See my Education Week Commentary on bridging the gaps between early childhood, elementary school, and health and human services. Please join me in getting the word out and supporting these important collaborations. In addition to the leading edge communities I mention in the essay, 13 communities in Maine and 13 in Pennsylvania are implementing First 10 initiatives, with more to come in Alabama and Rhode Island.
My colleagues and I at EDC have been busy supporting First 10 work, including in Maine (13 communities and an inter-agency state First 10 team), Rhode Island, Lancaster County, PA, and Worcester, MA. First 10 in Pennsylvania is now expanding to include the 7-county South Central region of the state. I’ll be posting lessons learned from these initiatives in 2020. In the meantime I want to provide some context about a Statewide Transition to Kindergarten initiative in Rhode Island and share a key document we’ve been using to anchor this work.
The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) is making a major commitment to improving the Transition to Kindergarten statewide. The Transition to Kindergarten is an important component of the First 10 continuum and of First 10 school hubs and community partnerships. At its heart First 10 is about bringing early childhood programs, K-12 education, and health and social services together to improve outcomes for young children and their families. Transition to Kindergarten initiatives focus on the bridge between early childhood and K-12 (ages 3-5), knitting systems together in support of ready children, families, schools, and communities. The transition to Kindergarten serves as a natural place to begin First 10 initiatives, and in fact all the First 10 plans we help communities develop include transition and alignment strategies.
We have worked with RIDE to support Rhode Island’s statewide Transition to Kindergarten initiative for the past 15 months. This initiative includes:
- Providing an ongoing series of professional learning summits and onsite coaching for two cohorts of three communities each: (1) Newport, West Warwick, and Woonsocket, and (2) Coventry, East Providence, and North Providence. Community transition teams participate in these activities as they develop and implement Transition to Kindergarten plans.
- Documenting these communities’ efforts in a lessons learned and case study publication.
- Holding two statewide summits to engage and inform other communities around the state.
- Developing a Transition to Kindergarten Toolkit to be shared with all communities.
- Conducting a survey of kindergarten teachers’ use of data to inform teaching and learning at the beginning of the school year.
Communities have found these supports to be very helpful, and Rhode Island plans to continue offering them to more and more communities across the state.
We began this work by collaborating with Jennifer LoCosale-Crouch, a Transition to Kindergarten expert and professor at the University of Virginia, whose contributions have been invaluable. Jennifer shared an excellent resource she and colleagues developed for the National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning, Planning the Transition to Kindergarten: Collaborations, Connections, and Six Steps to Success. We have used this document as the anchor resource for all of our Transition to Kindergarten work in Rhode Island and elsewhere. It reviews the four types of Transition connections (child-school, family-school, school-school, and school-community) and describes a six-step planning process. I’m also sharing a companion list of sample Transition Activity Ideas by Connection. Many thanks to Jennifer. We recommend these documents and hope you find them helpful.
Hint: Where Planning the Transition to Kindergarten says, “Head Start” read, “Head Start, community-based preschools, and family childcare.”
Sponsored by the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists on October 17th, this webinar explores the implications for state policy of the recent study, All Children Learn and Thrive: Building First 10 Schools and Communities. This report looks at innovative schools and communities that combine alignment across early childhood and elementary education and care (children’s first 10 years) with family engagement and social services.
Laura Bornfreund, New America’s Director of Early and Elementary Education Policy, moderates a expert panel that includes:
- Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care
- Elliot Regenstein, Partner, Forsight Law and Policy Advisors
- Brett Walker, P-3 Alignment Specialist, Early Learning Division, Oregon Department of Education
Click here to see the presentation slides, and you can find segments of particular interest at the following video locations:
- 00.00–2:51: Nicole Madore (Maine Department of Education) provides a welcome based on Maine’s First 10 experience. Laura Bornfreund sets the stage for the presentation and discussion.
- 2:52–19:32: David Jacobson introduces First 10 Schools and Communities drawing on the experiences of Normal, IL, Omaha, NE, and Cambridge, MA.
