Tax Credit
  3. Tax-free child care savings accounts available to any family with children. For low-income families, the government will provide a 50 percent match up to $500 per year.
  4. Creating a new, dynamic market for family-based and community-based child care
  5. Revising the tax credit for employers to provide child care in the workplace so that it provides a greater incentive
  6. Six weeks of paid maternity leave to new mothers through unemployment insurance

The Trump plan relies heavily on tax deductions to help families recoup child care costs, benefiting families with higher incomes and higher effective tax rates more than middle- and low-income households. Low-income families could qualify for the enhanced EITC; however, given that EITC benefits are only available after taxes are filed, the impact may vary.

The GOP plan focuses on services for mothers, without specific policies for fathers and children. By making child care more affordable, families may be able to place children in the kind of high quality early learning environments that can provide academic, social and emotional benefits. However, research suggests reason to be pessimistic in this regard. In all, each of the policies proposed by the Trump plan will be expensive. The American Action Forum estimates the cost to the federal government to range from $182.4B to $680B, with the most expensive proposal being the child care tax deductions.

The Clinton child care policies include:

  1. Universal preschool for every 4-year-old over the next decade
  2. Increasing child care subsidies so no family has to pay more than 10 percent of its income
  3. Raising salaries for child care workers
  4. Doubling investments in Early Head Start, serving low-income infants and toddlers
  5. Expanding access to evidence-based home visiting programs
  6. Awarding scholarships up to $1,500 per year to help student parents afford child care and increasing access to high-quality child care on college campuses

The Clinton plan favors tax credits over deductions, which targets assistance to low- and middle -income families. Overall, the Clinton plan is broader in scope than the Trump plan as it addresses both affordability and access for families seeking child care. The Clinton plan in total is estimated to cost $200B, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

No matter who is elected November 8th, those concerned with the well-being of families and children should continue focusing on these issues and hold the new administration accountable for promises made.

Investments should not only benefit working parents but also our nation’s children and the country as a whole. Our youngest citizens should be a priority for our next President.

To continue bringing attention to early learning issues before the election, join a Save the Children Action Network webinar at 1 pm ET Wed Nov. 2 and check out NAEYC’s Early Ed for President.

Michelle Horowitz is a research assistant at the National Institute for Early Education Research and the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes. Michelle’s work includes field work for the New Jersey Pre-K study, social media outreach, and administrative support on CEELO and NIEER projects.

Questions of Access and Equity: Suspension and Expulsion in PreK

October 26, 2016

by Kate Abbott, Ph.D.

Expanding access to quality preschool has been a focus of recent policies at both the state and national levels.  The 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act includes federal support to states that can be used to expand access to quality prekindergarten.  Individual states have varied in their adoption of prekindergarten initiatives. Vermont, for example, has become a leader with Act 166 providing publicly supported prekindergarten to three- and four-year-olds across the state, making my state the second best in the nation for access to quality early education.

Yet the issue of equitable access to high quality preschool across the nation cannot be ignored. Barriers exist, and have been correlated to demographic indicators of poverty and race (Barnett, 2013).  More recently, the release of data by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights shows children with challenging behaviors may face additional barriers to quality prekindergarten due to disciplinary practices (Gilliam, 2005orcdata.ed.gov).

Suspension and expulsion deny children the very environment they need to develop appropriate social and behavioral skills. The longer children with unsafe and disruptive behaviors go without intervention, the more difficult it is to change behavior. (Walker, Ramsey,Gresham, 2004). So what we find is a link between suspension and expulsion and negative school outcomes, including increased dropout rates (Skilba,2000).

While suspension and expulsion is usually associated with adolescents, more than 5,000 preK students across the nation were “expelled” from public and private programs in the 2003-2004 school year (Gilliam, 2005) and these actions mirror in many ways the disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion seen in K-12 systems for certain groups of students. Earlier this year, the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights released data demonstrating the disproportionate suspensions often observed in K-12 settings also occur in preschool, affecting some groups of children more than others. Some of the trends include:

  • Black preschool children are 3.6 times as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as white preschool children. While black children make up 19% of those enrolled in preK, they account for 47% of the preschool students suspended.
  • Boys are more frequently suspended from preschool than girls are. While boys are 54% of the enrolled pre K population, they represent 78% of preschool students suspended.

