New Study: Community Partnerships for Early Education

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.

Building State P-3 Systems: Learning from Leading States

The Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently released a report I wrote comparing P-3 System-Building in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The three case studies address a central question: How can states support P-3 system building at both state and local levels?

See the Executive Summary at the beginning of the report for nine themes and patterns and nine recommendations for state education agencies. There are also examples of local P-3 efforts, both urban and rural, throughout the report.

On Monday we are doing a webinar on the report for people interested in the state role in P-3 efforts. Panelists from all three states are participating.

My thanks to all the interviewees and panelists for their thoughtful insights on the work they are leading. And to my CEELO colleagues for all the helpful feedback throughout the project.

Building a Citywide Birth—3rd System: One City’s Plan

We are aware that building a coherent system is more time consuming and less flashy than just adding more slots or more dollars to an existing system. But we have an opportunity to … build a system that coherently knits together our existing resources and thoughtfully brings in new resources to meet the needs of our youngest residents.
–Richard Rossi, City Manager, Cambridge, Massachusetts

This is about as important as it gets, frankly. Achievement gaps do not begin in the fifth grade or the third grade. They begin much earlier. The right way to reduce and eventually eliminate achievement gaps is to start early…I believe whole-heartedly that with this effort to get there, we can make that difference. It is about coherence. The adults have to come together.
–Jeff Young, Superintendent of Schools, Cambridge, MA, speaking to a joint meeting of the City Council and School Committee

On November 16, the City Council and School Committee in Cambridge, MA met to review an ambitious set of recommendations to develop a citywide Birth through Third Grade (Birth—3rd) system.  The recommendations were presented by the City Manager, the Superintendent, and the city’s Early Childhood Task Force with the aim of expanding access to early childhood services and improving quality across the organizations that serve young children and their families. These recommendations are intended to guide a significant financial investment the city will make in improving Birth—3rd services, projected at $1.3 million in the first year, $2.6 million in the second year, and potentially increasing further in subsequent years. Continue reading “Building a Citywide Birth—3rd System: One City’s Plan”

Jim Lesko on “Why a Birth–3rd Approach?”

In Washington, DC for a meeting with Preschool Development Grant and Early Learning Challenge grantees. Jim Lesko of AEM discusses the rationale for Birth–3rd approaches:

  • Eliminates artificial distinction between early childhood and early elementary education.
  • Supports continuity, coherence, and support for children
  • Promotes intentional and collaborative professional development
  • Promotes cross-pollination of knowledge about development leading to sustaining efforts to support children’s learning gains

He adds that a coherent and aligned Birth–3rd system:

  • Focuses on the whole child
  • Provides seamless transition across components
  • Includes aligned and comprehensive standards and curriculum
  • Uses comparable instructional practices
  • Enables communication and data-sharing across the entire assessment
  • Establishes durable and long-lasting family, community, and school partnerships
  • Supports PreK–3rd teachers participating in joint professional development opportunities
  • Reduces the achievement gap among children in families at risk

“Kindergarten Readiness Begins Early in New Bedford”

A great article about how New Bedford, MA has come together to support a focused Birth–3rd strategy. Thanks to Titus DosRemedios and Strategies for Children for laying it out so clearly and compellingly (and for the kind mention). Titus has also been a key contributor to New Bedford’s Partnership. It has been very inspiring to see New Bedford embrace this work. The district and the community have brought great ideas and experience to the table, and we are seeing the results in a concerted program of on-the-ground activity this fall.

Also of note, emerging out of this work is a deepening and very promising partnership between the New Bedford Public Schools and the Housing Authority. With district support, the Housing Authority is expanding and developing the educational components of its after-school programs. District teachers and “resident service coordinators” from the Housing Authority will meet regularly to discuss the children they share in common; resident service coordinators are participating in the district’s early literacy professional development, which also includes both district and community-based prekindergarten teachers; and the district’s literacy coach is advising the Housing Authority on program design, book purchases, and other aspects of the after-school program.

Kindergarten Readiness Begins Early in New Bedford (Eye on Early Education)