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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Yesterday, Massachusetts officials released the results of the new MCAS, “an updated version of the test that was given for the first time in spring 2017 to students in grades 3-8 in English language arts and mathematics,” according to a press release.

The results show some good news. But the new test also reveals how much work Massachusetts still has to do to help all of its students succeed.

The new version of the MCAS “was created with input from hundreds of teachers following a thorough review and update of the state’s curriculum frameworks. The next-generation MCAS establishes high expectations to better reflect whether students are on track for the next grade level and ultimately for college and a career.”

“In general, the new standards for Meeting Expectations are more rigorous than the standards for reaching the Proficient level on the legacy MCAS.”

“Spring 2017 is a baseline year for a new test in grades 3-8, and spring 2017 scores should not be compared to previous years’ scores.” Continue Reading »

“Salem has much to recommend it to new residents, including a revitalized downtown, myriad housing options, a university, nightlife and a major museum. But for some years now, the public schools have been its Achilles heel.”

“That’s why it was so heartening last week to hear about a new approach to education that is starting to take place here, an approach that Paul Reville, a former state education commissioner and current Harvard professor, said is at the forefront of a national effort to update the way schools help children in this century. Reville, Superintendent Margarita Ruiz and Mayor Kim Driscoll spoke to the Salem Rotary about it last week.”

“As part of this By All Means program, the city is approaching learning as a community endeavor, calling on community groups, youth groups, the hospital, the university, sports groups and others to step up and help kids get the resources they need to be successful in school.

“The big issue, Reville says, is no secret: Children don’t enter kindergarten on a level playing field. Some have been read to every night, nurtured in preschool, taken to museums, exposed to dancing lessons or nature camps. Others have had none of those advantages. And the resulting achievement gap grows as the years go on, and some children continue to get everything from sports camps to homework help, and others do not.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Screenshot of GEEARS report cover.

 

What does it mean to be school ready?

Different stakeholders have different answers – and that can lead to fractured efforts to help young children.

Georgia, however, has come up with a framework for school readiness that should help unite the actions of families, schools, and communities.

“The framework articulates not only the central components of school readiness but also the roles various stakeholders play in promoting it.”

This is an important step forward because many states have struggled to define school readiness.

To develop the framework, the nonprofit organization GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students worked with state leaders to form a committee that solicited feedback from experts and from stakeholders across the state.  Continue Reading »

Last week, early education leaders from around the country met at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE) for “The Leading Edge of Early Childhood Education: Expansion and Improvement for Impact.” The goal: to discuss “the delivery of high-quality early learning at scale and its benefit to children and society.”

Now, a video of the full, seven-hour meeting is available on line, thanks to its host, HGSE’s Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative.

The meeting was kicked off by HGSE Professor Nonie Lesaux who explained that early education’s landscape has four pillars:

– the persistence of the economic opportunity gap

– the developmental force of the early childhood years

– the promise of high-quality early learning experiences, and

– the challenge of making good on the potential and promise for ALL children

Citing Sean Reardon, an education professor at Stanford University, Lesaux said the challenge today is building “equality of quality at scale.” In other words, every young child should have access to great preschool programs. Continue Reading »

Georgia’s First Lady Sandra Deal (second from left) and Governor Nathan Deal at the North Fulton Child Development Center. Photo source: Sandra Deal’s Twitter page.

 

“Some of Georgia’s leading politicians kicked off the 25th birthday of the pre-kindergarten program on Monday by reading to some of the state’s youngest students.

“Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife Sandra launched the weeklong celebration by reading to a group of students at the North Fulton Child Development Center in Roswell. The students roared when the program’s brightly colored mascot entered the room.

“‘This is one of the more successful programs of its type in the country. It’s an important part of teaching children to read, and reading skills help unlock the future for any child,’ said Deal.

“The lottery-funded pre-K program started in 1992 as a pilot program serving 750 children under then-Gov. Zell Miller’s administration. It has since educated about 1.6 million children.”

“Georgia celebrates 25th anniversary of pre-K program,” AJC.com, October 2, 2017

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved Massachusetts’ plan for ESSA – the Every Student Succeeds Act. And as we’ve blogged, while ESSA covers K-12, it includes opportunities “to support the birth-through-grade-three continuum.”

In a press release, DeVos says:

“I continue to be heartened by the ways in which states have embraced the flexibility afforded to them under ESSA.”

“I want to thank Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, Governor Charlie Baker and all the stakeholders that contributed to Massachusetts’ plan. This plan also serves as a testament to the leadership of the late Commissioner Mitchell Chester, who remains greatly missed.”

Submitted by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), the ESSA plan covers a number of goals for improving K-12 education that involve early education. Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Georgia continues to break ground on early childhood education.

Some of this work is being done at the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, a program of the Atlanta Speech School.

On its website, “Read Right from the Start on the Cox Campus,” Rollins provides free courses and online resources for early educators. Among these are two compelling videos about how to effectively use language with young children.

One video — “The Promise” — features children explaining how adults and early educators can use their words to help children learn.

“We need you to give our voices power,” one child says. Others advise:

“Talk to us.”

“Sing to us.” Continue Reading »

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