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Archive for the ‘Reading proficiency’ Category

blues mapHow is Massachusetts doing on third-grade reading proficiency? And how, specifically, are third graders in your community doing?

Strategies for Children’s (SFC) newly updated infographics webpage make it easy to see how reading skills and achievement play out across the state. These images and graphs can be shared online or printed out and distributed at meetings. The data originates from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and can be explored in detail on the department’s website.

As we blogged last month, scores on the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) have been stagnant.

In a statement, Chris Martes, SFC’s president and CEO, wrote, “The 2014 MCAS scores show that the state’s third grade reading proficiency rates have not changed since last year. This year, as in 2013, 43 percent of third grade students did not score proficient in reading. That’s roughly 29,000 children who did not meet this crucial educational benchmark.”

“The consequences of reading failure at this age are significant. Struggling readers are four times less likely to graduate high school on time than proficient readers, jeopardizing their prospects for participating in our global knowledge-based economy.” (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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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last month’s release of the 2014 MCAS scores revealed that our third grade reading proficiency rates have not changed since last year. Once again, 43 percent of third graders statewide did not score in the proficient range in reading. That’s roughly 29,000 children who did not meet this crucial educational benchmark. And as the research shows, the consequences of reading failure at this age are significant.

To change the trajectory of early literacy in Massachusetts, advocates, literacy experts, practitioners, and state policymakers are taking action. The state’s Early Literacy Expert Panel has just released its Year One Annual Report. It’s an early look into the critical work this panel was charged with: providing “recommendations to state education agencies on the alignment, coordination, implementation and improvement of all existing efforts that bear on children’s literacy outcomes, guided by the goal of improving third grade reading outcomes in the Commonwealth.”

Overseen by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education, the panel will ultimately submit its recommendations to the Departments of Early Education and Care (EEC), Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), and Higher Education (DHE). (more…)

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The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) has an engaging video series on its website called “8 x 8” that gives viewers access to the latest thinking on education policy.

“As part of the Bold Ideas & Critical Conversations event on September 19, eight HGSE faculty members were each given eight minutes to discuss research-based ideas that will have a big impact on the field,” the website explains.

It’s like a mini collection of TED talks on education.

The eight faculty members who speak are:

- Karen Brennan, whose research looks at how learning communities can support young people as designers of interactive media

- Howard Gardner – senior director of Harvard’s Project Zero

- Tom Kane – faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Research

- Nonie Lesaux, author of “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” a report commissioned by Strategies for Children

(more…)

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Last week, the five gubernatorial candidates met in Springfield for this election season’s first televised debate. Hosted by Jim Madigan, WGBY-TV’s public affairs director, the event covered a wide range of topics “from global warming to casino gambling,” according to MassLive.com. The debate was organized by the Springfield Public Forum and the Western Massachusetts Media Consortium.

All five candidates — Republican Charlie Baker, Democrat Martha Coakley, and the three independents, Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively, and Jeff McCormick — also discussed the importance of preschool programs, explaining their strategies for meeting the needs of the commonwealth’s children. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The gubernatorial election is heating up and as the candidates debate the issues, early education is getting plenty of well-deserved attention.

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, it will be up to voters to pick the next governor, but once they do, we’ve got good advice for the man or woman who gets elected.

A Strategies for Children brief called, “Early Education Policy Opportunities for the Next Governor,” provides essential next steps that Massachusetts should take.

Massachusetts is a leader in early education. In 2005, the state established the Department of Early Education and Care. In 2010, the state won a federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant. And thanks to years of work, the state has built a foundation for a system of high-quality early education that aligns with the K-12 system. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

What’s the best way to teach children to read? The answers can spark heated debates.

That’s what happened in New York City when Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña called for “more schools to adopt aspects of balanced literacy, including its emphasis on allowing students to choose many of the books they read,” according to the New York Times. Balanced literacy programs use both phonics and whole language techniques to teach reading.

Addressing the debate, CUNY’s Institute for Education Policy hosted a discussion last month (now posted on YouTube) called “Teaching Children to Read: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.” It featured both Catherine Snow, an esteemed expert on children’s language and literacy development and currently a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Susan Neuman, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education and an education professor at New York University. (more…)

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