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Troubling & Promising Findings in NCTQ Scan of State Teacher Eval Policies

November 4, 2013
Of the 40 states and D.C. that require student achievement as a factor in teacher evaluation, fewer than half have an explicit policy for using student achievement measures to evaluate teachers of untested grades and subjects, according to a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality. That includes, in most cases, PreK-3rd grade teachers.

A Closer Look at FirstSchool’s PreK-3rd Grade Approach

October 31, 2013
The September/October 2013 edition of Principal Magazine, a publication of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, spotlights early learning in the context of aligning pre-kindergarten with the early grades.

Pre-K is Win-Win, Concludes a New Report

October 23, 2013

Early education is one of the most powerful ways to close the achievement gap between low-income and minority children and their more-advantaged peers. But all too often, pre-K advocates cite the same, decades-old research studies – the Abecedarian Project and the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, in particular – to prove the value of high-quality programs. A new report, Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education, published by the Society for Research in Child Development and the Foundation for Child Development earlier this month, offers an updated view of the research, and a path forward for scaled-up pre-K programs.

Researchers were on hand for an event at the New America Foundation last week to answer some questions (click here for the event video, or here to see a Storify summary of the Twitter conversation). Here are the report’s headline findings:

Can New Accreditation Standards Improve Teacher Preparation?

October 22, 2013

Teacher preparation programs have come under fire in recent years for poorly preparing new teachers to meet the needs of today’s students and the demands of education reforms. Most recently, the National Council on Teacher Quality released its survey of about 1,200 prep programs. (Spoiler alert: Only four programs made the top tier.)

Storify: Too Much Evidence to Ignore

October 16, 2013

This week, New America's Early Education Initiative hosted an event reviewing the research on pre-K, published in a new report, “Investing in Our Children: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education," from the Foundation for Child Development and the Society for Research in Child Development.

Focusing on the ‘Word Gap’ With Help from Hillary Clinton

October 11, 2013
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Help babies and toddlers learn words. This seemingly simple task has become a rallying cry for early childhood advocates over the past decade. Well-trained preschool teachers can cite chapter and verse on why it is important to immerse children in environments where they hear new words and are encouraged to speak and engage in conversation.

Tired of Federal Gridlock? Take a Look at Education Reform in the States

October 14, 2013

As the government shutdown continues (with no end yet visible), it’s easy—and wholly understandable—to get cynical. If we can’t manage basic stuff like funding the federal government, it’s hard to expect any sort of meaningful, exciting, education (or otherwise) policy reforms. In times like these, it’s good to keep an eye on the states.

So, if you’re looking for evidence for the potential of new education policy reforms, take a look at the National Governors Association’s recent report, “A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy: Getting All Students Reading By Third Grade.”

Update on DC’s Early Childhood Performance Management Framework

October 9, 2013

Last month, the DC Public Charter School Board officially adopted the new early childhood performance management framework with a few good revisions. But there is still a lot of room for improvement.

In late August, Conor Williams and I wrote about the proposed framework, which was controversial among many parents and early childhood advocates. The framework is intended to be a common accountability tool that will be used to evaluate public charter schools serving pre-K through 2nd grade, beginning this year. The framework, however, will first be used to tier schools in 2015.

One of the major concerns about the proposed framework is the overemphasis on student outcomes, PreK-2nd grade, in literacy and math. In these early years, teachers are helping children develop a love for learning and inquiry. Children are learning to explore, be creative, problem-solve, and engage in positive interactions with adults and their peers. Because social-emotional development is so important to young children’s education, assessing it should be more than an “option” in the performance management framework. As it stands, however, DC’s PMF does not require charter schools to assess SEL.

Webinar: A Portrait of PreK-3rd Grade Alignment in San Antonio

September 26, 2013

On Thursday, October 3 from 1 pm - 2 pm EDT, the PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group will host a webinar, A Portrait of PreK-3rd Grade Alignment in San Antonio. Registration is now open here

This webinar will showcase San Antonio, Texas, highlighting how the city has followed a Prek-3rd grade approach to reshape early childhood and family support services. Speakers will share lessons and specific examples about the collaborative system they have built to provide high quality, complementary and connected educational opportunities for children from pre-kindergarten through third grade.


Tonja Rucker, Principal Associate, The National League of Cities


Judy Ratlief, Director of Operations, Eastside Promise Neighborhood  

Judy McCormick, Executive Director, P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County

Deborah Ryan, Parent 

For background information on the PreK-3rd approach, also the work group's 2012-13 series of free webinars on Reducing the Achievement Gap by 4th Grade: The PreK-3rd Approach in Action and short paper with take-aways from each webinar
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