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EdSource Today reports
Photo credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource
Sue Frey's story on the power of reading aloud to children has become EdSource's most popular post ever on social media. Turns out casual conversation isn't as helpful in building young children's language acquisition as being read a good book. Good news for bookworms travels fast.

     Photo credit: Sarah Tully, EdSource

Richard Carranza, superintendent of San Francisco USD, writes about his district's efforts to "shrink a stubborn achievement gap by aligning primary school teaching to a formerly separate pre-K system" in this commentary.


Lessons learned through the alignment program, which began in 2008, are the subject of a case study from New America. The study's author notes that "Kindergarten teachers report, more than ever before, that the students in their classrooms who attended pre-K the prior year are ready to meet kindergarten expectations."    


In related news, the city has been selected to join a network of cities and counties, lead by the National League of Cities, that are doing "exemplary work" in early childhood development.     


An anonymous donor seeking to improve Oakland is investing in education. Nearly a quarter of the donor's $34 million gift made this week to city organizations through the San Francisco Foundation is targeted to early education teacher training and materials,  school discipline reform, and trauma care for students.


Read the full story on EdSource Today.    

Early learning research roundup

Social skills measured in kindergarten tied to life outcomes
20 years later in new study
Photo credit: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
A new, 20-year study published in the American Journal of Public Health has important implications for the teaching of social skills as part of early childhood education.

Teachers used a screening tool to rate the social competency of 800 kindergartners. Screening questions graded skills such as students' abilities to cooperate and resolve problems with peers.

Researchers then followed the students as they grew up, noting positive and negative life outcomes in areas such as education, criminal justice, substance abuse, and mental health. Overall, they found that social competence, as measured in kindergarten, was a "consistent and significant indicator of both positive and negative outcomes" later in life. Children who scored highly on social skills in kindergarten, for instance, were four times more likely to obtain a college degree than kids who had scored at the low end of the scale.

The study's lead author, Damon Jones of Penn State, quoted by CNN, points out that social competence can be taught: "The research greatly shows that these are the type of skills that are malleable, in fact much more malleable than say something like IQ or other things that are more likely traits that are more ingrained." The authors believe the study raises an important issue: "How can we intervene earlier to help children who are behind in their social and emotional development?"

Pre-k and charter schools: Can they play well together?
Photo credit: Erin Brownfield
A new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute probes the question of why "the preschool and charter movements have grown up parallel to one another, never intersecting as often or as effectively as they could."

The report gives recommendations on how to make collaboration easier and more effective, as well as state-by-state profiles. California's climate for charter schools to offer pre-K is rated as "somewhat hospitable," reflecting the lack of regulatory barriers on the plus side, but the relatively low level of state pre-k funding as a barrier. To read the California profile click on this link and scroll down to download the pdf file.


Early Education News Briefs

Researchers found that students in full-day kindergarten outperform their half-day counterparts. Being in kindergarten also promotes early detection of hearing and vision problems, according to the University of Nevada School of Health Sciences.  


Read more

Ready to feel a pang of envy? Deepa Fernandes compares the Danish and Norwegian systems of early child care, which offer subsidized, high-quality early education, to child care costs and programs in California.  


Read or listen to the story from KPCC.  

A new study in the journal PLOS Biology finds a connection between how well children as young as three recognize consonants 

amid background noise,   

and whether they are at risk of reading delays when they are older.   


Read the full story at Huffington Post.

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