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Archive for the ‘Science & math’ 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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Members of the Massachusetts Education Equity Partnership. Source: Education Trust’s Twitter page.

 

Massachusetts is a great place to get a K-12 education — but not for everyone.

Many students in this state do extremely well on a national standardized test called the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP. A May 2018 report from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) says:

• “Massachusetts tied for first place on the grades 4 and 8 NAEP reading assessments,” and

• “On the NAEP mathematics assessments, Massachusetts tied for first with five other states at grade 4 and one other state on grade 8.”

But not every student does this well. Massachusetts is also home to “glaring and persistent disparities in opportunity and achievement that separate low-income students and students of color from their peers.”

That’s the finding of a new report called, “#1 for Some: Opportunity and Achievement in Massachusetts,” that has been released by the Massachusetts Education Equity Partnership, a growing coalition of nonprofit organizations. Strategies for Children is one of 15 current members. (more…)

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JD Chesloff

We caught up with JD Chesloff, who just completed a 10-year term on the Board of Early Education and Care (EEC), and asked him about what he’s seen over the last decade.

As readers of this blog know, JD’s career includes working at Strategies for Children and in the State House. He was also chair of EEC’s Board, and he is currently the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable.

What has he seen as an EEC board member?

“The organization has matured over the last 10 years. It started out as a fledgling idea of having all of the early childhood activity in one place.”

“It’s grown up over that time and now it’s a clearly equal member at the education table with K-12 and higher education.”

JD praises the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and its focus on ensuring that children and families have access to high-quality programs. The department has also wrestled with serving all children, making universal access part of its vision in a 5-Year Strategic Plan.

What was the most personally satisfying part of JD’s time on the Board? (more…)

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A series featuring communities that have a plan to expand preschool.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Adornetto

 

In Pittsfield, we know how important early education is. Children who don’t get a strong start can’t read proficiently by third grade. In our city, 2017 MCAS data shows that only 44 percent of third graders are proficient in English and only 44 percent are proficient in math. We want to see these numbers improve because, to put it bluntly, children who struggle to read may also struggle to succeed.

Because helping children takes a team approach, in 2012, the Berkshire United Way formed Pittsfield Promise, a coalition focused on ensuring that our third-graders can read proficiently. To achieve this goal, members of the coalition work closely with early childhood programs, social service and health providers, businesses, and community members.

In 2016, Pittsfield was awarded a preschool expansion grant. We are using this funding to create a collaboration between the Pittsfield Public Schools and two local center-based early childhood programs.

In this mixed-delivery model, the Pittsfield Public Schools is the lead partner and fiduciary agent. (more…)

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“Gov. Cuomo late Wednesday night gave his approval to a city plan to build a cutting-edge pre-kindergarten school at the New York Hall of Science.

“Cuomo, just before midnight, signed legislation that would allow the city Department of Education to use a portion of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the $50 million Pre-K Center, which would enroll 300 kids and focus on science, engineering, math and the arts.”

“‘STEM education is an important part of my education policy and the purpose underlying the bill is a noble one,’ Cuomo wrote in his approval measure.”

“Cuomo approves plan to build pre-K at New York Hall of Science,” The New York Daily News, November 30, 2017

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Early literacy tends to get a lot of attention. It’s easy to talk, read, or sing to young children.

But early math deserves equal time.

As we’ve blogged, early math pays off for children. And with some good advice, it’s not hard to play math games that help children build a strong foundation in math.

“Playing math games with children can be a fun, developmentally appropriate way to spark understanding of big mathematical ideas,” Kristen E. Reed and Jessica Mercer Young write in their article, “Play Games, Learn Math! Explore Numbers and Counting with Dot Card and Finger Games.”

“Math games also support children’s mathematical habits of mind—and key school readiness skills, such as problem solving, puzzling, and perseverance.”

Reed is a senior project director and mathematics educator at the Education Development Center (EDC), a nonprofit organization that works to improve the education, health, and economic opportunities. And Young is a research scientist and psychologist specializing in early learning at EDC. The article is the first in a series of articles on early math. (more…)

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Equipped with big dreams, generous hearts, and strategic funding, the Worcester Child Development Head Start program has been building a STEAM curriculum to immerse preschool-age children in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. It’s been a dynamic process that shows how important it is to have partnerships, federal investments, and lots of local action.

Inspired by the STEAM work being done by a Head Start program in Lawrence, Mass., staff in Worcester decided to form a STEAM committee and create their own STEAM rooms.

 

millswanmural

 

(more…)

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