Browsing articles in "Early Education/Nanny State"
Jul 15, 2016
ELW

The Federalist Publishes Effrem Article on Failure of Government Pre-K & Home Visiting Programs

Thanks to The Federalist for publishing Dr. Effrem’s article showing the growing research consensus confirming her contention that there is no research basis to justify massive federal expansion of preschool: Sending Government Agents Into People’s Homes Won’t Fix Preschool’s Failures. Here is an excerpt discussing preschool:

First, the good news: even think tanks generally aligned with the education establishment in supporting federal involvement in education, particularly early childhood education, are starting to admit the stark truth of the longstanding and stunning lack of evidence for preschool as an effective means to close racial and economic achievement gaps and improve life outcomes.

Dale Farran is one of the co-authors of the 2015 Vanderbilt University study showing not only government preschool’s oft-seen fadeout of benefits to children and society but also the increasingly frequent academic and emotional harm of these programs. She recently admitted in a Brookings Institution white paper that despite 50 years of research, the early childhood research is too small to support: 1) “the proposition that expanding pre-K will improve later achievement for children from low-income families;” 2)“the presumption that solid research exists to guide the content and structure of pre-K programs;” or 3) evidence “about which skills and dispositions are most important to effect in pre-K and what instructional practices would affect them.”

Farran also rightly discusses the sad truth that preschool quality measures have “no empirical validity.” She goes on to say, “Despite being included in national and state policies and used to hold pre-K providers accountable, none of the widely used measures of classroom and center quality relates strongly, if at all, to child growth on the school readiness outcomes on which most pre-K programs are focused.”

This excerpt deals with home visiting:

AEI’s promotion of home visiting is even more alarming. Despite their contentions that parent-child programs like Perry, Abecedarian, and the NFP are the most effective early childhood programs, they fail to mention many significant problems. Besides the IQ issues discussed above, at least one study shows a decline in behavioral parameters for child participants in the Abecedarian program.

The Perry Preschool Project was a very small, unique, and difficult-to-scale program that has been consistently criticized over long periods for many methodological flaws, with the most noticeable one the same as discussed with the Chicago study: the program required significant parental involvement—a mother home during the day—making the experimental group very different from the control group.

Even home visiting programs like the NFP admit their own flaws in the realm of child development. A 2004 review by Olds and Robinson stated that children paraprofessionals visited regularly saw no effects on language, organization (executive functioning), emotional regulation, or behavior. Nurse-visited children had no statistically significant differences in “sensitive-responsive mother-child interaction, children’s emotional regulation, or externalizing behavior problems.”

Here are the conclusions and recommendations:

Jeynes’ review of data from more than 20,000 African-American and Hispanic high school students in the National Educational Longitudinal Survey shows the spectacular result that two-parent families and religious observance actually erases the achievement gap. Students with intact families and high levels of religiosity scored as well as all white students on most achievement measures, and higher than black and Hispanic counterparts without intact families or high religiosity.

This is something that more than $2 trillion dollars and 50 years of oppressive, unconstitutional federal interference have never come close to achieving.

The two-parent family part of this equation can be promoted by removing the marriage penalty in programs like Obamacare (which should be eliminated altogether), ending the penalty for paternal involvement in welfare, and reducing no-fault divorce. The religious involvement part can be achieved by returning to release time to allow students to participate in religious services with their families or extra-curricular clubs. We cannot jump from the preschool frying pan into the home visiting fire, because government programs replacing parents have not ever been nor will ever be successful.

 

Jun 17, 2016
ELW

Hillary’s Dangerous Pre-K Plan Explained – ELW Cited

 


Jane Robbins, attorney and senior fellow at the American Principles Project wrote another excellent article about invasive federal involvement in early childhood education, this time in the context of Hillary Clinton’s dangerous pre-K plan. In it she discussed Clinton’s strong desire to to extend her work as First Lady of Arkansas where she expanded a failed childcare/home visiting program called Parents as Teachers and then as US First Lady when she wrote the book It Takes a [Government] Village.

Robbins discusses the help Clinton has received on her quest from both President Obama who has been promoting universal preschool for his entire presidency and the Congressional Republicans who caved and gave him another $250 million for preschool in the Every Student Succeed Act.

