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Archive for the ‘Achievement gap’ Category

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

This month in the Washington Post, Jared Bernstein makes a strong case for battling social inequality by investing in high-quality early education and care.

Bernstein was Vice President Biden’s chief economist, and he is currently a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The title of his article is: “The biggest public policy mistake we’re continuing to make, year after year.” The article’s tagline adds: “By not investing in quality early childhood education, we’re leaving vulnerable kids behind and lots of future benefits on the table.”

Bernstein’s reasoning:

“It is widely agreed that while we do not seek equal outcomes in America, we do aspire to equal opportunity, at least in theory,” he writes in the Post. “We have, however, never come close to that ideal, particularly as regards minorities and those with few resources. A great way to correct that is to invest more national resources in early childhood education.” (more…)

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“Our bottom line is a sense of urgency and we know that you all feel it,” Elizabeth Burke Bryant, the executive director of Rhode Island KIDS Count, said last week at the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s (CGLR) New England Regional meeting. “The sense of urgency is greater than ever.”

The problem: too many children cannot read proficiently.

As CGLR says on its website, the country faces a challenge: “Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Yet every year, more than 80 percent of low-income children miss this crucial milestone.”

The good news: “We’re starting to see communities produce results,” Ron Fairchild, a senior consultant at CGLR, said at the meeting.

Indeed, the issue of early reading proficiency is compelling more and more communities to join the effort – 232 local communities are now members of CGLR’s national network, up from an initial cohort of 124 when the campaign launched in 2011.

Held at Worcester Technical High School, the meeting was an opportunity for 70 participants from four states to share the effective work that’s being done around the country to boost children’s reading skills. (more…)

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A new video from NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) offers an engaging look at men in early education.

“Often when males are mentioned as it relates to being in the classroom, they’re often viewed as a disciplinarian,” Alvin Irby says in the video. “You know, someone who’s gonna — who the boys are going to listen to. And I think that there’s so much more to men being in early childhood classrooms.” Irby is the chief reading inspirer at Barbershop Books, a nonprofit effort “To close the reading achievement gap for young black boys by using child-centered, culturally relevant, and high-impact strategies.”

“I think that men bring a sense of wonder to curriculum,” Sandra Lanz, a child development specialist says in the video. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

States face a persistent problem: Classrooms full of children who struggle to read.

“Only about one-third of all children attending school in the United States can read proficiently by fourth grade,” the New America foundation explains on its website. “The numbers are even more dismaying for our most vulnerable students. How can state policymakers lessen the achievement gap and improve literacy outcomes for all children?”

To find answers, New America has taken a look at all 50 states’ birth-to-third-grade policies.

The resulting report is a ranking of states called, “From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth- 3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers.”

“Accompanying the research are interactive maps of state progress displayed via New America’s data visualization and policy analysis tool, Atlas.” This is an easy, graphic way to access findings for individual states. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is weighing in on preschool with an article about the challenges of creating programs that maximize best outcomes for children.

Called “Preschool is for Real,” the article starts by noting that children and teachers are doing a lot of hard work.

“Imagine yourself as a preschooler. Everything’s an adventure, from pretending you’re a superhero to chasing a butterfly to painting a self-portrait. There is so much to explore, discover and learn at preschool, and it all feels like play—hours and hours of play,” the article says.

“But behind all the fun and games, preschool teachers have one very serious goal: To prepare children for kindergarten and future academic success. To achieve that, they have the daunting task of helping young children learn specific social, emotional, physical, linguistic, cognitive, literacy and math skills, which are defined in state learning guidelines or standards. All this sounds very much like school, although preschool teachers make it all feel like play.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Early education programs have many community partners. Among the key players are housing authorities. And when education and housing officials join forces, children and families stand to benefit.

“From Massachusetts to California and Florida to Washington State, housing authorities are joining a nationwide movement to promote early reading and put young children on the path to success,” according to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s (GLR) website.

“More than 1,000,000 children from birth to age 8 are housed in the nation’s 3,200 housing authorities, many attending local public schools that are severely underperforming. These children often start school with such a reading deficit that they have little hope of attaining grade-level proficiency by the end of third grade, a key predictor of high school graduation.

“By embracing grade-level reading as an important goal of the supportive services they provide, housing authorities are demonstrating that they can break the cycle of hopelessness. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

J.B. Pritzker is best known as a Chicago-based venture capitalist and philanthropist. He has also donated millions of dollars to early education. But this fall, Pritzker is sporting a new job title: early education policy wonk.

Pritzker has co-authored a paper, with the nonprofit Bridgespan Group, called “Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children: A Funder’s Guide to Early Childhood Development from Birth to Five.”

In the paper, Pritzker and his co-authors point to the vast unmet need for high-quality early education and care — and they argue that philanthropists can play a key role.

As a related fact sheet explains, “Remarkably, 1 in 4 American children come from low-income families and enter kindergarten not ready to learn.” And, “50% of all low-income children from birth to 5 are at risk of not being fully prepared for kindergarten.” (more…)

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