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Archive for the ‘Achievement gap’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

How are our kids doing? That’s the question New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) has been asking in a series called “The First Decade: Early Childhood Disparities and the Future of N.H.’s Kids.”

So we’re taking a look at our New England neighbor to get a sense of how some of this region’s children are doing.

“When it comes to kids’ well-being, New Hampshire ranks high overall in survey after survey. But the real picture of how kids are faring goes deeper than that,” NHPR’s website explains. “Children in poor families continue to lose ground in everything from access to health care to quality education to opportunities to play sports.”

Worse, the opportunity gap between children from lower and higher ends of the income spectrum is likely to grow.

“On the whole, we’ve found that while children in New Hampshire are somewhat better off than those across the nation,” the website notes, “New Hampshire still has a growing trend in inequality in terms of poverty and family income, where low-income children and poor children are on the rise after decades of decline and income is pretty much all but stagnated for those in lower income groups in the past 50 years, but it has actually increased for families in higher income groups. This means that more and more, there is this likely growing gap in outcomes between worse- and better-off children in New Hampshire.”  (more…)

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Jim Peyser. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Jim Peyser. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

How do you make progress in education reform? By tackling the tough question of how to pay for it.

This was the topic yesterday at the Union Club in downtown Boston where the Building on What Works Coalition hosted a panel discussion called “Financing Education Reform: The Next Chapter.”

“Time is of the essence in making progress,” Tripp Jones said, welcoming the audience of nearly 150 people. “We felt it was important to say, look, there are communities ready to move,” on education reform. They just need access to funding.

Jones is a board member and the co-founder of the nonprofit think tank MassINC, which is part of the Building on What Works Coalition along with Massachusetts 2020, the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, and Strategies for Children.  (more…)

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“If Massachusetts is serious about closing the achievement gap and leveling the playing field by giving our least advantaged students the same chance to succeed in life as their better off counterparts, then it is time we commit to providing those students access to high-quality Pre-K.

“Too many children today show up for school already behind and many of them never catch up. The achievement gap stems in part from the dramatic disparity in how soon children are exposed to a wide vocabulary, other children, books and simple math. High-quality Pre-K has been shown to have short — and long-term impact on children’s educational, health, social and economic outcomes.”

Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley), House chair of the Joint Education Committee, and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Senate Ways and Means Committee Vice Chair, in a South Coast Today opinion piece, April 15, 2015. Peisch and DiDomenico are co-sponsors of the bill, “An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education”

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Image Source: U.S. Department of Education

Image Source: U.S. Department of Education

 

Across the country, elected officials are calling for more preschool programs. Mayors, governors, members of Congress, and the president are calling for higher quality and more access.

Despite this rhetoric, what’s missing is a strong financial investment in early education and care.

The result: “too many children enter kindergarten a year or more behind their classmates in academic and social-emotional skills. For some children, starting out school from behind can trap them in a cycle of continuous catch-up in their learning,” according to “A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America,” a new report from the U.S. Department of Education.

To rectify this situation, the report calls on Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by, in part, creating “real equity of opportunity, starting with our youngest children.”  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“Robert D. Putnam is technically a Harvard social scientist, but a better description might be poet laureate of civil society,” a book review in the Sunday New York Times says. The review is of Putnam’s latest book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.”

Putnam’s book examines the inequality gap in the United States, drawing on both Putnam’s personal experiences and his academic research.

Putnam explains his work in an interview with PBS’ NewsHour, touching on a range of topics including poverty, persistent achievement gaps, and early education.

Here’s a selection of quotes from that interview. The bold emphasis is ours.

“America’s best investment ever, in the whole history of our country, was to invest in the public high school and secondary school at the beginning of the 20th century. It dramatically raised the growth rate of America because it was a huge investment in human capital. The best economic analyses now say that investment in the public high schools in 1910 accounted for all of the growth of the American economy between then and about 1970. That huge investment paid off for everybody. Everybody in America had a higher income.”  (more…)

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Photo Source: South Washington County Schools

Governor Dayton at Newport Elementary School. Photo Source: South Washington County Schools

On a recent visit to Newport Elementary School, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton sat on the floor shaking hands with 4-year-olds.

“You look like you’re 65,” one little boy said, according to the StarTribune.

“Close. I’m 68,” Dayton said.

Dayton wasn’t reaching out to future voters — or running a guess-my-age contest. He was making a bold policy pitch: Offer every 4-year-old in the state universal access to full-day preschool programs.

For free.

It’s an exciting proposal that could reverse a troubling trend.

As a fact sheet from the governor’s office explains, “A new report from EdWeek shows that Minnesota currently ranks 50th in the nation in access to all-day pre-kindergarten programming.”

The good news is, “Minnesota could be among the first states in the country to offer free, full-day early learning programs,” a press release from the governor’s office says, “if a proposal from Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Senate becomes law this session.”  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Ready for school? It’s a personal question for children and families, and a policy question for educators and elected officials. Here in Massachusetts, there is no statewide definition or measure of “kindergarten readiness”, but in recent years local communities — including Somerville and New Bedford — have been grappling with this issue.

Now researchers from Harvard are offering advice and examples that can help communities think about defining and achieving school readiness.

In its March issue, the FINE Newsletter (the Family Involvement Network of Educators) shines a spotlight on how children make the transition to school.

“Although the first day of kindergarten is still a few months off, the time to start thinking about transition is now,” the newsletter says, adding, “a smooth transition to school makes a difference for student outcomes… Research shows that children from homes with increased social and economic risk benefit the most from transition activities; yet these are the children least likely to receive them.”  (more…)

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