Archive for the ‘Strategies for Children’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Last week, more than 100 early educators, K-12 teachers and administrators, nonprofit community leaders, advocates and philanthropists gathered at the Boston Children’s Museum for Strategies for Children’s third Leading the Conversation event: a panel discussion titled “Designing and Implementing Effective Volunteer Efforts Focused on Literacy.”

Planned by Kelly Kulsrud, Strategies’ director of reading proficiency, the panel focused on shifting the paradigm and changing the conversation around creating high-quality volunteer programs that make a measurable difference for children’s literacy development.

Designing effective volunteer programs “is an issue that is gaining momentum here in Boston [and] across the states as well as nationally,” Carolyn Lyons, CEO and president of Strategies for Children (SFC), explained as she welcomed the event audience.

During her own welcoming remarks, Carole Charnow, CEO of the Boston Children’s Museum, said, “We know that it’s this high-quality bond between adults and children that really provides the best possible outcomes for kids.”

This event is part of SFC’s “Leading the Conversation” series, which delves into the recommendations made in “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” a 2010 report commissioned by SFC and written by Nonie Lesaux, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

On Thursday, 9:30 a.m., March 27, 2014, at the Boston Children’s Museum, Strategies for Children is hosting the third event in its “Leading the Conversation” series on improving children’s literacy skills. It’s a panel discussion on “Designing and Implementing Effective Volunteer Efforts Focused on Literacy.”

Although Massachusetts is a national leader in education, 43% of our third grade students score below proficient in reading. Even more alarming, the commonwealth has a wide achievement gap, and third grade scores have been stagnant for 13 years.

Communities are addressing this crisis in a variety of ways, including engaging volunteers to support children’s early literacy and language development. In fact, in the U.S., volunteers gave 7.9 billion hours of service in 2012, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Despite this significant effort, too many of our services are not substantial enough or coordinated enough to result in reading improvements. If recruited, utilized, and managed effectively, however, volunteers can have a real impact on children’s literacy outcomes.

About the Volunteer Event

In a moderated discussion, panelists will highlight and showcase the volunteer research and current best practices for maximizing volunteers’ impact on children’s (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

As Strategies for Children (SFC) has worked to promote reading proficiency by the third grade, we’ve developed and collected effective resources, recommendations and tools that educators across the birth-to-third-grade continuum can use to promote children’s reading success.

Although Massachusetts leads the nation on a number of educational indicators, we have much to do to improve outcomes in third grade reading, a key indicator of future success in school. Test results from the 2013 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) reveal that 43 percent of this state’s third-graders read below grade level. Among children from low-income families, 65 percent lag in reading. Performance in reading has changed little since 2001, when 38 percent of third graders scored below the proficient standard.

The good news is that schools, towns and cities are working hard to support children’s literacy and language development, beginning at birth. Here is a summary of some of the tools that SFC offers to help ensure that children across the commonwealth become proficient and engaged readers.

Leading the Conversation

Start here, at our webpage “Leading the Conversation: Turning the Page for Reading Success,” to find all the links to our reports, recommendations and resources.

This is where you’ll find a link to the SFC-commissioned report “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” by Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Nonie Lesaux. It’s a comprehensive look at literacy challenges in the commonwealth. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

As we’ve written before, student mobility can hurt academic outcomes. Children who move during the school year are at greater risk of doing poorly in school than children who have stable homes. Housing officials and education officials could offer more help by having more conversations about how they can work together to improve children’s outcomes.

Fortunately, there are policy solutions worth discussing, as Harvard Law School student Ethan Prall explains in a new study conducted on behalf of Strategies for Children, “Housing and Early Education: Policy Opportunities for Reducing Student Mobility.”

Student mobility is a widespread problem. “The ‘churn’ or mobility rate for K-12 students in Massachusetts was 9 percent in 2013,” the study notes, “However, the rate is higher for students from low-income families (14 percent), African American and Latino students (15 percent and 17 percent respectively) and English language learners (22 percent). In Gateway Cities, mobility rates exceed state averages: 16 percent in Chelsea, 19 percent in Worcester, and 24 percent in Holyoke.”

To meet the challenge of mobility, “Massachusetts needs innovative ideas and cross-silo policy discussions. Public housing and public education (both K-12 and early education and care) can and should collaborate to address this problem in new ways.” (more…)

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2013 Gala Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

2013 Gala
Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

This year’s 13th Annual Early Educators Award Gala will be held on Friday, April 4, 2014, at Lombardo’s in Randolph. Sponsored by the Boston Association for the Education of Young Children (BAEYC), the gala is an evening of dinner and dancing, and honoring Greater Boston’s early educators and the early education programs that have earned national accreditation.

Early educators can be nominated for awards in the following categories:

- Leadership and Management

- Relationships

- Curriculum

- Physical Environment

- Family Partnership

- STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)

BAEYC will also present the Abigail Eliot Award to honor an early childhood professional who has made an outstanding commitment to young children and to the early childhood profession through work done on behalf of the association as well as for distinguished professional achievement. The award is named after Abigail Adams Eliot, a pioneer in early childhood education and in training teachers of young children. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Early education is getting welcome attention from local and national political leaders. President Obama and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick are only two of the leaders who have called — as recently as last week — for expanding access to high-quality preschool programs.

This sweeping momentum is also making news, as journalists, columnists, and educators weigh in on the issue. Here’s a roundup of some recent stories and opinion pieces.

