Atlantic Monthly: Boston’s Preschools a Model for Later Grades

After a relentless focus on quality in the early years, the city is even bringing lessons learned to later grades …

Changing all of early elementary school in a methodical and purposeful way to better resemble the student-centered structure of preschool would be a much bigger win than just proving that preschool helps students do better in kindergarten, Sachs said. And those aren’t just words. Starting this coming school year, his department will be responsible not just for preschool and kindergarten curriculum and coaching, but for first and second grade as well.

Atlantic Monthly: What Boston’s Preschools Get Right

Preschool “Works” When Instruction Is Good to Excellent, Study Finds

Preschool teachers must offer high-quality instruction to change academic outcomes for their students, according to a new analysis of eight large preschool studies conducted by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Preschoolers in center-based care showed larger gains in reading and language when their teachers spent more time supporting their learning—but only if the quality of instruction was in the moderate to high range,” said Margaret Burchinal, a senior scientist at Frank Porter Graham, in a statement.

Education Weekhttp://goo.gl/nM6GKF

 

“Why What You Learned in Preschool Is Crucial at Work”

… Skills like cooperation, empathy and flexibility have become increasingly vital in modern-day work. Occupations that require strong social skills have grown much more than others since 1980, according to new research. And the only occupations that have shown consistent wage growth since 2000 require both cognitive and social skills.

Preschool classrooms, Mr. Deming said, look a lot like the modern work world. Children move from art projects to science experiments to the playground in small groups, and their most important skills are sharing and negotiating with others. But that soon ends, replaced by lecture-style teaching of hard skills, with less peer interaction.

Work, meanwhile, has become more like preschool.

Why What You Learned in Preschool Is Crucial at Work (New York Times)

Media Coverage of Tennessee Preschool Study

Education Week’s Early Years blog has a helpful round-up of a wide range of media coverage of the Tennessee preschool study. A few choice excerpts:

Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, whose work on the return of investment on prekindergarten has been cited eagerly by early-education advocates, has weighed in on a study that found Tennessee’s prekindergarten program didn’t help children.

“Vanderbilt University’s study of Tennessee’s Voluntary Preschool Program evaluates a low-quality early-childhood program using a flawed methodology,” Heckman said.

and

Writing for The Hechinger Report on Sept. 29, I [Lillian Mongeau] focused on the quality question: “Moreover, Farran and her fellow researchers did a separate study that used a commonly accepted research tool to evaluate 160 state preschool classrooms on a scale of one to seven. Only 15 percent of the classrooms they observed met the benchmark for ‘good’ or better.”

and

Steven Barnett, director of the Rutgers-based National Institute of Early Education Research, wrote a long, undated, post on his institute’s blog urging readers to take the study as a lesson that high quality is important in practice, not just in name.

and

On Oct. 3, David Kirp, in an opinion piece for The New York Times, pointed to Boston, New Jersey, North Carolina and other public programs that have seen stronger results. He urged readers to recognize the expensive nature of providing high-quality preschool. “In education, as in much of life, you get what you pay for,” Kirp wrote.

TED Talk on Learning from the Abecedarian Project

This is a story about the single most important feat of construction our society undertakes. It is about the assembly required in order to build physically, emotionally, cognitively, and socially healthy children. It’s a process as complex as the most challenging feat of engineering, and a process that is easily thwarted by poverty and stress. The healthy child does not come pre-assembled: work is required.

This story begins with the amazing journey of 100 North Carolina babies born into poverty, whose life trajectories were altered with a single intervention: high quality educational child care. They remain part of one of the world’s most famous long-running studies of child development—the Abecedarian Project—and it started right here, in this town, at this university ….

From Kathleen Gallagher’s popular TEDxUNC talk. See here for the text.

New Article in Kappan Magazine

Kappan Magazine has just published an article I wrote , The Primary Years Agenda: Strategies to Guide District Action. I draw on examples from Massachusetts and other states to make the case for three Birth-3rd strategies. These strategies are as relevant to communities as they are to districts. They are intended to help set priorities and “chunk the work for action.” Here is the abstract:

School districts on the leading edge of the Birth through Third Grade movement have demonstrated unprecedented success raising the achievement of low-income students by developing coherent strategies focused on the early years of learning and development. These communities are not merely improving preschool. Rather, they are building aligned, high-quality early education systems. Building such systems requires that school and district leaders embrace improving early education as a strategic priority and provide leadership in implementing three overarching strategies in their communities.

Expanding Prekindergarten, Not Forgetting Kindergarten

Is New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio’s method for expanding Pre-K a model for other cities?
Six experts’ views on the implications of NYC’s PreK expansion for other cities.

The View from 3 Feet
4 year-old experts talk about the value of preschool in this video, a project of the Massachusetts-based Schott Foundation’s National Opportunity to Learn Campaign.

As Preschool Ascends, Is Kindergarten Being Left Behind? 
Education Week’s Christina Samuels asks, “But what about kindergarten? Does the focus on preschool mean that we are already providing a consistent, high-quality option for the first “official” year of school?”

The Case for the New Kindergarten: Challenging and Playful
And in case you missed it, see this commentary by the authors of a recent kindergarten study: