Archive for the ‘Reading proficiency’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Early education programs have many community partners. Among the key players are housing authorities. And when education and housing officials join forces, children and families stand to benefit.

“From Massachusetts to California and Florida to Washington State, housing authorities are joining a nationwide movement to promote early reading and put young children on the path to success,” according to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s (GLR) website.

“More than 1,000,000 children from birth to age 8 are housed in the nation’s 3,200 housing authorities, many attending local public schools that are severely underperforming. These children often start school with such a reading deficit that they have little hope of attaining grade-level proficiency by the end of third grade, a key predictor of high school graduation.

“By embracing grade-level reading as an important goal of the supportive services they provide, housing authorities are demonstrating that they can break the cycle of hopelessness. (more…)

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“Since 2004, Tennessee has offered state-subsidized prekindergarten, enrolling more than 18,000 of the state’s neediest 4-year-olds. An early evaluation showed that, as you’d expect, youngsters who attended pre-K made substantial gains in math, language and reading. But, startlingly, the gains had evaporated by the end of kindergarten…”

“Have the claims made for early education been overblown? Not necessarily. Consider what’s happening in Boston. A randomized study showed that prekindergartners there gained between four and seven months’ progress in reading and math, and those gains persisted: 27 percent more of Boston’s preschool children scored ‘proficient’ or better on the state’s rigorous third-grade exams.

“What’s the difference between Boston and Tennessee? In a word, quality.”

“Does Pre-K Make Any Difference?” a New York Times opinion piece by David Kirp, professor of public policy at the University of California-Berkeley, October 3, 2015


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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Holyoke is staging a comeback by building on its existing educational foundation to boost its children’s future success. The city has an ambitious plan for transforming its public school system that relies, in part, on high-quality early education.

Last March, Holyoke’s Mayor Alex Morse knew that his city’s school might go into state receivership. But he also knew Holyoke’s strengths. Writing in MassLive, he explained:

“That we face these problems is no reflection on our teachers and administrators who have worked so hard to improve our schools. On the contrary, the state’s report highlighted many areas where our schools have excelled despite poor systemic conditions. Our award-winning early literacy program has made a difference. Our graduation rate has increased. Our teen pregnancy rate has dropped precipitously. Superintendent Dr. Sergio Paez, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Hyry, and our school committee have laid a strong foundation for future success. Local partnerships have given our kids access to tutoring, after-school programs, and extracurricular activities.”

At the end of April, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education did indeed announce that Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) was a Level 5, “chronically underperforming” district. This designation put the schools into receivership. (more…)

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Here’s Strategies for Children’s statement on yesterday’s release of state MCAS scores.

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In Massachusetts, only 60 percent of third graders are proficient readers, according to the 2015 MCAS results released yesterday. (PARCC results are preliminary and cannot be compared directly to MCAS.)

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education notes that for third grade reading, despite a small increase over 2014, “scores have been essentially flat over the past six years.” 

Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, commented:

“We are glad to see third grade reading proficiency rates improve slightly, but are troubled by the slow pace of improvement and the fact that scores statewide have remained essentially stagnant since 2001.

To move the needle on this critical benchmark, the state must make larger investments in the birth-to-5 early childhood system. Despite recent state budget increases in early education, Massachusetts’ investment still trails pre-recession spending levels in this area.

Providing high-quality preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, particularly those from low-income families and communities, would be a huge step in the right direction. The Legislature has the opportunity to do that this session, and we hope our lawmakers will pass a comprehensive pre-K expansion bill.

High-quality pre-K is, however, only one piece of the puzzle. Our community-based infant and toddler programs must be staffed by well-trained, well-compensated educators. In the K-3 grades, literacy curriculum, diagnostic assessments, and professional development must be examined closely and aligned with research-based best practices. Parent engagement and after school / out-of-school-time programming are also essential.

As Education Secretary James Peyser recently stated, “In pursuing our shared goals, we cannot afford to treat early education as an afterthought.”

 No matter what test the state adopts, MCAS, PARCC, or some other option, substantially more children will need to meet reading benchmarks by the end of third grade. The future economic prospects of our commonwealth depend on it.

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Nonie Lesaux. Photo source: Harvard Graduate School of Education

Nonie Lesaux. Photo source: Harvard Graduate School of Education

Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of Strategies for Children (SFC), we congratulate Dr. Nonie Lesaux on her appointment as Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care. We applaud Governor Baker for appointing a nationally known literacy expert as the Board Chair.

Over the last several years, we have been fortunate to work in partnership with Dr. Lesaux, including commissioning the 2010 Strategies for Children report “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” which Dr. Lesaux wrote. This report has served as a foundation for addressing and improving the state’s literacy efforts, starting from birth.

We look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Lesaux in her new role of giving young children the strong start they deserve to help secure a successful future. Nearly 40 percent of Massachusetts 3rd graders fail to read at grade level. Third grade reading strongly predicts a child’s future academic success. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Tomorrow is National Summer Learning Day, so break out the sunscreen and some engaging educational activities that will help stop the “summer slide” of learning losses that some children experience during the warm, out-of-school months.

An annual day of national advocacy, National Summer Learning Day is led by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), which seeks “to elevate the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer,” according to the association’s website.

“Research shows that summers without quality learning opportunities put our nation’s youth at risk for falling behind – year after year – in core subjects like math and reading. The math and reading skills low-income students lose each summer are cumulative and contribute significantly to the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income kids,” the website adds.

That’s why this year, “NSLA is asking everyone — programs, families, schools, educators, policymakers, businesses — to make summer a season of learning by pledging to #KeepKidsLearning on our interactive map.” (more…)

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Ralph Smith at CGI America.  Photo Source: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading's Twitter page.

Ralph Smith at CGI America.
Photo Source: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s Twitter page.

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) made news last week at the annual Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting.

CGLR was featured on stage at CGI America in acknowledgement of its plans to “launch the More Hopeful Futures Initiative in 2017… the next phase of a decade-long effort to increase reading proficiency among children from low-income families,” according to a news release.

CGLR has bold plans for boosting children’s reading abilities.

“Over the next three years, the planned pre-launch activities will reach at least 50,000 children with an enhanced package of screenings and supports designed to accelerate ongoing efforts to improve school readiness, school attendance, and summer learning.”

CGLR is “committing $30 million, in tandem with close to 40 partners, to help increase third grade reading proficiency for 50,000 children by 2018,” a CGI America press release adds.

How CGI America and the Grade-Level Reading Campaign are Working Together

Sponsored by the Clinton Foundation, which was founded by former President Bill Clinton, “CGI America brings together leaders from the business, philanthropic, NGO, and government sectors to develop solutions for economic growth, long-term competitiveness, and social mobility in the United States.” (more…)

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