Archive for the ‘Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Massachusetts’ education agencies have collaborated on a new website – “Building the Foundation for College and Career Success for Children from Birth through Grade 3.” It’s a public resource that will share information on the state’s promising efforts to build a birth-through-grade-three policy agenda that will help children achieve success in school and later in life.

“By creating this agenda,” the website explains, “we will enhance the quality of educational and other services provided to children and families and also increase policy alignment and collaboration among our state education agencies – the Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Higher Education.”

The birth-through-grade-three agenda will also “strengthen essential partnerships with educators, parents and families, local and state officials, legislators, community and business partners, and other members of the commonwealth,” enabling the state to make an even stronger commitment to its children. (more…)

Read Full Post »

“Investing in early education is becoming not a question of ‘if’ or ‘why’, but ‘how?’” These introductory comments by

Photo by Chau Ly courtesy of the Department of Early Education and Care

Photo by Chau Ly courtesy of the Department of Early Education and Care

Albert Wat, senior policy analyst at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, helped set the stage for the day’s conference, Birth Through Grade 3 Policy Forum: Developing Strategic Pathways to College and Career Success.

More than 250 early educators, K-12 administrators, and community leaders gathered at the DCU center on Friday, May 16, to discuss birth-grade three policy strategies at the local and state levels. Community-wide efforts, collaboration, and shared accountability were among the prominent themes of the day.

The event was sponsored by the Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Department of Higher Education, the Readiness Centers Network, and Strategies for Children. A team of representatives from these agencies have been working collaboratively on a shared B-8 agenda since Massachusetts was awarded a grant from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) back in June, 2013. Five other states received similar NGA policy academy grants.

Saeyun Lee, senior assistant commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, told attendees, “This event is the result of months of analysis from the NGA team. Today, you will be able to contribute to the state’s birth-grade 3 agenda.” Even though the NGA grant ends in four to five months, the work will be ongoing. (more…)

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A new report, “Building a Foundation for Success,” looks at the unmet preschool needs of children in the commonwealth — and proposes three ways that Massachusetts might expand its preschool programs to create more access.

Released by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), a nonprofit research organization, the report examines the number of preschool-age children in Massachusetts and the public funding streams that support their enrollment. The report costs out “a range of options for expanding and improving early education and care for these 3- and 4-year-olds in Massachusetts.” The options proposed range in cost from $153 million to $606 million in increased annual state funding on top of what is currently being spent. This increased state funding would be bolstered by non-state sources such as sliding scale parent fees or local education funding, depending on the model used.

“Right now we have a very fragmented system and that leaves many kids without access to any early education at all,” Noah Berger, MassBudget’s president, told the Boston Globe. However, Berger added that there was a growing consensus that a wide expansion of early education options was good for children and for the economy.

Carolyn Lyons, Strategies for Children president and CEO, is encouraged by the report. “This new report by MassBudget builds upon ongoing state and local policy conversations across the commonwealth on how to pay for and structure high-quality universal pre-k. Research shows that high-quality early education has (more…)

Read Full Post »

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


Read Full Post »

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Today is a big day for children and families in Massachusetts and across the country. Strategies for Children applauds Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Congressman George Miller (D-CA), and Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY) for their bi-partisan leadership in introducing the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.  This legislation builds on the progress that we have made in Massachusetts under the leadership of Governor Patrick and our state legislators to ensure that our children have the foundation they need to be successful in school and in life.

Over the past decade, the commonwealth has led the country as we put into place a system of high-quality early education for all children, beginning at birth. Yet significant achievement gaps still exist. Too many children show up for school already behind, and too many will never catch up. Experts agree that high-quality early education has a lifetime impact on young learners in terms of greater academic readiness and improved social skills.

The research is clear. High-quality early childhood education programs are a sound investment. That’s why we’re making sure Members of Congress hear us loud and clear as they move forward with the budget and now this new opportunity — the Strong Start for America’s Children bill.  Please email your Members of Congress in support of the bill now.

