Archive for the ‘Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education’ Category

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children


“We know from human history and the latest learning science that success comes from the combination of academic knowledge and the ability to work with others. We need public education to reflect this broader definition of success, and this commission is well positioned to point the way.”
– Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute



From pre-K to 12th grade, having strong social and emotional learning (SEL) skills — such as listening, working well with others, and delaying gratification — is a crucial ingredient for long-term success.

To provide more information and leadership, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has launched a new webpage called Social and Emotional Learning in Massachusetts. (more…)

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Policy is changing for K-12 schools.

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

Here in Massachusetts, districts and schools are unpacking newly released MCAS and PARCC scores and deciphering what these scores mean for learning and accountability. At the same time, Massachusetts is developing a next-generation MCAS that will be administered in the spring.

On the federal level, the “No Child Left Behind” law was reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); and state officials are working on our plan for this new law.

All of this is activity is important, but K-12 can’t achieve the success we all want without integrating early learning.

Learning begins at birth; the research on this point is clear. Children need a strong early learning foundation and a range of supportive efforts that stretch through their first eight years, from birth to third grade.

Despite the proven power of early learning, there are very few government mandates to provide these early learning supports. This absence does, however, (more…)

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Building State P-3 Systems


How can states build strong P-3 systems — the educational pipelines that start before birth and carry babies through to the third grade?

David Jacobson, a senior project director at the Education Development Center, tackles this question in a new report — “Building State P–3 Systems: Learning from Leading States” — that was recently released by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO).

The report looks at the P-3 (prenatal to third grade) work being done in “three case study states,” Massachusetts, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, which “were chosen based on their experience implementing P–3 state policies and developing significant grant programs to fund regional and local P–3 partnerships.”

“I think the biggest overall take-away is that there is a great deal states can do to improve quality and provide continuity for children throughout the first 8-9 years of children’s lives,” Jacobson told us in an email. “We are learning how to go about this through the lessons provided by these leading states.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“Melrose Mayor Rob Dolan said it took snow-removal savings from a nearly snowless winter for the city to be able fund free, full-day kindergarten back in 2012,” Wicked Local Melrose reported earlier this month.

“And while most kids in the commonwealth do have access to full-day kindergarten — 93 percent, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — for many it comes at a price, one that not everyone can pay. The result: some children across the commonwealth are reaping the benefits, and others are not.”

That’s a shame because as Amy O’Leary, director of our Early Education for All Campaign, told Wicked Local, “We know that full-day kindergarten makes a difference… It’s really about more time for quality instruction, more time for teacher and student interaction, learning the routines of the day. If you think about two-and-half hours versus six hours, there’s just more time for instruction and learning at your own pace.” (more…)

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Chad d'Entremont, executive director of the Rennie Center. Photo: Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

Chad d’Entremont, executive director of the Rennie Center. Photo: Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy


“Cognitive and non-cognitive skills are inextricably linked,” Harvard’s Nonie Lesaux said during a panel discussion at the Condition of Education event hosted by the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy.

There’s a growing consensus in education that children can’t develop strong cognitive skills without non-cognitive “soft skills” such as focus, persistence, and getting along with others. Indeed, the two categories of skills may be more linked than we realize.


Last week, the Rennie Center released the findings of its 2016 “Condition of Education in the Commonwealth” report at an event in Boston’s Omni Parker House Hotel. This year’s report focused on social-emotional learning, a hot topic among educators, parents, and researchers. The topic was so hot that #COE2016 was trending on Twitter during the event.

Covering education trends from birth to college and beyond, Rennie’s work includes a focus on high-quality early education. (more…)

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Congratulations to the city of Lawrence’s public schools and to their community partners. They were one of the winners at the Third Annual Gateway City Innovation Awards which is sponsored by the nonprofit thank tank MassINC.

Held in Worcester last month, the award ceremony acknowledged Gateway Cities for their innovative, collaborative approaches to long-standing community problems.

The win is particularly sweet for Lawrence because its schools have struggled. In 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that the city’s schools fell into the Level 5 category, the state’s lowest one, because of chronic underperformance.

The district was put into receivership and Jeff Riley, a Boston educator, was brought in as the new superintendent and charged with implementing a turnaround plan. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

States face a persistent problem: Classrooms full of children who struggle to read.

“Only about one-third of all children attending school in the United States can read proficiently by fourth grade,” the New America foundation explains on its website. “The numbers are even more dismaying for our most vulnerable students. How can state policymakers lessen the achievement gap and improve literacy outcomes for all children?”

To find answers, New America has taken a look at all 50 states’ birth-to-third-grade policies.

The resulting report is a ranking of states called, “From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth- 3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers.”

“Accompanying the research are interactive maps of state progress displayed via New America’s data visualization and policy analysis tool, Atlas.” This is an easy, graphic way to access findings for individual states. (more…)

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