For her leadership in the areas of teacher quality and educational equity and reform, the Learning First Alliance has named Stanford professor and accomplished author Linda Darling-Hammond as our 2013 Education Visionary Award winner.
Today the Learning First Alliance (LFA) and Grunwald Associates, with the support of AT&T, are releasing a report, Living and Learning with Mobile Devices, that documents survey results of parents’ attitudes and perceptions of the value of mobile devices as learning tools for their school-aged children. Not surprisingly, parent perceptions are influenced by the level of personal usage they have with mobile technology and, as parental usage goes up, comfort level with the notion of their children’s use of this technology also increases.
The report is an important reflection of just how far we’ve come in the use of and advocacy for appropriate use of technology in schools and classrooms. As someone who has spent the past 25 years advocating for innovation in teaching and learning supported with technology and expanded connectivity, my view is that we’re at an important crossroads in transforming both the formal and informal learning spaces with new, less expensive, and more powerful technical devices. As the survey found, more than 50 percent of high school students take a cell phone to school with them every day, and 24 percent of those surveyed use those cell phones in ...
A new study out of Kansas is adding to the pile of evidence that early childhood education not only has academic benefits for children (particularly disadvantaged youth), but economic benefits for society.
America’s Edge, a national nonprofit organization of business leaders whose members “work to strengthen businesses and the economy through proven investments in children,” has released a new report finding that in the short-term, for every $1 invested in early-learning programs in the state, a total of $1.68 is generated in spending. Early childhood education outperforms retail trade ($1.65), transportation ($1.63), construction ($1.59), wholesale trade ($1.51), and manufacturing ($1.46).
And remember, these are short-term benefits. Many other studies have documented the longer-term economic benefits of investing in early learning. Consider:
- An evaluation of Chicago Public Schools' federally funded Child Parent Centers (CPCs) finding that for every dollar invested in the preschool program, nearly $11 is projected to return to society over participants' lifetimes—the equivalent of an 18 percent annual return.
- A study showing that Georgia’s lottery-funded pre-kindergarten program was estimated to save the state $212.9 million over ...
Benefits of high-quality early learning programs are clear, particularly for the country’s neediest children. For one, research into brain development shows that the period between preschool and third grade is critical for learning language skills, developing the ability to self-regulate behavior, and being able to work with peers. For another, there is the alarming number of children not proficient in reading by the end of third grade—a benchmark increasingly considered important. Further, fewer students are referred to special education programs when they receive proper early learning backgrounds, and research indicates a significant association between a poor early child educational experience, and dropping out of middle or high school. ...
Last week, the National Institute for Early Education Research released its annual report on the state of preschool. Among what we learned: Enrollment in state-funded pre-kindergarten programs has grown more than 70 percent over the past decade. But despite trends in growth, total state funds for pre-k were $30 million less in 2010 than the previous year – and would have been close to $50 million greater were it not for stimulus funds. Per-child spending fell an average of $114 last year.
The growth in enrollment makes complete sense. After all, research continues to show the benefits (both academic and economic) of pre-k education. But especially given those benefits, the decline in state funding is quite worrisome. Unfortunately, it is not unexpected – and given the current economic crisis in many states, I could be forgiven for assuming that state capacity to maintain and expand pre-k programs will shrink in the coming years.
That pessimism is one reason I was pleased to see the announcement earlier this week that several national education organizations (including several Learning First Alliance members) are joining forces specifically to support high-quality pre-kindergarten. As a sign of their ...
I have been fairly discouraged reading about the budget situations of states recently. And I am getting even MORE discouraged after learning about some of the tough choices they are making to save money.
One example: Early childhood education programs are being cut across the country.
A recent New Jersey Star-Ledger article talks about a plan by the state’s Senate Republican caucus to cut funding for early childhood education in urban districts, moving from full- to half-day preschools. They claim they don’t have a choice, given the financial situation of the state. And a recent Associated Press article describes Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s proposal to, for budgetary reasons, scale back the state program that provides pre-school in most of the state’s districts. The Governor does not question the importance of pre-school – but limited state dollars are forcing the issue.
These proposed cuts are quite discouraging for advocates of early childhood education. They should also be discouraging for Americans in general, given the benefit that these programs have for society.
A recent evaluation of the Chicago Public Schools’ federally funded Child Parent Centers (CPCs) found that for every dollar invested in the preschool program, nearly $11 is projected to return to society over participants' lifetimes. That is the equivalent of ...
If there's a test, then there's a way to game it. It's crazy to think that we should therefore abandon standardized tests. But it also makes no sense to rely on test scores without looking for supporting or conflicting evidence elsewhere. Yesterday's New York Times piece on the City's gifted and talented Kindergartens drives this point home.
