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Early Ed Watch

A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

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Harvard Releases Early Literacy Resources for Policymakers, One Memo At A Time

Published:  November 26, 2012

This fall, the Harvard Graduate School of Education is publishing a series of one-page memos for policymakers and early learning leaders on how to improve young children’s literacy. Using evidence from research on reading and its precursors, these Lead for Literacy one-pagers are designed to help leaders avoid common mistakes in their early education programs. Nonie Lesaux, a Harvard education professor and reading expert, leads the research group behind the project.

For one, Lesaux’s group says, the success of a program should be measured by its effects on literacy rates – not simply on how many children are enrolled in the program, or how satisfied their families report being. And literacy programs need to be centered on early interventions and prevention if they hope to see success.

Memos 5, 6 and 7 delve into early literacy assessment. Assessment is important, the authors write, because early literacy is predictive of later reading skills. That means identifying problems and implementing interventions earlier could help those children catch up before it’s too late. They also urge program leaders to utilize a comprehensive, multi-domain assessment, though the memo does not prescribe what that assessment should look like.

Educators of young children need data-driven professional development that specifically addresses the needs of the population they work with, according to memos 8 and 9. They need the tools to successfully implement these new strategies, and to work with the most high-need students in the program.

The most recent one-pagers released by Harvard examine the impact and design of partnership programs created to improve literacy with the help of families. Families want to participate in their children’s education, the authors say, but don’t necessarily know how best to do that. Educators should be trained to work with families as well as children, and should be proactive in reaching out to parents – especially those not already actively engaged with their children’s teachers.

To see forthcoming memos – next up, volunteering and curricula – and to review what has already been published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Language Diversity and Literacy Development Research Group, click here.

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