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Archive for the ‘Standards and curriculum’ Category

This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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Stacey Reese

My name is Stacey Reese and I am currently a lead teacher for Cape Cod Child Development. I have been a preschool teacher for a little over 5 ½ years but have had my hand in educating young children for over 18 years.

So many people spend their whole lives trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do, but I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to be a teacher. Being a Head Start teacher is no easy feat. It requires patience, diligence, heart and dedication.

My primary goal as the lead teacher is not only to implement daily curriculums and activities, but to provide a safe, fun, caring learning environment for all my students. Head Start provides comprehensive early education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low income families. The program is inclusive and helps those who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunities to succeed. Being part of such a wonderful program helps me to be more focused on my own goals.

I learned that being a good teacher means connecting with children on their own level. I have learned to recognize exactly what motivates a child, how to hold their interest, and most importantly, how to make learning fun, which is so important in a Head Start classroom. This takes perseverance, determination, and a huge commitment to my passion.  (more…)

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TeeAra Dias at a “Wonder of Learning” event held at Boston University / Wheelock College.

“Leading the Way,” is a series featuring the next generation of leaders in the field of early education and care.

When TeeAra Dias was 18 and working for Bright Horizons, a corporate child care provider, she asked herself a career question:

“Do I want to live in a birthday bear suit?”

Dias had been dressing up as a bear to provide entertainment at the children’s parties that were held at Bright Horizons.

She knew she had a passion for serving children. A Boston native, she had worked as one of the city’s summer youth employment “Red Shirts” at the Little People’s Playhouse in Roslindale. But was life in the bear suit satisfying enough?

To answer this question, Dias decided to get more education. She continued to work at Bright Horizons and attended Mt. Ida College where she met Eunice Perry, who ran Mt. Ida’s Longfellow Preschool Program.

Perry was “a mentor and really helped me better understand that early education was more than just playing with children, that I was actually a child’s first (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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Policy is changing for K-12 schools.

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

Here in Massachusetts, districts and schools are unpacking newly released MCAS and PARCC scores and deciphering what these scores mean for learning and accountability. At the same time, Massachusetts is developing a next-generation MCAS that will be administered in the spring.

On the federal level, the “No Child Left Behind” law was reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); and state officials are working on our plan for this new law.

All of this is activity is important, but K-12 can’t achieve the success we all want without integrating early learning.

Learning begins at birth; the research on this point is clear. Children need a strong early learning foundation and a range of supportive efforts that stretch through their first eight years, from birth to third grade.

Despite the proven power of early learning, there are very few government mandates to provide these early learning supports. This absence does, however, (more…)

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Building State P-3 Systems

 

How can states build strong P-3 systems — the educational pipelines that start before birth and carry babies through to the third grade?

David Jacobson, a senior project director at the Education Development Center, tackles this question in a new report — “Building State P–3 Systems: Learning from Leading States” — that was recently released by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO).

The report looks at the P-3 (prenatal to third grade) work being done in “three case study states,” Massachusetts, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, which “were chosen based on their experience implementing P–3 state policies and developing significant grant programs to fund regional and local P–3 partnerships.”

“I think the biggest overall take-away is that there is a great deal states can do to improve quality and provide continuity for children throughout the first 8-9 years of children’s lives,” Jacobson told us in an email. “We are learning how to go about this through the lessons provided by these leading states.” (more…)

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Boston Public Schools preschool teacher Mary Bolt watches Jason DePina Jr., 5, draw a picture of Batman for his book about superheroes in the classroom’s writing section. Photo by Lillian Mongeau/Hechinger Report

Boston Public Schools preschool teacher Mary Bolt watches Jason DePina Jr., 5, draw a picture of Batman for his book about superheroes in the classroom’s writing section. Photo by Lillian Mongeau/Hechinger Report

A new article in the Atlantic (courtesy of the Hechinger Report) — “What Boston’s Preschools Get Right” — looks at how Boston is building high-quality programs — and how some cities are pushing ahead on pre-K even though state and federal governments are lagging behind.

At Dorchester’s Russell Elementary School, a day in a pre-K classroom “could be a primer on what high-quality preschool is supposed to look like,” the article says. “Children had free time to play with friends in a stimulating environment, received literacy instruction that pushed beyond comprehension to critical thinking and communication, and were introduced to complex mathematics concepts in age-appropriate ways. All three practices have been shown to go beyond increasing what children know to actually improving how well they learn in kindergarten and beyond.” (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

States face a persistent problem: Classrooms full of children who struggle to read.

“Only about one-third of all children attending school in the United States can read proficiently by fourth grade,” the New America foundation explains on its website. “The numbers are even more dismaying for our most vulnerable students. How can state policymakers lessen the achievement gap and improve literacy outcomes for all children?”

To find answers, New America has taken a look at all 50 states’ birth-to-third-grade policies.

The resulting report is a ranking of states called, “From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth- 3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers.”

“Accompanying the research are interactive maps of state progress displayed via New America’s data visualization and policy analysis tool, Atlas.” This is an easy, graphic way to access findings for individual states. (more…)

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