A Purple Agenda for (Early) Education

I’m pleased to share my commentary in today’s Education Week, “A Purple Agenda for (Early) Education (print edition title).” It begins:

“Education policy has become as polarized as the rest of American politics. In the new administration, disagreements over standards, funding, school choice, and students’ civil rights are sure to intensify. Yet despite this polarized state of affairs, liberal and conservative education priorities are converging in a number of important respects, driven in part by mounting research findings. Common ground is emerging where conservative commitments to character formation, strong families, and local solutions meet liberal commitments to services that help low-income families overcome obstacles to improving their quality of life.

Borrowing a term from the Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, I suggest that a number of educational priorities, described below, are “purple”—they resonate with both red and blue constituencies. Further, these priorities animate a powerful reform movement that is spreading across the country ….”

 

Principles of Effective P-3 Partnerships: Improved Family Engagement Language

I have strengthened the language around family engagement and support in the principles for effective P-3 partnerships and the associated theory of action graphic. You will see that I drew on a consolidated version of the renowned Head Start family and community engagement outcomes, which I think are right on-point and fit well within the context of the P-3 theory of action. Check out the Overview and/or the Full Explanation (a 12-minute read). Many thanks to my EDC colleague, Heidi Rosenberg, for her helpful suggestions.

Also see Melissa Dahlin’s article at New America’s EdCentral: All in the Family: Supporting Students through Family Engagement in ESSA.

“The Preschool Fade-Out Effect Is Not Inevitable”

In Education Week by Stanford professor Deborah Stipek:

“Is fade-out inevitable? No. Studies have shown definitively that investment in preschool can yield sustained effects and significant social and economic returns. But fade-out is common and remains a persistent reminder that simply providing preschool to low-income children is not sufficient to achieve long-term benefits.

If we want to sustain the effects of preschool, we need to look at what happens after children enter school. Clearly, the quality of schooling they receive in the early elementary grades matters. Poor instruction can undo the effects of high-quality preschool experiences. But instruction has to be more than good to sustain preschool effects; it has to build strategically on the gains made in preschool.”

“The Preschool Fade-Out Effect Is Not Inevitable”

And see these two summaries by the New America Foundation:

What “Transforming the Workforce” Says About the Importance of Continuity

New Report from SRCD on What PreK-3rd Means for Instruction

New Consensus Statement on Effects of Pre-Kindergarten

A task force of social scientists from Brookings and Duke University has produced a consensus statement on what we know about the effects of pre-kindergarten.

Brookings introduces the statement and a report on the current state of scientific knowledge on pre-kindergarten effects here.

Education Week’s coverage is here.

The Task Force agreed on six consensus statements. The third one is particularly relevant to P-3 improvement.

  1. Studies of different groups of preschoolers often find greater improvement in learning at the end of the pre-k year for economically disadvantaged children and dual language learners than for more advantaged and English-proficient children.
  2. Pre-k programs are not all equally effective. Several effectiveness factors may be at work in the most successful programs. One such factor supporting early learning is a well implemented, evidence-based curriculum. Coaching for teachers, as well as efforts to promote orderly but active classrooms, may also be helpful.
  3. Children’s early learning trajectories depend on the quality of their learning experiences not only before and during their pre-k year, but also following the pre-k year. Classroom experiences early in elementary school can serve as charging stations for sustaining and amplifying pre-k learning gains. One good bet for powering up later learning is elementary school classrooms that provide individualization and differentiation in instructional content and strategies.
  4. Convincing evidence shows that children attending a diverse array of state and school district pre-k programs are more ready for school at the end of their pre-k year than children who do not attend pre-k. Improvements in academic areas such as literacy and numeracy are most common; the smaller number of studies of social-emotional and self-regulatory development generally show more modest improvements in those areas.
  5. Convincing evidence on the longer-term impacts of scaled-up pre-k programs on academic outcomes and school progress is sparse, precluding broad conclusions. The evidence that does exist often shows that pre-k-induced improvements in learning are detectable during elementary school, but studies also reveal null or negative longer-term impacts for some programs.
  6. States have displayed considerable ingenuity in designing and implementing their pre-k programs. Ongoing innovation and evaluation are needed during and after pre-k to ensure continued improvement in creating and sustaining children’s learning gains. Research-practice partnerships are a promising way of achieving this goal. These kinds of efforts are needed to generate more complete and reliable evidence on effectiveness factors in pre-k and elementary school that generate long-run impacts.

 

 

“How Child Care Enriches Mothers, and Especially the Sons They Raise”

 

From today’s New York Times:

“As many American parents know, hiring care for young children during the workday is punishingly expensive, costing the typical family about a third of its income.

Helping parents pay for that care would be expensive for society, too. Yet recent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren. It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults.

Affordable care for children under 5, long a goal of Democrats, is now being championed by Ivanka Trump …

A powerful new study — which demonstrated long-term results by following children from birth until age 35 — found that high-quality care during the earliest years can influence whether both mothers and children born into disadvantage lead more successful lives. The study was led by James J. Heckman, a Nobel laureate economist at the University of Chicago.

“They’re engaged more in the work force, they’re now active participants of society, they’re more educated, they have higher skills,” Mr. Heckman said. “So what we’ve done is promoted mobility across generations.”

See the article for discussion of other new studies as well.