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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

“Early education is in the spotlight like never before… yet real progress is elusive,” according to a report being released today by the New America Foundation called: “Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education.”

“President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for increased investments in child care, pre-K, home visiting, and other programs,” the report says. “Thirty-five states entered the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants competition, which has so far invested about $1 billion in 20 states’ infrastructure. A long-overdue reauthorization bill for the Child Care and Development Block Grant overwhelmingly passed the Senate this year, with potential in the House.”

In addition, the report notes that philanthropies, governors, and state legislatures increasingly recognize the importance of investing in children.

Nonetheless, the report says, achievement gaps have widened. There aren’t enough seamless transitions from pre-K to grade school. Too many low income children aren’t getting the support they need. And Congress isn’t providing stable funding. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Parent engagement is a hot topic in education. Policymakers and educators are looking for the best ways to form partnerships with families, particularly when those partnerships bridge cultural or linguistic differences or focus on very young children.

A new policy brief that focuses on Latino families affirms that preschool programs can better engage parents by “leveraging the ways parents are already engaged to encourage more frequent and different forms of involvement.”

The brief — “The Strengths of Latina Mothers in Supporting Their Children’s Education: A Cultural Perspective” — was released by the Child Trends Hispanic Institute. It reports on the findings of 43 interviews conducted in the Washington, D.C. area “with Latina immigrant mothers about the techniques they used to support their children’s education at the most malleable stage of development, the preschool years.”

Building on what parents already do “is especially important for parents who may appear to be less involved despite holding a high regard for education. For example, Latino immigrant parents consistently place a high value on education, yet appear to be less involved compared with other parents.”

Parents’ Cultural Interactions with Their Children

Latina mothers involved in the study engaged their children in typical ways that teachers can see, the brief says, noting that these moms read to their children and attend parent-teacher meetings. (more…)

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Photo: Courtesy of the City of Boston

Photo: Courtesy of the City of Boston

Here’s an exciting birth announcement from The City of Boston, the Boston Housing Authority, and Nurtury (formerly known as Associated Early Care and Education):

It’s a brand new building!

The Nurtury Learning Lab at Bromley-Heath

Serving children ages 0 to 8

20,000 square feet of classroom space

14,000 square feet of outdoor learning and play areas

LEED Gold Certification

Click here for the Facebook Pictures!

The new building had its ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday. And Boston Mayor Marty Walsh helped out with the ceremonial scissors.

“The Nurtury Learning Lab, located at the Boston Housing Authority’s (BHA) Bromley-Heath public housing development in Jamaica Plain, will anchor a campus of services for children and families,” according to a press release. The building “integrates early education, family and community learning opportunities and support, and professional development activities for early educators throughout Boston and eastern Massachusetts.” (more…)

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GOV Forum logoIn a forum at UMass Boston on Saturday, eight of the candidates in the Massachusetts race for governor made news by agreeing that the commonwealth should improve the quality of preschool programs and expand access to them.

This consensus adds to the growing political support for early education and care both here in Massachusetts and nationally. Ten years ago, research on the benefits of high-quality pre-k were not widely understood, nor part of the public discourse. Today, policymakers and candidates understand that these programs are essential first steps in educating children and preparing them to succeed in the state’s high-tech economy.

Sponsored by Strategies for Children and more than two dozen other organizations (see program agenda for full sponsor list), the “Early Childhood and Education: Closing the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps – 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates Forum” gave candidates the opportunity to share their vision for educating the state’s youngest children. It was a chance to hear how the next governor of Massachusetts might reshape the landscape of early education and care. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“I’d like to welcome our commissioner who has come… We are thrilled to see so many of our Wheelock alums… Mayor Clare Higgins is back by popular demand!” said Wheelock College President Jackie Jenkins-Scott as she welcomed all the participants who came to her school for the “Ninth Annual Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care: Our Children’s Future — Time for a New Plan.”

Higgins, the former mayor of Northampton, attended last year’s dialogue; and this year she was joined by advocates, educators, and policy analysts who spoke to an audience of 200 about how best to bring high-quality early education and care to more of Massachusetts’ children.

The goal for the day was reinforced throughout the three-hour event: Unite; develop an agenda; and tell a compelling story that will inspire policymakers — especially the next governor of Massachusetts — to commit to a grand plan for improving the commonwealth’s early education and care system. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

We’ve recently updated our Strategies for Children research and policy briefs, adding new content and updating existing briefs. This “Briefs and Resources” webpage is a one-stop-shopping site for much of the existing research on high-quality early education, culled from decades of published studies by experts in child development, economics, language development, and more. Here’s a sample of the information you can find on pre-K, full-day kindergarten, early educators, and reading proficiency.

