“The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers has focused the nation’s attention on the unequal treatment of Black Americans. Black children experience unequal treatment beginning at an early age, which contributes to inequalities in learning and development.
By the time they enter kindergarten, Black children are on average nearly nine months behind in math and almost seven months behind in reading compared to their White non-Hispanic peers (See Figure 1). Math and reading abilities at kindergarten entry are powerful predictors of later school success, and children who enter kindergarten behind are unlikely to catch up.
High quality early childhood education (ECE) programs can help all children enter kindergarten with the foundational academic and social-emotional skills they need to succeed. However, access to high quality ECE in the U.S. is low and unequal. [Emphasis added.]”
“Free public school starting at age four, or even three, is growing in many American cities. It’s gaining traction as a way to help young children learn the reading, counting and social skills that prepare them for kindergarten. It also promises to help close academic gaps between rich and poor children. Above all, it may have lasting benefits for attendees, including success in school and better lives as adults.
But promises are not guarantees, and universal pre-K works better in some places than in others. Washington, D.C., runs one of the country’s oldest, best-funded, most comprehensive pre-K systems. So what can other cities learn from Washington’s success?”
Important new research out of the University of Virginia. Provides additional support for P-3 approaches. The New America Foundation has a nice summary blog post. A few excerpts:
“In a new study out of the University of Virginia, The role of elementary school quality in the persistence of preschool effects, the authors find that the quality of the elementary school students matriculate into matters for whether pre-K gains persist. Which makes sense, right? It is unrealistic to expect the benefits gained in any one year of schooling to be maintained in a low-quality setting. In fact, the authors suggest that to believe so would be ‘to believe in magic.'”
This study is a welcome reminder that as it states, ‘preschool programs do prepare children academically for kindergarten, validating contemporary policy initiatives that focus on investing early,’ but that ‘we must pay careful attention to what is realistic to expect from one year of preschool education and the conditions under which its benefits persist or diminish.'”
When we talked to Rolf Grafwallner, program director for Early Childhood Initiatives at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), he explained that ‘you have to look at this period [PreK-3rd] as a block. You can’t piecemeal it.'”
I’m posting this from Normal, IL. Over the next couple of days I’ll be visiting two of the CPC P-3 Centers that University of Minnesota professor Arthur Reynolds discusses below in an excerpt from a recent Education Week commentary. I look forward to sharing what I learn as part of an ongoing study of Place-Based Collaboration on Early Education funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation.
As Reynolds says,
“After five decades and more than 250,000 families served, the CPC program is arguably one of the nation’s most effective social programs. Now in its third generation as a P-3 school-reform model, the program and its unique success provide an approach and set of action steps to innovate in education to produce even better investment returns. Collaborative leadership, engaged learning, small classes, and comprehensive family and instructional supports are core elements.
In fact, CPC has one of the highest economic returns of any public or private financial investment. Cost-benefit analyses have shown that for every dollar invested, more than $10 is returned in cost savings in the areas of remedial education and criminal justice, coupled with an increase in economic well-being and tax revenues. That is an inflation-adjusted annual return of 18 percent over a child’s lifetime, a cumulative return of 900 percent. In the 2013 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama even cited the research into CPC’s return on investment as a major basis of his Preschool for All initiative.”
In a word, quality. “Tennessee doesn’t have a coherent vision,” Dale Farran, a Vanderbilt professor and the Tennessee study’s co-author, told me. “Left to their own devices, each teacher is inventing pre-K on her own.”
Research shows that leadership is the second most important influence on student learning in schools. Further, as Steve Tozer points out, leadership is critical to improving the most important factor—teaching. It is hard to imagine improving teaching and learning throughout an entire school or early childhood center without good leadership.
Tozer has an important message for the Birth–3rd Community. He directs the Center for Urban Education Leadership at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he runs an award-winning principal preparation program. Tozer has recently made compelling presentations at two early learning and care events, most recently at a meeting of state early childhood specialists in New Orleans and before that in Chicago at the Ounce of Prevention’s District Leadership Summit. Tozer suggests that Birth–3rd1 initiatives and leadership development form an important “nexus” between two worlds that until recently have operated separately, but that could and should be joined together in mutually-reinforcing ways to achieve greater impact. Continue reading “Birth–3rd and Leadership: Steve Tozer’s Message to the Birth–3rd Community”
Kimberly Haskins of the Barr Foundation has written a post on A New Model of Quality Improvement in Early Education, an interesting pilot project in Boston. Participating early education programs begin with a needs assessment that informs an improvement plan. The plans include targeted professional development and coaching to address the site’s identified needs. According to Haskins,
This multi-year initiative seeks to advance early education programs in Boston centers and home-based care sites to the highest level of quality, ensuring that all programs: 1) identify the needs of children; 2) provide appropriate resources and supports to meet those needs; and 3) demonstrate measurable improvement in child outcomes. The goal is for programs to build their capacity to use data for continuous quality improvement.
In its first year, the Ready Educators Quality Improvement Pilot worked with ten center-based early education programs, one large family childcare system, and four of its home-based providers. Each participating program was assessed to identify its strengths and areas for improvement. Based on these assessments, Wellesley Centers for Women helped the programs develop customized improvement plans, including targeted professional development, coaching, and consultation.
While most of the country’s obsessive politics-watchers will be surveying a variety of hotly contested Senate, House, and gubernatorial races on November 4, the early education community will have an eye trained on Seattle, Washington. Voters there will have not one, but two early education programs on the ballot.