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Archive for the ‘College/career readiness’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for

A new education initiative called Future Ready Massachusetts offers parents insights about how to prepare their children for college and careers. It’s a smart way to make sure that parents are in the know about what their children need to succeed.

“Being Future Ready means having the knowledge, skills and attitudes to complete whatever education and training you need to achieve your goals in school, work and life,” the website explains.

The Future Ready campaign has two goals:

 1. to increase the number of students who succeed in their colleges and careers, and

2. to build community and family support to encourage students to complete a rigorous course of study that prepares them for better opportunities after high school.

 Future Ready is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education in partnership with many other organizations across the commonwealth. (more…)

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Massachusetts sealMassachusetts’ education governance structure — which through the education secretariat links the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) — provides an exciting opportunity to align resources and policies to address longstanding achievement gaps and improve outcomes for children. These alignment opportunities were the subject of Monday night’s first joint meeting between the boards of EEC and DESE.

Before a packed audience and members of both boards, Matthew Malone, the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth who also serves on both boards, opened the meeting. He highlighted the importance of this joint meeting and the commonwealth’s collective responsibility to focus on children’s earliest years, birth through eight. He pointed out that there is “no better way” to close the achievement gap than “investing in early childhood.”

During the meeting, the boards heard about several promising initiatives including:

  • implementation of the Massachusetts Kindergarten Entry Assessment system
  • the National Governors Association Policy Academy, and
  • the Early Literacy Expert Panel, which was created through the enactment of An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency, legislation SFC helped to craft and support

(more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Gateway Cities – the onetime mill and manufacturing towns that helped fuel the economy in Massachusetts – fell on hard times when the industrial era faded.

“Our economic strategy for the past several years has been centered on creating only highly-skilled, high-paying jobs in high-profile cities,” Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish said at a recent Gateway Cities event hosted by the local nonprofit think tank MassINC. “The result has been limited growth throughout the rest of the commonwealth, and a middle class that has been cast aside.”

Now these 26 cities – from Brockton, Lawrence and Lowell to New Bedford, Westfield and Worcester — are making a comeback.

Refusing to be branded as “underperforming,” the Gateway Cites are using a new report to “articulate a vision for effective 21st-century learning systems,” as Mayor Kimberley Driscoll of Salem and Mayor Lisa Wong of Fitchburg explain in the report. Called “The Gateway Cities Vision for Dynamic Community-Wide Learning Systems,” it was released earlier this month by MassINC. (more…)

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Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

More than 200 people came to the Boston Children’s Museum last Thursday night to attend “Conversation with the Boston Mayoral Candidates – Early Childhood and Education: Closing the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps.”  Strategies for Children, Boston Children’s Museum, Thrive in 5 and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley cosponsored the event along with 31 other organizations.

Both candidates – City Councilor John Connolly and State Representative Marty Walsh — participated, each on stage separately. Candidates answered questions posed by the night’s moderator, WBZ political reporter Jon Keller, and from the audience, which included early educators, providers, pediatricians, college students, professors of higher education, teachers, advocates, and citizens.

As Carolyn Lyons, the president and CEO of Strategies for Children, explained to the audience in her introduction, the forum builds on the momentum that has been fueled by early education proposals from Governor Deval Patrick and other governors,  the Massachusetts legislature and President Obama’s bold proposal to expand preschool programs nationally.

The candidates were asked to come prepared to articulate their vision for Boston’s children and families and discuss what they would do for children and families should they become mayor. They responded by (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

What do IBM and a group of five-year-olds have in common?  They both have creative minds that could change the world.

That’s why IBM and other companies recognize the value of investing in early education: so today’s young children will have the skills to become tomorrow’s STEM employees (science, technology, engineering and math.)

The link between early education and the business community will be highlighted in a webinar called “Start Early with STEM” that’s being hosted on Monday, August 5, 2013, at 3 p.m. (Eastern time), by ReadyNation, a nonprofit business partnership for early childhood and economic success.

