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Bridging the Achievement Gap Through Preschool. Policy Recommendations and Strategies for Preschool in an Era of Diversity. Jane I. Henderson, Ph.D., Executive Director. Overview. Snapshot of California’s Diversity Framing the Preschool Issue: Understanding Public Opinion

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Bridging the achievement gap through preschool l.jpg

Bridging the Achievement Gap Through Preschool

Policy Recommendations and Strategies for Preschool in an Era of Diversity

Jane I. Henderson, Ph.D., Executive Director


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Overview

  • Snapshot of California’s Diversity

  • Framing the Preschool Issue: Understanding Public Opinion

  • Policy Recommendations: Preschool for All (and other strategies) to Close the Achievement Gap


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California’s Diversity


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Framing the Preschool Issue:

Understanding Public Opinion About the Achievement Gap and Preschool


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Understanding Attitudes and Beliefs About Preschool

  • First 5 California surveyed California parents, opinion leaders and the general public about school readiness and preschool

  • Helped conceptualize and design a preschool system responsive to Californians’ diverse attitudes, beliefs and cultural norms


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Californians Value Early Learning

  • A majority of parents feel that preschool is very important for their children’s development and later success in school

  • This sentiment is strongest among Latino, African American and low income parents


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Parents Understand the Benefits of Preschool

  • Two-thirds believe universal preschool is a priority

    • 79% of African Americans

    • 80% of Latinos

  • Nearly half of those surveyed believe organized education should start no later than age 4

    • 56% of Latinos

    • 64% of African Americans

    • 62% of all parents in the younger age group


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Parents Believe Preschool Can Strengthen the K-12 System

  • Majority of parents with children under 5 think the state is not doing enough to provide access to quality preschool

  • Respondents believe universal preschool will make K-12 more successful by helping children feel more self-confident and positive about learning


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Californians Believe the State Should Level the Playing Field

  • Majority said access to preschool is a serious or very serious problem for low-income and working-class families

  • Two-thirds think universal access to preschool would create a more level playing field


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Californians Believe the State Should Fund Preschool

  • Four out of five Californians say the state should fund preschool in some way


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Building Demand For Preschool

  • Findings show that it is possible to make Preschool For All (PFA) a reality

  • Findings show that the public is most responsive to preschool when seen as a part of public education, as an an education reform strategy and as a way to close the achievement gap.


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Preschool for All to Close the Achievement Gap

Policy Recommendations

And Strategies


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Create System of Early Care and Education for All Children

  • …with Preschool For All(PFA) as the basic building block of early care and education

  • …based on a common core of high quality standards for all children

  • …that creates greater equality of opportunity for all children


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Embed Preschool For All in the Public Education System

  • Develop a Master Plan for Education that includes preschool

  • Align preschool and elementary learning standards and curricula; ensure developmental appropriateness

  • Create a continuum of early childhood education programs from preschool through 3rd grade


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Embed Preschool For All in the Public Education System

  • Over time, require preschool teachers to have a B.A. and a credential; compensate them on a par with K-12 teachers

  • Make preschool available in a variety of settings that meet high quality standards (school linked and school based)


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Provide Additional Support for High Need Communities

  • In addition to providing Preschool for All, target additional support services to high need communities (First 5’s School Readiness Initiative)

  • At the same time, encourage social mix, avoid isolating high need children

  • If funds are limited, implement preschool for all first in high need communities


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Offer a Comprehensive Array of Family Support Services

  • Support programs such as family literacy that promote family involvement

  • Coordinate preschool with health and human services

  • Make services available from preschool through elementary school


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Promote Workforce Development

  • Develop recruitment strategies for a more diverse and bilingual workforce, including offering incentives

  • Focus training on cultural sensitivities/competencies

  • Create preschool to grade 3 credential


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Support Dual Language Learning

  • Brain research shows that preschool years are optimal for dual language acquisition

  • Educate workforce so that dual language learning children are not improperly diagnosed with learning delays


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Include Early Diagnosis & Services for Children with Special Needs & Disabilities

  • Preschool programs help children with special needs through early screening and assessment, early identification and referrals

  • Inclusive preschool can benefit children with and without disabilities


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Educate, Engage Parents & Public

  • First 5 Outreach Strategies in California

    • Kit for New Parents distributed to nearly 1 million new parents

      • Available in English/Spanish; developing versions in 3 Asian languages

    • Parent education through paid media

      • Messages focus on the importance of reading, talking and playing with young children

      • Ads developed in 11 languages; messages adjusted to appropriately address each audience


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Educate, Engage Parents & Public

  • First 5 Outreach Strategies in California

    • CBO program to use community groups to deliver messages to hard-to-reach populations

      • Contracts w/165 community organizations to conduct person-to-person parent education in 11 languages


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First 5 California’s Public Education Campaign

  • Aims to dramatically increase the number of people who:

    • Understand benefits of voluntary preschool for all

    • View preschool as the start of the formal educational continuum

    • Perceive preschool as “school”


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CA First 5 Steps to Close the Achievement Gap

  • Understand what the public/parents want

    • Conduct public opinion research

    • Conduct town halls, focus groups to meet parent needs

  • Develop statewide policy and standards

    • Research-based Master Plan for Education that includes preschool

    • State Legislation (AB 56)

  • Build Preschool For All demonstration programs locally; evaluate for outcomes

    • First 5 PFA Demonstration Programs

    • Partnership with Packard Foundation


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CA First 5 Steps to Close the Achievement Gap

  • Support high need communities by providing extra resources that support early learning

    • First 5 School Readiness Initiative

  • Support the development of a highly educated, diverse workforce

    • Provide incentive funding/tuition support

    • Convene IHEs to revamp curriculum and credentials; provide incentives

  • Build statewide demand through media and outreach campaigns

  • Secure additional statewide funding

    • State Budget, Legislation

    • Ballot Initiative


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