 *   *   *   *   *

“Evaluations of State-Funded Pre-K Programs:” is a new brief that looks at the impact of several currently operating, state-funded pre-K programs.

“As the number of children served through state-based pre-K programming has increased, so has the evidence base of program effectiveness,” this brief explains. A growing collection of studies support “the overall conclusion that effective pre-K programming can improve academic and social-emotional outcomes for students in both the short and long term.”

*   *   *   *   *

(more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have released the first three entries in a new series of one-page briefs called “Lead Early Educators for Success.”

The goal of the series is to provide early educators with the support they need to create high-quality learning environments for the children they teach.

The central theme of the series: Revisit assumptions. To this end, the briefs look at current polices and practices; outline common pitfalls; and present strategies for effective implementation of high-quality learning experiences.

The series — which will include a total of ten briefs — is being produced by Harvard’s Language Diversity and Literacy Development Research Group, headed by Nonie Lesaux, a Harvard education professor.

Brief 1: A New Era for Early Education and Care

This brief introduces both the challenges and the opportunities that currently exist in the complex landscape of early childhood education. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

On a recent broadcast, NPR noted that early education is making news — thanks in large part to President Obama’s $75 billion proposal to expand preschool for 4-year-olds.

“The problem,” NPR quotes Obama saying, “is that we’re still not reaching enough kids.” According to NPR, state-run preschool programs only reach 30 percent of eligible children.

Congress isn’t listening to the president, NPR’s Claudio Sanchez saidd, but states are. Many have expanded their preschool programs, and others are planning to grow. This raises a key question: What is high-quality preschool program? What, specifically, is it about the best programs that make a difference in children’s lives?

For answers, NPR turns to Deborah Phillips, a developmental psychologist and professor at Georgetown University, who studies early education.

“What you’re going to look for,” Phillips told NPR, “is a teacher who knows how to instruct children in pre-math, pre-literacy, who gets down on the child’s level when talking to them, who’s respectful towards them.”

Phillips found that kind of excellence in Tulsa, Okla., where she and her academic team spent seven months observing teachers across the city. Phillips found “four pillars of quality:” strong curriculum, strong funding, balanced teacher-student ratios, and highly qualified teachers. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Last month, Boston EQUIP — the Early Education Quality Improvement Project— released two reports on the quality of early childhood programs in Boston:

- Community Profiles 2013, a comprehensive online survey of early education providers in Boston, and

- the Boston Quality Inventory (BQI) 2013, an in-depth study of program quality conducted at a sample of home-based and center-based early education and care programs

 These reports present crucial data that help inform and advance the policy conversation about how to improve program quality. Research shows that early education programs must be high-quality in order to see lasting positive impacts on children’s development.

Launched in 1994, Boston EQUIP is “a project of Associated Early Care and Education with a broad goal and mission – to collaborate with members of the Boston early education community to systematically evaluate, set goals for, and improve upon the quality of early childhood programs,” according to a press release. The project is aligned with Boston’s Thrive in 5 School Readiness Roadmap, which “sets goals and strategies for strengthening, coordinating and improving the quality of child and family-serving systems in the city, in order to prepare children to succeed in school.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A new report, “Building a Foundation for Success,” looks at the unmet preschool needs of children in the commonwealth — and proposes three ways that Massachusetts might expand its preschool programs to create more access.

Released by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), a nonprofit research organization, the report examines the number of preschool-age children in Massachusetts and the public funding streams that support their enrollment. The report costs out “a range of options for expanding and improving early education and care for these 3- and 4-year-olds in Massachusetts.” The options proposed range in cost from $153 million to $606 million in increased annual state funding on top of what is currently being spent. This increased state funding would be bolstered by non-state sources such as sliding scale parent fees or local education funding, depending on the model used.

“Right now we have a very fragmented system and that leaves many kids without access to any early education at all,” Noah Berger, MassBudget’s president, told the Boston Globe. However, Berger added that there was a growing consensus that a wide expansion of early education options was good for children and for the economy.

Carolyn Lyons, Strategies for Children president and CEO, is encouraged by the report. “This new report by MassBudget builds upon ongoing state and local policy conversations across the commonwealth on how to pay for and structure high-quality universal pre-k. Research shows that high-quality early education has (more…)

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