The webinar will cover “the latest early childhood STEM education research and how the business community is supporting the development of early childhood STEM through smart policy advocacy and community initiatives.”

The speakers include: Greg Duncan, a professor of education at the University of California, Irvine; Marcy Reed, National Grid president, Massachusetts; and JD Chesloff, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and the chair of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has just released its 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book, its annual look at children’s well-being across the country and in each state.

As the data book’s foreword explains: “After many years of calamitous economic trends, this year’s KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals some modest but hopeful signs of recovery and improvement for America’s children and families. While the nation certainly has not fully recovered from the recession, we are doing the hard work of digging out and moving ahead.”

The data book also looks at “how America’s youngest children are faring, adding to the ongoing national conversation on early childhood education,” according to the foundation’s press release.

National Findings

Although the effects of the recession persist, children are making progress in health and education, and there have been slight improvements in their economic situations, the data book explains.  Here are some of the specific findings:

- During 2009-2011, 54 percent of the nation’s three- and four-year-olds (4.3 million children) were not enrolled in preschool. This is a decrease from 2005-2007 when 56% of children were not enrolled. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Around the country, states and school districts are instituting early warning systems to identify students at risk of not graduating from high school or not being prepared for college-level work when they do. Although school districts begin collecting data on children in kindergarten, Education Week reports, often these early warning systems start in high school.

In North Carolina, the Charlotte-Mecklenberg district has an early warning system that begins in elementary school.

“Officials in the 141,000-student district are relying on a ‘risk-factor scorecard’ to help them spot children who are in jeopardy of becoming dropouts and then deploy resources to help them change course,” Ed Week reports. “Using high-tech data analytics to examine grades, attendance, course failures, declines in grade point average, and disciplinary incidents, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s scorecard system, which was put in place during the 2010-11 school year, predicts even after the first few months of kindergarten which students are at risk. District leaders, principals, and classroom teachers are using the information to make decisions about how to deploy resources all across the district. ’This information is very powerful,’ says Scott Muri, the district’s chief information officer. ‘This helps to inform our decision-making process about children, budget processes, and human resources. Decisions at every level can be impacted by this.’”

Here in Massachusetts, (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama called on states to raise the dropout age to 18. With research showing that low-income children who participated in high-quality early education are 30% more likely to finish high school, it is clear that early learning is a critical component of an effective dropout prevention strategy.

Chad d’Entremont, new executive director of the Rennie Center (and former research and policy director of Strategies for Children), tells American Prospect that mandating attendance “is not a silver bullet.”

“Instead, he argued that raising the dropout age ‘needs to be accompanied by a host of supports that address the root causes,’” American Prospect reports. “D’Entremont pointed to options like night classes for students who felt a need to work while in school and a bigger emphasis on goal-setting and counseling so that alienated students had at least on adult in the school they could turn to.

“To really lower the dropout rate, d’Entremont argued for early childhood care, like more pre-k and full-day kindergarten, and a better way to monitor which kids are likely to be at high-risk of dropping out—and provide resources in elementary and middle school. ‘We need to focus more on prevention as opposed to intervention,’ he said, explaining that ‘changes that occur at the very tail end of a student’s career’ are least likely to bring change.”

Laura Bornfreund of the New America Foundation also calls for a balanced approach to dropout prevention that begins with children’s earliest years. “Students who are developmentally and cognitively ready for kindergarten are more likely to be reading on grade level by the end of third grade and on the path to achieve at high levels and graduate from high school,” Bornfreund writes in a National Journal post.

Research backs her up. Children who are not proficient readers by the end of third grade are four times less likely to finish high school by age 19.

“Attacking the drop out crisis at both ends,” Bornfreund writes, “should in time lead to less of a need for costly remediation at the secondary level, making additional investment in early learning, birth through third grade, much easier. In tough budget times, states want to get the most bang for their buck.”

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