New America Panel Event: The First 10 Years

AlBustan_Cambridge_04022019_BSG_0440

The Early and Elementary Education Policy unit at New America is hosting a panel event on the release of my new study, “All Children Learn and Thrive: Building First 10 Schools and Communities.” The live-streamed event will take place in Washington, DC on April 30.

Laura Bornfreund of New America is organizing the event and will introduce the panel, which will be moderated by Christina Samuels of Education Week. Deborah Stipek (Stanford University) and Kwesi Rollins (Institute for Education Leadership) will provide expert commentary on the study. Three leaders from communities described in the report will share their experiences implementing innovative initiatives to improve teaching, learning, and care throughout the first decade of children’s lives:

  • Brooke Chilton-Timmons
    Youth and Families Services Division, SUN Service System, Multnomah County, Oregon
  • Lei-Anne Ellis
    Cambridge Birth–3rd Grade Partnership, Cambridge Public Schools, Massachusetts
  • Criselda Lopez Anderson
    Buffett Early Childhood Institute, Omaha, Nebraska

You can learn more about the event and RSVP here. Hope to see you there.

New Study, New Name: Introducing First 10

The P-3 Learning Hub is changing its name. We are now called First 10.

For the past two years I have been working on a study funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation. The study investigates community initiatives that combine improving teaching and learning in the early grades with strong family partnerships and comprehensive services—all underpinned by a deep commitment to educational equity. The study provided a great opportunity to talk with community leaders in 18 communities throughout the country and conduct site visits to six of them. The innovative work these communities are doing is inspiring.

My experience learning about these communities has convinced me that we need a new name for this powerful combination of strategies. Further, the name needs to communicate the importance of collaboration between school districts, elementary schools, and other early childhood organizations and programs. As I explain here, I follow Arthur Reynolds and Judy Temple in defining early childhood as roughly the first decade of life, and with this in mind I call these important community initiatives First 10 Schools and Communities.

The study will be released on April 30 at a live-streamed panel event at New America in Washington, DC. (I will post the invitation to the event next.)

The report includes 7 key findings regarding First 10 initiatives. Informed by the experiences of the communities I profile in the study, I propose a new theory of action that outlines the roles that First 10 Schools and Communities can play to improve teaching, learning, and care in the first decade of children’s lives.

Moving forward, this website and the related research and technical assistance projects my colleagues and I do will focus on supporting First 10 initiatives. (And by the way, the url you have been using will continue to work, but our primary domain is now first10.org.)

Cleaner Classrooms and Rising Scores: With Tighter Oversight, Head Start Shows Gains (NYT)

“Head Start, the country’s biggest preschool program, is getting better.”

More than a decade after Congress imposed new standards on Head Start, a third of its partners have been forced to compete for funding that was once virtually automatic, and the share of classrooms ranked good or excellent has risen more than fourfold. With a $10 billion budget and nearly 900,000 low-income students, Head Start is a behemoth force in early education, in an age when brain science puts ever more emphasis on early learning.

‘The quality of Head Start has definitely improved,’ said Margaret Burchinal, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a Head Start authority. ‘That’s a big jump because there are so many classrooms involved. To make that much improvement across the whole country is pretty amazing.'”

https://nyti.ms/2UCe57x

Playgroups offer rural families a head start on school (Hechinger Report)

“On a June morning in this rural eastern North Carolina community, about a dozen families grabbed the edges of a rainbow parachute, making plastic balls bounce in its ripples. Grandparents, parents and children switched between water games, parachute activities and swing-sets spread across a playground.

The fun and games are serious business to the group that runs them, the Down East Partnership for Children, a 25-year-old nonprofit that provides educational and health resources to families of young children in rural Nash and Edgecombe counties. The goal of these meetings is to highlight the importance of basic interactions between parents and their kids.

Playgroups are held at least twice a month for families with children from birth to 5 years old. The meetings are a way for families to meet other families, get connected with resources and prepare children for kindergarten. Families often need support in this part of the state, an area struggling to keep up with the economic growth of the high-tech Triangle region, the metropolitan home of the state capital, Raleigh, about an hour away.

‘The ultimate goal of Play and Learn groups is to strengthen [the] parent-child bond,” said Cornelia Singletary, Down East’s family services program manager. “For families who are hesitant about putting their child in a formal child care setting, this is kind of like a little preschool, but you get to be with your child.’”

For the full story, see https://go.edc.org/dwe4.

 

In Some Cities, Closing Achievement Gaps Is Not for Schools to Fix Alone (Ed Week)

“Weaving a seamless and tailored web of services for children and families inside and outside of school has been the central tenet of an experiment underway in Salem and five other communities over the past two years.

The cities—Somerville and Newton, Mass.; Louisville, Ky.; Providence, R.I.; and Oakland, Calif.—set off in 2016 on an experimental endeavor with the Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to rethink how they support children and families, in some cases from birth through college. (Newton dropped out of the program before the pilot ended earlier this year.)

The program, now in its second phase, encourages city and district teams to craft customized education plans for students, focus on students’ health and social-emotional well-being, and create a governance structure—a “children’s cabinet”—comprised of officials from K-12, government, philanthropy, higher education, business, and nonprofits to work on a kind of social compact for children.”

https://go.edc.org/yj2s

Pianta to Policymakers: Build a System, Include K-5

Early childhood expert and UVA dean, Robert Pianta, in The Hill:

“There is precious little evidence that boosts from pre-k are then followed by boosts in kindergarten, first, and second grades – the kind of cumulative impact that produces lasting increases in academic achievement.

More to the point, focusing so intently on universal pre-K obscures the fact that most pre-K (and K-2) programs still require a lot of improvements when it comes to curriculum, assessment, and effective instruction. And perhaps more importantly, there is abundant evidence that the experiences provided to children across these years are poorly aligned, resulting in repetition of instruction that hold some of our children back.

So let’s stop thinking that pre-k, universal or targeted, is the silver bullet answer.  And for every argument about expanding or improving pre-k, let’s add a focus on strengthening and aligning curricula across the early grades, which spans from pre-K through third grade. Young students need a consistent trajectory of educational experiences that builds on the preceding years—and informs what follows.”

For the full article, see Running on a New Promise for Pre-K.