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Archive for the ‘K-12’ Category

Senator Stan Rosenberg. Photo source: Senator Rosenberg's Facebook page.

Senator Stan Rosenberg. Photo source: Senator Rosenberg’s Facebook page

Children will be getting new attention from the Massachusetts Senate. Last week, the Senate announced that it’s launching a new initiative called Kids First that will work to improve the lives of the commonwealth’s children.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) told Boston Herald Radio that Kids First will be an effort to boost children’s resiliency and help them “become productive adults.”

Rosenberg named a group of senators who will “look at everything from education and nutrition to public health, housing and workforce development for ways to help the state’s youngest residents,” according to an AP story that ran in the Washington Times. (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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President Obama raising the profile of a young learner. Photo: The White House

President Obama raising the profile of a young learner. Photo: The White House

Last month, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, ushering in a new legislative era that includes a focus on early education.

As the Los Angeles Times explains:

“With the stroke of a pen, the No Child Left Behind Act became history on Thursday.

President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan replacement to the universally unpopular, nearly 15-year-old education law.”

According to the New York Times, ESSA is a bipartisan approach that “preserves federally mandated standardized testing but eliminates the punitive consequences for states and districts that perform poorly.”

The Times adds a quote from the president:

“‘This bill makes long-overdue fixes to the last education law, replacing the one-size-fits-all approach to reform with a commitment to provide every student with a well-rounded education,’ Mr. Obama said at a White House signing ceremony for the law. ‘With this bill, we reaffirm that fundamental American ideal that every child — regardless of race, income, background, the ZIP code where they live — deserves the chance to make out of their lives what they will.’”

(more…)

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“Fundamentally in Lawrence, we believe in this idea of mirroring the suburban experience, and we do that through high-quality academics; high-quality enrichment; the idea that hard work matters; teaching kids to be self advocates for their own learning; and then the last one is this idea of critical thinking, having kids, by the time they leave us, be able to encounter a novel situation [and] use their knowledge base to figure out how to deal with that situation.”

“It may not always show up on the test, but… it shows up in life.”

Jeff Riley, Superintendent/Receiver of the Lawrence Public Schools, speaking in a MassINC video, November, 2015

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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: Rylie Robinson for Strategies for Children

Photo: Rylie Robinson for Strategies for Children

“’Data! data! data!’ he cried impatiently. ‘I can’t make bricks without clay.’”

-Sherlock Holmes, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

*     *     *

In the field of early education, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers are all searching for good reliable data. Indeed, our ambitious, system-building goals require lots of data.

Take a look at K-12. Never before has that sector been so awash in data or so focused on using data to make informed decisions about teaching and learning. And data also fuels discussions about school and district accountability.

However, the data landscape is much different in the birth-5 early education space where simply asking “Where are all the 4-year-olds?” can quickly send you on a wild goose chase.

This lack of data can be as frustrating for local community leaders looking to improve preschool enrollment or kindergarten readiness as it is for state-level policymakers eager to measure the impact of state investments.

(more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Bilingual education has had a bumpy history, but now educators increasingly see the power of this approach. Educating children in both their native language and the language of their new homes helps them thrive.

Seventeen years ago, the opposition against bilingual programs — now more commonly known as dual language programs — was fierce.

“In 1998, Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley millionaire and former gubernatorial candidate, set out to abolish bilingual education in California. Fueled by an anti-immigrant climate, Unz spearheaded a statewide campaign for Proposition 227, a highly controversial state initiative that required schools to teach language-minority students almost entirely in English,” an article in the Atlantic says of the recent policy history. (more…)

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