New America’s Elise Franchino has summarized our recent webinar series in 10 takeaways. Check out her post here. She includes great insights from the presenters. Many thanks to all the panelists, moderators, and partner organizations! You can find the webinars and associated resources at these links:
Sponsored by the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists on October 17th, this webinar explores the implications for state policy of the recent study, All Children Learn and Thrive: Building First 10 Schools and Communities. This report looks at innovative schools and communities that combine alignment across early childhood and elementary education and care (children’s first 10 years) with family engagement and social services.
Laura Bornfreund, New America’s Director of Early and Elementary Education Policy, moderates a expert panel that includes:
- Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care
- Elliot Regenstein, Partner, Forsight Law and Policy Advisors
- Brett Walker, P-3 Alignment Specialist, Early Learning Division, Oregon Department of Education
Click here to see the presentation slides, and you can find segments of particular interest at the following video locations:
- 00.00–2:51: Nicole Madore (Maine Department of Education) provides a welcome based on Maine’s First 10 experience. Laura Bornfreund sets the stage for the presentation and discussion.
- 2:52–19:32: David Jacobson introduces First 10 Schools and Communities drawing on the experiences of Normal, IL, Omaha, NE, and Cambridge, MA.
- 19:32–29:09: Commissioner Aigner-Treworgy discusses the context in which First 10 initiatives have emerged in Massachusetts and the implications of First 10 moving forward.
- 29:44–36:40: David Jacobson shares how Multnomah County, OR promotes culturally-responsive partnerships with families and sets the stage for the panel discussion on the implications of First 10 for state policy.
- 41:00–1:30.00: Laura Bornfreund, Elliot Regenstein, and Brett Walker discuss the implications of First 10 for state policy, covering topics including state assessment, ESSA and PDG, learning from Oregon’s Kindergarten Partnership and Innovation Fund, and the benefits of the “First 10” frame.
The Campaign for Grade Level Reading is holding a webinar on First 10 School and Community Partnerships on October 8 from 3:00–4:30 ET.. Please join me, Cris Lopez Anderson (Buffett Early Childhood Institute), and Brooke Chilton-Timmons (Multnomah County Department of Human Services) to learn about the exciting work happening in these communities.
You can find the registration link below, and here is an invitation from Cris that went out in the Campaign’s newsletter:
I’m excited to invite you to join me for a webinar highlighting the First 10 Schools and Communities model that is promoting collaborations between school districts and the early learning and family support fields to promote early school success. Please join us on Oct. 8, from 3–4:30 p.m. ET to learn about this model and how it is being implemented in two Grade Level Reading (GLR) communities — Omaha, Nebraska, and Multnomah County, Oregon.
First 10 schools and communities are forging partnerships with families and organizations to reach children long before they arrive at kindergarten. In Greater Omaha, the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska is providing technical assistance to 11 school districts as they promote schools as community hubs to support families and children from birth through third grade. We will also learn how county leaders in Multnomah County, Oregon, are promoting community schools and early engagement with young children and families.
I hope you will join me and my co-presenters as we discuss this promising model and explore the potential connections with GLR coalitions.
Education Week’s Christina Samuels begins her review of the All Children Learn and Thrive study as follows below. I appreciate that she highlights several examples from the study. While the Executive Summary provides the key findings and proposes a theory of action, see the Full Report for numerous case studies and a fuller explanation of the theory of action in the Conclusion. You can click on specific case studies in the table of contents, including ones on Multnomah County, OR, Greater Omaha, NE, the Cherry Park and Earl Boyles Elementary Schools, Normal, IL, and Boston and Cambridge, MA.
“A common complaint in the early-childhood field is that several different entities exist to support young children and their families, but those organizations often don’t work together.
But in a number of communities across the country, schools, districts, and early-childhood providers have come together to dismantle those organizational silos.
For example, Cherry Park Elementary School in Portland, Ore., a part of the 9,700-student David Douglas district, runs a summer kindergarten transition program to prepare young students for school, supports a home-visiting program, operates a food bank, and offers cooking classes and financial literacy programs.
Another example: the city of Cambridge, Mass., established a birth-to-3rd grade partnership that includes representatives from the 7,000-student Cambridge district, as well as early-childhood and community-health providers. The partnership there includes creating home visiting and play-and-learn groups for infants, toddlers and their parents; working to boost the quality of family child-care providers; and providing coaching in early literacy, math, and science for the district’s prekindergarten and early-elementary teachers.
Those efforts and many more are catalogued in the report “All Children Learn and Thrive: Building First 10 Schools and Communities” by David Jacobson, released earlier this spring. Jacobson, a principal technical adviser for the Education Development Center, said he was particularly interested in capturing work that is blending academic support for the first decade of a child’s life, along with programs that also help parents and caregivers ….”
This post updates a theory of action and 7 associated principles that I first posted last year. I’ve revised a few of the principles, and the principles line up with the graphics much more clearly now. I also draw attention to three distinctive features of the theory of action. According to the blogging platform Medium, this post is a 12-minute read. See this page for an overview of the core ideas. Many thanks to friends and colleagues for all the helpful feedback. ¹
Over the last 10 years, research, policy, and expert opinion have converged on the idea that addressing achievement gaps requires a comprehensive focus on the first 8-9 years of life, beginning with prenatal care and continuing with high-quality supports through third grade (P-3). The goal of this work is to improve the teaching and learning of cognitive and academic skills while deepening supports for physical and mental health, social-emotional learning, and family partnerships.
