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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Category

“Long acknowledged as a valuable learning opportunity with proven success, many families simply can’t afford preschool or are on waiting lists for affordable spots to open. New Bedford and Fall River are among 15 communities where stakeholders have been working to address this issue and prepare for growth. Next steps toward implementation require the passage of an initiative that would allow preschool expansion to be funded.

“One such initiative is An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education; a bill that calls on the Department of Early Education and Care and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a grant program to fund high-quality, pre-K programs. The grants would be awarded to cities and towns that are ready that already have state-approved implementation plans as well as large percentages of high-needs students.”

“Your View: Preschoolers deserve quality education,” by Kathleen Treglia, SouthCoast Today, November 12, 2017

Strategies for Children continues to advocate for passage of An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education (H.2874, S.240). Massachusetts residents, please click here to tell your state legislators to pass the bill.

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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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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

In Massachusetts, too many family live in “child care deserts” — communities where the demand for child care is far greater than the supply of high-quality spots.

“Despite the more than 8,000 licensed child care providers across the state, Massachusetts, like so many other areas across the country, is facing a child care crisis,” the national nonprofit Child Care Aware noted last year in its inaugural report, “Child Care Deserts: Developing Solutions to Child Care Supply and Demand.”

“… we found that these deserts are especially prevalent in low-income communities, rural communities, among families of color, and among families with irregular or nontraditional work schedules.”

Now, Child Care Aware is providing an interactive look at child care deserts in Massachusetts through a new “story map.”

Story maps are a unique advocacy tool because they bring data to life. The maps are created by an app that let users combine maps, narrative text, images, and multimedia content. Story maps can be used to create everything from annual reports and virtual tours of college campuses to the history of a city’s public art to a crowd-sourced map of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.

To create a child care story map for Massachusetts, Child Care Aware looked at three issues: (more…)

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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.” (more…)

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“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.” (more…)

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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. (more…)

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“Rotting wood and rusted bolts at the Rainbow Child Development Center’s old play area have been replaced by brand-new playsets, thanks to the generosity of donors and a six-figure government grant.”*

“‘We know you have to have healthy, happy children for them to thrive academically,’ said the center’s executive director, Joyce Rowell, who explained the Rainbow Center has adopted a range of new programs and activities aimed at instilling healthy living habits in its students and their families. ‘It’s a whole mindset we’re trying to work on together.’”

“Unlike many private preschool centers, however, the Rainbow Center cannot rely on its clients to pay for those initiatives. It primarily serves low-income and single-parent families living in some of the area’s poorest neighborhoods, as well as students under the care of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, and derives around 85 percent of its funding from the state.”

“Worcester early education center serving at-risk students unveils new playspaces,” by Scott O’Connell, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, September 8, 2017

 


*Massachusetts’ Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund Program

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