She also discussed the push for even more national pre-K standards aligned to Common Core, especially the invasive social emotional standards and the terrible track record of failure and harm caused by these programs.  On the last two issues, she was kind enough to mention or link to Dr. Effrem’s research in these areas, for which we thank her.  Here is an excerpt:

In any event, the Gates-funded ETS argues that as long as the federal government has pushed Common Core onto the states, beginning in kindergarten, the accomplishment-inducing preschool standards should be aligned with Common Core. That way preschool can be standardized across the country, eliminating the dreaded “inequity” by ensuring all preschoolers are drilled according to the same garbage standards. Alignment would also allow teachers to share instructional strategies and all teach the same thing. We can’t have children in Kansas coloring duckies while Minnesotans are focusing on kittens.

And of course, these standards should emphasize “social-emotional learning.” The government must expect teachers to observe and record toddlers’ psychological development and attributes, which information will be fed into the state longitudinal database for future use. Children will be affected — perhaps haunted — by these subjective observations throughout their school careers, and maybe beyond.

Where to begin? First, much research establishes that government-sponsored preschool either has little benefit for children, or actually damages their development and learning.

For example, multiple studies (see HERE and HERE for the most recent) have established that the federal Head Start program doesn’t benefit children beyond the earliest years of elementary school. A federally funded study from 2012 showed that Head Start participation produces little to no benefit in either cognitive or social-emotional development. And in some areas, Head Start even has harmful effects. (Of course, this evidence has not diminished federal funding for Head Start taxpayers have coughed up around $200 billion for this useless-to-harmful program since its inception.)

A more recent study of Tennessee’s pre-K program was similarly discouraging. This study found that participants in the state program showed no benefits by the end of kindergarten, and in fact, by first and second grade performed worse than children who avoided the state pre-K.

Numerous studies of Head Start and other state programs have shown initial gains but then either “fadeout” or decline/harm in subsequent years. According to pediatrician Dr. Karen Effrem, it’s not unusual to see an initial improvement that then disappears, or even deteriorates into decline, in both academic and behavioral parameters.

But even if there were solid evidence supporting government preschool, the suggestion that Common Core-aligned national standards be imposed is, to use a technical term, nuts. Early-childhood educators and other development experts have blasted the Common Core K-3 standards as grossly inappropriate from a child-development standpoint. In 2010, over 500 early-childhood experts issued a joint statement urging rejection of the standards as utterly incompatible with real human children and how they learn.

Read the full article – No, Hillary Clinton Won’t Make Preschool Great Again.

Dec 9, 2015
ELW

Effrem Article on ESEA Preschool Program Published on The Pulse 2016

Many thanks to The Pulse 2016 for publishing Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project for co-authoring  Dr. Effrem’s article titled: Nanny State Preschool Expansion — Another Reason the ESEA Rewrite Should Be Voted Down.  Here is an excerpt:

host of other large studies using data on thousands of children shows the same pattern of ineffectiveness, fadeout, and/or harm. The most recent is a multi-year controlled study from Tennessee, Senator Alexander’s home state, about which Education Week reported the following conclusions:
“. . .  Children started off school strong, but by kindergarten were generally indistinguishable academically from comparable peers who did not enroll in the program” and “by 3rd grade the children who attended pre-K were performing worse on some academic and behavioral measures than similar classmates who were never in the program.”

Even results from the one study that purports to show long-term benefit are still described as “dismal” in the mainstream press. There is simply no persuasive research to countervail this massive evidence.

But politicians and the education establishment cling to the concept of preschool. Advocates of Common Core and other progressive-education philosophies want to extend government tentacles to ensnare ever younger children. The managed economy and managed society can be achieved more quickly if toddlers are removed from their homes and herded into government preschool, where the uncontrolled influences of parents, families, and religion can be replaced with others more likely to advance government goals.

What should be done instead? Perhaps listen to researchers such as Dr. William Jeynes of UC-Santa Barbara, who identified three of several important factors that significantly improve the performance of minority students relative to white students (closing the “achievement gap”): intact families and religious faith, phonics instruction, and real parental involvement. Having government go even further to replace parents doesn’t work and will never work.

If politicians — including presidential candidates — are serious about improving education, they’ll reject the empty promises of invasive, ineffective, harmful, federal preschool programs. Instead they’ll listen to parents who innately understand that their children will develop better in the care of people who love them than with the government. The candidate who leads this fight against relentless government “solutions” in education will reap the political benefits.

 

Nov 16, 2015
ELW

Compilation & Analysis of Early Childhood Research Regarding Effect, Fade Out, Academic & Emotional Harm

Karen. R. Effrem, MD – President

The following compilation of early childhood studies paints a very different picture than the rosy portrait of significant and long lasting benefit put forth by proponents, especially of the new unconstitutional program being put forth in the conference proposal for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  This list contains studies dating back to 1985 and is broken into four categories, with pertinent quotes from different studies being placed into multiple appropriate categories:

1) No or Small Effect  –  There are several studies that tout longer -term success compared to the usual fading out after the preschool year and even statistical significance over control groups of poor children.  However, when more closely examined, their benefits  are not practically significant, they may be explained by other factors like parent involvement, and these programs are too small, too specialized, and or too expensive to be brought to scale.

