Subject: Studies in the News 07-32 (April 30, 2007)


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Studies in the News for
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Children and Families Commission


Contents This Week

Introductory Material IMPROVED CHILD DEVELOPMENT
   Seven core concepts of child development
   Village building and school readiness
   Governors' pre-k proposals for 2008
   Academic 'redshirting' of kindergarten-eligible children
   Latest Child Well-Being Index
   Impact of mixed-income preschools
   State-community partnerships for early learning
   California preschool directors speak out
   Second-language learning
   Children in immigrant families and early education
IMPROVED FAMILY FUNCTIONING
   Should single parents stay that way?
   Abstinence education classes no guarantee
   Community family strengthening strategies
IMPROVED HEALTH
   Recommendations for preventing childhood obesity
   Early toxin exposure damages brain
IMPROVED SYSTEMS OF CARE
   Closing the door on preschool expulsions
STUDIES TO COME
   Helping Mexican immigrant children succeed
Introduction to Studies in the News

Studies in the News: Children and Family Supplement is a service provided to the First 5 California by the California State Library. The service features weekly lists of current articles focusing on Children and Family policy. Prior lists can be viewed from the California State Library's Web site at www.library.ca.gov/CRB/SITN/.

How to Obtain Materials Listed in SITN:

  • When available on the Internet, the URL for the full-text of each item is provided.

  • California State Employees may contact the State Information & Reference Center (916-654-0206; cslsirc@library.ca.gov) with the SITN issue number and the item number [S#].

  • All other interested individuals should contact their local library - the items may be available there, or may be borrowed by your local library on your behalf.

The following studies are currently on hand:

IMPROVED CHILD DEVELOPMENT

The Science of Early Childhood Development: Closing the Gap Between What We Know and What We Do. By the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (The Council, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts) January 2007. 16 p.

Full Text at: www.developingchild.net/pubs/persp/pdf/Science_Early_Childhood_Development.pdf

["In an effort to identify those aspects of development that are accepted broadly by the scientific community, the National Scientific Council... brought together several of the nation’s leading neuroscientists, developmental psychologists, pediatricians, and economists.... The objective of the Council is to move beyond the public’s fascination with 'the latest study' and focus on the cumulative knowledge of decades of research that has been subjected to rigorous and continuous peer review.... This paper is designed to provide a framework within which this complex challenge can be addressed most effectively. Its goal is to promote an understanding of the basic science of early childhood development, including its underlying neurobiology, to inform both public and private sector investment in young children and their families. To this end, the paper presents a set of core developmental concepts that have emerged from decades of rigorous research in neurobiology, developmental psychology, and the economics of human capital formation, and considers their implications for a range of issues in policy and practice."]

[Request #S704100]

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Village Building and School Readiness: Closing Opportunity Gaps in a Diverse Society. By Charles Bruner and others. Resource Brief. (State Early Childhood Policy Technical Assistance Network, Child and Family Policy Center, Des Moines, Iowa) January 2007. 93 p.

Full Text at: www.finebynine.org/pdf/VBSR.pdf

["Taken together, the chapters in Village Building and School Readiness call for a much broader approach to early learning systems building than the provision of health, early care and education, and family support services. They call for a new way of approaching how services are developed, and who develops them. They also go beyond services to community-building and providing parents and residents the time, space, and opportunity to help one another and to secure a voice for themselves in the larger communities in which they live. In the end, professional services cannot substitute for nurturing villages in ensuring the health and development of young children. 'Village Building and School Readiness' offers a challenge to those in the early childhood field to re-examine their own work as it relates to this village building."]

[Request #S704101]

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Leadership Matters: Governors’ Pre-K Proposals Fiscal Year 2008. By Albert Wat or Jennifer V. Doctors. (Pre-K Now, Washington, DC) April 2007. 24 p.

["Twenty-nine governors made pre-k a budget priority this year, recommending investments that, if approved, will provide more than 100,000 three and four year olds a new chance to enter kindergarten prepared to succeed. Pre-K Now's new report, 'Leadership Matters,' breaks down each state executive's proposal, calling out those that show true vision and those that miss opportunities - because a child's opportunity to thrive shouldn't be about luck, income level, or street address."]

Report: 24 p.
http://www.preknow.org/documents/LeadershipReport_Apr2007.pdf

Highlights by State:
http://www.preknow.org/resource/leadershipmatters/index.cfm

[Request #S704102]

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"Redshirting: A 'Moving' Experience." By Sheldon H. Horowitz. IN: Research Roundup, LD News (August 2006) 5 p.

