“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

 

Three New Curriculum Mapping Tools

A critical step in improving teaching and learning in the early elementary grades is developing an effective, coherent curriculum. To support districts in aligning curriculum to the 2011 Common Core-aligned frameworks, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education worked with the Readiness Centers to develop the Curriculum Alignment and Mapping Project, a resource that includes recorded webinars and sample maps.

In addition to the webinar I mentioned last week on The Why and What of Curriculum Mapping, my colleagues and I at Cambridge Education have created three guidance tools to aid districts in planning and implementing curriculum mapping projects.

  • A curriculum mapping self-assessment to help schools and districts determine their needs and monitor their progress,
  • A pre-planning organizer that draws on the results of the self-assessment to guide school and district leaders in making the key curriculum mapping decisions, and
  • A planning template that outlines a focused approach to planning a curriculum mapping initiative.

About 100 participants used these tools last week at a Curriculum Mapping Institute. Check them out and let me know if you have any questions.

May 13 Round-Up

NEW RESOURCES OF INTEREST

Formative Assessment: Guidance for Early Childhood Policymakers. Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes at NIERR.
This policy report provides a guide and framework to early childhood policymakers considering formative assessment. The report defines formative assessment and outlines its process and application in the context of early childhood.  This guide provides a practical roadmap for decision-makers by offering several key questions to consider in the process of selecting, supporting, and using data to inform and improve instruction.

Resources for Early Learning. MA Department of Early Education and Care
This site provides engaging media-rich learning opportunities for educators, parents, and caregivers of children.

Lead Early Educators for Success by the Language Diversity and Literacy Development Research Group at Harvard is a series of briefs written for leaders dedicated to promoting children’s learning and development through high-quality early education. The series focuses on supporting early educators to cultivate high-quality learning environments by revisiting assumptions that guide current policies and practices, outlining common pitfalls, and presenting actionable strategies for pressing issues.

Making Space: The Value of Teacher Collaboration. The Rennie Center and EdVestors.
This report takes a look at how five Boston schools have successfully built teachers’ social capital, using the power of the collective to drive impressive gains in student performance. The findings support the consensus that purposeful teacher collaboration is a crucial element to improved school performance.

Family Engagement is Much More than Volunteering at School by Laura Bornfreund, New America Foundation.
“A recent commentary at the New York Times explored the findings from a study on parental involvement. The authors of the study found that the common types of parental involvement, like volunteering more at school or attending school events, don’t improve student achievement. And they’re right. “Random acts of parent involvement” aren’t enough. Other research shows that schools need to do more, especially to engage struggling families. The bottom line: Parent/family involvement must be ‘Beyond the Bake Sale.’” 

Nonprofit and For-Profit Partners Help Cincinnati Transform Its Failing Schools.
“Districts thinking of embracing this “whole child” approach to education might want to look at a nationally recognized model: Cincinnati Public Schools. Community schools are based on the idea that the school is the hub of a community – a place where students can get all their needs met, including health and dental care, counseling and after-school programs. The theory behind this approach is that when students’ needs are taken care of – whether it’s a toothache or stress in the family – they can focus on academics.

RECENT LEARNING HUB POSTS

LEARNING FROM THE WRAPAROUND ZONE INITIATIVE
Last Tuesday representatives from six Massachusetts communities came together at the Turnaround with Wraparound Showcase to share their experiences improving the services and supports they provide to children and families. Select schools in Fall River, Holyoke, Lynn, Springfield, Wareham, and Worcester are all part of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (ESE) Wraparound Zone Initiative, in which improving “wraparound” services is a component of the turnaround strategies of low-performing schools.

BUILDING A COMMON VISION OF QUALITY ACROSS THE BIRTH-THIRD CONTINUUM
For the leaders of Lowell’s Birth-Third initiative, it was important from the outset that their project be broad in scope, spanning the Birth-Third continuum by developing meaningful roles for family childcare providers, community-based preschools, and elementary schools.

COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE IN LOWELL: SUPPORTING FAMILY CHILD CARE AND CENTER-BASED PROVIDERS
Lowell’s communities of practice are a direct form of professional development that reaches both family childcare providers and community-based centers using the FCCERS-R and ECERS-R tools. They show that even within the boundary-spanning work that Birth-Third improvement requires there is a critical role for tailored work within sectors on improving quality.