High Quality Early Education
The first years of a child’s life are the most formative. Research shows the importance of investing in young children and their families to foster early brain development and to lay a strong foundation for later learning. Increasing recognition that learning and achievement gaps start long before kindergarten continues to spur public interest in building early support systems.
The Latest on High Quality Early Education
We've all heard about the long-term benefits on early childhood education and services. Better access to quality early opportunities increases graduation rates, saves communities money on remediation or criminal justice, and increases the tax base. But how about the short-term? Short-term benefits are easier to build public and, crucially, political will around. "Savings Now, Savings Later" is an incredibly useful two-page brief from ReadyNation that outlines all the benefits of early childhood education and services in easy-to-understand, statistics-filled talking points. From parent mentoring programs to basic health care services to quality pre-k programs, the evidence is clear: access to these programs creates healthier and stronger children, families and communities.
The 2012 version of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual KIDS COUNT Data Book tracks the well-being of our nation's children with state-by-state data on children's economic well-being, educational opportunities, access to healthcare and family and community environments. The report illustrates the deep disparities between children of color and their white peers in access to the opportunities and support necessary to succeed in school and in life.
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, an OTL partner, has released "An Arkansas Student Bill of Rights," which details what students and parents should expect from their school districts and the resources and opportunities to which they are entitled in order to receive a quality education and reach their full potential. Watch the video, then download the report here!
Teachers and students shouldn’t be judged on test scores, grades, and reading levels if they don’t have the proper tools to produce high-quality outcomes. An Arkansas Student Bill of Rights, using opportunity to learn (OTL) standards as the basis for measurement and accountability, unequivocally ensures the state will provide all students with the resources necessary to obtain a high-quality public education and achieve success in college and later, a career, including access to high-quality early childhood education, prepared and effective teachers, college preperatory curriculum for all students, and equitable instructional materials.
Numerous national groups, including the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign and the Annie E. Cassie Foundation, have made access to quality early childhood education a crucial part of their campaigns. This report, from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, provides further evidence that pre-K programs can make a difference in a child's long-term academic success and that they are espcially important for low-income children. This report is especially important as it shows the marked increase in student achievement as a result of a 2003 AR law which established the Arkansas Better Chance for School Success program for three- and four-year-old children who live in families with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line. More than 59 percent of Arkansas children from birth to age three live below that 200 percent threshold.
In 2010, the President set a goal for the U.S. to become the global leader in postsecondary degree attainment by the year 2020. Yet, more than 7,000 students, many of whom are not proficient in reading and math, are leaving or being pushed out of U.S. schools each day. This study shows that the U.S. cannot achieve the President’s 2020 goal if our schools continue to hemorrhage large segments of our nation’s youth. Accordingly, this document is designed to serve as a blueprint for implementing a comprehensive package of policy reforms that seek to increase the quantity of students who succeed at every stage of the educational pipeline and the quality of the education they receive. Different from most calls for reform, it considers the educational pipeline in its entirety—from early childhood through postsecondary attainment—and offers evidence‐informed strategies to boost access, quantity and quality at every stage.
This report from the National Institute for Early Education Research analyzes national and state statistics and trends on the availabilty of quality Pre-K programs across the country. The report includes detailed state profiles that measure not just access access to early education opportunities but also whether available Pre-K programs meet a set of 10 benchmarks for quality.
Arkansas Public Policy Panel Executive Director Bill Kopsky outlines 8 characteristics of effective school systems that guarantee every child has an opportunity to learn. This clip is excerpted from a longer television workshop on the Arkansas dropout rate that aired in November on AETN - the Arkansas PBS affiliate.
This is an edited version of a commentary given by Stan Karp , a teacher of English and journalism in Paterson, N.J., for 30 years. Karp spoke on Oct. 1 at the fourth annual Northwest Teachers for Justice conference in Seattle. He is now the director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey’s Education Law Center and an editor of the 25-year-old Rethinking Schools magazine. A video and fuller version of the commentary can be found here.