Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A new poll of likely voters has found deep support for early education programs here in Massachusetts.

Sponsored by local public radio station WBUR and conducted by The MassINC Polling Group, the poll asked participants which candidates they favored in the upcoming gubernatorial race. Pollsters also asked about early education and about the election’s ballot questions on gambling and worker sick leave.

The support for early education was impressive. As WBUR explains in an article, “Half of those polled (251) were asked whether they would support or oppose a plan to provide comprehensive early childhood education, and 73 percent said they would support it. The other half of respondents were asked whether they would support or oppose raising taxes to provide comprehensive early childhood education, and 53 percent still supported the idea.”

This finding builds on recent national polls from the Gallup organization and from the First Five Years Fund that both found widespread, bipartisan support for preschool programs. Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Research on how infants develop language skills is providing crucial insights on how language-rich environments benefit babies. And helping babies develop language skill is a crucial early step in helping them grow into proficient third-grade readers who can tackle the challenges of school and careers.

Two new studies that describe some of the fine points of boosting infants’ and toddlers’ language come from the University of Iowa, Indiana University, and the University of Missouri.

The research from the University of Iowa encourages parents to try to figure out what their babbling babies might be saying because doing so could help babies learn to communicate sooner.

“Pay attention, mom and dad, especially when your infant looks at you and babbles,” a university article explains.

“Parents may not understand a baby’s prattling, but by listening and responding, they let their infants know they can communicate which leads to children forming complex sounds and using language more quickly.”

This advice is based on a new study — “Maternal Responsiveness and the Development of Directed Vocalizing in Social Interactions” — conducted by researchers at Iowa and at Indiana University. The study, which was published in the journal Infancy, found that “how parents respond to their children’s babbling can actually shape the way infants communicate and use vocalizations.” Continue Reading »

In Quotes

“All children deserve individualized attention from teachers who know what the children know and understand how to bring their learning to the next level. Formative assessment is a process that teachers employ to collect and use assessment information to tailor instruction to the individual needs of children. Collecting information from multiple sources and analyzing it in light of children’s individual learning needs can support teaching whereby all children learn and develop.”

Shannon Riley-Ayers, NIEER/CEELO Assistant Research Professor, in her Preschool Matters blog post, “Anticipating Quality for All Children,” September 10, 2014

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

What’s the best way to teach children to read? The answers can spark heated debates.

That’s what happened in New York City when Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña called for “more schools to adopt aspects of balanced literacy, including its emphasis on allowing students to choose many of the books they read,” according to the New York Times. Balanced literacy programs use both phonics and whole language techniques to teach reading.

Addressing the debate, CUNY’s Institute for Education Policy hosted a discussion last month (now posted on YouTube) called “Teaching Children to Read: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.” It featured both Catherine Snow, an esteemed expert on children’s language and literacy development and currently a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Susan Neuman, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education and an education professor at New York University. Continue Reading »

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

This weekend, Wheelock College will host the annual meeting of MenTeach–New England, a nonprofit clearinghouse of information on men working in education, with an emphasis on early childhood education.

The event details:

Saturday, September 27, 2014 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hawes Building – Ladd Room
Wheelock College, 43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA

“This is our biggest meeting of the year and we invite men and women who support men in early childhood education, but also men and women from throughout New England,” the national website of MenTeach explains.

“MenTeach was started in 1979 in Minnesota, United States to increase the number of men working with young children. The organization was started because Bryan G. Nelson understood the importance of teaching and wondered, ‘If teaching is so important, then where are all the men?’” Continue Reading »

Image: Courtesy of Tim Bartik

Image: Courtesy of Tim Bartik

One of the most energizing reads of the fall season is Tim Bartik’s new book, “From Preschool to Prosperity: The Economic Payoff to Early Childhood Education.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if there was some feasible policy that could boost the American economy and enlarge opportunities for more of our children?” Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute, asks on page one.

Well: “we’re in luck. Our economic future and our children’s future can be significantly improved by expanding high-quality early childhood education programs, such as pre-K education.”

“People should see themselves as part of a historic movement,” Bartik said of early education advocates in a recent interview. In the history of education, he explained, there was the common school movement, the high school movement, school desegregation — and now there’s the expansion of high-quality preschool programs. Continue Reading »

In Massachusetts, 43% of third graders are not proficient readers, according to the 2014 MCAS results released today. Statewide performance in third grade reading is unchanged since last year and has remained flat since 2001, however several Gateway Cities made progress this year.

third grade below trendline

Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement:

“The 2014 MCAS scores show that the state’s third grade reading proficiency rates have not changed since last year. This year, as in 2013, 43% of third grade students did not score proficient in reading. That’s roughly 29,000 children who did not meet this crucial educational benchmark.

The consequences of reading failure at this age are significant. Struggling readers are four times less likely to graduate high school on time than proficient readers, jeopardizing their prospects for participating in our global knowledge-based economy.

Continue Reading »


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