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Laura Bornfreund

Laura Bornfreund

Laura Bornfreund is a policy analyst for New America’s Early Education Initiative and a writer for EEI's blog Early Ed Watch.

Posted by on in Education Policy

Last November, we wrote briefly about the second round winners of the Investing in Innovation (i3) competition. Our review of the winning applications and peer reviewers’ comments found that five of the 23 overall winners applied under the early learning competitive priority, but only four were awarded the extra point by peer reviewers. In this post, we will take a much closer look at thewinning proposals awarded the early learning competitive priority point.

 

To receive the early learning competitive priority point, applicants were asked to focus on:

 

  • Improving young children’s school readiness (including social, emotional and cognitive readiness) so that children are prepared for success in core academic subjects;
  • Improving developmental milestones and standards and aligning them with appropriate outcome measures; and
  • Improving alignment, collaboration and transitions between early learning programs that serve children from birth to age three, in preschools and in kindergarten through third grade.

 

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Posted by on in Education Policy

Debates over how to improve teacher preparation have been central to the education reform conversation over the past several years. Researchers, reformers and stakeholders called for a number of exciting, yet sometimes contradictory ideas: improving coursework on child development; moving to a model that includes more meaningful practice for prospective teachers in diverse classroom settings; holding teacher prep programs accountablestrengthening state regulatory rules for teacher prep programs; opening the doors for more alternative certification options; and more. Here at New America we joined the conversation, releasing a paper that focused on how to improve the preparation and licensure of prospective early grades teachers (PreK-3rd), and recommending that states reduce the overlap between early childhood and elementary teacher licenses.

 

In short, there have been loads of new ideas and recommendations – but while there are somepockets of action, changes to teacher preparation programs haven’t yet gone viral. Two recent additions to the discussion include a survey of student teaching conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and a plan for national teacher education reform and improvementpublished by the U.S. Department of Education. Both papers discussed significant shortcomings in the current teacher preparation system.

 

1. Review of Student Teaching

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Posted by on in Education Policy

Sometime in the next few weeks, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will announce the winners of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge competition.  A total of 35 states, DC and the Puerto Rico submitted applications vying for a slice of the $500 million pie, and insiders have predicted that a much smaller number – probably fewer than a dozen – will win.

 

The states’ applications, made available online last month, show what states have pledged to do if they come out on top.  For example, 35 of the 37 applicants explained their current or future plans for kindergarten entry assessments. Twenty six said they would include all early learning and development programs in their state’s Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). The fewest number of applicants, 19, chose to focus on identifying and addressing health, behavioral and developmental needs.

 

As a refresher, the RTT-ELC requires states to promote kindergarten readiness, coordinate early learning programs and increase access to high-quality programs among high-need children. The challenge has two required “Core Areas,” which state must address.

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Posted by on in Education Policy

Five of the 23 winners of the latest round of the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition included early learning as a focus. This means about $26 million from i3 will likely go to support early learning projects, focusing on children from birth through third grade. The winners will become official i3 grantees only after they secure matching grants, which they must do by Dec. 9.

 

Nearly 600 applicants vied for the $150 million pot; last year’s i3 competition was considerably larger, with $650 million available. Scale-up applicants were eligible for $25 million; validation applicants for $15 million; and development applicants for $5 million. (For a refresher on the i3 competition and what these three categories designate, read our June post on the competition.)

 

The Department and its peer reviewers selected and scored winners based on their evidence and capacity to scale-up an idea that has proven results, validate a promising idea, or develop an idea that has research to support it.  Of the 23 winners, one is a scale-up grant, five are validation grants and 17 are development grants. The Success for All Foundation – one of the early learning winners – was the only repeat.

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Posted by on in Education Policy

Last month, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released a proposal for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) formerly known as No Child Left Behind. Yesterday, Harkin and his counterpart on the Senate’s education panel, Mike Enzi (R-WY), released a revised version of the proposal, reportedly to include more of what Senate Republicans want. Much like the first one, this newer version includes some key elements related to early childhood education, birth through third grade. In this post and more to come, we will give some thumbs up and talk through specifics of the legislation.

 

Let’s look at, Title I, Part A, the part of the ESEA that aims to give disadvantaged children a leg up. The law’s purpose statement reads that this goal can be accomplished by: 1) setting high expectations for children to graduate from high school college and career ready; 2) supporting high-quality teaching; 3) encouraging state and local innovation and leadership; 4) providing additional resources and support to meet the needs of disadvantaged children; 5) focusing on increasing student achievement and closing the achievement gap; 6) removing barriers and promoting integration across all levels of education and across federal education programs; 7) streamlining federal requirements; and 8) strengthening parental engagement and coordination of student, family and community support.

 

Deserving of a thumbs up:

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