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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

 

Back in 1965, the federal government launched Head Start. It was a national preschool program for low-income families and part of the war that President Lyndon Johnson declared on poverty.

Today, Head Start serves 900,000 children a year at a cost of $9.6 billion in 2017. And the program is praised by its graduates, including Massachusetts State Senator Sal DiDomenico. But Head Start also has critics who have challenged its value and suggested that over time, the program’s benefits fade.

Now a new study from the University of Michigan gives critics an answer. Head Start works. It produces lifelong benefits for children and a solid return on investment for taxpayers.

To conduct the study, researchers “used longitudinal data from children who attended Head Start between 1965 and 1980,” according to the First Five Years Fund. This data set was linked to “long-form 2000 Census and 2001-2013 American Community Surveys” as well as to birth information from the Social Security Administration. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

What does early education and care look like in Massachusetts? Is it mostly center-based? Or are families mostly relying on grandma and their next-door neighbors?

Answers are emerging from the Early Learning Study being run by the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE).

Drawing from a survey of 90,000 Massachusetts households, researchers found that:

• 55 percent of families were enrolled in formal care settings

• 14 percent enrolled in informal care settings

• 14 percent used a mix of formal and informal care, and

• 17 percent of children were care for solely by their parents (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Every day in Massachusetts, 75,000 early childhood educators go to work caring for more than 400,000 young children. Yet, these educators face increasing demands inside and outside of the classroom, with low pay and high economic insecurity contributing to a workforce shortage.

Next year, to study these challenges, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Boston, will conduct a sweeping survey of the early education workforce.

This month, to prepare for the survey, researchers from UMass Boston’s Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation (IEELI) have released a preliminary, Phase One report, “The Massachusetts Early Care and Education Workforce Study: Final Report Relevant to Survey Design.” (more…)

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh meets with a young learner. Source: City of Boston Mayor’s Office’s Flickr page.

 

Boston has a long history of preschool progress. Starting under the administration of former Mayor Thomas Menino and continuing with Mayor Marty Walsh’s team, city officials have invested in quality, access, and innovation. Now, this work is featured in a new report — “A Focus on Teaching and Learning in Pre-K through 2nd Grade: Lessons from Boston” — from the think tank New America.

New America praises Boston for having a clear and lasting vision for expanding preschool, rather than “a series of priorities that shift every few years based on changes in district leadership.”

Thanks to a dynamic, public-private partnership, funding for this work came from the city and from funders like the Barr Foundation. (more…)

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Screenshot of NPR website

 

High-quality early education packs a powerful financial punch.

“You can think of having a better kindergarten teacher as being worth something like $300,000 for a classroom of students,” Harvard economist Raj Chetty said earlier this month in an episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast.

In other words, a classroom of kids with a high-quality kindergarten teacher will earn $300,000 more than a classroom without a highly skilled teacher. What makes a good kindergarten teacher? Chetty says this isn’t fully known, but strong teachers have key skills such as the ability to manage a classroom, to help children focus, and to inspire them. (more…)

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Screenshot of “Ideas and Innovations in Early Childhood Education” website

 

There’s a new early education organization in town called, “Ideas and Innovations In Early Childhood Education.”

Founded by early educator Theodore Kokoros, it’s a local think tank that’s funneling the voices of early educators and parents of young children into the public debate.

“While early childhood education and care is getting more attention from politicians and the media,” the organization’s website explains, “too often those shaping policy and discussions related to early childhood education and care are not the people who are more directly involved with the work. This think tank’s goal is to share the research and perspectives of people who work directly with young children.”

The think tank’s website features articles on a range of topics, including teaching practices, proposed legislation, research trends, literature reviews, brain science, and other early education-related news. (more…)

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A new study published in PLOS ONE by researchers from New York University “examined the long-term impacts of an early childhood program called the Chicago School Readiness Project (CSRP) and found evidence suggesting that the program positively affected children’s executive function and academic achievement during adolescence.”

“ ‘Although we did not find large impacts on all of the outcomes assessed, the positive results for executive function and academic achievement were certainly encouraging,’ said lead author and Research Assistant Professor, Tyler Watts. ‘We think these results suggest that high-quality programs can produce important effects on key long-term outcomes.’ ”

“ ‘Many recent early childhood interventions have found that effects fade in the years immediately following the end of the program,’ Watts explained. ‘Unfortunately, most of these studies have not continued to follow-up with participants past elementary school. Our results suggest that if we expect early programs to produce long-lasting results, then we should keep looking at outcomes at least into adolescence.’ ”

“NYU Study Uncovers Connections Between Early Childhood Programs and Teenage Outcomes,” New York University, July 16, 2018

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