Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Researchers at Duke University have found that two North Carolina preschool programs “significantly reduce the likelihood of special education placement in the third grade,” creating substantial cost-savings for the state, according to an article in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

It’s an exciting outcome for children and for taxpayers.

“Together, North Carolina’s Smart Start and More at Four early childhood programs reduced the odds of third-grade special education placement by 39 percent. Nationwide, special education costs nearly twice as much as regular classroom education,” a Duke University press release explains.

The release adds: “Smart Start, which dates back to the early 1990s, provides child care, health screenings and other services to children ages zero to five across the state. More at Four, created in 2001, provided preschool slots for disadvantaged four-year-olds. The program was rechristened NC Pre-K in 2011 and is now managed by a different state agency.  (more…)

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“Are all of Burlington’s children on the path to a healthy and prosperous future? Compelling scientific research into the brain development of infants and young children shows that the early years of a child’s life are critical to developing the skills necessary to become a thriving adult. A lack of household economic resources is the single largest indicator for a host of poor childhood educational and health outcomes…

“By focusing on parent mentoring in combination with a market-driven scholarship approach to early education, we can we can strengthen Burlington’s future by providing our youngest with a healthy start.”

From “Burlington Beginnings: A White Paper on a Comprehensive, Coordinated Sustainable Early Learning Initiative,” January, 2015, a summary of early education plans in Burlington, Vt.

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“…I can tell you there’s nothing more important than that development of that brain in the first four years of life,” Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley said earlier this month at the Alabama Governor’s Early Childhood Education Leadership Summit.

Nearly 300 early education leaders attended the summit, which “highlighted the state’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program, home visiting programs, child care centers, and elementary schools and new federal grants for Early Head Start/Child Care Partnerships and Pre-K expansion,” according to a press release.

“Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said the success of K-12 education depended on the success of early childhood education,” a news story in the Montgomery Advertiser explains.

Bice adds: “If the leaders in this state do what’s right for children and rethink some of the things that we are currently doing and do this together, we can make a lot of difference for kids.”  (more…)

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Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Federal officials are sounding an alarm: children who are being suspended or expelled from preschool need help.

“Recent data indicate that expulsions and suspensions occur with regularity in preschool settings,” according to a recent letter signed by both U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Expulsions are “a problematic issue” Burwell and Duncan write, because removing children from preschool programs can have “adverse outcomes across development, health, and education. In addition, stark racial and gender disparities exist in these practices, with young boys of color being suspended and expelled at much higher rates than other children in early learning programs.”

The secretaries add: “These trends warrant immediate attention from the early childhood and education fields.”  (more…)

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“Nationwide, state funding for pre-K increased by $672 million, to a total of $6.3 billion. This is a 12 percent increase in state investment in pre-K programs over fiscal year 2013-14. This year’s increase builds on a 6.9 percent funding increase from the prior year.”

Bruce Atchison and Emily Workman in “State Pre-K Funding: 2014-15 fiscal year,” a report from the Education Commission of the States, January 2015

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Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

“How are we going to make engineering work in an infant space?” asked Monica Dolan, an early educator who works with infants at The Children’s Center, Caltech’s child-care center.

Featured in a news story from Marketplace called “Caltech’s Little Engineers that Could,” Dolan is an early educator who was meeting with “a group of educators gathered to plan their big teaching initiative for the year ahead.”

“The center has always focused on teaching through science and math principles – after all, it is attached to Caltech – but diving into engineering curriculum for little ones was new,” the story says.

At the center, infants build with big, soft blocks.

Toddlers construct a train: “They scour the yard for materials to make carriages and find empty crates… Then a classic engineering problem strikes: resource scarcity. The crates run out and there are still 2-year-olds without a seat on the train. The toddlers solve it by finding chairs to create the needed train carriages.”

Later these students go inside and listen to a story called “Iggy Peck, Architect,” by Andrea Beaty. Iggy is a fictional architect who, at age 2, built a tower in under an hour using diapers that weren’t entirely clean.  (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

What should the certification process be for early childhood teachers?

A process that reflects the specialized work these teachers do. It’s up to policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure that this happens.

“During the first eight years of child development and learning, the educator’s role is different in many ways than the role a teacher plays later in a child’s life. Policies and practices should reflect this reality,” the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) explains on its website.

How are states doing at setting up distinctive certification processes that focus on early education?

Last month, NAEYC released new state profiles that reveal strengths and weaknesses.

“Using each state’s terminology, the profiles provide a snapshot of the certificates/licenses and endorsements for birth through third grade teachers in public schools; the cycle, if any, by which states review their certification policies; and other information noted by the state respondents as appropriate. We did not include academic content-specific or disability-specific certifications and endorsements.”

The Massachusetts profile is posted here(more…)

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