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Archive for the ‘Achievement gap’ Category

14359821987_be01fd4731_mYesterday, The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 25th edition of its KIDS COUNT Data Book, a statistical look at children’s well-being.

The report shows that, “Children have a greater opportunity to thrive and succeed in Massachusetts than in any other state,” according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), the home of KIDS COUNT here in the commonwealth.

This is exciting news for Massachusetts, but it comes with an important caveat: There is still much more work to do.

The Massachusetts KIDS COUNT data profile reports that 15 percent of the state’s children lived in poverty in 2012. And despite being first in the nation in education and fourth grade reading, 53 percent of this state’s fourth graders cannot read proficiently. Thirty percent of children have parents who don’t have secure jobs. And while an impressive 99 percent of Massachusetts’s children have health insurance, it’s also true that this state’s children are as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as children across the country.

MassBudget released the new data yesterday at an event hosted by Nurtury (formerly Associated Early Care and Education) in its brand new Learning Lab in Jamaica Plain where Governor Deval Patrick spoke, along with state legislators, local leaders, and Chris Martes, Strategies for Children’s new president and CEO. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

“Early education is in the spotlight like never before… yet real progress is elusive,” according to a report being released today by the New America Foundation called: “Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education.”

“President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for increased investments in child care, pre-K, home visiting, and other programs,” the report says. “Thirty-five states entered the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants competition, which has so far invested about $1 billion in 20 states’ infrastructure. A long-overdue reauthorization bill for the Child Care and Development Block Grant overwhelmingly passed the Senate this year, with potential in the House.”

In addition, the report notes that philanthropies, governors, and state legislatures increasingly recognize the importance of investing in children.

Nonetheless, the report says, achievement gaps have widened. There aren’t enough seamless transitions from pre-K to grade school. Too many low income children aren’t getting the support they need. And Congress isn’t providing stable funding. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell For Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell For Strategies for Children

Early childhood is getting new attention from the 4th Annual Healthy People/Healthy Economy Report Card.

“The annual report card examines progress in 12 issue areas that can be linked to improvements in public health,” according to a news release from the Boston Foundation, a member of the Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition, which released the report.

“Research continues to show that high quality early childhood care and education not only prepare children for success in school, they create a foundation for good health over the course of a lifetime,” the report says, adding, “Children who receive good care and education in their preschool years gain as much as a full year of development and educational growth compared to children entering school without the benefit of early services.”

“Expanding early childhood education has been a key piece of education discussions this year, but we know its impact isn’t limited to academics,” Paul Grogan, president and CEO of the Boston Foundation, said in the news release. Grogan is also co-chair of the Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

This month, Michigan and Connecticut scored legislative victories. Both states are making substantial new investments in preschool, dramatically expanding children’s access to high-quality programs.

Michigan’s Story

Michigan’s increased funding will go to the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), which serves children from low-income families.

In 2012, the Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine “published a series of articles chronicling how 30,000 Michigan children who qualified for GSRP weren’t in classrooms because of inadequate funding, poor coordination between programs, and lack of transportation.”

Now Bridge has a brighter story to tell.

“More than 10,000 additional Michigan 4-year-olds will likely be in free, high-quality pre-K classrooms this fall, after the House and Senate last night approved a $65 million expansion of the state’s Great Start Readiness Program,” Bridge writer Ron French explained. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last month, Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into a law that makes “at least 10 hours a week of high-quality early education available to every 3- and 4-year-old child” in the state, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The new law closes an opportunity gap: while 87 percent of Vermont communities already offer pre-K, 13 percent do not. As Shumlin said, “this bill ensures that no matter where you live, your 3- or 4 year-old will have access to high-quality early education programs, and arrive at school better prepared to learn.”

Shumlin added, “The children who aren’t ready to learn when they begin elementary school are very likely to challenge our resources throughout their school years and potentially throughout their lives.”

“We know that high-quality pre-kindergarten is far less expensive than remediation, retention, and special education later on.”

