Posts Tagged ‘#ece’

At our recent event at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Commissioner Sherri Killins of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care talked about eggplants.

Eggplants? Yes. The vegetable is a central element in a story Commissioner Killins shared about young children and oral language development, a building block of reading. The tale comes from “It’s Not Complicated! What I Know for Sure About Helping Our Students of Color Become Successful Readers,” by Phyllis Hunter, former director of reading for Houston’s public schools.

Hunter describes three mothers grocery shopping one night with their young children. In the produce section, the first passes a display of glistening, freshly sprayed eggplants. “What’s that?” the child asks. The mother, clearly harried and tired and irritated, tells the child to be quiet. “I don’t know,” the mother says. “Don’t ask me any questions.”

Soon another mother and young child pass the eggplant display. “What’s that?” the child asks. (more…)

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Election Day is fast approaching, and we want to make sure that candidates include young children and families in their education agendas. So, from now until the Friday before Election Day, I will run a question of the week to ask candidates running for state and federal office. The regular Friday “In Quotes” feature will return after Election Day.

Meanwhile, check out “Eight questions about young children to ask candidates” that I suggest in a post on MassMoms.com, on the (Worcester) Telegram & Gazette website. And see the Election 2012 page on our website. It provides tips for voters on how to focus attention on high-quality early education and reading proficiency this campaign season and information for candidates interested in becoming champions for young children.

Here is this week’s question:

The early education field suffers from low pay and high turnover. And as early educators, particularly those in community-based settings, increase their education and training, their pay is not keeping up. What will you do to link increased compensation for early educators with increased training?

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The journal Future of Children, a collaboration of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and the Brookings Institution,  has published an issue – Literacy Challenges for the Twenty-First Century – that’s chock full of thought-provoking articles.  An accompanying policy brief examines the relationship between standards and literacy development. (I’ll write later about some of the individual articles in the journal.)

Massachusetts is among the 45 states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards, which the authors of the policy brief strongly support. “Standards are an important part – but only one part – of solving the literacy problem,” they write. “Even the best possible standards cannot raise student literacy unless they are part of a larger strategy. Excellent standards are a first step.”

The policy brief is written by Ron Haskins, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution; Richard Murnane, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; Isabel Sawhill, co-director of the Center on Children and Families; and Catherine Snow, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The authors enumerate key elements of a successful strategy to boost children’s literacy. Improving the quality teaching, they write, is “the single most important element in any strategy aiming to boost student literacy and close the literacy gap.”  They suggest redirecting federal funds to create “a competitive grant program that encourages school systems to design and implement programs to improve teaching and learning in high-poverty schools.” They also call for:

  • Adoption by states of assessments now being designed to accompany the Common Core.
  • A common system for reporting results that will provide schools, parents and communities with detailed knowledge about how their students are performing relative to the Common Core and to other communities.
  • A better curriculum that is aligned with the Common Core.

“The more demanding Common Core standards in literacy, based on reading comprehension, conceptual knowledge, and vocabulary as well as accurate and fluent reading, combined with accurate assessments of these skills will reveal how far disadvantaged children lag behind on these more advanced literacy skills,” the authors write. “Rather than wait for the expanded literacy gap to be revealed, U.S. policymakers and educators should begin now to shrink the gap.”

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