Yet, there is little or no evidence that suspension and expulsion have any benefit on the safety of school environment, or any meaningful impact on the likelihood the behavior will recur (Skilba, R., & Peterson, 2000).

So while Vermont can be proud of its leadership in preschool quality and access, we must acknowledge that children with some of the greatest needs are still unable to benefit. In 2003 and 2004 academic years, Vermont’s rate of preschool expulsion was reported to be 8.32 students per 1,000 enrolled–higher than 30 other states yet lower than neighboring states New York (12.67 students per 1,000), and Maine Head Start (24.31 students per 1,000). Such differences are caused not by needs and behaviors of students, but by the structure and approach of the prekindergarten system for intervening with those students.  While public-private preK partnerships in Vermont offer a wide variety of opportunities for families, it also makes coordination and consistency a challenge.

In a 2005 study, Gilliam reported that for-profit and other private prekindergartens were significantly more likely to report using suspension or expulsion than a public school or Head Start center. The study also found teachers who had regular access to behavioral and mental health consultation reported suspension and expulsion at the lowest rates, while those with infrequent or irregular access to consultation reported higher rates of expulsion, and those with no access to behavioral supports expelled children at the highest rate of all teachers in the study.

As our nation continues to expand access to preschool, policymakers and the preK community should keep in mind these evidence-based points:

  1. Children who exhibit challenging behavior have the best chance of learning appropriate social skills when they are identified early and provided with effective interventions (Loeber & Farrington, 1998).
  2. Children who are not able to access interventions before age 8 are much more resistant to change (Gresham, 1991).
  3. Schools and early education programs that are proactive and systemic in addressing the academic, behavioral and social emotional needs of students have greater success (Lane, Menzies, Oakes & Kalberg, 2012).
  4. A wealth of research exists identifying effective strategies for supporting students with challenging behavior at both a class and individual level (Lane, Menzies, Ennis, Bezdek, 2013).

Expulsion is a punishment no preschooler should have to experience.  Early childhood is an amazing stage of life, and in no other time in our life do we possess as much potential to grow and develop.  Let us not waste this opportunity for our children; let us work to ensure our children receive the best early education possible by using a proactive, systemic approach to building resilience, and find alternatives to preschool expulsion.

Kate Abbott, Ph.D. is Director of Early Education at the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union.  Supporting students with challenging behavior has been a career focus. Over the past fifteen years, Dr. Abbott has concentrated on supporting equity and access to a quality education for all learners through her work in the fields of curriculum and instruction, assessment, and special education.

Don’t Just Nod—Do Something

October 19, 2016

by W. Steven Barnett

Policymakers often sidestep complicated or controversial issues by nodding– to indicate how much they would really like to be on your side–then sighing loudly and, finally, remarking that, indeed, “The devil is in the details.”

Well, say hello to the “devil.”

Last year, more than 1200 researchers signed a consensus statement describing in some detail what quality early care and education looks like and why it’s a sound public investment.

Relying on an extensive body of research in education, developmental psychology, neuroscience, medicine and economics, they concluded that quality early childhood education programs produce better education, health, economic and social outcomes for children, families, and the nation.

The candidates of both major political parties have put forward policy proposals for early care and education. As the campaign continues, voters and the press, including moderators in the next debate, will have the opportunity to ask for more details. Research indicates the most important questions concern quality–what each candidate believes is good enough early care and education for every child and exactly what their policies will do to help parents obtain that quality early care and education for their children.

To help inform this debate, the National Institute for Early Education Research is once again highlighting this consensus statement on early learning and development opportunities for all young children. You can read the full letter and see the signatories here.

Key points include:
Too many US children fall behind before they even start school. This problem disproportionately affects the poor, but it afflicts many children from middle-income families, too.

Good early childhood care and education can address this problem, but only if it truly is high quality. Poor quality early childhood programs may actually widen the achievement gap. Most programs today are not high quality.

