“P-3 Reform in Vision and Practice” by Kate Tarrant

The Build Initiative has published a report on the impact of the US DOE’s Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge (ELC) in states around the country. The report, “P-3 Reform in Vision and Practice,” was written by Kate Tarrant and is a chapter in the Build Initiative’s E-Book, Rising to the Challenge: Building Effective Systems for Young Children and Families. (Italics denote quotations.)

A few highlights:

  • Over the course of three rounds of ELC competitions, the encouragement states received to address connections between early childhood and early elementary education became increasingly significant.
  • According to Rolf Grafwallner, Maryland Assistant State Superintendent, Leadership Academies for early and elementary educators are “getting us to shift from birth-to-five to birth-to-eight and not only in vision but in practice.”
  • Recognizing that communities have unique cultures, resources, schools, programs, children and families, and priorities, states devolved P-3 planning and implementation to communities and encouraged experimentation at the local level.
  • The concurrent development or expansion of early childhood comprehensive assessments and kindergarten entry assessments (KEA) has created an opportunity to link expectations between early childhood and the elementary school years.
  • ELC states are documenting lessons learned for P-3.

  • ELC state leaders are thinking … about the coherence among policy initiatives. New Jersey’s Vincent Costanza put it this way: “With so much happening in the three-eight space, we need to be intentional about how the pieces fit together. There is a missed opportunity if we don’t help educators see the connections between initiatives like teacher evaluation, Common Core, and KEA.” … When the systems are not aligned, multiple initiatives can create complex and burdensome demands for teachers and school administrators and undermine their support of the P-3 work.

Birth–3rd Policy Developments in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts team that participated in the National Governors Association early learning policy academy reports several new developments:

  • The Boards of the Department of Early Education and Care and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have created a joint birth through grade 3 sub-committee that will include representatives from both boards.
  • The team has released an updated version of Building the Foundation of Future Success for Children from Birth through Grade 3 and hopes to get it approved by both Boards this spring. 
  • The team is exploring the possibility of holding a series of birth through grade 3 regional meetings this spring.
  • Resources and information will be posted at the state’s birth through grade 3 website, including a presentation that Ralph Smith and Amy O’Leary shared at the joint EEC/ESE Board meeting.

For additional information, here is the team’s latest email notification: Continue reading “Birth–3rd Policy Developments in Massachusetts”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Quality and Family Engagement

The political dynamic seems to have changed since this Washington Post article was published almost a year ago, but see Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s discussion of preschool quality and wraparound services for parents as he describes his administration’s work on early education in Chicago.

Too many Republicans today ridicule the value of early education. That would come as a shock to their parents, many of whom, no doubt, read to them when they were young and made sure they had many educational experiences. Democrats, on the other hand, want universal early education and are willing to spend whatever is required. But more money for more slots will not automatically achieve the goal of preparing children to learn.

Largely missing from this debate are the essential role that parents play in their children’s education and the importance of the quality of a child’s early learning experience. Parents must be engaged or their children will be shortchanged. In addition, the hours in preschool must provide high-quality learning built around best practices so the time does not become just expensive babysitting.

Not To Be Missed: Chris Martes in Commonwealth Magazine

Don’t miss the recent article in Commonwealth Magazine by Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children: “A Chance to Lead on Early Education.” As Martes says,

From the White House to business boardrooms to the offices of scores of Republican and Democratic mayors, governors, and members of Congress, we’re seeing historic momentum on expanding and improving preschool programs.

As the country moves forward, Massachusetts has a chance to lead. Standing on the shoulders of Eliot and other pioneers, the Commonwealth is poised to build a preschool system whose graduates will grow up to transform our families, workplaces, and communities.

Joint Sub-Committee on Birth–3rd Alignment Approved Last Night

Last night at a joint meeting of the Boards of the Department of Early Education and Care and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Boards approved motions to create a joint sub-committee on Birth-3rd Alignment. The Sub-Committee will focus on alignment and coordination and include two members from each Board and one staff member from each agency.

Kindergarten-Readiness Tests Gain Ground

This Education Week article discusses new kindergarten-readiness assessments, including advances and concerns. See comments by Kyle Snow and Libby Doggett in the excerpts below.

All 3,500 kindergarten teachers in Maryland are using a new readiness assessment this year that rests on teachers’ observations of children’s work and play to build a detailed picture of what they need as they begin the school year.

What’s happening here reflects a national surge of interest in better sizing up and serving children as they enter the K-12 school system. Parr’s Ridge teacher Amy Knight is one of tens of thousands of teachers who are learning new ways of merging assessment with observation and instruction.

Experts say that Maryland’s new kindergarten assessment showcases key features of age-appropriateness for young children. “It’s right in the middle of the plate when it comes to good practice” in early-childhood assessment, said Kyle L. Snow, who has studied the issue as a senior scholar at the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Libby Doggett, who oversees the Early Learning Challenge Grant program as the deputy assistant secretary for policy and early learning at the U.S. Department of Education, said the department’s guidance incorporates the early-childhood field’s cautionary notes about age-appropriate testing.

The guidance says such tests should be used to “provide information to help close the school readiness gap at kindergarten entry, to inform instruction in the early elementary school grades, and to notify parents about their children’s status and involve them in decisions about their children’s education. [They] should not be used to prevent children’s entry into kindergarten or as a single measure for high-stakes decisions.”