The bill has three main parts:

  • Grants to states to expand high-quality preschool, building on their current state-funded preschool delivery system (there are also grants for states that do not yet invest in or need to raise the quality of their standards for preschool);
  • Grants to create Early Head Start/child care partnerships to improve the quality of and expand access to high-quality child care for infants and toddlers; and
  • A call for the expansion of the voluntary home visiting program for infants and toddlers.

Please help us give this bill a solid start by asking your Members of Congress to co-sponsor it.
 The introduction of this historic early learning bill provides an opportunity that we can’t afford to miss. At the same time, as the federal budget is negotiated between the House and Senate, we must fight hard to undo the harsh effects of the sequester and to increase investments in early learning.

Stay tuned for more information and more opportunities for action.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Last fall, the Massachusetts Legislature passed and Governor Patrick signed “An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency,” into law, taking a bold step to address and improve the state’s literacy efforts.

There has been growing recognition of the importance of helping children read well by the end of third grade. Unfortunately, Massachusetts has not yet made progress in improving third grade reading outcomes.

What’s needed is a birth-through-age-nine approach that aligns research, policy and best practices, and ensures all children have learning experiences in language-rich environments that help them learn to read and love to read.

The bill had the support of advocates around the state and the leadership of its sponsors: former Representative Martha Walz (D-Boston) and Senator Katherine Clark (D-Melrose). It was also supported by the two education committee co-chairs, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston) and Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley).

“We know that a child who can read by third grade has a better chance to succeed in his or her adult life,” Governor Patrick stated at the time of the bill signing. “With this legislation, we will develop a plan for students and teachers to achieve that goal, and thereby provide the best chance for our children to succeed in the 21st century global economy.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

“We should be quite proud but not complacent.”

Mitchell D. Chester, Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, commenting on Massachusetts being ranked number one in education by the 2013 Kids COUNT report; in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, July 11, 2013.

Read Full Post »

Carolyn Lyons, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement today on the resignation yesterday of Early Education and Care Commissioner Sherri Killins:

“We at Strategies for Children and our Early Education for All Campaign thank former Commissioner Killins for her leadership on behalf of the commonwealth’s young children and families. She was instrumental in laying the foundation for a statewide system of high-quality early education upon which Governor Patrick’s proposed new investments in early education rest. She spearheaded Massachusetts’ successful application for a $50 million federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant. She launched a Quality Rating and Improvement System that defines levels of quality and offers programs pathways to improve. She helped further the professionalization of the early education workforce and aligned programs and services to ensure that children have the strong start they need to succeed in school. She and the Department of Early Education and Care achieved this with relatively little investment of state funds. She leaves the commonwealth poised to build on this foundation and substantially increase the number of children who have access to high-quality early education and care. We wish her well and remain grateful for her service. We look forward to working with Acting Commissioner Tom Weber, the Board of Early Education and Care, and early educators across the state on our shared vision for the commonwealth’s children.”

Read Full Post »

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released results of the 2012 MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) test today. Here is the news release about the third grade reading results that Strategies for Children sent to media outlets:

September 17, 2012 – In Massachusetts, 39% of third graders are not proficient readers, according to MCAS results released today. Performance in reading on the third grade MCAS has remained stagnant since 2001, when 38% of third graders scored below proficient in reading.  Among children from low-income families, 60%lag in reading.

See charts: Trends in Third Grade Reading, by Income and Third Grade Reading 2012 MCAS.

Reading is the foundation of success in both the classroom and the workplace. Research finds that third grade reading is a critical educational benchmark that strongly predicts children’s future performance in school and beyond. In July, the Legislature passed An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency with overwhelming bipartisan support. Today, the bill was enacted by the House and Senate and is currently before Governor Patrick. The bill, which was introduced by Senator Katherine Clark (D-Melrose) and Representative Marty Walz (D-Boston), would establish an Early Literacy Expert Panel to advise state agencies on research-based strategies to improve the language and literacy development of children from birth to age 9.

Amy O’Leary, director of Early Education for All, a campaign of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement:

“We should all be alarmed that 39% of third graders are not proficient readers and that Massachusetts has made virtually no progress in third grade reading over the past decade. We should all be concerned about the wide and persistent achievement gap. We know what to do to improve children’s literacy. We must act now on this knowledge. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,821 other followers

%d bloggers like this: