October 10, 2003

In this Issue:

1. Standards for Preschool Children's Learning and Development: Who Has Standards, How Were They Developed, and How Are They Used?

Source: www.serve.org - Retrieved October 8, 2003

Within the last decade, an increasing number of state-level programs have developed standards to define expectations for what young children should know and be able to do before they enter kindergarten. Sometimes called "early learning standards," these standards differ from early childhood program standards in that they focus on children's development rather than expectations for the learning environment or program children are attending.

In order to gain a better understanding of the early learning standards that have been developed by state-level organizations across the country, SERVE partnered with Dr. Sharon Lynn Kagan of Teachers College, Columbia University, to conduct a national study. The purposes of the study were to:

  • Identify which states have developed early learning standards.
  • Provide descriptive information about the nature of the standards.
  • Provide data about the process used to develop early learning standards.
  • Explore how these standards are (or will be) used.

To access the executive the full report for extensive information on early learning standards from across the country go to http://www.serve.org/_downloads/REL/ELO/Standards2003.pdf.

2. Head Start: Increased Percentage of Teachers Nationwide Have Required Degrees, but Better Information on Classroom Teachers' Qualifications Needed.

Source: www.gao.gov/ - October 1, 2003

On October 1, 2003 the GAO published a new report entitled: Head Start: Increased Percentage of Teachers Nationwide Have Required Degrees, but Better Information on Classroom Teachers' Qualifications Needed. GAO-04-5. Highlights of the report are available at: http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d045high.pdf. For the full report go to: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/gaoreports/index.html and search by the report title.

3. Governors Forum on Quality Preschool

Source: National Governors Association - October 1, 2003

On December 15 and 16, the NGA Center for Best Practices will hold the Governors Forum on Quality Preschool, which Governor Jeb Bush of Florida will host in Orlando. The Forum presents an unprecedented occasion for governors to discuss the opportunities and challenges they face in promoting high quality learning experiences for young children. Governors are invited to bring with them a team of up to four top state decision makers who help shape their state's preschool agenda. For more information go to: http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.9123e83a1f6786440ddcbeeb501010a0/?vgnextoid=5e54303cb0b32010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD

4. Satellite Broadcast: "Connecting Schools, Families, And Communities To Improve Student Achievement: A Practical Application Of Research"

Source: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory - October 7, 2003

To support those who plan and provide preservice and inservice training for educators, SEDL's National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools (the Center) is presenting its third annual satellite broadcast, "Connecting Schools, Families, and Communities to Improve Student Achievement: A Practical Application of Research" on October 22 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Central Standard Time. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires districts and schools to involve parents in the development of plans to help low-achieving students meet challenging academic requirements, build the school's and the parents' capacity for more involvement, and coordinate involvement strategies through such programs as Head Start, Reading First, Even Start, and Parents as Teachers.

During the satellite broadcast, SEDL staff will present key finding from its recently published research syntheses, discuss ways to "make the case", and introduce theoretical models and tools for three areas critical to establishing a sound parent involvement program: needs assessment, decision-making and trust-building, and program evaluation... For more information go to http://www.sedl.org/new/press/familycommunity-Satellite.pdf

5. Study Examines Geographic Disparities in Children's Mental Health Care

Source: MCH Alert - October 10, 2003

"This study . . . reinforces the growing concern about health and health care disparities but highlights a different source of inequity, namely the role of geographic differences," state the authors of an article published in the October 2003 issue of Pediatrics Electronic Pages. The authors state that although health care disparities' associations with sociodemographic characteristics are well known, almost no information exists about another potentially important source of disparity for children: How does state of residence affect mental health service use? This article seeks to answer the following two questions: (1) could geographic variations reflect differences in need? and (2) do geographic variations in service use reflect population characteristics (and therefore socioeconomic disparities in health care), or do they reflect state characteristics independent of population characteristics?

The primary data used in this article came from two waves (1997 and 1999) of the National Survey of America's Families, which allows for state-level estimates for 13 states. Four independent variables were used: (1) use of mental health services, (2) need for mental health services, (3) unmet need for mental health services, and (4) need among users of mental health services.

The authors found that:

  • There are large differences across states that are not explained by sociodemographic characteristics.
  • Large differences from the national average across states are the rule, rather than the exception, and focusing on national averages obscures large differences across states.
  • The variation in service use across states is noticeably wider than the variation across racial/ethnic groups.
  • Need does not parallel mental health services use variation across states.
  • Hispanic children have the highest unmet need, but geographic disparities in unmet need can exceed the effect of race/ethnicity.
  • There are no significant differences in unmet need by income group, although there are significant differences in unmet need across all racial/ethnic groups, especially between Hispanic and white children.

The authors conclude that "we found large geographic variation in service use and unmet need across states. " They continue, "Demonstrating the existence of such variations is only a first step toward eliminating them, but even simple descriptive statistics can inform the public debate by providing a gauge for measuring where a state stands in relation to others."

Sturm R, Ringel JS, Andreyeva T. 2003. Geographic disparities in children's mental health care. Pediatrics Electronic Pages 112(4):e308-e315. TO access the full text fo this article online go to: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/.

[Originally published in MCHAlert 2003 National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health and Georgetown University. Reprinted with permission.]