2) Fade Out – Many studies on this list, including the most recent one from Tennessee, show some improvement in the ephemeral concept of kindergarten readiness, but those benefits are gone by the time the program participant reaches kindergarten to third grade with problematic deterioration in academics an or behavior lasting longer than any perceived benefits.

3) Academic Harm – The quotes listed in this section depict evidence that children participating in these programs actually suffer academic deterioration in later grades, compared to their  peers not participating in these programs.

4) Emotional Harm – The studies in this section show evidence that participation in these programs results in deterioration in the very behaviors that  big government preschool proponents seek to impose on our youngest children.  The emotional distress suffered by children in these programs is likely a prime reason for the epidemic of psychiatric diagnosis and drugging with extremely dangerous and ineffective psychotropic drugs in these children.

NO OR SMALL EFFECT:

Georgia (2015) – The completion of one only one year of baseline data by the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) called, Bright from the Start  caused them to enthusiastically proclaim that participants “progressed at an even greater rate during the time they participated in Georgia’s Pre-K Program than would be expected for normal development growth.” However, the next sentence clearly raises significant doubt: “However, without a comparison group, it is not possible to establish a clear causal link between outcomes and program participation.” (Emphasis added)

Chicago ParentChild Centers (2011) – The study abstract claims, “Findings demonstrate support for the enduring effects of sustained school-based early education to the end of the third decade of life.” The study results were summarized by the Associated Press as follows:

“To be sure, the challenges facing the children in both groups were still insurmountable for many. As adults, the average annual income for those who went to preschool is less than $12,000 and almost half of them had been arrested as adults. As dismal as those outcomes [are], the numbers were still better than for the group that didn’t attend preschool.”

Our analysis reveals statistically significant, but not practically important differences that really need to be examined as to whether they are practically significant and worth the cost and government expansion of preschool programs (The first number is for the preschool CPC kids and the second number is for the comparison group):

Highest grade completed (12.15 vs. 11.88) – This is less than a third of one year difference or less than a semester.

Attendance in a 4-year college (14.7% vs. 11.2%) – This is only a 3.5% difference.

Average annual income in 2007 dollars ($11,582 vs. $10,796) – As noted in the AP story above, both groups, were earning less than $12,000 per year with the preschool group earning only $786 more.

The study admits, “No differences were detected for degree completion, employment, or a combined measure.”

Any arrest (47.9% vs. 54.3%) – Also pointed out in the AP story above, around half of both groups were arrested, though the preschool group was 6% lower.

The study also admits, “No differences were detected for the number of arrests, arrests for violence, or convictions. School-age and extended intervention were unrelated to justice involvement. For public aid and family outcomes, no meaningful differences were found.”

Head Start (2003) –  “Head Start is not fully achieving its stated purpose  of promoting school readiness … Indeed, these low-income children continue to perform significantly below their more advantaged peers in reading and mathematics once they enter school.”  – “Strengthening Head Start: What the Evidence Shows” – US Dept. of HHS, June 2003 

Chicago Parent-Child Centers (2001) – “It is possible that parental involvement explains more of the variance in outcome among inner-city children than do structured programs. . . . If policy makers mistakenly accept the conclusion that preschool intervention results in less criminal activity later, they may mistakenly invest in these programs when the money might be better invested in parenting skill programs and other interventions to increase parental involvement.” – Mathew D. Thompson, “Early Childhood Educational Intervention and Long-Term Developmental Outcomes,” Letters, The Journal of American Medical Association, Vol. 286, No. 15,

Abecedarian Project (1999 Review) – “For these children, a 4.6–point improvement was approximately a 5 percent increase in measured intelligence, an increase hardly noticeable in the classroom or on the job….In the Abecedarian Project, children in the preschool program had IQs 4 to 5 points higher than the children in the control group at ages 12 to 15.  Nonetheless, the early enrichment did not result in these children reaching IQ levels comparable to middle-class children in the community, nor did they reach the national average IQ of 100.” – John Bruer, president, James S. McDonnell Neurosciences Institute, The Myth of the First Three Years, The Free Press, New York

Head Start (1997) – “The body of research on current Head Start is insufficient to draw conclusions about the impact of the national program.”– GAO review of over 600 citations, manuscripts, and studies

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