*    *    *    *    *

Cory Booker: Building on the Success of the War on Poverty,” The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2014

“Our national investment strategy is hardly a strategy at all,” New Jersey’s new senator, Cory Booker, wrote in this opinion piece. “We are failing to invest in areas that not only produce great social returns but also reduce federal spending in the long run. Most glaring of all, we’ve got our priorities wrong: We are failing to maximize the productivity of our greatest natural resource—our people.”

“In a global, knowledge-based economy, the genius of our children is our nation’s greatest asset. Universal pre-K is a must: Based just on cost-benefit analysis, the evidence is overwhelming.”

*    *    *    *    *

Pre-K, The Great Debate,” Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, January 29, 2014

“Against all odds, prekindergarten is gaining ground,” Kristof, a Times columnist, wrote.

“Aside from apple pie, preschool may also be the only issue on which voters agree.”

“Yet one obstacle is the misperception that early education has been debunked by researchers — when, in fact, it’s the opposite.” (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Early education has been showing up in political speeches and making national headlines, but as a Wall Street Journal MarketWatch article points out, full-day kindergarten may need attention as well.

As the Journal’s article explains, “often lost in the debate about improving early education, advocates say, is the fact that many students don’t even have access to full-day public kindergarten. Instead, the only option is half-day programs, which last from two and a half to three hours a day, compared with the typical six hours of instruction offered through full-day programs.”

Reporter Jonnelle Marte spoke with Early Education for All campaign director Amy O’Leary for more information on this critical early education policy. “Education advocates argue that some of the progress made in pre-K can be stalled if students move to a half-day program the following year. Children who go to full-day kindergarten spend 30% more time on reading and literacy and 46% more time learning math than children in half-day programs, according to Strategies for Children, which focuses on improving education in Massachusetts. Those students also tend to get more one-on-one attention from their teachers, says Amy O’Leary, the director for the Early Education for All Campaign at Strategies for Children. ‘It’s not just about doubling the time, it is about being intentional with the time,’ she says.” (more…)

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Photo: Eric Haynes, governor's office

Photo: Eric Haynes, governor’s office

Yesterday afternoon, Governor Patrick released his $36.4 billion state budget proposal for fiscal year 2015. In it, he recognizes that we will not close the commonwealth’s longstanding achievement gaps unless we target resources to early learning. His plan proposes new investments to ensure access to high-quality programs, maintains funding for access to existing programs, and recommends new strategic investments in quality early learning programs. Key highlights include:

  • EEC Access Accounts: $40.2 million to support projected caseloads at the Department of Early Education and Care, including maintaining FY14 investments that saw 2,400 new students removed from the waitlist.
  • Birth through Pre-School Expansion: $15 million in additional funding to increase access to high-quality early education programs for 1,700 qualified children from birth to age five.
  • K1 Classroom Grant Program:  $2 million for a new grant program available to local partnerships to provide educational opportunities to 4-year olds through the creation of pre-kindergarten classrooms. Preference shall be given to innovative, collaborative proposals jointly proposed by school districts, private providers, human service agencies, and local and regional non-profits.
  • Chapter 70 pre-k funding: $2 million to increase Chapter 70 to fully finance pre-kindergarten costs for school districts who offer pre-kindergarten classrooms.
  • Full-Day Kindergarten: $3.1 million to increase and refocus kindergarten expansion grants to provide communities without full-day kindergarten classrooms the ability to offer such classrooms.

In addition, the Department of Early Education and Care administrative line item received a 5.7% increase for staffing needs to enhance program licensing capacity and other functions. The Governor also proposed $2.5 million for information technology costs associated with implementing the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System.

Many early education line items received level funding under the Governor’s plan, including Universal Pre-k, Head Start, Access Management, Mental Health, Services for Infants and Parents, and Reach Out and Read.

Click here to thank Governor Patrick for supporting early education in the FY15 state budget.

Read Strategies for Children’s statement on the Governor’s budget proposal here.

The advocacy focus now shifts to the Legislature. Join us on Tuesday, February 4 at 9am for State House Advocacy Day for Early Education & Care and School Age Programs.

For more information on the Governor’s budget proposal, contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org

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Statement of Carolyn Lyons, President/CEO, Strategies for Children

Governor Patrick’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal

 “Strategies for Children applauds Governor Patrick’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, in which he increases investments in high-quality early education to close the achievement gap. Today in Massachusetts, too many children show up for kindergarten already behind, and too many will never catch up. Research clearly demonstrates the lasting short- and long-term positive impact of high-quality early education – on everything from reduced grade retention and special needs placements to improved school readiness, high school graduation, college attendance, adult earnings and health.

We will not close the commonwealth’s longstanding achievement gaps unless we target resources to early learning. Governor Patrick’s budget recognizes this. The plan proposes new investments to ensure access to high-quality programs, maintains funding for access to existing programs, and recommends new strategic investments in quality early learning programs. It builds off progress made in fiscal year 2014 to reduce the wait list for preschool programs.

Through his proposal, Governor Patrick joins policymakers across the nation who are acting upon the evidence that learning begins at birth, and to give children a chance to succeed, we must invest in high-quality early education. We applaud the governor for his leadership and look forward to working with the Legislature to support these critical initiatives to close the achievement gap and ensure all of our children have a chance to succeed in school and in life.”

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Last week, the National Women’s Law Center hosted a live tweet chat in which early educators, advocates, parents, and elected officials came together to discuss early learning and the federal Strong Start for America’s Children Act. Strategies for Children participated in this critical conversation.

Click the image below to visit Storify and catch up on the conversation.

Tweet chat

From: http://storify.com/EarlyEd4All/early-learning-investinkids

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