New State Website on Birth-Third Policy

The Executive Office of Education has created a new website: Building the Foundation for College and Career Success for Children from Birth through Grade 3

According to the announcement,

We designed this website to achieve two goals: first, it will serve as a resource for educators from birth through postsecondary education, policymakers, municipal and state officials; legislators, community and business representatives; and other stakeholders regarding the development and implementation of exciting strategies in Massachusetts; and second, it will serve as an important tool for sharing information about our work and highlighting upcoming activities and events.

And from the website:

Massachusetts is developing a birth through grade 3 policy agenda, one that builds on our ongoing efforts to create a public education system that supports our children from birth through postsecondary education.  By creating this agenda, we will enhance the quality of educational and other services provided to children and families and also increase policy alignment and collaboration among our state education agencies – the Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Higher Education.  Lastly, we will strengthen essential partnerships with educators, parents and families, local and state officials, legislators, community and business partners, and other members of the Commonwealth community, which will enable us to make an even stronger commitment to our children.

Check out the website for additional information on Massachusetts’ emerging Birth-Third policy agenda.

Early Learning Assessment Literacy

Early Learning Assessment Literacy

See The Early Learning Assessment Literacy Challenge at New America EdCentral for an article on the effective use of assessments in early childhood education. The article includes a number of embedded links to useful guidance documents, including Early Childhood Assessment: Implementing Effective Practice.

From the EdCentral article:

“A strong consensus among education experts supports the notion that one of the best ways to improve instructional strategies and ultimately boost outcomes for individual students is through the use of assessment-generated data. This focus on assessment and using data to drive decision-making for both accountability and instruction has resulted in a proliferation of new policies and practices. It has also encouraged development of new resources, materials, and products, as well as  sparked conversations among stakeholders about the appropriate use of assessment. In the current educational landscape, classroom teachers, school principals, district administrators, and state and federal policymakers spend significant time thinking about who, what, why, how, and when to assess.”

New Brief on Reading Proficiency Learning Network and Other Resources

Strategies for Children (SFC) has released a new brief describing the work of the Massachusetts Third Grade Reading Proficiency Learning Network: Changing the Trajectory: Communities Take Action to Increase Reading Proficiency. SFC convened a group of Massachusetts communities to engage in a strategic planning process in collaboration with Harvard literacy expert, Nonie Lesaux. This process included a robust impact analysis drawing on two tools: a Program Design Evaluation Tool and a Funding Analysis/Stability Index.

According to the brief, “After one year of engaging in this comprehensive and innovative effort, these four Massachusetts communities have:

  • Refined strategic plans;
  • Developed a comprehensive asset map of resources and outcomes;
  • Created a profile of the public and private funding supporting those resources; and
  • Determined an action plan for more effective and impactful resource allocation and coordination.”

Check out Changing the Trajectory to learn more about this important work.

Other resources of note:

The current issue of American Educator is on early childhood education. Articles include:

  • The Magic of Words: Teaching Vocabulary in the Early Childhood Classroom
  • Starting off Strong: The Importance of Early Learning
  • Taken for Granted: Why Curriculum Content Is Like Oxygen

Vicky Shippers makes the case for 0-3 programs in an Education Week commentary, “Waiting Until Pre-K is Too Little, Too Late.”

NationSwell has a summary of early education policy and funding issues, “Ask the Experts: How Can We Fix Early Childhood Education?”

“The first eight years of life are crucial to academic success. So why aren’t early education programs a priority in the U.S.? NationSwell asks the experts.”

Upcoming Learning Hub posts:

  • Implementing a new curriculum in East Boston
  • Tagging along on home visits in Pittsfield
  • Literacy coaching in Somerville: a teacher’s experience

The Work of Kindergarten Readiness in Review

Somerville Buildings 2

Tufts intern Jess Petraglia has compiled an impressive booklet documenting the learning of Somerville’s Kindergarten Readiness Group over the last 18 months: Somerville Kindergarten Readiness Booklet_2013-14.

The Kindergarten Readiness Group is a professional learning community of community-based and public school early childhood educators. The booklet includes Somerville’s kindergarten transition form and visual summaries of the following topics:

  • Play in the Early Childhood Classroom
  • Connecting Play-Based Learning and the Standards
  • Cross-Classroom Visits
  • Collaborating to Create Curriculum

The Collaborating to Create Curriculum section provides guidance on aligning activities, developmental domains, and standards for four high-quality picture books:

  • The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
  • Oscar and the Snail by Geoff Waring
  • Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
  • Do You Have a Hat? by Eileen Spinelli

Congrats to Jess and the Kindergarten Readiness Group.

NAEYC Presentation on Birth-Third in Lowell

NAEYC

Linda Warren and I did a joint presentation on Birth-Third in Massachusetts at the NAEYC Professional Development Institute in Minneapolis last week. Linda and her colleagues at Early Childhood Associates are providing support to Lowell’s Birth-Third Alignment Partnership. Linda presented on Lowell’s strategy and plans, and I provided an overview of the EEC Alignment Partnerships.

Linda has been kind enough to share her presentation with the Learning Hub: Birth-Third in Lowell_NAEYC_Linda Warren. The presentation outlines Lowell’s start-up phase, its emerging school readiness plan (see the Lowell Legacy graphic on slide 24), and the city’s plans for Round Two of the EEC Alignment Partnership.

For additional information on Lowell’s Alignment Partnership, see Building a Common Vision of Quality and Communities of Practice in Lowell.

