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Archive for the ‘Literacy’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

This year’s MCAS test results have been released.

And while this assessment of Massachusetts students is 25 years old, this year’s results are part of a “new generation” of testing that’s designed “to measure how a school or district is doing and what kind of support it may need,” according to a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

The next-generation MCAS “is more comprehensive than the previous system and complies with the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act.” This is the second year that the new MCAS has been administered, so this year’s results can only be compared to last year’s – and not to earlier years.

Students’ test scores are sorted into one of four assessment categories:

• exceeding expectations

• meeting expectations

• partially meeting expectations, and

• not meeting expectations

The year’s results are similar to last year’s, the press release notes. In English and math, “approximately 50 percent of the students who took the test scored Meeting Expectations or above.” (more…)

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“Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are giving $30 million to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to tackle one of the most perplexing problems in education — low literacy rates among elementary school students — officials announced Tuesday.

“A cornerstone of the five-year initiative, Reach Every Reader , will be the development of a Web-based screening tool, which could be used by districts nationwide, that aims to speed up the identification of kindergartners at high risk for reading difficulty. The screening tool will attempt to determine why students are struggling and will offer interventions that teachers and families can use to help children become stronger readers.

“The initiative also hopes to shift the conversation about poor literacy away from third-grade reading scores toward younger students. Officials believe early intervention can have the most profound effect on turning students into proficient readers.”

“Zuckerberg, Chan donate $30 million to literacy effort,” James Vaznis, The Boston Globe, March 6, 2018

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What makes you smile about Worcester?

That’s what the city asked its children, and the children answered with terrific drawings and captions.

More than 1,000 responses were submitted, and some were chosen for the city’s “Smile Book,” an alphabet book featuring different aspects of Worcester.

“It is a view into how children see our city and why they are proud to live here,” Kim Davenport said. She is the managing director of Birth to 3rd Grade Alignment at Edward Street Child Services.

The book is also a powerful way to mix literacy, fun, and the civic engagement of children who have a truly unique view of their city. As we’ve blogged, Providence produced a similar book several years ago. (more…)

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House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers slug it out in the World Series, playing 10 innings for more than five hours in Game 5, House Speaker Robert DeLeo is once again going to bat for children – using baseball to make the case for early literacy.

DeLeo was speaking at Raising a Reader Massachusetts’ third annual Leadership in Literacy Award Breakfast where he was being honored as the Legislator of the Year.

“Some of you may know that I’m a big baseball fan,” DeLeo said at the breakfast. “So, I was struck by a Strategies for Children report that equated the experience of watching a game at Fenway Park with learning to read.”

That report is “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” written by Nonie Lesaux, a Harvard Graduate School of Education professor. It’s on page two that the the report tells the story of two children at Fenway Park.

DeLeo explained it this way:

“The report followed the experiences of two 10 year olds at Fenway Park: one child whose father exposed her to baseball at an early age, explained the rules of the game to her, and sparked her love for the sport. She knows when to cheer, and when to boo.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Writer and pediatrician Perri Klass has always been a champion of sharing books with children, but this month in the New York Times she writes about the issue by mixing research with great human warmth and urgency.

Klass draws on a recent study that found that parents who read and write at home with children boost both literacy and lifetime skills. This topic isn’t new for Klass; she’s the national medical director of Reach Out and Read, the organization that distributes books to children through pediatricians’ offices.

The reading and writing study was conducted by University of Washington researchers who found that “Children who read and write at home — whether for assignments or just for fun — are building long-term study and executive function skills,” according to a press release.

Klass turns the research findings into near poetry: (more…)

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Worcester delegation to All-America City event: Erin Dobson, Tim Garvin, Patrick Lowe, Kim Davenport, Joanne Gravell, Amy O’Leary, Sally Fuller, Chris O’Keefe, and Steven Zrike.

Patrick Lowe used to send some his emails in the middle of the night. As a busy medical school student, this was sometimes the only time he had to work on Worcester’s application for an All-America City award.

Bestowed by the National Civic League and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the award recognized communities that helped “more young children from low-income families achieve grade-level reading proficiency and early school success.”

Kim Davenport, meanwhile, worked during the day, reading Lowe’s emails and working with him to submit a convincing application for the award. Davenport, the managing director of Birth to 3rd Grade Alignment at Edward Street Child Services, was steeped in the work of pooling resources from across the city to help young children succeed.

Worcester had won the award five times before. But not since 2000. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Next time a child says, “tell me a story,” ask them instead to tell you a story. It may help them become stronger readers.

New research shows this may be particularly true for African-American boys.

Strong storytelling skills correlate with better reading in some children, according to researchers at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Knowing how to tell a clear and coherent story is an important skill for helping young children to develop strong reading skills, which, in turn, can help them to be successful across a number of different subjects in school,” says Nicole Gardner-Neblett, an FPG advanced research scientist. (more…)

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