In a post for the Huffington Post's Education blog, I wrote about the Early Education Initiative's event on January 14 that highlighted three promising strategies for turning around low-performing schools: FirstSchool, AppleTree's Every Child Ready and Cincinnati's community learning centers. In my post, I suggest that the US Department of Education should provide incentives or even require schools to direct school improvement dollars, as well as other federal dollars, to support early learning. I say:
If the federal government did so, superintendents and principals would need to take some important steps:
Identify the number of preschoolers in their districts and their needs, and
Reach out to community pre-K providers and collaborate with them on professional development, data collection, standards and curriculum alignment.
Then, using a variety of funding sources (such as the money from school improvement grants, regular Title I funds, state pre-kindergarten dollars, child care reimbursements and other resources), school districts and community agencies could hire more qualified early education teachers and create seamless programs so that children receive solid learning experiences that build upon each other throughout the early grades.
It is not unreasonable to ask schools and districts to take these steps. Think about how differently schools and districts might operate and look if efforts to improve struggling schools started here:
Children and their parents would more likely experience a smooth transition from pre-K into kindergarten and into each grade thereafter;
Schools would have a clearly sequenced, developmentally appropriate and well-rounded curriculum;
Principals would lead the school in a way that recognizes the importance of pre-K and the early grades, supporting joint planning and professional development, PreK-third
Kindergarten teachers would be able to use information about the kinds of pre-K experiences their students had to guide their planning and instruction;
Teachers PreK-third would use data to determine where children are and collaborate on how to better meet the needs of both struggling and excelling children; and
Families would be engaged and welcomed into the school, establishing positive school experiences early on in their child's education.
At the event, presenters discussed how they are improving student developmental and learning outcomes, tracking and evaluating results and thinking about scaling-up and replicating their initiatives designed to transform elementary schools.
Also at our event, Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education, White House Domestic Policy Council, provided remarks on the Obama Administration's vision for early learning.
Watch the full event here. You can also find panelist's presentations on the far right column on this page under "Event Materials."
And read my full Huffington Post piece here.