Sunday, August 02, 2015

City's Preschool Program

The Times had big news this morning that preschoolers can learn math but nobody in preschool teaching ever knew this before.

Naturally, I'm being facetious as most parents do know this (even if they don't know the best way to teach their own children).  As well, I would think most bonafide preschools do know this (and I certainly know Montessori and Waldorf do).

This article seems a bit of a cheerleading piece for the City's preschool but then, the City extended the deadline for parents to enroll so maybe they need the help.

Their centerpiece of the story is the preschool at South Shore which isn't the best example.  The claim is that 95% of kids who are in kindergarten at SS come in with basic skills for elementary school math.  They DON'T explain that it has been set up so that the pre-k kids get a bump to be in kindergarten at South Shoe so yes, if they had SS's preschool program, it would follow that their kindergarten class would have that readiness as well to go into first grade.  The point being that the over-whelming majority of kids were in the same program whereas that isn't true (and can't be true) for the rest of the kindergartens.

I give the Times credit for actually admitting that South Shore gets $1M a year extra.

But the Times doesn't name the foundation - League of Education Voters - nor do they say how long this has been going on (more than a decade).  Makes you wonder what would happen if all schools had a million extra dollars a year.

The article contrasts what they do in the highly-successful Boston program with one example being that they use a curriculum called Building Blocks.

They settled on one called Building Blocks, which has received the highest effectiveness rating from the U.S. Department of Education. The department based that rating on two studies in New York state that showed that kids in a number of Building Blocks preschools learned as much as students who receive individual tutoring.

The Building Blocks curriculum is rooted in decades of research into how children learn math, starting in the crib.

A recent analysis in Boston shows that district is getting results, too — on third-grade math tests, the passing rates of students in Building Block preschools were 10 percentage points higher than those who may have attended preschool elsewhere but weren’t enrolled in the city’s program.

It does not appear the City will be using Buildings Blocks.  I get the distinct feeling that the City wants to create their own special curriculum which seems like a heavy lift especially where there are other highly successful curriculums out there.

One key to Boston’s success is that the school district provides most of the city-funded preschool classes, and keeps a tight leash on quality. 

 Sounds like a good idea.

But that's not what is happening in Seattle.  In fact, the City seems to be selectively dolely out info to the Board.

 In Seattle, preschool classes will be run by a number of organizations.

Only kinda true because while different providers will run the classes, they are all under the City's curriculum and umbrella of accountability.  So the City is really running the show.  


Anonymous said...

For the demonstration phase (2015-2019) the following curricula are approved: high scope preschool curriculum and creative curriculum. Where do you get the impression the city is writing their own curriculum?


Melissa Westbrook said...

I may be using the wrong word - I probably mean "program." I used curriculum because in conversations with DEEL staff, I got the impression from them that their "program" was going to include curriculum crafting from them.

dan dempsey said...

The Hechinger Report =>

The July 2015 report from the What Works Clearinghouse describes how it reviewed 90 widely different studies on Head Start.

Federal report finds scant scientific evidence for effectiveness of Head Start programs

Only one of these studies passed scientific muster, and it showed rather disappointing results. It found that Head Start had “potentially positive effects” on general reading achievement and “no discernible effects” on mathematics achievement and social-emotional development for 3-year-old and 4-year-old children.

Lots more info in the article.