Quality requires well-trained teachers using proven curricula to engage children in interactions that stimulate learning while being emotionally nurturing, and fostering engagement in and enjoyment of learning. Teaching is enhanced by systematic, sustained, in-classroom coaching and mentoring.

When government supports high quality early childhood programs, evaluations find long-term effects improving important societal outcomes such as high-school graduation, years of education completed, earnings, crime and health. Rigorous cost-benefit analyses demonstrate that although these high quality programs are not cheap, the economic benefits can far outweigh the costs.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns have recognized the demand for quality early childhood education, and both have responded with proposals to help families access preschool programs. But the real question is what kind of programs will families access?

Given that many early childhood teachers now earn near poverty level wages and lack benefits provided to K-12 teachers, how will they ensure that well-qualified early childhood teachers can be hired and retained?

And how will they guarantee that taxpayer dollars are not spent on early care and education that is low to mediocre quality, as is the case with most of today’s subsidy dollars?

If the devil is in the details, well, maybe it’s time to raise a little hell.

W. Steven Barnett Ph.D. is director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. NIEER conducts academic research to inform policy supporting high-quality, early education for all young children.

Learning from Leading States: Building P-3 Systems

October 14, 2016

by David Jacobson

In western Oregon, a regional early learning hub supports 30 partnerships of elementary schools, neighboring family childcare providers and community-based preschools focused on professional learning and family engagement.

In Lowell, MA, elementary schools, preschool centers, and family childcare providers working in the same neighborhoods participate in “communities of practice” to improve teaching and family engagement. In addition, the city’s P-3 Leadership Alignment Team developed a school readiness definition and strategy that is informing city health, social services, and education programs.

A  Community Innovation Zone in Harrisburg, PA recognized that a paucity of pre-kindergarten opportunities resulted in too many children entering kindergarten with no preschool experience. It responded by providing a summer bridge program offering not only activities and starter libraries for children, but also workshops for parents.

Such partnerships are not accidental. Each resulted from deliberate efforts by state education agencies (SEAs) to support quality improvement and alignment throughout the prenatal through third grade (P-3) continuum. This support includes grant programs funding local P-3 efforts and state policy work to align standards, develop formative assessments, and organize leadership and workforce development opportunities.

My recently published report, Building State P-3 Systems: Learning from Leading States, examines the P-3 work underway in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, states that are part of a broader movement focused on improving quality and continuity across the P-3 continuum. Three overarching lessons for future state P-3 initiatives stand out.

1. Fuel Innovation at Local and Regional Levels
The case studies demonstrate that states can support P-3 innovation at the regional, community, and neighborhood levels. Each state made grants to communities to form P-3 partnerships, and these communities embraced the idea that in order to improve quality and alignment along the P-3 continuum, elementary schools, community-based preschools, and other early childhood organizations need to deepen their collaboration.

Across all three states we see cross-sector professional development for pre-k and kindergarten teachers, collaboration on curriculum, instruction and transitions, and new family engagement programs.

P-3 Partnership leaders in the case study states report that wooing school districts to participate in P-3 efforts was perhaps the most challenging aspect of their work initially. Yet many partnerships eventually established trust between school districts and community-based organizations and built enthusiastic buy-in among all stakeholders, including elementary school principals and district staff.

Oregon funded regional early learning hubs which, in turn, typically fund schools and feeder preschools. Pennsylvania has mostly funded partnerships at the school and feeder system level;  Massachusetts partnerships usually began at the community level. Some of Massachusetts’ community-level partnerships have sustained their efforts over time by hiring staff to facilitate the partnerships and oversee P-3 initiatives.

Experiences across the three states raise important design questions for future P-3 system-building efforts:
What are the pros and cons of building P-3 capacity at different levels: neighborhood, community, and/or region?
Given that many P-3 efforts begin by addressing the critical gap between preschool and kindergarten, how can states support communities in eventually expanding their efforts to include ages 0-3 and grades 1-3 as well?

2. Push for Lasting Impact
The initial activities that P-3 Partnerships pursue address critical professional learning, family engagement, and transition needs while also helping build trust, capacity, and buy-in among partnership members. Yet often these initial activities are not systemic enough to produce lasting change and are not provided at a high enough “dosage” to change adult practice in ways that lead to improved child outcomes.

