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Dept. of Ed creates new early education office

With a steady stream of research pointing to the value of early education instruction and funding, the Department of Education announced today the creation of a new office that will oversee the department’s early learning programs.

In a press release, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “A dedicated early learning office will institutionalize, elevate and coordinate federal support for high-quality early learning, while enhancing support for state efforts to build high-performing early education systems.”

Heading the office will be Jacqueline Jones, an official within the department since 2009. As an early education commissioner for New Jersey she helped oversee the successful Abbot pre-k program that enrolls a mix of low-income three- and four-year olds in full day preschool classes. A 2009 longitudinal study conducted by researchers at the University of Rutgers shows that participating students outpaced their peers on math and literacy measures by the second grade.

Here’s a summary of the [findings from Rutgers:

](http://nieer.org/pdf/apples_second_grade_results.pdf)

In language, literacy and mathematics, effects through second grade were all about 0.20 (enough to move a child from the 50th percentile to the 57th percentile, moving a child up past 7 percent of the population) for one year of Abbott preK. For language and math, the effects of two years of state-funded pre-K were about 0.40 (enough to move a child from the 50th to the 67th percentile).

The newly-created office will adopt a portfolio of recent and longstanding federal projects aimed at expanding early education programs. Those include the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, a competitive grant launched last year for which 35 states and Puerto Rico applied, and the i3 Fund — grants that reward communities for partnering up with local non-profits, schools, and business networks to student address performance gaps and dropout rates.

In October, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Early Learning Proficiency Act, which would better coordinate pre-k and kindergarten federal education spending.

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