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CAP: High-Quality Universal Pre-K May Reduce Achievement Gap

Education News – Grace Smith

“The Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan policy organization that is aimed at improving Americans’ lives…says that providing early childhood education programs ensures that students will enter kindergarten with a solid academic foundation…The authors explain that the elements of “quality” in early learning are not uniformly agreed upon by educators. But they attempt to define it generally as a program that hires teachers with strong educational backgrounds in child development. They also have found that effective programs use research-based curricula that meet the needs of the whole child. Quality programs also employ teachers who engage children in well-planned, warm, and intellectually stimulating interactions. Additionally, class sizes are small, and the classroom has a variety of developmentally appropriate learning activities and materials.”(more)

Ed Department proposes to report accurate grad rates for low-income students

The Hechinger Report – Sarah Butrymowicz

“The federal government has proposed to start publishing accurate college graduation rates, by institution, for low-income college and university students who receive Pell Grants. The proposal, based on recommendations from a technical review panel, would change how graduation rates are reported for all students, and is intended to make these figures more accurate than the system being used now, which tracks only graduation rates for college students starting as freshmen who attend school full time. Advocates say this overlooks the increasing number of students who transfer from one campus to another, and of older, part-time, continuing, and other nontraditional students enrolling in higher education. And independent reviews, including by The Hechinger Report, have found that the resulting statistics are inaccurate.”(more)

Schools of Choice

Education Next – Martin R. West

“The study for which James S. Coleman is best known today makes no mention of private education. The 1966 “Equality of Educational Opportunity” (EEO) study—better known as the Coleman Report—focused exclusively on the distribution of resources and student achievement in America’s public schools. But the report’s ink was barely dry before Coleman injected the issue of school choice into the discussion. “The public educational system is a monopoly,” he wrote in 1967, offering choice only to “those who [can] afford to buy education outside the public schools” and thereby amplifying the influence of family background on student achievement. Later, he amended that observation, noting that the opportunity to choose one’s residence permits school choice within the public sector as well. But in reality, only the middle class and the affluent can fully exercise that choice, he pointed out.”(more)

An Easier Way to Enroll in School Lunches

The Atlantic – Tajha Chappellet-Lanier

“The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has announced a new pilot program for the upcoming school year that hopes to give more children access to the National School Lunch Program. Under the program, states will use Medicaid data to find qualifying students and directly enroll them for both free and reduced-price meal programs. Under the current system, parents have to go through a cumbersome application process to access the programs, and the paperwork diminishes accessibility. “Many children who are eligible for free and reduced-lunch meals aren’t enrolled in the program—this is going to help ensure that they receive the benefits, too,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told The Washington Post.”(more)

Teaching Parenting Skills At Doctor Visits Helps Children’s Behavior

NPR – Vanessa Rancaño

“As researchers have come to understand how poverty and its stresses influence children’s brain development, they’ve begun untangling how that can lead to increased behavior problems and learning difficulties for disadvantaged kids. Rather than trying to treat those problems, NYU child development specialists Adriana Weisleder and Alan Mendelsohn want to head them off. They say they’ve found a way: Working with low-income parents when they bring babies and young children to the pediatrician. They’ve been able to reduce key obstacles to learning like hyperactivity and difficulty paying attention, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics…The results show that a relatively cheap form of intervention works…By using pediatric checkups as a way to engage parents, the researchers say they could reach every child without burdening parents with additional transportation or logistical demands.”(more)

New Center for American Progress Report: Tougher Standards Strengthen Student Achievement

The 74 Million – Eric A. Hanushek

“New research from the Center for American Progress finds that low-income students in states with strong standards and accountability policies made greater gains on federal tests. The research comes just as the federal government has partially backed away from such policies, bowing to a growing backlash against testing and the Common Core standards. The new report by Ulrich Boser and Catherine Brown of the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress examines scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), comparing NAEP gains to states’ actions in adopting tougher standards, assessments, and accountability systems. Specifically, the researchers looked at the quality of each state’s academic standards, whether state tests are aligned to those standards, and whether stakes — such as sanctions and rewards for low- and high-performing schools, respectively — are attached to those tests. They then used a statistical technique which revealed states with better scores on measures of standards, assessment, and accountability saw larger NAEP gains in eighth grade reading and fourth grade math.”(more)