States can encourage communities to develop a coherent set of strategies that will be mutually-reinforcing and systemic. States can also support deeper, more effective implementation by providing technical assistance and by bringing communities together for knowledge exchange across communities. Pennsylvania runs P-3 Governor’s Institutes every summer for community teams; Oregon brings its Early Learning Hubs together a couple of times a year; and Massachusetts hosts a series of four day-long institutes for P-3 teams from across the state.

3. Build State P-3 Infrastructure
As they adopted a P-3 lens, the case study states identified state policies that needed significant improvement. All three states aligned their learning standards from prekindergarten through third grade, and in Pennsylvania the alignment included infant and toddler standards as well. All three states also developed kindergarten entry assessments. Further, SEA leaders emphasized the important steps they took aligning social-emotional standards throughout the P-3 continuum.

The case study states also found they needed to create staff positions, new P-3 structures, and new working relationships across agencies. Oregon has a P-3 state specialist to coordinate grant funding and provide technical assistance to its regional early learning hubs. Pennsylvania likewise used RTTT-ELC funding to fund a number of positions that support its Governor’s Institutes and Community Innovation Zones. Massachusetts has created a Birth through Grade 3 Advisory Council bringing together state agencies and other critical stakeholders.

The Crucial Role of States
As the CEELO report demonstrates, SEAs played a critical role in the successful creation of P-3 systems in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts —by improving state policies and by supporting local and regional early learning partnerships.

Through carefully crafted technical assistance and networking activities, SEAs can support P-3 system-building by helping to secure district commitment, encouraging communities to address the entire P-3 continuum, and planning for sustainability. Research suggests that there is no greater priority for the next wave of education reform efforts.

David Jacobson is a Senior Project Director at the Education Development Center and a partner with the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes. He provides technical assistance to states, districts, and communities on early education and care and writes the P-3 Learning Hub blog.


Lost in Translation: State PreK Must Meet Needs of Dual Lanugage Learners

September 23, 2016

by GG Weisenfeld

As educators, we are continually striving to close the well-researched and identified achievement gaps, including those between children who speak a language other than English at home and children who speak only English. We know the earlier we start with high-quality education programs the better. So if we look at states’ pre-K policies, we hope to see efforts to support all of our preschoolers, including the estimated 23 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in the US who are learning to speak two languages. For the first time, the National Institute for Early Education Research 2015 State of Preschool Yearbook provides an in-depth look at state pre-K policies related to these dual language learners (DLLs).

Addressing the particular needs of young DLLs requires the adoption of new policies and practices. Children cannot learn if they are scared, do not feel welcome, or cannot communicate with their teachers. A National Institute for Early Education Research study shows these children benefit most when instruction is provided in both English and their home language without sacrificing English language skill building .

When looking to see how states are adapting policies and practices for DLLs or English language learners (ELLs) one of the first things to check is whether preschools assess them in their home language–but only 6 states report that they are able to do this. Few states–eight to be exact–report having teachers specifically qualified for working with these children. Beyond this, just 10 states report allocating extra resources to serve DLL children. Indeed, across the country, state pre-K policies fail to align with what research has proven effective.

For those states attempting to address the needs of their DLL preschool population, only 14 even know what languages the children speak. In most cases, there are a plethora of languages and dialects spoken by preschoolers. Kentucky, for example, documented more than 39. Would such information be useful to states? Yes! How else can they target resources so teachers can better understand how to best work with these students? Meeting the needs of DLL children requires adapting and enhancing curricula and assessments, revisiting early learning standards to ensure states address all areas of development, and improving connections with families.

Of course we want children living in the US to learn English, but we also want to value their home language and culture.

Hawaii has taken on this challenge. The Hawaiian language almost became extinct but in 1978, a grassroots effort led Hawaii to become the only state with two official state languages. There have been challenges in aligning quality practices across the early childhood programs, for example in conducting classroom observations and child assessments since Hawaiian, like many indigenous languages are oral languages and not able to simply be “translated.” Hawaii is working out some of these issues with implementation of the federal Preschool Development Grant in charter schools that are only Hawaiian and Hawaiian-immersion, both English and Hawaiian.

