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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: preschool

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December 11, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Washington state misses cut for new federal preschool dollars

Washington State fell short in a competition among states to win new federal money to expand the availability of subsidized preschool, according to state and federal officials who announced the winners on Wednesday.

Washington was one of the 36 applicants for the grants, but was not among the 18 selected.

The grants, totaling more than $226 million, were part of more than $1 billion of public and private investment in early childhood education announced by President Obama during his White House Summit on Early Education on Wednesday.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, Federal funding, preschool

September 22, 2014 at 7:53 AM

Round-up: Our three-part series on early learning

Kennedy Daniels, left, and Stevie Jones, enrolled in the 3-year-old class at Tulsa Educare, build their burritos during lunchtime. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Kennedy Daniels, left, and Stevie Jones, enrolled in the 3-year-old class at Tulsa Educare, build their burritos during lunchtime. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Boosting the quality of preschool in Seattle could help children, and the city as a whole. A number of studies, including one from the ’60s, establish that potential. But there is no guarantee of success.

On Sunday and Monday, Education Lab published a series of three stories examining the merits and potential pitfalls of expanding subsidized pre-K in Seattle.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: early education, pre-K, preschool

September 20, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Tell us: Do you support universal pre-K? Would you sign up?

Juan Martinez, left, and Katherine Gaytan, enrolled in Community Action Project's Disney School, play with magnetic building pieces in Tulsa, Okla. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Juan Martinez, left, and Katherine Gaytan, enrolled in Community Action Project’s Disney School, play with magnetic building pieces in Tulsa, Okla. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

This fall, Seattle voters will consider two ballot measures that seek to improve early education programs in the city, and make them affordable to all families.

One measure sponsored by the mayor and city council would focus on 3- and 4-year-olds, and include free tuition for families who earn less than 300 percent of federal poverty level. A competing plan, backed by two child-care unions, would cover children from infancy through age 5.

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: early education, pre-K, preschool

September 20, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Chat replay: What does ‘high-quality’ preschool look like?

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The proposals to expand and improve early education in Seattle raise many questions about what effective preschool looks like. And what does “high quality” mean, anyway?

The Education Lab team hosted a Google+ hangout on all things early education this on Sept. 23. The discussion was facilitated by reporter John Higgins.

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Comments | More in Video, Your voices | Topics: early education, early learning, pre-K

September 20, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Guest: What early research can teach us about the merits of pre-K

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Dale C. Farran

As cities like Seattle consider substantially expanding their public preschool programs, officials have turned to scientific research to help steer the decision-making process. But it’s important to remember that evidence for positive effects of pre-kindergarten comes primarily from studies of preschools that may not be very applicable to large-scale programs today.

One highly referenced study of preschool effectiveness, the Abecedarian Project, enrolled four cohorts of 14 infants from low-income homes between 1972 and 1977. The intervention began when infants were 6 weeks of age and lasted through age 5, when the children began kindergarten. I was part of the research team from 1974 until 1984.

The concerns of the 1970s are not those of today. Care for infants in groups was rare, and possible health problems were a major concern. As a consequence, Abecedarian infant and toddler classrooms were on the same floor as two pediatricians and a nurse practitioner who provided care to the participants. Interestingly, a recent Science magazine article presented long health benefits into adulthood for those who had participated in Abecedarian.

Another aspect that makes scaling Abecedarian difficult is that it operated nine hours a day, 12 months a year, and provided extensive services to the children and families involved. No programs being proposed today can match this level of intensity.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: Abecedarian, early education, prek

September 18, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Coming Sunday: The promise and pitfalls of universal preschool

Starting Sunday, Education Lab presents a three-part series on early education. The stories will dive into the latest research on the benefits of preschool and offer an in-depth look at pre-K programs in Tulsa, Okla.  one of the few places in the country that provides universal preschool.

Look for the stories in print and online this coming Sunday and Monday. In the meantime, here is a video highlighting Tulsa’s approach to pre-K.

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Comments | More in News, Video | Topics: early education, pre-K, preschool

August 27, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Child care costs in King County among highest in nation

Child care costs in King County are among the highest in the nation, but it’s not because child care providers are making out like bandits, according to a report issued today by Puget Sound Sage, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income families.

One example of how high costs are here: A single mother making $33,500 a year, the median income in King County, makes too much money for a subsidy. But she would have to spend 52 percent of her salary to cover the market rate for one infant at a child care center, according to the report, authored by Nicole Vallestero Keenan, policy director for Puget Sound Sage.

Graphic courtesy Puget Sound Sage

Graphic courtesy Puget Sound Sage

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Child care, early ed, preschool

July 29, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Preschool for all kids? Business leaders get campaign preview

Anh Tuan Ta, 4, second from right, and Jimwel Pelaez, 3, far right, lay out plans before they construct their "spiky space needle" during an open-ended activity session at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times.

Children participate in an open-ended activity session at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times.

In a preview of what’s to come this fall, three high-level speakers debated Seattle’s proposal to pay for universal preschool in front of a roomful of business leaders.

Voters will weigh in Nov. 4 on whether to fund a four-year pilot providing high-quality pre-K education to 2,000 4-year-olds. Total cost: $58 million, to be paid through property-tax increases.

The effort would align Seattle with numerous cities and states funding early-learning initiatives, from San Francisco to Florida. All are responding to compelling evidence about the benefits of preschool for young children. But many are also wrestling with significant questions about the staying power of those gains.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: early ed, pre-K, preschool

July 8, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Is preschool effective? Some good signs for incoming class of 2028

For the 9,800 children in Washington who attended the state’s preschool program this past school year, the challenges went well beyond learning to count and identify letters.

Nearly half  4,112  live in families with incomes that are half of what the federal government considers the poverty line. Roughly 10 percent are homeless, 13 percent have at least one parent with mental health issues, and for 12 percent of them, one or more of their parents never finished middle school, much less high school.

But a report from the state’s Department of Early Learning suggests that the Washington Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) is making a big difference in these 3- and 4-year-olds’ lives – emotionally, physically, and academically.

The report looks at the results from a new tool that the preschool teachers are using to rate everything from how well their students follow directions to how well they know the alphabet.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, ECEAP, preschool

May 15, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Guest: Here’s what quality pre-K looks — and sounds — like

matthew o'connor2

Matthew O’Connor

People in Seattle like to make noise — and the most recent NFL season proved it. The record-setting decibels produced by fans at CenturyLink Field are a point of pride in our city.

When opening the door to my pre-kindergarten classroom, a visitor is met with a similar wall of sound. A group of children in the classroom library is performing readers’ theatre, generating the “next chapter” of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

“Maybe Goldilocks writes a letter to the bears saying ‘I’m sorry for eating your food!’” says Sydnie. A separate group is constructing what the students have decided is a food-stirring machine out of wooden blocks. “Make sure the button says ‘start’ on it!” shouts Emile, calling across the classroom to Mekhi at the writing desk, who furrows his brow and places pencil to a scrap of purple paper, saying the word start to himself slowly to parse the sounds he hears. Mekhi later tapes this scrap to the food-stirring machine, and the group declares it complete and fully functional, although its purpose and product is still up for heated debate.

It is a frenetic scene to witness — some might even call it chaos. But it is a carefully orchestrated chaos, a barely restrained madness that, when all parts are moving just right, can result in powerful change for these students. This change is rooted in something so simple: words.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: early education, early learning, Matthew O'Connor

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