Full Text at: www.ncld.org/content/view/1058/480

["'Redshirting' is a term that, until recently, has been associated almost exclusively with college sports. A student athlete who is redshirted is kept out of varsity competition for a year, sometimes due to legitimate medical concerns... sometimes for academic reasons... and sometimes simply to extend eligibility to play college sports.... Today, academic redshirting also refers to holding back kindergarten-eligible children for one year, the assumption being that they would benefit from additional time for intellectual, emotional or even physical growth. How often is this an issue for concern? The National Center for Education Statistics and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study report that between six and nine percent of age-eligible kindergartners are held back from on-time school entry. What are the reasons given for delaying school entry? Is there any research to support this practice? And what are the outcomes for children who are redshirted for delayed entry into kindergarten?"]

[Request #S704103]

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2007 Report. The Foundation for Child Development Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI), 1975-2005, with Projections for 2006: A Composite Index of Trends in the Well-Being of America’s Children and Youth. By Kenneth C. Land, Duke University. (Foundation for Child Development, New York, New York) 2007. 21 p.

Full Text at: www.fcd-us.org/usr_doc/2007CWIReport-Embargoed.pdf

["The newest Foundation for Child Development study says that after years of improvements in health, safety, and well-being, we're at a 'standstill.' The good news: continued improvements in teen pregnancy, violent crime, and youth drug and alcohol use are pushing safety ratings upward. But children's health is declining dramatically. The tiny improvements and declines in other areas lead to an overall standstill." CFK Weekly (April 18, 2007).]

[Request #S704104]

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"Preliminary Evidence for the Impact of Mixed-Income Preschools on Low-Income Children’s Language Growth." By Carlota Schechter and Beth Bye. IN: Early Childhood Research Quarterly, vol. 22, no. 1 (1st Quarter 2007) pp. 137–146.

["Children from low-income families who attended high-quality preschool education with children from middle-income families rose from well below the national norm in verbal awareness to just above it after one year of preschool education. The result, reported in the current issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly by Saint Joseph College Professor Carlota Schecter comes from a study in which one group of children from low-income families attended the integrated programs and another attended programs of equivalent quality but were comprised entirely of children from low-income backgrounds. The group attending programs consisting entirely of children from low-income backgrounds made progress but did not reach the national norm." NIEER Online Newsletter (March 30, 2007). NOTE: Early Childhood Research Quarterly... is available for loan.]

[Request #S704105]

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Beyond Parallel Play: Emerging State and Community Planning Roles in Building Early Learning Systems. By Julia Coffman and others. Resource Brief. (State Early Childhood Policy Technical Assistance Network, Child and Family Policy Center, Des Moines, Iowa) September 2006. 80 p.

Full Text at: www.finebynine.org/pdf/Beyond%20Parallel%20Play%20Oct2006.pdf

["What is the role for community planning, decision-making, resource allocation, and ongoing administration and quality insurance in developing early learning systems? How should these community roles intersect with state-level planning and governance systems and their roles? These are the ultimate questions that this survey of six states sought to answer. The six states selected for this survey all have taken a lead in developing both state and community level planning structures for early learning systems development.... These six states - Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Vermont - are diverse both in their political cultures and their approaches to developing state and community governance structures for their early learning system building work."]

[Request #S704106]

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Community Voices: California Preschool Directors Speak on Policy Options. By Bruce Fuller and others. Working Paper 07-1. (Policy Analysis for California Education, Berkeley, California) 2007. 24 p.

Full Text at: pace.berkeley.edu/reports/WP%2007-1.Web.pdf

["PACE's statewide survey of 439 directors of community preschools, those funded outside of school districts, inquired about basic facts and their perceptions of long-term issues. Preschool access and quality remain unfairly distributed among California's diverse communities. Persisting questions examined include how to grow more plentiful and higher quality preschools, and how to ensure a robust balance between organizations run by schools or community organizations. Despite rising interest among policy makers, we know little about how preschool directors themselves understand and evaluate differing policy options. PACE's working paper amplifies the views and voices of local practitioners."]

[Request #S704107]

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"Expanding Children's Boundaries: An Approach to Second-Language Learning and Cultural Understanding." By Mary DeBey and Darlene Bombard. IN: Young Children, vol. 62, no. 2 (March 2007) pp. 88-93.

