Archive for the ‘College/career readiness’ Category

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Holyoke is staging a comeback by building on its existing educational foundation to boost its children’s future success. The city has an ambitious plan for transforming its public school system that relies, in part, on high-quality early education.

Last March, Holyoke’s Mayor Alex Morse knew that his city’s school might go into state receivership. But he also knew Holyoke’s strengths. Writing in MassLive, he explained:

“That we face these problems is no reflection on our teachers and administrators who have worked so hard to improve our schools. On the contrary, the state’s report highlighted many areas where our schools have excelled despite poor systemic conditions. Our award-winning early literacy program has made a difference. Our graduation rate has increased. Our teen pregnancy rate has dropped precipitously. Superintendent Dr. Sergio Paez, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Hyry, and our school committee have laid a strong foundation for future success. Local partnerships have given our kids access to tutoring, after-school programs, and extracurricular activities.”

At the end of April, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education did indeed announce that Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) was a Level 5, “chronically underperforming” district. This designation put the schools into receivership. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

It’s time for the entire country to remake early education.

“We need to reshape the primary years and re-envision the elementary school. The K-5 model starts too late and is usually disconnected from early care and education providers such as pre-K centers,” Laura Bornfreund and Lisa Guernsey wrote last week in a CNN opinion piece called “First day of kindergarten: A key transition.”

Bornfreund is the deputy director of the early education initiative at the nonprofit think tank New America, and Guernsey is the director of New America’s early education initiative and its Learning Technologies Project.

Zeroing in on that first day of kindergarten, Bornfreund and Guernsey point out that teachers often have very little information about the children who arrive in their classrooms.

“Which children have had the benefit of pre-K? Who has never held a book? How many know letters, recognize shapes, or can handle their emotions when a tower of blocks topples?”  (more…)

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“Central to a healthy economy, now and in the future is an educated workforce. Building on the achievements of the Ed Reform law, now more than two decades old, there’s still work to be done.

“We have long recognized that education doesn’t start in elementary school and end at high school graduation: To that, I’m proud of our ongoing efforts to help make higher education more affordable for Massachusetts’ students and their families including our community colleges which are playing an ever increasing role in training the workers of tomorrow.

“In addition, we know the benefit of helping our youngest children. This session, we will devise our own plan to further provide early access to high quality programming for our youngest children. Not only is a renewed commitment to early education and care vital to the current economy by helping working parents– it’s vital to our children’s future.”

Robert DeLeo, Speaker of the Massachusetts House, in his address to the House of Representatives, February 11, 2015 (emphasis ours)

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Andy Hargreaves, professor  at Boston College's Lynch School of Education. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Andy Hargreaves, professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“The moment is ripe for more deliberate action in the early childhood sphere in Massachusetts,” according to a new report from the Rennie Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on education research and policy.

The annual report — “Condition of Education (COE) in the Commonwealth Report: Priority Actions for a Statewide Agenda” — includes a data report and a policy action guide. Several research and policy organizations, including Strategies for Children, served on the report’s advisory committee.

Rennie released the report at a standing-room-only event at the Omni Parker Hotel that brought together Jim Peyser, the state’s new secretary of education with the chairs of the Boards of the Departments of Early Education and Care; Elementary and Secondary Education; and Higher Education.

The report “highlights what works now,” Pendred Noyce, chair of Rennie’s board, said at the Omni Parker event, explaining that the report points to successful programs that could be replicated to improve educational outcomes across the state. (more…)

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Last Week, Fort Worth, Tx., hosted a statewide summit on early learning, and public radio station KERA conducted an interview of three of the summit’s experts: a pediatrician, an economist, and a business leader, about “how early childhood programs and elementary educators can better prepare kids for academic success.”

The three interviewees are:

Dr. Neal Halfon, a pediatrics professor and director of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities

James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning, University of Chicago professor of economics, and

Robert H. Dugger, Chairman of the ReadyNation Advisory Board and Invest in Kids Working Group

The conversation covers achievement gaps, parent engagement, kindergarten readiness, and the importance of being able to play well with others.

Of these crucial social and emotional skills, Dugger says, “From the business community, we think of these more as executive skills. These are the skills that enable a person to work effectively in a team.”

“If these skills are not in place by age 5 — kindergarten entry — they frequently don’t appear. We know that addressing them before age 5 works.”

To hear more, listen to the interview. It’s posted on KERA’s website and can also be downloaded.

And consider making a comment on the interview’s webpage to stir up the conversation on the importance of high-quality early education and care.

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“Since 2004, Federal Reserve leadership—the Chairman and leadership from the regional banks—have endorsed high-quality early childhood education as a key economic development strategy,” the national nonprofit ReadyNation explains in an inspiring collection of quotations, including:

“Gaps in skills that are important for adult outcomes are observable by age 5 and tend to persist into adulthood…It makes economic sense to concentrate intensive human capital investment in the form of formal schooling on the young: The earlier workers invest, the longer they have to profit from their investments.”

Jeffrey Lacker, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, “Investing in people as an economic growth strategy.” Washington Post, July 13, 2014

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“Research increasingly has shown the importance for both individuals and the economy as a whole of both early childhood education as well as efforts to promote the lifelong acquisition of skills. The payoffs of early childhood programs can be especially high.”

Ben Bernanke, former Chair, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System, (Bernanke is currently an economist at the Brookings Institution) in a speech presented to the Southern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments, Charleston, SC. Federal Reserve Board of Governors, August 2, 2010



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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Reading, writing, arithmetic – and computer coding?

Coding is a crucial part of being literate, according to educators and employers who say that America’s students should learn how to code so they can participate in the high-tech economy.

When should children start? They’re already getting started in kindergarten. So we decided to take a look at news stories about how this trend is playing out in classrooms.

When adults code, they use a coding language such as Java or Python to write instructions for computers. Now researchers have come up with an easier way for children to code using images.

In the eSchool News article, “Coding with the Kindergarten Crowd,” Laura Devaney writes, “Introducing coding to kindergarten students helps them reflect on their own learning as they develop 21st-century skills such as problem solving and creativity, experts say.”


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