Narrowing the Achievement Gap Earlier
FRIDAY, MARCH 20 – Today, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley will bring together more than 250 Massachusetts child care providers and administrators to address risk factors threatening the school readiness of Massachusetts children. Research shows that the achievement gap emerges long before children enter kindergarten. Children that encounter a significant number of risk factors have a higher likelihood of falling behind other children in terms of social, emotional and cognitive developmental outcomes. As outlined in the Patrick Administration’s report Ready for 21st Century Success: The New Promise of Public Education, poverty is one of the most significant threats to school readiness and success in school.
The Child Assessment Institute is a statewide conference that aims to prepare child care professionals to identify areas of developmental concern in children as early as possible, determine the types of interventions that a child may need and evaluate whether those interventions are working.
The keynote speaker for the conference is Marsha Miller, a nationally renowned early childhood expert from Michigan, who will speak about conditions that influence school readiness for children living in poverty and highlight effective strategies that contribute to children’s long term school success. The training will focus on using research-based assessment tools to improve teaching and to track, evaluate and respond to the development of children prior to kindergarten.
In a demonstration pilot comprised of United Way’s network of agencies, professionals using research-based child assessment tools found that:
- Assessment tools helped teachers improve communication with parents about their children’s development.
- Programs that use assessment tools identified children’s special needs earlier helping to ensure that more children are referred to the services they need.
- During a United Way pilot, the number of referrals increased from less than 1% of children being referred to 6% of children being referred after teachers were trained to use assessment tools.