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Archive for the ‘Achievement gap’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Inequality between children from low-income families and those from high-income families starts early – and creates a daunting achievement gap.

“…children’s earliest learning experiences and outcomes” vary considerably “based on their parents’ incomes and education,” Sara Mead writes in “Education Inequality Starts Early,” a U.S. News and World Report article.

Mead focuses on children’s earliest years, a topic she says is missing from recent debates about inequality.

The seeds of educational inequality are sadly familiar. Middle class children are more likely to be read to, and according to the well-known Hart-Risley study, they hear 30 million more words than their lower-income peers.

“As a result, by the time they enter kindergarten, children from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds are already far behind their peers in the highest quartile of socioeconomic status on measures of early reading and math skills,” Mead writes.

The good news: (more…)

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“The problem is Massachusetts has a significant and persistent achievement gap, evident long before children enter school. Too many children show up for school already behind and too many of them will never catch up.

“As we have stated before, our country’s next greatest investment should be early childhood education.

“After all, the human brain develops more rapidly between birth and age 5 than during any other subsequent period.

“And according to several studies, children who participate in high-quality early childhood programs develop better language skills, score higher in school-readiness tests, and have better social skills and fewer behavioral problems once they enter school than those who do not have the benefit of pre-K services.”

“Early ed for all,” an editorial in the Cape Cod Times, July 16, 2017

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What do we know about preschool?

To find answers, researchers in different disciplines from a number of universities and from the think tank Brookings set up a task force to review the evidence “on the impact of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs.”

The result is a new report, “The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects,” released by Brookings and Duke University. Videos of related panel discussions are available here.

This effort produced “one, clear, strong message,” NPR reports. “Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don’t.”

“This timely report can guide states and local communities, including several here in Massachusetts, as they continue to expand access to high-quality preschool,” Titus DosRemedios, director of research and policy at Strategies for Children, says.

Included in the report is a six-part consensus statement that says: (more…)

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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

More than 120 early education professionals and experts have signed an open letter that urges state lawmakers to increase their investment in early education.

“As Massachusetts legislators consider the state budget and investments in early education, we would like to highlight the widespread agreement among experts and researchers in the field about the effectiveness of such investments,” the letter says.

It goes on to point out that while: “Quality early childhood education can reduce the achievement gap.”

And: “Investing in quality early childhood education pays off.”

It is also unfortunately true that: “There are a number of pressing problems that undermine early education in Massachusetts.”

Among those who have signed the letter are professionals and experts we’ve blogged about before, including Anne Douglass of the University of Massachusetts Boston; preschool teacher Teddy Kokoros; and Jack Shonkoff of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Every year, thousands of young children enter foster care just as they’re getting old enough to enter school — and they face challenges in achieving success.

“On any given day upwards of 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system are living in the care of someone other than their biological parents,” the American Institutes for Research says on its Education Policy Center InformED Blog.

The post is the first in a series “examining educational challenges facing youth in foster care—early childhood into college—and some promising solutions.”

Children in foster care creates considerable instability.

“One-third of these children enter the foster care system before age five, just as they should be making the transition from preschool to kindergarten. Seventy-five percent must change schools when they enter the foster care system, and during their first year in foster care, they experience an average of three different home placements—often changing schools again and again.” (more…)

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Paul Tucker

Photo from Rep. Paul Tucker’s Facebook page

Each year for five years, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has run an Early Learning Fellows program: a dynamic effort that’s designed for emerging leaders – legislators and legislative staff members.

“The program is geared toward those chairing or serving on human services, education or appropriations committees who want to expand their knowledge and learn from other legislators and experts across the country,” NCSL explains on its website.

The training is important because, “States have been leading efforts to improve the quality of child care, implementing preschool and innovative ways to support families with young children across the age spectrum from birth to kindergarten and into the early grades. They are also addressing challenges with governance, financing, data systems and teacher training/professional development.”

This year’s class includes State Representative Paul Tucker (D-Salem), as well state legislators from California, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wyoming. (more…)

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“There’s progress, but…”

That’s the theme of the new “The State of Preschool” 2015 Yearbook, published by NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research).

On NIEER’s Preschool Matters blog, in a post called “Slow and (Un)Steady Does Not Win the Race: What Other States Should Learn from New York,” W. Steven Barnett, NIEER’s director, shares his frustration with the troublingly slow pace of policy action. (We’ve added the bold face and underlining for emphasis.)

“The economist John Maynard Keynes famously wrote: ‘The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.’ Typically, this phrase is cited to support government intervention over waiting for the eventually self-correcting private sector. As this year’s State of Preschool marks 14 years of tracking state government support for preschool education, I find myself citing Keynes in exasperation with the slow pace of government intervention. At the current rate, it will be another 50 years before states can reach all low-income children at age four, and it will take 150 years to reach 75 percent of all four-year-olds.” (more…)

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