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Archive for the ‘Dept. of Early Education and Care’ Category

House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“From education to energy to transportation; from economic development bills that focus on diverse regions and industries to our nationally-heralded gun safety legislation; we are known in Massachusetts and this House for pairing bold ideas with commitment to collaboration. We also know that excellence — the historic excellence that makes Massachusetts a national model in areas like education — is achieved by laying groundwork for continuous improvement over time. Although we recognize that we’re facing some real financial constraints, the House will keep its focus on our most precious resource: our children. 

“We have one shot to get this right. And we will. That’s why more than a decade ago, members of this House had the insight to create the first-in-the-nation Department of Early Education and Care [EEC]. Access to high-quality early education provides short and long-term benefits that not only impact an individual, but impact our society as a whole: everything from kindergarten readiness, to financial independence, to widespread economic health, to incarceration rates. We will seek ways to improve and revitalize the Massachusetts EEC framework in a responsible, sustainable and forward-looking way. We will help build a system that early educators, parents, and, most of all, our children, deserve. To do so, we will enhance our three-tiered strategy which places a premium on building a strong workforce to ensure improved access to high-quality EEC programming.”

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) in a speech made to members of the Massachusetts House, January 27, 2016

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Governor Charlie Baker. Photo: State of Massachusetts website.

Governor Charlie Baker. Photo: State of Massachusetts website.

Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released a $39.6 billion state budget proposal for fiscal year 2017.

“This year’s budget sets the table for fiscal responsibility and a strong economic environment, without raising taxes or fees on our hardworking families,” Baker said in a press release. Baker is also trying to close a $635 million budget gap.

This proposal “continues the multi-year effort of bringing state spending in line with revenues, significantly reducing the state’s reliance on one-time solutions, and budgeting for a sizable deposit into the stabilization fund.” (more…)

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Chad d'Entremont, executive director of the Rennie Center. Photo: Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

Chad d’Entremont, executive director of the Rennie Center. Photo: Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

 

“Cognitive and non-cognitive skills are inextricably linked,” Harvard’s Nonie Lesaux said during a panel discussion at the Condition of Education event hosted by the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy.

There’s a growing consensus in education that children can’t develop strong cognitive skills without non-cognitive “soft skills” such as focus, persistence, and getting along with others. Indeed, the two categories of skills may be more linked than we realize.


 

Last week, the Rennie Center released the findings of its 2016 “Condition of Education in the Commonwealth” report at an event in Boston’s Omni Parker House Hotel. This year’s report focused on social-emotional learning, a hot topic among educators, parents, and researchers. The topic was so hot that #COE2016 was trending on Twitter during the event.

Covering education trends from birth to college and beyond, Rennie’s work includes a focus on high-quality early education. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Newly announced grants from the state of Massachusetts will help 13 cities and towns “develop strategic plans for providing high-quality preschool to more children in their community.”

The grant program — the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative — will invest $500,000 to help communities design “a collaborative, public-private partnership model for providing high-quality preschool that is aligned with Massachusetts’ Preschool Expansion Grant program.”

As Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber explains, the grants help communities build upon their existing programs.

The grant recipients are: Athol, Brockton, Cape Cod, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. The grant amounts range from $22,000 to $40,000. (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 Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) wants to know what you think preschoolers should know about science, technology, and engineering.

EEC is requesting public feedback on its adoption of Pre-Kindergarten Science, Technology and Engineering Standards.

From studying the moon to understanding more about the earth’s rocks, soil, and water, these topics capitalize on children’s natural curiosity and excitement about how the world works – making the preschool years an ideal time to learn these lessons.

We blogged about the standards a couple of years ago when they were in draft stage. As we explained then, the standards cover “biology and the life sciences (plants and animals); earth and space science; and the physical sciences.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Education officials have released the state’s new social-emotional learning (SEL) standards: officially called the “Massachusetts Standards for Preschool and Kindergarten in the Domains of Social and Emotional Learning, and Approaches to Play and Learning.”

It’s a key step toward teaching young children the so-called “soft” skills they need to be successful in school and later in life.

“Children enter early education programs with a vast diversity in experiences, language, culture, development, and ability, creating the widest developmental range of any age group,” the standards say. “Some may have spent extensive time in group settings, others no time at all.” Given these diverse experiences, building social and emotional skills is an essential part of building a cohesive group.

Massachusetts isn’t alone. Educators and advocates across the country have the same goal. (more…)

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