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Archive for the ‘Pre-K to 3’ Category

 

The award-winning Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative is moving to a brand new and very appropriate home, the Springfield City Library.

Reading Success by 4th Grade is a nationally recognized, community-wide effort to ensure that all the children living in Springfield, Mass., can read proficiently by the end of third grade.

Launched in 2009, the program was run by Sally Fuller, and its home was the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation.

Now that Fuller has retired, Davis foundation officials want the initiative to have a home in the community.

Among the initiative’s guiding principles:

• the best interventions begin before kindergarten;

• parents and caregivers are their children’s first and most important teachers, and

• both home and educational environments must support children’s early literacy skills

The initiative has had notable success. It “was recognized at the national Grade-Level Reading Week conference in Denver in 2017 for initiating citywide strategies that raised the level of third-grade reading proficiency from 33 percent to 44 percent,” MassLive reports. (more…)

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Screenshot: Representative Alice Peisch’s Twitter page

 

On Friday, a large and diverse crowd – that included Governor Charlie Baker, New England Patriot football players, mayors, educators, parents, students, and legislators – gathered at the State House for an important hearing on education funding.

At the heart of the hearing were calls to update Chapter 70, the funding formula that calculates how much state funding Massachusetts public schools receive. The funding formula was put into place in 1993, and has not been updated in 26 years. In 2015, guidance for overhauling Chapter 70 was released in a report written by the Foundation Budget Review Commission, which was co-chaired by Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston), who was then a co-chair of the Joint Committee on Education, and by Representative Alice H. Peisch (D-Wellesley), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. (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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How hard is it to get from preschool to kindergarten?

According to Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, many children find themselves moving from one silo to the next.

“Too often government officials design programs for children as if they lived their lives in silos, as if each stage of a child’s life were independent of the other, unconnected to what came before or what lies ahead.”

A new report — Transitions and Alignment: From Preschool to Kindergarten — released by the Education Commission of the States shares this Heckman quote and looks at how some policymakers and educators are replacing silos with more promising pathways that help children travel safely from infancy to adulthood.

“If this transition does not go well,” the report says, “children can be turned off to learning and school at an early age.”

The report points to two strategies for promoting children’s success: (more…)

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

Tatiana Roll

Tatiana Roll started her career in education early, teaching her sister and her stuffed animals when she was still a girl.

Teaching, she says, “was just something that was always a part of me.”

At Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Roll majored in elementary education with a concentration in early education. She went on to Boston College where she earned a master’s degree in early education.

“I knew in my heart that it’s where I was meant to be. And I just felt so much passion and love for what I was doing every single day. I knew that this was just what I was meant to do,” Roll says.

She taught in pre-K and kindergarten classrooms in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., even teaching in the preschool she attended as a child, the Sundance School in Plainfield N.J.

For Roll, teaching in urban schools has yielded career-shaping insights:

“I knew where in the world I wanted to be, not just geographically but demographically. I knew that being a teacher is so much more than teaching kids to be what they want to be in the world and giving them the tools. Teaching is also a social justice position.” (more…)

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The second of a three-part series on summer learning.

 

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Summer is a great time to learn.

But as we blogged last week, summer learning loss — all the things that students forget when they are not in school — can help fuel the achievement gap.

A National Summer Learning Association report says that high-quality programs can address learning loss, but only “about one-third of young people nationally are enrolled in a summer learning program.”

Fortunately, in Massachusetts, cities are closing the summertime gap in creative ways.

Action at the city level is crucial according to a 2016 report on a workshop’s proceedings. Published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the report notes:  (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The first of a three-part series on summer learning.

It’s summer! The perfect time for kids to eat hot dogs, swim, and, forget big chunks of what they learned in school – especially math.

It’s a problem that parents, teachers, academics, and think tanks have pointed to; and this spring, the Herald-Tribune reported on summer learning loss – also known as “summer slide” – noting:

“While school is out, kids can lose up to two to three months of the skills they learned in the classroom that year.

“And while summer slide disproportionately affects low-income families who can’t afford high-quality summer camps that build on the reading and math skills learned in the classroom, all kids are at risk.”

Back in 1906, William White found the same problem when he conducted a very small study. A math teacher at the State Normal School, in New Paltz, New York, White tested the math skills of 15 fourth and eighth grade students in June and then tested them again in September. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

What if children started getting ready for kindergarten a few years before they were old enough to go?

Turns out, the children and their parents are better off, as David Jacobson writes in a new Kappan magazine article, “A powerful convergence: Community schools and early childhood education.” Jacobson is a principal researcher and technical assistance adviser at the Education Development Center here in Massachusetts, as we’ve blogged before. He is also the author of The P-3 Learning Hub blog.

What is a community school? It’s a place where school leaders work with community organizations, health care providers, and others to give students an education — and connect them a full range of services, from afterschool programs to dental care. These schools can become “centers of the community” that “are open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings and weekends,” according to the Coalition for Community Schools.

Community schools are also having a huge impact on early education, as Jacobson explains in his Kappan article:  (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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