OCDEL In Action
Pennsylvania's Pre-K Leadership noted as possible model for others
A recent report, Transforming Public Education: Pathway to a Pre-K-12 Future (pdf) released by The PEW Center on the States, presents the need to move from a K-12 to a Pre-K-12 system, and the importance of Pre-K as a valuable educational opportunity and a critical part of sustainable, long-term economic development.
Within the report, attention is called to Pennsylvania as one state who has begun to rethink how public education structures should be organized and staffed to support a different way of educating children and of serving families. For example, the report highlights Pennsylvania’s governance structure through the Office of Child Development and Early Learning and the alignment of Pennsylvania’s early learning standards from birth through 3rd grade. Pennsylvania's work towards Pre-K to third grade alignment is noted as a possible model for integration across the entire system.
The report also reflects work by leading scholars and institutions to identify the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in school and the teaching practices that most effectively develop them. Together, these analyses and perspectives form a compelling case for why America’s education system must start earlier, with Pre-K, to deliver the results.
To view the entire report, please visit The PEW Center on the States website.
Pennsylvania's QRIS spotlighted in Assessment Project reports
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families recently released a series of reports relating to the Quality Rating Systems (QRS) Assessment Project, 2008-2011.
QRIS is a system-building approach to improving the quality of early care and education programs. Pennsylvania's QRIS is Keystone STARS, which began in 2002 and has grown to nearly 4,300 providers serving over 168,000 children in 2010-2011.
Pennsylvania's work is highlighted in connecting with and building on the programs and resources that exist within the early childhood education system to improve overall quality. Pennsylvania was purposefully selected for in-depth study because preliminary information suggested that the QRIS model itself was relatively well-defined in each state and that intentional goals and efforts to connect the QRIS with other ECE programs and services were in place.
The reports provided include:
The project's goal was to create resources for States regarding the evaluation of child care quality rating systems (QRSs) that have been put in place to measure, monitor, and promote high-quality child care.
Available is the Pennsylvania Keystone STARS QRS Profile (pdf) which provides details related to the Keystone STARS program. To view all of the reports, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families website.
Trends and Reports
The Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework: Promoting Family Engagement and School Readiness
The Office of Head Start has released The Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework: Promoting Family Engagement and School Readiness from Prenatal to Age 8. The framework is a tool for early childhood education and care providers seeking to build effective engagement strategies. While the framework is intended for Head Start and Early Head Start programs, its lessons are useful and applicable to a much broader audience of early childhood programs.
The framework highlights a set of desired outcomes and examples of strategies to achieve them, which includes:
- Family well-being
- Positive parent-child relationships
- Families as lifelong educators and learners
- Family engagement in transitions (e.g., to kindergarten and elementary school)
- Family connections to peers and the community
- Families as advocates and leaders
To view the framework, please visit the Harvard Family Research Project website.
In The News
PNC Pledges $250 Million to Help More At-Risk Kids Grow Up Great
On October 2, 2011, the PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. announced the $250 million extension of PNC Grow Up Great, the innovative program supporting early childhood education that has benefited more than one million children.
Washington area preschoolers and Elmo and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street™ joined Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and PNC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James E. Rohr to unveil the program, which will continue to focus on math, science, the arts and financial education.
First launched in 2004 as a 10-year, $100 million initiative, Grow Up Great is considered one of the most comprehensive corporate school readiness programs of its kind. It has earned national recognition for programming through $40 million in grants to numerous non-profit organizations and other initiatives funded by the PNC Foundation, which receives its principal support from The PNC Financial Services Group.
Other highlights include initiatives to:
- Support professional development of teachers
- Increase and diversify employee volunteerism, a hallmark of the program
- Continue PNC's advocacy for quality early education among business leaders and public officials at all levels
To read additional the full press release, please visit the PNC website.
Study shows benefits of quality early learning extend through elementary grades
An article the October 6th edition of the Patriot News highlighted a recent study which recorded the impacts of quality early learning for preschool students in Harrisburg. An excerpt is below:
Children who were in the Harrisburg Preschool Program for at-risk children scored higher on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment literacy and math tests, even into the fifth grade, according to a recent study.
“This is important data because it really shows if we improve the quality of education for young children and we begin early ... we really can have long-term effects, even in very disadvantaged communities like Harrisburg,” said Mark Greenberg, one of the investigators from the Penn State Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Healthy Development.
Thirty-five percent of the program’s former students scored advanced or proficient in math, while only 19 percent of their peers did.
Twenty-two percent of the former preschool students scored advanced or proficient in reading achievement, but only 8 percent of their peers.
To read the complete article, please visit the Patriot News website.
Letter to the Editor: Erie County Sheriff: The link between crime and lack of education
In an October 6th Letter to the Editor, Erie County Sheriff, Bob Merski, conveyed his thoughts on the connection between crime and the lack of education, and how quality early care and education programs can provide a phenomenal return on investment.
The recent article regarding U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's visit to an Erie preschool highlighted many of the positive outcomes of early childhood education. Absent, however, was mention of the crime prevention benefits of such programs.
Those of us in law enforcement have often said that there is a connection between a lack of education and increased crime.
To read the full Letter to the Editor, please visit the Go Erie website.
In the Community
PA's Promise for Children Month off with a strong start
PA's Promise for Children Month began with a strong start as the Early Childhood Education Caucus co-chaired by Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Representative Phyllis Mundy (D-Luzerne) held a press conference on October 5th, in the State Capitol recognizing October as Pennsylvania's Promise for Children Month.
In addition to Senator Browne and Representative Mundy, guests speakers included parent representative, Maryanne O’Neill of Lancaster County; Tara Domanick of Clearfield County and the Director of the Children’s Aid Society; and Ronda Peters of Dauphin County and the Assistant Executive Director of the Neighborhood Center of United Methodist Church. Martha Isler, PennAEYC, provided introduction and closing remarks.
For additional information about the press conference, or to see what events are happening during PA's Promise for Children Month, visit the PA's Promise for Children website.
Community Leaders connection to children in Lehigh and Northampton Counties
Three Allentown City Council members, three State Representatives, a mayor and an author will be fanning out across the Lehigh Valley in October to be guest readers at child care centers in Northampton and Lehigh counties. They're reading books to children to help celebrate Pennsylvania's Promise for Children Month, which recognizes the importance of quality early learning opportunities for young children and celebrates the families, teachers and leaders that help our young children reach their promise every day.
To celebrate Pennsylvania's Promise for Children Month, Allentown City Councilmen Peter Schweyer, Ray O'Connell, and Mike Schlossberg will read at Volunteers of America Children's Center, The Cuddle Zone Learning Center, and Early Bloomers respectively.
In downtown Easton, Mayor Sal J. Panto Jr., will be reading to children at the child care site of Millie's Creative Learning Center, while a few blocks away, Jessica Dreistadt, author of Tiana and Ashley, and Executive Director of Family Connections of Easton, will read to preschool children at Third Street Alliance for Women and Children.
Representatives Robert Freeman (D), Joseph Brennan (D) and Steve Samuelson (D) will read to centers in their legislative districts. These centers are Spring Garden Children's Center, Easton; Hanover Township Preschool, Hanover Township; and Lehigh Kidz Academy, Bethlehem.
Each of these centers participates in Keystone STARS, a program that serves children from birth to age twelve, and makes it possible for child care programs to increase the quality of care and education they provide children.
For additional information about these events or PA's Promise for Children Month, visit the PA's Promise for Children website.