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Archive for the ‘Reading proficiency’ Category

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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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Mississippi recently received troubling news about its youngest children.

A report released last month “revealed that two-thirds of the state’s youngest students enter school unprepared to learn and are, in fact, well below where they should be in terms of literacy,” according to the Cabinet Report article, “Crisis Brewing Among Early Learners.”

Mississippi’s Superintendent Carey Wright “is a staunch advocate of early childhood education but her mission to improve these programs for Mississippi kids has taken on new urgency in the wake of the state’s first assessment of kindergarten readiness,” the article says.

“More than 40,000 kindergarteners from 144 districts throughout the state took the STAR Early Literacy exam during the first month of this school year, according to the Mississippi Department of Education. More than 65 percent of those students scored below the 530 benchmark score that indicates a student has mastered at least 70 percent of early reading skills.

“The state average score was 501.

“The assessment evaluated skills such as the ability to recognize letters and match letters to their sounds and a student’s recognition that print flows from left to right. The exam produced reports for parents and teachers that detail each child’s early reading skills. Teacher reports also include diagnostic information and instructional plans for every student.” (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Parents, mayors, governors, and President Obama are all talking about the importance of high-quality preschool programs and about how they can help children become proficient third grade readers.

But with all this energy and action, it can be easy to lose sight of how, specifically, policymakers can have a positive impact in these areas.

That’s why the Education Commission of the States has put together a guide for policymaker’s, an A to Z primer on early education called “Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade.”

It’s a “reference guide for policymakers and their staffs on the most commonly requested topics from preschool to third grade,” according to the guide’s executive summary.

The guide says, “the primary programs and strategies policymakers have inquired about include: (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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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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