- 19:32–29:09: Commissioner Aigner-Treworgy discusses the context in which First 10 initiatives have emerged in Massachusetts and the implications of First 10 moving forward.
- 29:44–36:40: David Jacobson shares how Multnomah County, OR promotes culturally-responsive partnerships with families and sets the stage for the panel discussion on the implications of First 10 for state policy.
- 41:00–1:30.00: Laura Bornfreund, Elliot Regenstein, and Brett Walker discuss the implications of First 10 for state policy, covering topics including state assessment, ESSA and PDG, learning from Oregon’s Kindergarten Partnership and Innovation Fund, and the benefits of the “First 10” frame.
The Campaign for Grade Level Reading is holding a webinar on First 10 School and Community Partnerships on October 8 from 3:00–4:30 ET.. Please join me, Cris Lopez Anderson (Buffett Early Childhood Institute), and Brooke Chilton-Timmons (Multnomah County Department of Human Services) to learn about the exciting work happening in these communities.
You can find the registration link below, and here is an invitation from Cris that went out in the Campaign’s newsletter:
I’m excited to invite you to join me for a webinar highlighting the First 10 Schools and Communities model that is promoting collaborations between school districts and the early learning and family support fields to promote early school success. Please join us on Oct. 8, from 3–4:30 p.m. ET to learn about this model and how it is being implemented in two Grade Level Reading (GLR) communities — Omaha, Nebraska, and Multnomah County, Oregon.
First 10 schools and communities are forging partnerships with families and organizations to reach children long before they arrive at kindergarten. In Greater Omaha, the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska is providing technical assistance to 11 school districts as they promote schools as community hubs to support families and children from birth through third grade. We will also learn how county leaders in Multnomah County, Oregon, are promoting community schools and early engagement with young children and families.
I hope you will join me and my co-presenters as we discuss this promising model and explore the potential connections with GLR coalitions.
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.”
Nice article by Connor Williams. He begins:
“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?”
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.
“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’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.
“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 ….”
For a helpful introduction to the First 10 study, see Eye on Early Education’s review, Addressing the Gaps in Children’s First 10 Years. Eye on Early Education is the blog of Massachusetts’ early childhood advocacy organization, Strategies for Children. With its Massachusetts audience in mind, this post highlights examples of First 10 work in Boston, Cambridge, and Lowell. The First 10 study also includes examples from California, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, Ohio, and Oregon.
In case you missed it, here is the video recording of the April 30 New America panel event on my new study. The study, All Children Learn and Thrive: Building First 10 Schools and Communities, examines partnerships between school districts and communities to improve teaching, learning, and care throughout the first decade of children’s lives.
I provide a 20-minute overview of the First 10 approach and my major findings beginning at the 5:35 time mark. Then Education Week’s Christina Samuels does a great job moderating two panel discussions: the first with Deborah Stipek of Stanford and Kwesi Rollins of the Institute for Educational Leadership and the second with leaders of innovative First 10 projects in Omaha, NE, Multnomah County, OR, and Cambridge, MA.
Panel #1 discusses the implications of First 10 initiatives for building community systems that support young children and their families, how First 10 initiatives can strengthen developmentally appropriate practice, the challenge of sustaining ambitious initiatives, and the role of states in supporting this work.
Then in panel #2, Ms. Samuels talks with Brooke Chilton-Timmons, Cris Lopez Anderson, and Lei-Anne Ellis about their experiences leading First 10 initiatives. Topics include:
- The role of play-and-learn groups
- Improving teaching and learning in kindergarten through 3rd grade classrooms
- Addressing the needs of culturally-specific groups
- Community-wide quality improvement initiatives
- Garnering principal buy-in
- Governing First 10 Community Partnerships
Many thanks to Laura Bornfreund and New America for hosting the panel, to Christina Samuels and the panelists for their participation, and to the Heising-Simons Foundation for supporting this research.