["Welcome to Bennington, Vermont - home of Bennington College and its early childhood laboratory school for children ages two to six.... We began to develop a program we called dual language, immersing children in two languages throughout the day. Each classroom has two teachers, one speaking English, the other the second language exclusively. The language in which the children hear comments, have conversations, and receive instruction depends simply on which teacher interacts with them in an area or activity (be it art, music, movement, dramatic play, block building, manipulatives, cooking, or eating). As children engage in activities throughout the day, the second language is always present, allowing children to achieve a working knowledge of two languages. Children learn the second language in much the same way they do their first language: hearing it used in the context of daily activity with concrete, observable referents." NOTE: Young Children... is available for loan.]

[Request #S704108]

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Children in Immigrant Families - The U.S. and 50 States: National Origins, Language, and Early Education. By Donald J. Hernandez and others. Research Brief. No. 2007-11. (Child Trends, Washington, DC, and the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York.) April 2007.

["This Research Brief draws on new results of Census 2000 data to take a closer look at children in immigrant families, that is, children with at least one foreign-born parent. For example, the brief reports that children in newcomer families are driving the nation’s racial and ethnic transformation. Moreover, these children constitute a very diverse group in terms of their national origin, as well as the places that they now call home. Children in newcomer families also have strong ties to their adopted country; four out of five are American citizens and three out of four are fluent in English. At the same time, children of immigrants are less likely to be enrolled in preschool programs, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to the cognitive aspects of school readiness and English-language fluency. In particular, this brief highlights the proportion, dispersion, national origins, language, and early education of children in newcomer families, both for the United States as a whole and in various states."]

Report: 9 p.
http://www.fcd-us.org/usr_doc/Children_in_Immigrant_Families_Brief.pdf

State-by-State Data: 5 p.
http://www.fcd-us.org/usr_doc/Children%20in%20Immigrant%20Families%20State%20Tables.pdf

[Request #S704109]

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IMPROVED FAMILY FUNCTIONING

"Family Instability and Child Well-Being." By Paula Fomby and Andrew J. Cherlin. IN: American Sociological Review, vol. 72, no. 2 (April 2007) pp. 181-204.

["In an age when cohabitation and divorce are common, single parents concerned about the developmental health of their children may want to choose new partners slowly and deliberately, new research from The Johns Hopkins University suggests. The reason for taking your time? The more transitions children go through in their living situation, the more likely they are to act out, Johns Hopkins sociologists Paula Fomby and Andrew Cherlin report. They also found that the effect of family upheaval on children varies by race.... Changes at home seem to have a stronger negative impact on white children than on black children, the researchers found. Fomby and Cherlin observed a consistent connection between family instability and white children's behavior problems and cognitive achievement, but they found no such link for black children. One reason for this difference could be that the black children in the study were more likely to have extended families nearby for emotional support, the researchers wrote." NOTE: American Sociological Review... is available for loan.]

[Request #S704110]

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Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Final Report. By Christopher Trenholm and others. Prepared for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. (Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, New Jersey) April 2007. 164 p.

Full Text at: www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/PDFs/impactabstinence.pdf

["Students who took part in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, according to a study ordered by Congress. Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes that were reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes. And they first had sex at about the same age as other students - 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc. The federal government now spends about $176 million annually on abstinence-until-marriage education. Critics have repeatedly said they don't believe the programs are working, and the study will give them reinforcement. However, Bush administration officials cautioned against drawing sweeping conclusions from the study. They said the four programs reviewed - among several hundred across the nation - were some of the very first established after Congress overhauled the nation's welfare laws in 1996. Officials said one lesson they learned from the study is that the abstinence message should be reinforced in subsequent years to truly affect behavior." CNN.com (April 14, 2007).]

[Request #S704111]

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"Strengthening Families: Community Strategies that Work." By Maril Olson. IN: Young Children, vol. 62, no. 2 (March 2007) pp. 26-32.

["Supporting and strengthening families has always been part of the early childhood professional's unique role in the community. Now the field has a robust research base providing evidence about effective family-strengthening strategies and the professional development that educators need to effectively implement them.... NAEYC's Supporting Teachers Strengthening Families initiative... is a set of activities designed to provide intentional leadership and education in the family-strengthening approach. The initiative promotes the use of research-based strategies in early childhood programs and by individual professionals." NOTE: Young Children... is available for loan.]

