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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 35 states and Puerto Rico are applying for federal Preschool Development Grants. The program will distribute $250 million in funding to “25 high-need communities in approximately 12-15 states.”

This welcome announcement shows a sweeping national desire to invest in preschool programs that help children thrive.

The goal of these grants is to help states build, develop, and expand “voluntary, high-quality preschool programs in high-need communities for children from low- and moderate-income families,” according to a press release.

Jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the grants “will lay the groundwork to ensure that more states are ready to participate in the Preschool for All initiative proposed by the Obama Administration.” (more…)

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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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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“Access to preschool programs — and their quality — varies widely across Texas,” according to a Houston Chronicle article, “Broad coalition pushes anew for expanded pre-K.”

These variations play out within and across school districts. Some schools offer full-day programs, others only run for a half a day. So children in programs that are only 10 miles apart can have vastly different experiences.

“Currently, Texas only pays for half day pre-kindergarten for at-risk 4 year-olds. There are no limits on those class sizes. And child-care providers don’t have to have a college degree,” an article on Houston Public Media’s website says.

The Chronicle says that NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research) estimates that “52 percent of 4-year-olds in Texas were enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs last year, and another 9 percent attended federal Head Start pre-K. Enrollment in private programs isn’t tracked.”

“According to data from the Texas Education Agency, 690 districts offered full-day pre-K programs – lasting four or more hours – and 347 districts had only half-day classes. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Earlier this month an article in the Vineyard Gazette – “First Step Is Big Step on Path of Education” – looked at preschool on Martha’s Vineyard.

“As a conversation unfolds in Massachusetts and around the country on the value of pre-kindergarten learning and whether it should be incorporated into public school education, interviews with early childhood educators on the Island reveals a similar conversation is quietly taking place here,” the article says.

Famous for being a summer vacation destination, the Vineyard faces familiar challenges in providing high-quality early education programs, including access, affordability, and serving English Language Learners.

“There are no comprehensive hard numbers on the preschool-aged population on the Vineyard, although it is known that the 10 preschools and 18 state-licensed day care facilities can accommodate up to 386 children on any given day,” according to the article. “The 2010 census found that there were 818 children under the age of six whose parents work. This would suggest that possibly there are more children needing preschool and day care than available spaces, although not all the schools and centers are fully enrolled.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

How much is a college degree worth? Quite a lot, for students who major in chemical engineering. Their median lifetime earnings are more than $2 million.

But the median lifetime earnings of students who major in early childhood education – about $770,000 — is less than that of any other college major including social work, theology, fine arts and elementary education.

This disappointing news comes from a report — “Major Decisions: What Graduates Learn Over Their Lifetimes” — released last month by the Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution.

“Drawing upon data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, we examine earnings for approximately 80 majors, focusing on both annual earnings for each year of the career and cumulative lifetime earnings,” the report explains.

Among the key findings:

“Majors that train students to work with children or provide counseling services tend to have graduates with the lowest earnings.” (more…)

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“Our most important obligation is to the next generation of Montanans, to ensure they have more opportunities to succeed than we did. It’s time that Montana give every four year-old
access to high-quality, early childhood education that will set them on a path to thrive through their educational career and beyond.”

Montana Governor Steve Bullock unveiling a $37 million early childhood proposal, October 13, 2014

 

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“The conversation on reducing the “word gap” in early childhood has reached new heights: Today the White House Office on Science and Technology is hosting a group of policymakers, researchers, and early childhood advocates to exchange ideas on how to help foster language development. The event is titled ‘Federal, State and Local Efforts to Bridge the Word Gap: Sharing Best Practices and Lessons Learned.'”

“At the White House: Mapping Innovations to Bridge the Word Gap,” Lisa Guernsey, director of the Learning Technologies Project and director of the Early Education Initiative in New America’s Education Policy Program, October 16, 2014 (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As preschool programs around the country grow, parents need to know how to pick the best program for their children.

Take the case of New York:

“Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged that this year’s free pre-K classes would all be ‘high quality.’ But what does that look like?” Amy Zimmer asks in a DNAinfo NewYork article, “9 Signs of a Good Pre-K Program.” 

DNAinfo New York consulted with experts, “including those who’ve spent years in classrooms teaching 4-year-olds as well as professional development experts responsible for training pre-K teachers…”

Here’s the resulting nine-item list of what to look for. (more…)

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