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Archive for the ‘Reading proficiency’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This blog was originally published on May 9, 2013.

Children’s vocabulary is a key ingredient of learning to read with comprehension, but recent research finds limited instruction in vocabulary in kindergarten – and too little to enable children with small vocabularies to close the vocabulary gap that is evident long before they begin school.

Susan B. Neuman, a professor in educational studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Tanya S. Wright, an assistant professor of teacher education at Michigan State University in East Lansing, analyzed observations of 55 kindergarten teachers’ instruction in a variety of school districts. They found limited instruction in vocabulary in most settings, but low-income children were least likely to be taught the kind of sophisticated, academic words that will help them succeed in school

“Vocabulary is a deceptively simple literacy skill that researchers and educators agree is critical to students’ academic success, but which has proved frustratingly difficult to address,” Education Week reports. “By age 3, when many children enter early preschool, youngsters from well-to-do families have a working vocabulary of 1,116 words, compared to 749 words for children in working-class families and 525 words for children on welfare, according to a seminal 2003 longitudinal study by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, authors of the 1995 book ‘Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children.’

“The consensus among researchers and educators has been that students must close such vocabulary gaps to succeed academically and deal with rigorous content. (more…)

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Educators in West Michigan are tackling third grade reading proficiency by pooling their resources to form the Reading Now Network Initiative. And a recently conducted field team study suggests that intensive efforts are paying off.

Reading proficiency is also getting attention from Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who has called for new efforts to boost reading outcomes.

West Michigan’s Efforts

Launched last year, Reading Now is “the collective effort of superintendents, school boards, [and] local and intermediate school districts throughout West Michigan to improve early literacy and, ultimately, student achievement across all grade levels,” according to a fact sheet(more…)

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Andy Hargreaves, professor  at Boston College's Lynch School of Education. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Andy Hargreaves, professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“The moment is ripe for more deliberate action in the early childhood sphere in Massachusetts,” according to a new report from the Rennie Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on education research and policy.

The annual report — “Condition of Education (COE) in the Commonwealth Report: Priority Actions for a Statewide Agenda” — includes a data report and a policy action guide. Several research and policy organizations, including Strategies for Children, served on the report’s advisory committee.

Rennie released the report at a standing-room-only event at the Omni Parker Hotel that brought together Jim Peyser, the state’s new secretary of education with the chairs of the Boards of the Departments of Early Education and Care; Elementary and Secondary Education; and Higher Education.

The report “highlights what works now,” Pendred Noyce, chair of Rennie’s board, said at the Omni Parker event, explaining that the report points to successful programs that could be replicated to improve educational outcomes across the state. (more…)

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Chris Martes

Chris Martes

Chris Martes, Strategies for Children’s president and CEO, has a new article out in the latest edition of CommonWealth Magazine.

In “A chance to lead on early education,” Martes writes that Massachusetts can be a national role model by building strong pre-K programs. This would prepare more children for lifelong success and set an example for other states.

“From the White House to business boardrooms to the offices of scores of Republican and Democratic mayors, governors, and members of Congress, we’re seeing historic momentum on expanding and improving preschool programs,” Martes writes.

“It is in this spirit of historic potential that we welcome Gov. Charlie Baker to the State House. He and his team have the opportunity to break new ground.”

Pre-K Helps Improve K-12

“The Commonwealth needs strong K-12 schools. But having served for nearly two decades as a school superintendent and as an interim superintendent in five Massachusetts communities, I can tell you that K-12 schools cannot reform education on their own,” Martes explains. “There’s too much work to do. Too many achievement gaps are already in place on the first day that children walk into kindergarten.  (more…)

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Photo Source: Charlie Baker's Facebook page.

Photo from Charlie Baker’s Facebook page.

On January 8, 2015, Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito will be sworn in as the next governor and lieutenant governor of the commonwealth.

To prepare, Baker has been assembling a transition team to review the state’s public policy needs. So it’s a great time for early educators, program leaders, advocates and parents to talk to this emerging mix of bi-partisan leaders about the importance of high-quality preschool programs and early literacy.

Polito, a former state representative, will chair the transition team. And Jim Peyser will lead the transition team. Peyser served as the former chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education and as a special adviser to Governor William Weld.

A State House News article posted on WBUR’s website reports that Baker has created the following committees:

• Schools
• Jobs and the Economy
• State of the State
• Better Government
• Community
• Human Resources, and
• Healthcare

The schools committee will be co-chaired by: (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: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This post was originally published on November 25, 2013.

“The time is now to redesign this country’s approach to language and literacy instruction, and governors who choose to can lead the charge,” according to the National Governors Association (NGA) report, “A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy: Getting all Students Reading by Third Grade.

Acknowledging the fact that only one-third of America’s fourth graders are reading proficiently, the report points out that America’s governors can help address this challenge. They can build a bridge between knowledge and action, connecting what researchers know to what policymakers do.

What the Research Says

To provide the research background on the literacy issue, the report points to three widely accepted research findings:

1. “Starting at kindergarten is too late.” Because literacy skills start developing at birth and because achievement gaps show up early, infants, toddlers and preschoolers need effective, high-quality early education and care programs that introduce early literacy concepts.
(more…)

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