[Request #S704112]

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IMPROVED HEALTH

Preventing Childhood Obesity: Promoting Physical Activity and Healthy Eating. Recommendations from the New Hampshire Childhood Obesity Expert Panel. (Foundation for Healthy Communities, Concord, New Hampshire) April 2007. 10 p.

Full Text at: frontpage.nhha.org/fhc/initiatives/ch_obesity/CO%20%20Report-%20FINAL.pdf

["'Preventing Childhood Obesity: Promoting Physical Activity and Healthy Eating' is presented in four sections: for families, pediatric primary care doctors, schools, and after school programs, community centers and recreation departments. For each group, the easy-to-read advice includes nutrition information, exercise guidelines, and ways to encourage physical activity in children. The booklet also explains the definition of body mass index, and offers lists of books, Web sites and programs to help implement the suggestions from the expert panel."]

[Request #S704113]

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Early Exposure to Toxic Substances Damages Brain Architecture. By the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. Working Paper. No. 4 (The Council, Heller School, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts) 2006. 20 p.

Full Text at: www.developingchild.net/pubs/wp/Early_Exposure_Toxic_Substances_Brain_Architecture.pdf

["New science shows that exposure to toxins prenatally or early in life can have a devastating and lifelong effect on the developing architecture of the brain. Exposures to many chemicals have much more severe consequences for embryos, fetuses, and young children, whose brains are still developing, than for adults. Substances that can have a truly poisonous effect on the brain - known as neurotoxins - can be found in environmental chemicals such as lead and mercury, in recreational drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, and cocaine, and in prescription medications, such as some acne treatments. Most neurotoxin exposure is preventable. This report summarizes the complex scientific research on which toxins present the greatest risk at various stages of brain development, addresses popular misconceptions about the relative risk and safety of some common substances, and suggests policies that can help reduce the enormous human and economic costs of exposure to toxins during development."]

[Request #S704114]

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IMPROVED SYSTEMS OF CARE

"Opportunity Knocks: A Connecticut School-Community Partnership Closes the Door on Preschool Expulsion." By Christine Fahey and others. IN: Young Children, vol. 62, no. 2 (March 2007) pp. 21-24. *

["Middletown, Connecticut, mirrors many American communities. Its population is racially diverse; there is a strong local economy, but many families still struggle financially. Like families everywhere, they want the best for their children. Several years ago, the people of Middletown made young children a priority by forming a coalition called Opportunity Knocks. A school-community partnership, Opportunity Knocks includes representatives from local health and social service agencies, early childhood educators, and families, all committed to improving the health and well-being of young children. The partnership's long-term goals include avoiding in their local schools what is a disturbing national trend: preschool expulsions.... Preschool suspensions and expulsions dropped from 26 during the first year of the program to just one in the second." NOTE: Young Children... is available for loan.]

[Request #S704115]

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STUDIES TO COME
[The following studies, reports, and documents have been ordered or requested, but have not yet arrived. Requests may be placed, and copies will be provided when the material arrives.]

IMPROVED CHILD DEVELOPMENT

Mexican Roots, American Schools: Helping the Children from Mexican Immigrant Families Succeed. By Robert Crosnoe. (Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, California) 2006. 184 p.

["Robert Crosnoe has conducted the first-ever national study of the school readiness of Mexican immigrant children, focusing on the first years of elementary school. 'Mexican Roots, American Schools' examines how various aspects of these childrens’ lives - including health, the home environment, and childcare arrangements - help or hurt their academic performance. Drawing a comprehensive picture, it shows that at the kindergarten level, Mexican immigrant children start off testing at around seven points lower than their White and Asian-American peers and about three points lower than other Latino/a peers. These numbers (or differentials) are significant, especially considering that initial gaps tend to grow over time. The author explores the factors that contribute to this lower academic performance. He asserts that the most important factors in these differences are the negative socioeconomic circumstances of the families and their lack of pre-school familiarity with math. Other factors that are less powerful but still important are the poor physical health of the students, the low levels of communication between the parents and the schools, and the fact that these children are less likely to attend pre-school, and when they do start school, it is often in segregated and highly disadvantaged schools. Yet the factors are not all negative. The children of Mexican immigrants are better than their peers in terms of emotional maturity, peer-relations, and in-class behavior."]

[Request #S704116]

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