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

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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Congratulations to the city of Lawrence’s public schools and to their community partners. They were one of the winners at the Third Annual Gateway City Innovation Awards which is sponsored by the nonprofit thank tank MassINC.

Held in Worcester last month, the award ceremony acknowledged Gateway Cities for their innovative, collaborative approaches to long-standing community problems.

The win is particularly sweet for Lawrence because its schools have struggled. In 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that the city’s schools fell into the Level 5 category, the state’s lowest one, because of chronic underperformance.

The district was put into receivership and Jeff Riley, a Boston educator, was brought in as the new superintendent and charged with implementing a turnaround plan. (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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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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Here’s Strategies for Children’s statement on yesterday’s release of state MCAS scores.

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In Massachusetts, only 60 percent of third graders are proficient readers, according to the 2015 MCAS results released yesterday. (PARCC results are preliminary and cannot be compared directly to MCAS.)

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education notes that for third grade reading, despite a small increase over 2014, “scores have been essentially flat over the past six years.” 

Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, commented:

“We are glad to see third grade reading proficiency rates improve slightly, but are troubled by the slow pace of improvement and the fact that scores statewide have remained essentially stagnant since 2001.

To move the needle on this critical benchmark, the state must make larger investments in the birth-to-5 early childhood system. Despite recent state budget increases in early education, Massachusetts’ investment still trails pre-recession spending levels in this area.

Providing high-quality preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, particularly those from low-income families and communities, would be a huge step in the right direction. The Legislature has the opportunity to do that this session, and we hope our lawmakers will pass a comprehensive pre-K expansion bill.

High-quality pre-K is, however, only one piece of the puzzle. Our community-based infant and toddler programs must be staffed by well-trained, well-compensated educators. In the K-3 grades, literacy curriculum, diagnostic assessments, and professional development must be examined closely and aligned with research-based best practices. Parent engagement and after school / out-of-school-time programming are also essential.

As Education Secretary James Peyser recently stated, “In pursuing our shared goals, we cannot afford to treat early education as an afterthought.”

 No matter what test the state adopts, MCAS, PARCC, or some other option, substantially more children will need to meet reading benchmarks by the end of third grade. The future economic prospects of our commonwealth depend on it.

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