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Archive for the ‘Family engagement’ Category

Screenshot of New America’s report.

 

What does high-quality pre-K look like?

It depends on where you look, according to a new report from the think tank New America.

“Since publicly funded pre-K programs are guided by varying intents, regulations, and funding approaches, there is little continuity in early learning. There are uneven standards for program quality, variable hours of coverage, incongruent eligibility requirements, and competing demands for accountability.”

Despite this “uneven” practice, the research does provide clear answers of what quality looks like.

To get a sharp picture of quality, New America’s report — “Indispensable Policies & Practices for High-Quality Pre-K: Research & Pre-K Standards Review” — “synthesizes recent meta-analyses and other studies” and “analyzes existing pre-K quality standards.”

Six themes emerged from this process: (more…)

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This summer, the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New Jersey released a policy brief on its federal preschool development grants.

It’s an upbeat story – but one with an unknown ending. New Jersey has successfully expanded preschool programs. But it’s not clear what will happen to this growth once federal funding runs out.

The state made preschool history thanks to two New Jersey Supreme Court rulings that required officials to “provide quality preschool in 31 low‐income towns so that young children had the best opportunity to succeed in kindergarten and beyond,” the brief explains.

This investment paid off. “Three studies by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) found that children who attended the state‐funded preschools showed significant progress in language, literacy, math and science and were substantially less likely to repeat grades.”

But after a small amount of additional expansion, progress on pre-K stalled.  (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

A new report –“Quality for Whom?”– from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) points to two converging trends:

1) the number of immigrant children in the United States is growing in many states as is the number of children whose parents do not speak English, and

2) States have been working hard to increase the quality of early programs using Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS)

That’s why, the report notes, QRIS efforts should embrace the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse families (CLDs) and of diverse early childhood staff.

“It is critical for stakeholders to address equity issues in early childhood for several reasons,” one of the report’s authors, Julie Sugarman, told us. “First, because children from an immigrant background make up a quarter of all children ages 0 to 5 and immigrants make up 18 percent of the early childhood workforce — a significant share of the field.  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) wants your feedback.

EEC is revising the Massachusetts Quality Rating and Improvement System (MA QRIS). And the department wants to know what you think of its draft document.

Massachusetts’ QRIS system looks at quality in five areas:

  1. Curriculum and Learning
  2. Safe, Healthy Indoor and Outdoor Environments
  3. Workforce Development and Professional Qualifications
  4. Family and Community Engagement
  5. Leadership, Administration and Management

QRIS work is also going on nationally, as Debi Mathias, director of the QRIS National Learning Network with the BUILD Initiative, noted in a panel discussion last year. And these efforts are having a positive impact on children. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Home visiting programs have been praised before, but newly released research points to a unique finding: These programs are especially beneficial for boys.

Covering this research, The New York Times reports: “Children who receive home visits are healthier, achieve more in school and have better social and emotional skills, according to a new study, released Monday by James J. Heckman, a Nobel laureate economist at the University of Chicago. Mothers have better prenatal and mental health and parenting skills.”

Heckman and his colleagues looked at the Memphis Nurse-Family Partnership home visiting program, which sends nurses to meet with first-time, low-income mothers. The program is voluntary.

The research “started in 1990, and it kept track of hundreds of kids who participated, tracking them until they were 12,” NPR reports. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

What would make the transition from pre-K to kindergarten easier?

Four states are trying to find out, according to a recent report from New America called, “Connecting the Steps: State Strategies to Ease the Transition from Pre-K to Kindergarten.”

The path from pre-K to kindergarten can be “fraught with stress and uncertainty for many children and their parents,” New America says in a policy paper. Kindergarten’s days are often longer, and the curriculum can focus more on academics.

“This transition is significant for parents as well. Contact with teachers is often more formalized and less frequent than in a pre-K classroom. There is often less emphasis on parent-teacher and parent-parent contact than before. This can leave parents feeling out of the loop… and can lead to less parental involvement in the classroom.”

While schools and districts have to ease the transition, “states can actively encourage intentional, local efforts to smooth transitions to kindergarten.”

To show what states can do, (more…)

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“We don’t have to talk anymore about the value of early childhood education: everyone agrees it’s critical. We do, however, have to talk about affordability, logistics and policy. With preschool tuition running $10,000-$30,000 per year, the cost of sending one child to preschool can be more than a family’s rent or mortgage. Early childhood education is not just a child development issue, it’s an economic one…”

“To address this issue, the city convened an Early Childhood Task Force in 2014. Its 2015 report articulates the admirable vision that “all children in Cambridge [will] receive high quality early education and care from birth through third grade,” and recommends initial steps toward that goal…”

“To start this process, the council and committee will have a joint roundtable discussion this fall. One of the main tasks of the roundtable should be to set a deadline by which a comprehensive system of early childhood education will be in place. A deadline will force us to answer, sooner rather than later, the questions related to policy, financing, and logistics.

“Some of those questions are: (more…)

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