The payoff of preschool is striking, especially among children from low-income families: “Vermont children from low-income backgrounds who don’t attend pre-kindergarten have a 30 percent probability of being kindergarten ready, while Vermont students from low-income backgrounds with one or two years of pre-kindergarten have up to a 55 percent probability of being kindergarten ready.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As we wrote last week in Part One of this blog, the Ninth Annual Wheelock Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care called on the field to: unite; develop an agenda; and tell a compelling story that will inspire policymakers — especially the next governor of Massachusetts — to commit to a grand plan for improving the commonwealth’s early education and care system.

Interactive Dialogue Groups

After the keynote speakers, the audience broke into smaller interactive dialogue groups that covered a range of topics, including:

- family engagement

- assessments

- infants and toddlers

- play

(more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“I’d like to welcome our commissioner who has come… We are thrilled to see so many of our Wheelock alums… Mayor Clare Higgins is back by popular demand!” said Wheelock College President Jackie Jenkins-Scott as she welcomed all the participants who came to her school for the “Ninth Annual Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care: Our Children’s Future — Time for a New Plan.”

Higgins, the former mayor of Northampton, attended last year’s dialogue; and this year she was joined by advocates, educators, and policy analysts who spoke to an audience of 200 about how best to bring high-quality early education and care to more of Massachusetts’ children.

The goal for the day was reinforced throughout the three-hour event: Unite; develop an agenda; and tell a compelling story that will inspire policymakers — especially the next governor of Massachusetts — to commit to a grand plan for improving the commonwealth’s early education and care system. (more…)

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“Today, we worry both about achievement gaps and opportunity gaps. Because we haven’t provided access to high-quality early learning to all families, millions of children enter kindergarten already behind their peers at the starting line of school. That is profoundly unfair.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in his speech “Sixty Years After Brown: Where is the Outrage?” at the Education Writers Association Annual Conference, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., May 20, 2014

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“Investing in early education is becoming not a question of ‘if’ or ‘why’, but ‘how?’” These introductory comments by

Photo by Chau Ly courtesy of the Department of Early Education and Care

Photo by Chau Ly courtesy of the Department of Early Education and Care

Albert Wat, senior policy analyst at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, helped set the stage for the day’s conference, Birth Through Grade 3 Policy Forum: Developing Strategic Pathways to College and Career Success.

More than 250 early educators, K-12 administrators, and community leaders gathered at the DCU center on Friday, May 16, to discuss birth-grade three policy strategies at the local and state levels. Community-wide efforts, collaboration, and shared accountability were among the prominent themes of the day.

The event was sponsored by the Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Department of Higher Education, the Readiness Centers Network, and Strategies for Children. A team of representatives from these agencies have been working collaboratively on a shared B-8 agenda since Massachusetts was awarded a grant from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) back in June, 2013. Five other states received similar NGA policy academy grants.

Saeyun Lee, senior assistant commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, told attendees, “This event is the result of months of analysis from the NGA team. Today, you will be able to contribute to the state’s birth-grade 3 agenda.” Even though the NGA grant ends in four to five months, the work will be ongoing. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Want to help keep early childhood education and third-grade reading proficiency high up on policymakers’ agendas? Save the date and attend these upcoming early childhood events: help create a new public policy action brief; and ask 2014’s gubernatorial candidates how their leadership will benefit children.

* * * * *

9th Annual Wheelock Community Dialogue on Early Education and CareOur Children’s Future – Time for a New Plan!

Thursday, May 29, 2014, 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Wheelock College, 43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA 02446

This event will be “an interactive strategic working session that builds on outcomes from previous Dialogues. Participants will work together to produce a new public policy action brief to be circulated widely among stakeholders in Massachusetts, including the new governor, legislature, funders and the statewide early education and care community. Plan to attend and collaborate to create the action agenda and move it forward for all young children in the commonwealth!” Click here to register.

The keynote speakers will be:

• Marie St. Fleur, President and CEO of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children, and,

• Claire Higgins, Community Action Executive Director, serving Franklin, Hampshire, Western Hampden, and North Quabbin regions

(more…)

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