As our preschools become more diverse, both linguistically and culturally, educators must find better ways to teach all our children. We can start with the 2015 State of Preschool Yearbook Appendix A to learn how other states are developing policies that support all learners, not just those that speak English.

GG Weisenfeld is an Assistant Research Professor at NIEER. Dr. Weisenfeld works on the State of Preschool Yearbook and as an education consultant researching and offering technical assistance on designing and implementing early childhood policies and programs.

Being There: Absenteeism Undermines Pre-K Benefits

September 20, 2016

by Melissa Dahlin

The early childhood field is committed to increasing access to high quality early learning experiences. But the work doesn’t stop at enrollment –we need to ensure children are consistently attending in order to reap the benefits.

Every day in high quality programs provides ongoing learning opportunities. Missing out on that can have both short- and long- term consequences for a child. September is Attendance Awareness Month, a national effort promoting  pre-K attendance as the first step in establishing positive attendance patterns as children set off on their educational journey.  For more information on promoting attendance, see this CEELO resource.

While national data on attendance in pre-K is lacking, we do have examples from cities that are cause for alarm and a call for further research. DC Public Schools (DCPS) and Baltimore Public Schools found more than 25 percent of pre-K students missed 10 percent of days in a school year. In Chicago Public Schools, more than a third of four-year-old pre-K children were chronically absent–and nearly 50 percent of 3-year-olds!

Findings in Baltimore and Chicago show that chronic absenteeism in pre-K is associated with continued chronic absenteeism in later grades, high rates of retention, and lower academic outcomes. This corresponds with what we know about the consequences of chronic absenteeism in the early elementary grades, for instance the negative correlation with reading skills.  Clearly, we have to be careful about causal attributions here.  For example, poor health or a highly stressful home situation can contribute to both attendance problems and poor school performance.  However, it is equally obvious that children miss out on important experiences when they are absent often.

Why do children miss school? Recent news stories highlight the expense of uniforms as an issue, which ties to a larger issue of the interlinked circumstances families in poverty or low-income face that make regular attendance difficult (e.g., unstable work hours, illness, and transportation barriers). While these barriers also exist across the grades, pre-k faces another significant hurdle – unlike grade one and above, attendance is NOT mandatory. This can feed misconceptions families often have that children aren’t really learning in pre-K and, therefore, attendance is less critical. Indeed, a study by the Urban Institute found that families in DC Public Schools were not aware of the extensive learning opportunities their child received in a pre-K classroom and, therefore, did not think missing days would negatively affect their child.

Such attitudes prove that more should be done to support attendance. A good first step is family engagement, which can both combat myths that pre-K attendance isn’t important, reveal  circumstances interfering with families getting their child to school and identify potential solutions. A study on attendance in DCPS pre-K found that schools with positive attendance patterns engaged in deep and continuous family engagement throughout the year via home visits and two-way communication. The California Department of Justice also recommends family engagement as a strategy.

Family engagement boils down to relationships. Once relationships are established, there are numerous ways to keep the engagement thriving. Smartphones provide an excellent opportunity for families and educators, with texting as a means to message families about the importance of attendance and raise awareness. Additionally, educators can use texts to communicate with families to show their commitment to the child and family as well as to keep two-way communication flowing. While research is yet to document how effective texting is in promoting attendance, we do have  evidence that text messaging is effective in supporting positive parenting practices. Apps are also useful for sending families photos to show them the rich learning experiences children are engaged in throughout the day and to prompt ongoing conversations at home about experiences in their pre-K program. Schools that had positive attendance patterns in DCPS found both texts and apps to be useful tools for partnering with families.

These approaches above are just a few examples of how schools can work with families to support consistent attendance patterns. The important thing is to take action to help families understand why pre-K attendance matters. When children attend quality pre-K programs consistently, they fully benefit from learning opportunities providing  a strong start for their educational journey.