Community partnerships of elementary schools, community-based preschools, and other organizations serving young children and their families have great potential for achieving this goal and addressing achievement gaps. When these organizations take concerted action around a common set of goals and strategies, they are among the most effective and powerful ways of improving educational outcomes for lower income children.
Quality Within, Continuity Across
In order for early childhood education and early elementary school to be most effective, communities need to address two obstacles. The quality of both early childhood and early elementary education is highly inconsistent, and the mixed delivery system is characterized by a high degree of fragmentation. Addressing these twin obstacles–inconsistent quality within organizations and fragmentation across organizations–requires a collective response on the part of communities, efforts that require state and federal support as well.
Communities need to raise the quality of education and care in the various community-based organizations and public elementary schools that serve young children and their families in their locale; they also need to create meaningful linkages that align and coordinate the work of these organizations. Developing this capacity requires partnerships of schools, community organizations and families focused on quality and continuity–what I call P-3 Community Partnerships.
I’m pleased to announce that EDC has received a grant from the California-based Heising-Simons Foundation. The grant is funding a study of place-based approaches to improving early learning outcomes for young children. I will work with my colleague, Kyle DeMeo Cook, to investigate three types of community partnerships for early education:
- Cradle-to-Career partnerships that bring together community leaders and community organizations around a common vision and common benchmarks,
- Community approaches to wrap-around services for preschools and schools, and
- P-3 Partnerships that support prenatal through third grade alignment
Cradle-to-career, wrap-around, and P-3 partnerships are all part of a new wave of educational collaboration for education. They each have a place-based dimension in that they attempt to concentrate their impact within defined geographic areas, and the early years figure prominently in all three. Yet they have developed as three distinct reforms, each with its own principles, priorities, and learned experience. Typically these partnerships have been implemented separately from each other. The new study will investigate how leading edge communities across the country are drawing from the three partnership models as they design integrated approaches to best serve young children and their families. The aim of the study is to inform—through recommendations, guidance documents and presentations—the work of communities interested in implementing effective community partnerships for early education.
This research study is part of a broader project to develop the P-3 Theory of Action, the associated 7 principles, and related practical implementation guidance. See in particular Principle 4 on integrating vertical and horizontal alignment strategies and Principle 5 on strengthening neighborhoods and communities by linking P-3 with cradle-to-career initiatives.
David Kirp’s recent New York Times op-ed on community schools in Tulsa is getting a lot of attention. Kirp is also the author of Improbable Scholars, which tells the story of how Union City, NJ has achieved remarkable educational results, including its well-known P-3 work.
Here are a few select quotations from the NYT article on Tulsa:
“The school district also realized, as Ms. Burden put it, that “focusing entirely on academics wasn’t enough, especially for poor kids.” Beginning in 2004, Union started revamping its schools into what are generally known as community schools. These schools open early, so parents can drop off their kids on their way to work, and stay open late and during summers. They offer students the cornucopia of activities — art, music, science, sports, tutoring — that middle-class families routinely provide. They operate as neighborhood hubs, providing families with access to a health care clinic in the school or nearby; connecting parents to job-training opportunities; delivering clothing, food, furniture and bikes; and enabling teenage mothers to graduate by offering day care for their infants.”
“The truth is that school systems improve not through flash and dazzle but by linking talented teachers, a challenging curriculum and engaged students. This is Union’s not-so-secret sauce: Start out with an academically solid foundation, then look for ways to keep getting better.”
“Union’s model begins with high-quality prekindergarten, which enrolls almost 80 percent of the 4-year-olds in the district. And it ends at the high school, which combines a collegiate atmosphere — lecture halls, student lounges and a cafeteria with nine food stations that dish up meals like fish tacos and pasta puttanesca — with the one-on-one attention that characterizes the district.”
“Under the radar, from Union City, N.J., and Montgomery County, Md., to Long Beach and Gardena, Calif., school systems with sizable numbers of students from poor families are doing great work. These ordinary districts took the time they needed to lay the groundwork for extraordinary results.”
Kappan Magazine has just published an article I wrote , The Primary Years Agenda: Strategies to Guide District Action. I draw on examples from Massachusetts and other states to make the case for three Birth-3rd strategies. These strategies are as relevant to communities as they are to districts. They are intended to help set priorities and “chunk the work for action.” Here is the abstract:
School districts on the leading edge of the Birth through Third Grade movement have demonstrated unprecedented success raising the achievement of low-income students by developing coherent strategies focused on the early years of learning and development. These communities are not merely improving preschool. Rather, they are building aligned, high-quality early education systems. Building such systems requires that school and district leaders embrace improving early education as a strategic priority and provide leadership in implementing three overarching strategies in their communities.
By the start of middle school, The Afterschool Corp. estimates that children in poverty have received 6,000 fewer hours of learning outside of school—both enrichment and support—than their middle-income peers. While many programs target low-income students who are struggling academically or emotionally, it can be more difficult to find enrichment activities to build on the strengths and interests of students progressing normally in school.
To fill those gaps, some elementary schools in two states—Massachusetts and Ohio—are working to better coordinate with local partners to provide the kinds of cultural and extracurricular experiences, as well as social services and supports, that boost all students’ long-term academic progress.
From Learning Payoff Found for ‘City Connects’ Program in Education Week.
The New America Foundation’s EdCentral provides a helpful summary: