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Nashville Poised to Use ESSA to Boost Music Education

Education World – Nicole Gorman

“For the first time ever, music education is listed as a critical component of a well-rounded education per the new education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act. Music and art education advocates are optimistic that the legislation will help return focus and funding to its programs, including programs throughout Nashville, TN. “The law…opens up federal grant funding for states and local school districts to support music education programs and train music teachers. There will also be opportunities for federal grants to fund music education at community centers across the country,” said the Tennessean.”(more)

Early childhood education: Worth all the investment

The Columbia Daily Herald – Chaz Molder

“Over the last several decades, hundreds of studies have shown that early childhood education is among the most significant indicators of student success. Students who have access to public, high-quality pre-k programs are better prepared to learn than their counterparts who start kindergarten—on average—18 months behind. These students are less likely to repeat the first grade, less likely to require specialized services as they matriculate through their primary education years, and more likely to graduate from high school. Conservative estimates show that benefits in specialized services alone could save school districts $3700 per student each year. In addition to the educational benefits of pre-k, there are societal benefits for our entire community. The Perry Pre-School Project, widely considered the premier study of early childhood education, showed that investing in pre-k programs leads to lower juvenile crime rates, reduced teen pregnancy rates and increased participation in the workforce, post-graduation. These ancillary benefits mean that for every $1 we invest in pre-k, our community will see a $17 return on investment. I’m a lawyer, not a financial advisor, but I believe that is a sound return on any investment.”(more)

Pre-K researchers can’t get past the third grade

The Hechinger Report – James Heckman

“Disadvantaged children who receive quality early childhood development have much better education, employment, social and health outcomes as adults, the vast majority of research shows. Unfortunately, this good news is getting lost in the current obsession over third-grade test scores. This is the case with the recent debate around the new Vanderbilt study on the Tennessee pre-K program.”(more)

Obama’s vision for ‘free’ community college: Lessons from Tennessee

The Christian Science Monitor – Stacy Teicher Khadaroo

“President Obama visited Macomb Community College in Michigan Wednesday to talk about making community colleges “free.” But in many ways, what he promoted might be best seen in what’s happening in Tennessee. The Tennessee Promise is the first statewide program in the United States to offer tuition-free community or technical college for every high school graduate who meets the criteria. Many of the students receiving the scholarships are the first in their families to head to college. The cost of the scholarships this year – $12 million to $13 million – is being paid for through the state’s lottery, instead of by taxes. Not everyone agrees it’s the best approach. Telling people they won’t have to pay tuition can be politically popular, they note, but it isn’t necessarily the best use of scarce resources, according to some education researchers. Targeting aid to the lowest-income students might be more effective than universal free-college programs, some suggest.”(more)

Tennessee rolls out sweeping literacy initiatives amid stagnant reading scores

Chalk Beat Tennessee – Grace Tatter

“Calling Tennessee’s stagnant reading scores a “true ethical and moral dilemma,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen is rolling out a pair of initiatives to boost students’ literacy skills, starting even before they enter school. Under McQueen’s plan, educators across the state will get additional training about how to teach reading, support from a growing fleet of literacy coaches, and insights from new standardized tests. In addition, state agencies will team up to grapple with the realities that cause many poor children to start kindergarten without basic literacy skills. The plan is the state’s response to a persistent and disturbing trend: Even as Tennessee’s steadily climbing math and science results have garnered national attention, reading scores for grades 3-8 haven’t budged. This year, just 48.4 percent of students in grades 3-8 passed the state’s proficiency bar in reading, down from a peak of 50.5 percent in 2013.”(more)

New study to examine how ‘working memory’ affects math competency

Vanderbilt University – Jane Sevier

“Children who struggle with mathematics will benefit from an innovative new Vanderbilt research project soon to launch in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. The National Center for Special Education Research (part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute on Education Sciences) has awarded $3.5 million to faculty at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development to study working memory training for students at risk for math difficulties. Working memory—the ability to hold information in short-term memory while performing other tasks—is a function of central importance in a wide range of cognitive tasks. Working memory supports learning in multiple areas, including reading comprehension and mathematics problem-solving. Students who struggle with learning in these areas often demonstrate weaknesses in working memory.”(more)