Sunday, February 07, 2010

Commish Focuses on Early Ed, Partnerships, Standards

Over at Dr H's blog the Commish reacted to Governor Beshear's Transforming Education in Kentucky (TEK) Task Force.
Governor Beshear gave us our charge, and one of the key issues that we will review is the early childhood-to-school transition. This issue really ignites a passion that I have for addressing the needs of children.
Point, to the Prichard Committee.

A former school administrator, Holliday has seen "firsthand the impact of early childhood programs on student readiness for school."

Then he hit the nail on the head.
I also know that it is essential to address student vocabulary development in the early years of childhood, or the students will come to school already several years behind.
I can't think of another single effort, which if successful, is as likely to reduce the achievement gap than that.

Holliday shined some light on the road ahead for KDE

Things we are doing in Kentucky:
  • development of regional teams of health, education, elected officials, civic and community leaders to address issues and barriers that prevent access to high-quality programs and schools for children birth-8 and their families through the Kentucky Great by 8 economic growth initiative
  • collaborative partnerships across state agencies through the KIDS NOW initiative that help promote quality and a focus on whole-child development.
  • recognition of high-quality district preschool programs through the Preschool Classrooms of Excellence and Early Childhood Centers of Quality/Excellence initiatives
  • recent release of the Field Guide to the Kentucky Early Childhood Standards to give all professionals working with young children ideas of how to incorporate the early learning standards in their program planning
What we would like to see:
  • promotion of a definition of school readiness that focuses on the whole child – ready child, ready schools, ready families and communities
  • development of a common, reliable, appropriate assessment that will be implemented by the kindergarten teacher after the first 30 days of a child’s attendance, specifically for instructional purposes for student mastery of the standards
  • stronger partnerships between private child care, Head Start and state-funded preschool to promote collaboration and quality and to provide opportunities for more children to attend preschool


Richard Innes said...

I am really having problems deciding if the preschool programs are truly a cost-effective way to go.

Here's why: I keep seeing reports that Head Start studies persistently show this major preschool program's effects don't survive past the first few years in elementary school.

That could point to problems with elementary schools, or it could point to something deficient in the Head Start preschool program -- something that just doesn't show up until a bit later in children's lives.

I would like to hear others' comments on this really confusing problem because I am not against programs that really work, and on the surface it would seem that the persistent Head Start findings just don't make sense -- but those findings are persistent, and they are "out there."

Richard Day said...

Cost effective?

Well, it's certainly costly, but I think it is a worth while investment.

Economists are always counting the costs of the undereducated on our society. Most seem to think that we save money in the long run.... avoiding incarceration....less spent on social programs.....close achievement gaps...

I agree that head start does not seem to show the best results. I get the sense there is a lot of focus on the kids' social needs rather than a more rigorous academic approach - so far as I can tell. (I have little expertise on head start - other than sitting in on a few meetings and, of course, the reports.) But if we can level the playing field to a greater extent before kindergarten, I do not see a downside.

If we could maintain the gains we see in elementary, through middle and high school, we'd all be singing a different song.

The problem as I see it is that we have preschool opportunities for the rich and poor, but not the working poor. Arguably, this is the segment of society we ought to most want to support - those who have shown a willingness to work everyday, but at low wages, which prevent them from affording private preschools, while they are denied public preschools. That's a lot of kids whose parents generally value education, whose kids might be able to pull themselves up if they got off to a better start.

But you know, sometimes we have to put down the reports and think about what we know about our own kids. (I can't remember. You've got kids, right?)

How long did you wait before thinking about the educational needs of your kids and grandkids? I'll bet you thought about it, and began planning for them before they were born.

Why? Because you know in your heart how important it is for a kid to get started off right.