ESSA and Early Childhood: How States Can Learn from Leading Edge Local System-Building

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New America and the Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) are partnering on a series of posts about the implications of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for early childhood. You can find my contribution to this series here: The Leading Edge of Local System-Building: ESSA and Continuity Across the First Decade of Children’s Lives. And here’s an excerpt:

“ESSA requires school districts that receive Title 1 funding to coordinate with Head Start programs, and it gives states the flexibility to expand early childhood, incorporate early learning into school improvement plans, improve transitions to kindergarten, and improve educator professional learning. How should states and communities best take advantage of these opportunities? What would continuity of high-quality experiences look like in practice, and what are the implications for state and community system-building?

I suggest that leading-edge school and community partnerships focused on the first decade of children’s lives can help answer these questions and provide new direction to states and communities as they implement ESSA plans.”

New America on First 10 Panel and All Children Study

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New America’s Elise Franchino draws on a recent panel event at New America as she reviews key findings and take-aways from my study, All Children Learn and Thrive: Building First 10 Schools and Communities.

Here are a few excerpts, or head here to read Franchino’s article: First 10 Schools and Communities: Helping All Young Children Grow and Thrive.

Excerpts:

“As Jacobson shared, First 10 initiatives can occur in two formats: First 10 School Hubs and First 10 Community Partnerships. First 10 School Hubs are organized around a single elementary school. Emphasis is placed on play-based, developmentally appropriate learning, and transitions from families, to child care and pre-K programs, through the elementary grades. Comprehensive services and supports are provided to families in their local school facilities, community centers, and homes.

First 10 School Hubs purposefully engage families in the neighborhood with children from newborns through the early years. Many host play-and-learn or parent-child interaction groups to foster a dialogue around strategies that help children develop and learn, and provide resources that caretakers can practice at home. The Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan in Metro Omaha includes a School as Hub component, where a full-time home visitor and family facilitator conduct home visits and hold monthly parent-child interaction groups. Home visiting staff and family facilitators have fifteen families in their caseload at once, allowing them to build deep, trusting relationships over time.

The second format, First 10 Community Partnerships, unify a wide network of regional or district-wide schools, service providers, and families, into a cohesive system. For example, Cambridge Massachusetts’ Birth-3rd Grade Partnerships are bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to improve outcomes for children.

To sustain and expand programming, Jacobson advises that states play a larger role by increasing investments and implementing policies that allow First 10 Schools and Communities to thrive, as Oregon has done. He recommends that states provide aligned standards and assessments across the early years and technical assistance to help staff with implementation. Pointing to the successes of the SUN Service System, Jacobson asserted, ‘I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Multnomah County is in the state of Oregon.’

Moving forward, Jacobson envisions a system synergizing First 10 Schools Hubs and First 10 Community Partnerships, a model that has not yet been implemented. As Jacobson summarized, ‘This convergent First 10 approach acknowledges a fundamental interdependence between schools, families, and communities. The success of each is integrally bound up with the success of others.'”

Education Week Reviews the All Children Learn and Thrive Study

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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.

From How Schools, Districts, and Communities Are Joining Forces to Bolster Early Learning:

“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 ….”

 

New Study Released Today: All Children Learn and Thrive

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We are pleased to release All Children Learn and Thrive: Building First 10 Schools and Communities.

This study examines First 10 Schools and Communities—coordinated efforts taking place around the country to improve teaching, learning, and care during the first decade of children’s lives.

First 10 Schools and Communities bring together school districts, elementary schools, and early childhood programs to improve the quality of education and care for young children and their families. They work to improve teaching and learning, deepen partnerships with families, and provide comprehensive services for children and families.

Live-Streamed Panel Moderated by Ed Week’s Christina Samuels: The First 10 Years

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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.)