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

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

To set state funding for K-12 public schools, Massachusetts relies on the Chapter 70 Program. Created by the Education Reform Act of 1993, and first implemented in fiscal year 1994, Chapter 70 uses a formula that “has two goals: adequacy and fairness,” according to a 2013 report from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DOE).

A fact sheet from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) adds, “The Education Reform Act also served as the Legislature ‘s response to the State Supreme Court case McDuffy v. Secretary of the Office of Education, which found on behalf of a group of students from communities with low property values that the state was not living up to its obligation to provide an adequate public education to all children in the state.”

Over the years, however, critics have challenged both the fairness and the adequacy of Chapter 70. And while the calculation of each district’s foundation budget is “updated each year to reflect inflation and changes in enrollment,” the formula at the heart of the foundation budget calculations has not been updated for over a decade.

Now, thanks to a provision in the fiscal year 2015 budget, a Foundation Budget Review Commission has been set up to review the formula.

Advocates around the state can participate by attending one of a series of public hearings that the commission is hosting around the state. One hearing was (more…)

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reading to

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Family Literacy Month is sponsored by the Massachusetts Family Literacy Consortium. To learn more about how to “raise a reader” and for other information, check out this Department of Early Education and Care web page.

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“We must continue to encourage families to support reading and literacy every day, as education is Massachusetts’ calling card. Teaching children the love of reading is opening the door to their future, and we must all get behind these efforts throughout the year.”

Governor Deval Patrick, in a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, November 7, 2014

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“Teaching children to read and to love reading creates the foundation for future successes in the classroom. I encourage all children and parents to find a subject they love and read everything and anything they can.”

Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, in the November 7th, 2014, press release

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“Through their multigenerational reach, family literacy programs play a critical role in the state’s effort to close academic achievement gaps and strengthen the workforce. By equipping parents with literacy knowledge, family literacy programs empower parents to support their child’s learning and development, which is good for families and our society as a whole.”

Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber, in the November 7th, 2014, press release

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

How can policymakers help struggling schools turn around? One answer is to expand high-quality preschool programs, so that year after year, “underperforming” schools are consistently enrolling more children who are ready to learn and succeed.

What makes early learning so powerful? It “addresses a significant issue that to date no other turnaround strategy has tackled: [that] the gaps turnaround schools aim to address emerge well before kindergarten entry,” according to a recent report from the Ounce of Prevention Fund and Mass Insight Education called “Changing the Metrics of Turnaround to Encourage Early Learning Strategies.”

Too often, the report says, the strategic importance of helping children access high-quality preschool is being overlooked as education leaders scramble to meet short-term accountability deadlines for children who are already in elementary school.

The Challenge of Turnaround Schools

At September’s meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, department staff gave a presentation on the status of the four Level 5-designated schools in the commonwealth — two are located in Boston, one is in Holyoke, and one is in New Bedford. (more…)

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blues mapHow is Massachusetts doing on third-grade reading proficiency? And how, specifically, are third graders in your community doing?

Strategies for Children’s (SFC) newly updated infographics webpage make it easy to see how reading skills and achievement play out across the state. These images and graphs can be shared online or printed out and distributed at meetings. The data originates from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and can be explored in detail on the department’s website.

As we blogged last month, scores on the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) have been stagnant.

In a statement, Chris Martes, SFC’s president and CEO, wrote, “The 2014 MCAS scores show that the state’s third grade reading proficiency rates have not changed since last year. This year, as in 2013, 43 percent of third grade students did not score proficient in reading. That’s roughly 29,000 children who did not meet this crucial educational benchmark.”

“The consequences of reading failure at this age are significant. Struggling readers are four times less likely to graduate high school on time than proficient readers, jeopardizing their prospects for participating in our global knowledge-based economy.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last month’s release of the 2014 MCAS scores revealed that our third grade reading proficiency rates have not changed since last year. Once again, 43 percent of third graders statewide did not score in the proficient range in reading. That’s roughly 29,000 children who did not meet this crucial educational benchmark. And as the research shows, the consequences of reading failure at this age are significant.

To change the trajectory of early literacy in Massachusetts, advocates, literacy experts, practitioners, and state policymakers are taking action. The state’s Early Literacy Expert Panel has just released its Year One Annual Report. It’s an early look into the critical work this panel was charged with: providing “recommendations to state education agencies on the alignment, coordination, implementation and improvement of all existing efforts that bear on children’s literacy outcomes, guided by the goal of improving third grade reading outcomes in the Commonwealth.”

Overseen by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education, the panel will ultimately submit its recommendations to the Departments of Early Education and Care (EEC), Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), and Higher Education (DHE). (more…)

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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…)

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“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…)

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