Two years ago, the score on a standard city-wide test became the sole basis for admission to those programs. Since then, the share of black and Hispanic children in those programs has plummeted. It appears that wealthy parents are buying pricey test-prep books and services for their children. Poor children are, of course, priced out of that market.
I don't know how healthy it is for wealthy four year olds to "turn to jelly on test day" because they've absorbed their parents' fears that a low score will blow their chances at Harvard. But I'm at least as worried about the fate of poor kids when the testing system gives rise to a market whose very premise is that money buys advantage.
As usual, the intentions behind the testing program were noble. Schools chancellor Joel Klein wanted an objective measure that put all children on an equal footing.
But I'm not sure the unintended outcome should really surprise us. We need look no further than the college admissions industry to see what can happen. Wealthy parents buy test prep services, and some even hire college consultants to help them craft the perfect ...
OECD reports always leave me wanting more. The most recent report on child well being in industrialized countries is no exception. I want more information, better context, greater clarity. The report just seems to gloss over too many factors that affect children’s welfare.
One finding does seem abundantly clear: The United States fares poorly on many measures of child well-being. Our child poverty rate is over 20 percent, almost double the OECD average. We’re in the basement on children’s health and safety: twenty-fourth out of 30 OECD countries. And we do just as poorly in educational well-being. Our achievement gaps are much larger than in most other OECD countries. American students are also more likely than their OECD peers to lack important resources like textbooks, computers, or even a quiet place to study.
The report also finds that U.S. spending on children is higher than the OECD average. (Cue outrage over big spending on social programs....) But the OECD analysis leaves so much out of account that this conclusion is hard to support.
Take, for example, health care spending. The OECD admits leaving it out of the analysis: “Although the analysis does not include public spending on health, many of the indicators of child well-being are related to health.” Oh.... That's kind of a big deal.
In the U.S., poor children receive much worse health care than other ...
According to one of the show's representatives,
[T]he funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration..., which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling.
Reading Rainbow fosters the joy of reading in children who have already mastered basic reading skills. These days, funders want television shows that teach students how to read.
I have a few questions: Can't we sustain both kinds of children's programming? Isn't there still a need for programming that nourishes the enthusiasm of children who already know how to read? Is this more evidence that we're allowing an exclusive focus on basic skills to crowd out so many other things that inspire ...
While the national debate rages over the benefits of early childhood education, an innovative, district-wide early childhood education initiative is bearing fruit in Bremerton, Washington. Since the initiative's founding, the percentage of Bremerton children entering Kindergarten knowing their letters has shot from 4% to over 50%. The percentage of Kindergarteners needing specialized education services has plummeted from 12% to 2%. And the share of first graders reading on grade level has risen from 52% to 73%.
Last week, I spoke with a woman at the center of the program: Linda Sullivan-Dudzic, the district's Director of Special programs. She described some keys to the program's success. The district:
- Aligns existing school and community resources
- Raises the quality of existing preschools rather than creating new ones
- Focuses on literacy and numeracy
- Heeds the research, and
- Holds all providers to high standards of quality
Read extensive highlights from our interview with Sullivan-Dudzic:
PUBLIC SCHOOL INSIGHTS: What are the major goals of Early Childhood Care and Education Group, and what do you believe you've accomplished in striving towards those goals?
SULLIVAN-DUDZIC: We have two goals. [The first is] to increase the number of children entering kindergarten with early literacy skills--and now we've added early math foundation skills. And the second goal is to decrease the number of children, students, with learning disabilities or learning differences associated with reading.
PUBLIC SCHOOL INSIGHTS: And do you feel like you've made headway in reaching your goals?
SULLIVAN-DUDZIC: Yes. In literacy definitely. We're just starting in math. We have decreasing numbers of kids qualifying as learning disabled, and we have increasing numbers of kids entering kindergarten with early reading foundation skills.
PUBLIC SCHOOL INSIGHTS: So you have all kinds of community partners?
SULLIVAN-DUDZIC: Sure. I started 29 years ago with Head Start, as a ...
(Or is it Dr. Brooks and Mr. Hyde?)
Last month, David Brooks implicitly lumped Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman together with other signers of the "Broader, Bolder Approach to Education" as standard-bearers for a desiccated "status quo." He apparently objected to that group's contention that "poverty and broad social factors drive high dropout rates and other bad outcomes. Schools alone can't combat that, so more money should go to health care programs, anti-poverty initiatives and after-school and pre-K programs." ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
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