Melissa Dahlin is a Research Associate with the Education Development Center and a partner with the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes, one of 22 Comprehensive Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education to strengthen the capacity of State Education Agencies (SEAs) to lead sustained improvements in early learning opportunities and outcomes.

Grading State Pre-K on the Curve: Is the Best Good Enough?

September 14, 2016

by Jim Squires

Each spring when NIEER releases The State of Preschool Yearbook there is a rush to compare one state to another. States ranking high in access, resources and quality are pleased while others are disappointed their preschool efforts fall short. This is especially true when states look at the number of benchmarks for minimum acceptable quality standards attained; only 7 programs achieved all 10 benchmarks in 2015. If this is as far as policymakers, administrators, and the public examine the annual preschool report, however, they are missing a bigger picture.

The annual report contains a wealth of information–and many hidden stories– particularly in the recently published Appendix A which offers state-by-state details on many important and interesting aspects of states’ preschool programs. New in this year’s report is a focus on supports for the preschool teacher workforce and Dual Language Learners. At a glance, this new resource reveals that across the 57 programs operating in 43 states and DC:

  • Access vs. participation: Twelve states offer pre-K in every county or district and another 12 have a presence in at least 90 percent of their jurisdictions. Yet few children (nationwide only 29% of 4-year-olds and 5% of 3-year-olds) are actually able to participate. Only 8 states serve more than half of their 4-year-olds and two states at least one quarter of 3-year-olds (DC and VT).
  • Dual Enrollment: Thirteen states were able to report the number of children dually enrolled in state pre-K and Head Start programs. And thirty states were able to report the number of children enrolled in state pre-K and receiving special education services.
  • Language: 32 states were unable to report the number of pre-K children served whose home language is other than English. Eleven states (CA, DC, IL, KY, ME, NM, OK, OR, WA, WV, WI) broke down the percent of children served by home languages, enabling more precise decisions for program improvement to be made.
  • Other Child Characteristics: For the first time, the Yearbook reported enrollment information by children’s race/ethnicity and eligibility for free and/or reduced price lunch, provide a more detailed picture about who attends state-funded pre-K. Twenty-three states were able to report the number of children enrolled by their race/ethnicity. Twenty-nine states were able to report the number of children enrolled by eligibility for free and/or reduced price lunch.
  • Duration: 13 states require that a minimum of 5 hours of pre-K be offered each day, roughly the equivalent of a full-day kindergarten. Twenty states require five days of pre-K to be provided each week with the majority of states allowing schedules to be determined on a local basis.
  • Quality: Every state has early learning standards for children in place, and 18 have revised them since they were first introduced. Five states were in the process of revising their standards in 2015.
  • Teacher qualifications: 28 states require a minimum BA for all lead teachers, regardless of the setting in which they teach. There are a multitude of early childhood education licenses and endorsements offered and accepted by states, with little uniformity across states for such.
  • Funding: Eleven states indicated that federal Title I funds were used for pre-K purposes, yet only KY, NE, NV, NC, SC, and WV were able to report actual amounts. Ten states operate multiple pre-K programs. Within many of these states, there are multiple disparities in policies, practices, and resources.

One surprising finding is that only 20 states look at impact and child outcomes for all state-funded pre-K programs and 19 states have no history of an objective, external evaluation ever being conducted. While I don’t doubt that many great, impactful things are happening for children, it’s imperative for our profession to have answers to the “So what?” question. So what if a state is best in the nation by current NIEER measures? Is it the best states are capable of doing for children without resorting to qualifiers such as “within our means,” “given how far we’ve progressed,” or “in comparison to other states?”

Every child walking through the pre-K door should benefit every day, and while steps for intentionally improving classroom practices and impact are occurring, each state should not have to look beyond its borders to prove its point. Yet, if we rely on grading the impact of our nation’s pre-K using other states as our benchmarks in lieu of what research demonstrates to be true characteristics of excellence, we risk lulling ourselves into complacency by grading ourselves “on the curve” where even the best may not be good enough.

Jim Squires is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Early Education Research. He conducts research on national and state early education policy and practices, focusing on prekindergarten through third grade, and provides technical assistance to state leaders through the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (#CEELOorg)

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