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Our own Titus DosRemedios, Strategies for Children’s director of research and policy, was interviewed by the Toronto-based Preschool Podcast. Here are some excerpts of what Titus said:

 

“We have started to look at data on our early education and care workforce, and it’s kind of shocking how low the salaries are, how high the turnover is — the average salary is about $25,000 in the field for an early education and care teacher, turnover rate is about 30 percent. So we’re paying these borderline poverty wages for teachers that we’re expecting will be able to close the achievement gap and help children get ready to succeed in school. So there’s a mismatch between what our vision and hope is for the system and the level of investment there is in the teachers…”

 

“Access we thought was pretty good. And we actually spent many years pushing on quality because we thought that was the missing piece… But in recent years, we’ve started to uncover that in many parts of the state access is actually not that great. We have what we call Gateway Cities in Massachusetts… And what you find is that many children, high percentages of children in these small urban cities are coming to kindergarten without having any form or preschool whatsoever…”

 

“The secret to third-grade reading scores is not to get a new curriculum in third grade. It’s to work from birth all the way through age 8 or 9 and think about that entire continuum: working with families, infant-toddler programs, preschool programs, home-visiting programs, and, of course, the early elementary grades…”

 

“Data-driven early childhood education advocacy,” The Preschool Podcast, June 27, 2017

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Tom Weber, Commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care

Last week, the Massachusetts Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (MAECTE) held its Early Childhood Policy Summit.

The title of MAECTE’s summit: “Preparing the Early Childhood Workforce and Supporting Quality Programs: Structural Changes Needed in Funding and Higher Ed to Meet the Challenge.”

As MAECTE’s website says, the organization is “a professional voice of Early Childhood Educator preparation,” and it “provides vision, leadership, resources, policy initiatives, and professional development opportunities to support Early Childhood teacher educators.”

Summit participants included providers, advocates, and state officials including Tom Weber, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), and Carlos Santiago, commissioner of the Department of Higher Education.

“When our teachers do not make a livable wage, we do not make ourselves appealing in a competitive market,” Weber said.  (more…)

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“As Boston officials seek to create a universal pre-kindergarten system, they must take into account a host of considerations, and one of the key questions is defining the very recipe for high quality.

“Are schools with hundreds of students up to eighth grade appropriate for 4-year-olds? How will the nurturing environment of small child care centers be reproduced in classrooms with nearly two dozen students? What will be the financial impact on private providers if a big source of revenue is taken? Will going to a private preschool keep families from getting into their favorite public kindergarten class?”

“City officials say the goal is to create a public/private system that would guarantee a free, full day of learning, allow community organizations to maintain their individuality, and have an agreed-upon set of standards for what constitutes a high-quality pre-K education.”

“Early education experts say other ingredients to consider include class and facility size, location, the relationship between teachers and administrators, and culture and language.”

“Boston pre-K programs that make the grade,” by Akilah Johnson, The Boston Globe, March 10, 2017

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Why does the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs care if a child eats an apple?

Because the alliance is trying to change the world. Instead of couches and chips, the alliance is working to expose children to more fresh food and physical activity.

One goal is to protect kids from obesity and developing obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

But this effort may well do a lot more. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out, healthier students are better learners. Better learners are more likely to graduate from high school. And “Better-educated individuals live longer, healthier lives than those with less education, and their children are more likely to thrive,” according to a policy brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In other words, kids who habitually eat apples and ride bikes could be laying a foundation for decades of success – for themselves and their descendants.

What’s the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCA’s doing with this information?

Bringing it to the preschool arena. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

“What does it take to get preschool right?” NPR asks in this article.

Answers can be found in a new report from The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) called, “The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States.”

The institute “conducts and communicates independent, high-quality research to improve education policy and practice.”

“Although many studies show that high-quality preschool returns $7 to $10 for every dollar invested, the research shows that it is not so easy to create high-quality preschool at scale, and not all programs reap these benefits,” Linda Darling-Hammond, president and CEO of the LPI says in a press release. “This study looks deeply at how governments can design and implement programs that pay off for their children and their state.”

NPR says the report “helps balance the preschool debate by highlighting a handful of states that appear to be getting pre-K right: Michigan, West Virginia, Washington and North Carolina.” (more…)

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School leaders are expanding their commitment to early education by promoting a new set of policy recommendations. It’s an enhanced allegiance between pre-K and K-12 that promises to yield important progress for children.

“While state chiefs do not have full authority over all early childhood programs, we are crucial leaders in any effort to strengthen early learning opportunities and outcomes,” according to a new policy statement from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) called, “Equity Starts Early: How Chiefs Will Build High-Quality Early Education.”

CCSSO represents the “public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states.” (more…)

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Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts a press conference and visits science and music programs in the pre-K center at Windsor Terrace’s Bishop Ford campus, where there are now over 20 free, full-day, high-quality pre-K classrooms serving nearly 300 children. Photographer/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts a press conference and visits science and music programs in the pre-K center at Windsor Terrace’s Bishop Ford campus, where there are now over 20 free, full-day, high-quality pre-K classrooms serving nearly 300 children. Photo source: Mayor de Blasio’s Flickr page. Photographer/Mayoral Photography Office

 

Borscht — the red soup that’s made of beets — is the first word of David Kirp’s New York Times opinion piece, “How New York Made Pre-K a Success.”

Why soup? It’s an example of how New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has grown his city’s preschool program into a widespread, multicultural success – one that other cities and states can learn from.

“Borscht isn’t found on most prekindergarten menus, but it’s what the cooks were dishing up for the 35 children at Ira’s Daycare in Briarwood, Queens, on a recent school day,” Kirp writes. He’s a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. “Many families in this neighborhood are Russian émigrés for whom borscht is a staple, but children from half a dozen countries, including a contingent from Bangladesh, are also enrolled here.

“These youngsters are among the 68,547 4-year-olds enrolled in one of the nation’s most ambitious experiments in education: New York City’s accelerated attempt to introduce preschool for all.” (more…)

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