The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has launched a new early learning mapping site on http://www.data.gov/education/community/education, where interested individuals can use tools to look at discretionary ED grant programs that focus on or include early learning. http://www.data.gov/education/community/education is part of the Obama Administration's Open Government Initiative. ED will use the site to publish data sets about its grant programs and performance and other data. Users can enter terms into the "Search" field, select filters to narrow results to a specific group of interest, and zoom in on different areas of the map. By clicking on the dots on the map, users can see which programs are located in a state, city or other geographic area.
The National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) has published its 2011 State Preschool Yearbook (April 2012). The Yearbook ranks states on funding of pre-K programs and their availability to children. This newest edition finds that only five states met NIEER's 10 benchmarks for preschool quality standards during the 2010-2011 school year. Findings also show that although enrollment in state-funded preschool programs has more than doubled in the past ten years, spending has decreased by $715 per child, when adjusted for inflation. The report provides state-specific data, as well as interactive data. A video with highlights from the report is also available.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) recently posted its Fourth Quarter 2011 Policy Letters (dated October 1, 2011 - December 31, 2011) online. A letter of clarification dated April 4, 2012 on maintenance of effort has also been posted. These letters address issues related to the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A Federal Register Notice published on March 23, 2012 includes brief summaries of the quarterly letters.
A subset of OSEP policy letters related to the early childhood provisions of the IDEA (Part C and Part B, Section 619) can be accessed on the NECTAC Web site.
A new FPG Snapshot summarizes the findings from follow-up data on the Abecedarian project indicating life-enduring benefits at age 30 for those participating in the high quality early child care intervention project as infant/toddlers/preschoolers. See The Abecedarian Project: High-Quality Early Child Care Has Long-Lasting Effects (April 12, 2012).
On April 9, 2012, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced 2012 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Funds for continued investments in state-level, comprehensive early education reform. Five states (CO, IL, NM, OR, WI) that narrowly missed winning a 2011 Early Learning Challenge grant will be invited to apply for $133 million of the $550 total 2012 Race to the Top appropriation. Each of the five states will be eligible to apply for up to 50% of last year's potential award amount. Additional dollars from the 2012 appropriation will be used to run a new district-level Race to the Top competition. More details will be available later this spring.
On April 13, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services posted Proposed Priorities and Definitions under the State Personnel Development Grants (SPDG) Program in the Federal Register. These priorities and definitions may be used for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2012 and later years. Comments from the public must be received by May 14, 2012.
New research findings published online in Pediatrics on April 9, 2012 show a strong association between maternal diabetes and obesity during pregnancy and autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delays. Mothers who were obese were 1.6 times more likely to have a child with autism and more than twice as likely to have a child with another developmental disorder. Mothers with diabetes were 2.3 times more likely to have a child with developmental delays. An abstract of the article, Maternal Metabolic Conditions and Risk for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders, is available online.