Does Head Start Still Work?

Education Week recently recognized the fiftieth anniversary of the Head Start Program.

When the nation’s first federally funded preschool program was begun, President Lyndon Johnson said “Five- and 6-year-old children are inheritors of poverty’s curse and not its creators.  Unless we act, these children will pass it on to the next generation, like a family birthmark.”

The question today is whether the program succeeds in giving poor children the boost they need to be successful in school and later in life. Congressionally mandated studies of Head Start children have found that by early elementary school, they are academically indistinguishable from their peers who did not attend the program—a reason to drastically revamp or even discontinue the program, experts say.

For more information, see Ed Week article here.

Does Head Start Still Work?

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Groups Honing Real-Time Teacher-Performance Exam

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Prospective doctors take a licensing exam in which they diagnose the ailments of mock patients. Airline pilots dodge wind shear in flight simulators. Even 16-year-olds follow a driving examiner’s directions—turn right, parallel park—to earn their coveted driver’s licenses.

Should a similar licensing standard apply to prospective K-12 teachers?

That’s the thinking behind a new suite of assessments under development by TeachingWorks, a nonprofit launched by University of Michigan education faculty members, and the Educational Testing Service, the purveyor of the venerable Praxis suite of certification tests.

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Study: New York preschool push benefits wealthier families first

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to provide universal preschool to the city’s 4-year-olds has so far disproportionately benefited children from middle- and upper-income families, according to a report released Wednesday that the mayor’s office is disputing.

In the first year of expansion, the number of pre-kindergarten seats in the city’s public schools increased by 36 percent in Zip codes where families earn more than the city’s average income of $51,865, according to the analysis of city data by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley. That was more than twice the rate of growth in the poorest quartile of city Zip codes, the report found.

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Many Districts Lagging on Implementing Common Core, Survey Finds

With springtime testing for the common core only months away, nearly a third of district superintendents are still scrambling to put in place the curriculum and professional development necessary to teach the standards, according to survey results released Wednesday.

The Center on Education Policy, which has been tracking common-core implementation since the standards were released four years ago, concluded in its report that “the future of the common core remains uncertain at this important juncture” because many districts still are not fully prepared to impart the new academic expectations in English/language arts and mathematics.

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We Need a Real Debate About Common Core

By: Dr. Laurence Peters

Few can be puzzled why a group of southern states, most notably Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana are rejecting the Common Core. As Dave Powell writes in Education Week, all three states, “rank close to the bottom of all states on the Education Week Research Center’s 2014 K12 Achievement Index, which takes into account National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, scores? Advanced Placement scores? and high school graduation rates.”

What politicians in these states are clearly afraid of is the distinct probability that they would continue to fall to the bottom of any new national tests such as contemplated by the Common Core and then be faced with public pressure to spend more than they do (certainly as much on a per capita basis as their northern counterparts) to improve. But they are split personalities they want on the one hand the national kudos that comes from being identified as a progressive governor who supports well regarded movements as Common Core (and the federal dollars that accompanied adoption) on the other they want to stay popular with their core supporters, particularly, if like Jindal, they are considering running for national office. So when instead of engaging in reasoned argument they frequently fall back on demagoguery. And so a bellwether Republican Governor wanting out of Common Core talks about federal overreach even as he asks voters to ignore the fact that he took $17 million from Race to the Top funds when he joined the testing consortium known as the PARCC consortium. But somehow something happened after he banked the money to move him to change his mind and to send him into fits of hyperbolic rage as he suddenly realizes that “The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative,” the initiative that was fine a year ago “now becomes the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything.” How come? He does not explain. Meanwhile Louisiana continues to reduce education spending and is now, according to the Center for Budget Priorities among 35 states that have cut funding per student for the 201314school year than before the recession”

We are all worse off when politicians refuse to acknowledge the many factors that go into producing a high quality education system and instead pander to their base. For example, politicians like Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina talks about the need for “finding South Carolina solutions to South Carolina challenges” as a reason to reject Common Core. Clearly like Jindal, she feels no embarrassment in waving the states rights flag, but is that all she has to offer? There are some valid reasons to be opposed to common core but mostly these do not poll as well as the states rights issues and so we tend not to hear about them. For example, a number of issues have to do with the poor implementation related to the fact that while hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government have gone into development of a whole generation of sophisticated tests, states are left to scramble for dollars to pay for the enormous professional development costs Common Core adoption entails. We as educators need to encourage our communities to ask more searching questions about the reform initiatives and reject the media enabled punch and judy show that too often substitutes for serious debate.