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Archive for the ‘Achievement gap’ Category

President Obama hugs Alajah, the third-grader who introduced him at the summit.  Photo: The White House.

President Obama hugs Alajah Lane, the third-grader who introduced him at the summit. Photo: The White House

Yesterday was a historic day at the White House. President Obama hosted an early education summit that included an announcement about increased resources for young children and families.

The White House Summit on Early Education brought together a wide range of stakeholders — mayors, school superintendents, members of Congress, philanthropists, funders, and corporate and community leaders — who shared their work on providing high-quality preschool programs.

And President Obama announced that states had won over $1 billion in early childhood grant awards. The president also announced an additional $330 million in private funding.

“Early education is a win for everyone,” Obama said in his summit speech. High-quality programs give children a strong start and they save taxpayer dollars. And as Obama pointed out, progress has been bipartisan. Red and blue states including Oklahoma and Georgia and New York and New Jersey have boosted their commitment to high-quality preschool.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Somerville has a cool new early childhood website: SomervilleHub.org.

Produced by the Somerville Early Education Steering Committee, the website helps “connect local families with young children to the full range of information and resources they need to raise healthy, active children from birth to age 8,” a press release explains.

The wide range of information and insights include: facts on growth and development; good ideas about free craft activities offered by local businesses; kids’ programs run by local nonprofit organizations such as Eagle Eye Institute; and information on childcare and school options, social services, family events, and local parks.

Somerville’s goal is to provide a central hub for parents “especially in the early childhood years, to help their children develop kindergarten-readiness and then thrive and reach their full potential once enrolled in school.”

In an impressive nod to Somerville’s diversity, the website’s content can be translated into some 80 languages that range from Afrikaans and Albanian to Mongolian and Nepali to Yiddish and Zulu. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

A new study points out the obvious — the early education and care workforce is undervalued and underpaid, and has been for decades. This is especially problematic today as economists and policymakers call for more children to have access to high-quality early education. The only way to provide this level of quality is by having highly skilled, well-paid early educators who can help raise educational standards, close the achievement gap, and prepare young children for success in kindergarten.

The study — “Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study” — comes from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, part of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. It was written by Marcy Whitebook, Deborah Phillips, and Carollee Howes. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Governors have an important job to do: They can promote early math skills among young children. A new policy brief from the National Governors Association (NGA) called, “Unlocking Young Children’s Potential: Governors’ Role in Strengthening Early Mathematics Learning,” explains why.

“Studies find that the mathematics knowledge acquired in early childhood and early elementary grades is a critical foundation for long-term student success. A child’s math ability when he or she enters school has proved a better predictor of academic achievement, high school graduation, and college attendance than any other early childhood skill.”

In fact, the brief adds: “Early mathematics competency even predicts later reading achievement better than early literacy skills.”

Here in Massachusetts, JD Chesloff, a champion of early math, adds context to the report, explaining, “This is not to say that math should replace reading as a priority, but it is to say that there should be a focus on both literacy and numeracy.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

David Jacobson — one of our favorite bloggers over at “The Birth Through Third Grade Learning Hub” — has a new article out in Phi Delta Kappan, “the professional magazine for anyone who cares about K-12 education.”

The article, “The primary years agenda: Strategies to guide district action,” points out that the growing momentum around early education is creating powerful opportunities for schools and districts.

“School districts on the leading edge of the Birth through Third Grade movement have demonstrated unprecedented success raising the achievement of low-income students by developing coherent strategies focused on the early years of learning and development,” Jacobson explains.

These leading edge communities — among them Boston, Montgomery County, Md., and Union City, N.J. — aren’t just improving preschool. They’re “building aligned, high-quality early education systems.”

The Birth through Third Grade Strategy

Why birth through third grade? Because high-quality early education programs prepare children to succeed.

“Gaps between low-income and middle-class children appear early and increase over time,” Jacobson writes. “Such gaps in social-emotional and academic (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This post was originally published on November 25, 2013.

“The time is now to redesign this country’s approach to language and literacy instruction, and governors who choose to can lead the charge,” according to the National Governors Association (NGA) report, “A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy: Getting all Students Reading by Third Grade.

Acknowledging the fact that only one-third of America’s fourth graders are reading proficiently, the report points out that America’s governors can help address this challenge. They can build a bridge between knowledge and action, connecting what researchers know to what policymakers do.

What the Research Says

To provide the research background on the literacy issue, the report points to three widely accepted research findings:

1. “Starting at kindergarten is too late.” Because literacy skills start developing at birth and because achievement gaps show up early, infants, toddlers and preschoolers need effective, high-quality early education and care programs that introduce early literacy concepts.
(more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

This past Election Day, voters in Seattle got to choose between two different universal preschool proposals. They selected one backed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council.

“The effort began with a 2013 City Council resolution that charged the city’s Office of Education with developing a plan for building universal pre-K,” EdCentral, a New America Foundation blog, explains.

Of the two proposals, voters approved Proposition 1B, which authorizes “a $58 million property-tax levy to fund a four-year pilot program of preschool subsidized on a sliding scale, while setting academic standards and raising preschool teacher pay,” according to an article in the Seattle Times.

“Lattés cost more,” Mayor Murray said, according to public radio station KPLU, which reports, “Under the proposed four-year, $58 billion tax hike, Murray says the average Seattle homeowner would pay an extra $3.60 in property taxes each month to fund a pilot project serving 2,000 mostly low-income preschool-age kids.”

“The preschool program is designed to meet a wide achievement gap in the Seattle school system,” Seattle Pi, a Heart Newspapers website, reports. “Students in north end schools have higher text scores, higher math and reading skills, than south end schools with heavy populations of African-American, Hispanic, and immigrant children.” (more…)

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