“As Spotlight Grows on Pre-K, We Can’t Forget the Early Grades”

“Few conversations focus on improving early elementary years, the linchpin of the pre-K-to-12 education system.”

A good article on an important component of the Birth-Third Agenda by Laura Bornfreund of the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative.

National P-3 Institute this October

From Kristie Kauerz, Director of the National P-3 Center at the University of Washington. Please let me know if anyone would be interested in organizing a Massachusetts delegation.

Applications are now open for the October 27-30, 2014 team-based National P-3 Institute.  This four-day professional education institute is focused on implementation and evaluation of comprehensive P-3 approaches and is hosted by the University of Washington, College of Education’s National P-3 Center.  The event will take place in Seattle, WA.

Details may be found here:
http://depts.washington.edu/pthru3/dev/index.php?q=node/34

The Institute will provide participating teams with opportunity to hear from researchers, expert-practitioners, and others about promising approaches to create greater alignment and coherence across the pre-school through 3rd grade continuum.  Equally important, teams will be provided time and innovative tools to refine and strengthen their own locally-based strategic P-3 plans.

As in the past, this Institute is designed for attendance by teams of leaders who are actively working together on a geographically defined P-3 approach (district, community, or state level).

Applications are due by July 15, 2014.  Details and the application form can be found here:
http://depts.washington.edu/pthru3/dev/index.php?q=node/34

Snapshots of Birth–3rd Strategies in Five Communities

This week I’m posting short bulleted summaries of the core strategies of the first five EEC alignment partnerships, an idea prompted by a helpful conversation with Titus DosRemedios of Strategies for Children last week at an ESE Kindergarten Networking Meeting. These updated summaries may be helpful to the seven new communities coming on board in the Round Two grants. You can also find short paragraphs on each community here. Click on the EEC Alignment Partnerships category in the blue panel on the left to see all the posts thus far on these communities.

Pittsfield and Boston represent the ends of the continuum in the graphic above. Springfield, Lowell, and Somerville are all implementing two-pronged strategies that include both community-wide and targeted components.

Pittsfield

  • Community Goal: The Pittsfield Promise–90% reading proficiency on the 3rd grade MCAS by 2020
  • Berkshire United Way as community backbone organization
  • Supported by a strategic plan and six committees
  • Focus
    1. Community-wide family engagement around literacy
    2. Home-visiting
    3. Preschool participation, quality and alignment
    4. Out-of-school time programming

Boston

  • Implement BPS K1 (preschool) model in 14 community-based classrooms
    1. BPS K1 (preschool) model
      • Integrated OWL and Building Blocks curriculum
      • Making Learning Visible professional development
      • Skilled coaching
      • NAEYC accreditation
      • Demonstrated results; national and international recognition
    2. Implement model in 14 community-based classrooms (Boston K1DS)
      • Teachers with BA degrees
      • K1 curriculum
      • Professional development
      • Compensation
    3. Potential to expand to additional community-based classrooms contingent on results

Springfield

  • District and community-based preschool collaboration
    1. Joint selection of community preschool curriculum
    2. Joint identification of shared standards
      • Priority Teaching Strategies Gold domains
      • Social-emotional standards
    3. Common formative assessments
    4. Common professional development and outreach
    5. Public/Private Professional Learning Community Meetings
      • Preschool teachers from two elementary schools and several community-based programs
      • Cross-site visits
    6. Define kindergarten readiness
    7. Expand teacher-to-teacher observations
    8. Share kindergarten assessment data

Lowell

  • Pilot project in two low-income neighborhoods (expanding to three this fall)
    1. One elementary school, center-based preschools, and family childcare providers in each
    2. Use of CLASS observations across settings
    3. Training in Teaching Strategies Gold
    4. Communities of practice for center-based and family childcare programs
      • Professional development workshops
      • Use of ECERS-R and FCCERS-R tools
      • Addition of coaching beginning this fall
    5. Family engagement workshops and activities
  • Emergent community-wide school readiness agenda

Somerville

  • Four strategies focused on early literacy
    1. Kindergarten Readiness Group
      • Public/private preschool and kindergarten teachers
      • Half-day workshops over three semesters
      • Cross-site visits
      • Using Play to Address Standards” theme
    2. Literacy coaching
      • 8 classrooms (public, private, and Head Start)
      • Two observations and debriefs with literacy coach each month all year
      • Pre- and post- ELLCO observations
    3. Teaching Strategies Gold training
    4. Website for families with young children
      • Outreach to parents on use of site through agencies
  • Universal Kindergarten Readiness Plan

This post was completed as part of a contract between the MA Department of Early Education and Care and Cambridge Education (where David Jacobson worked at the time). Contract # CT EEC 0900 FY13SRF130109CAMBRID. 

New Birth-Third Alignment Partnerships Announced

 

Round 2

 

Congratulations to the twelve communities that recently received Birth-Third Alignment Partnership grants from the Department of Early Education and Care. Momentum around Birth-Third continues to grow in Massachusetts, and we are expanding the base of experience that all communities can draw on and build from as they work to improve children’s early learning experiences.

The graphic below is from a presentation to kindergarten coordinators that I am doing in different parts of the state with Donna Traynham and Mary Jane Crotty of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The graphic shows how the strategies of the first five alignment partnerships fall on a continuum of community-wide to targeted strategies.

I would be happy to visit any of the Round 2 communities and share this presentation on the strategies of the first five alignment partnerships (gratis). The work of these communities could provide food for thought as you form your plans. Feel free to contact me if you would like to arrange a time for me to visit.

first five continuum