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Policy, Politics, Statistics

Preschool in the news

President Obama's 2014 State of the Union speech put preschool in the spotlight. Obama challenged Congress to build on programs that exist in 30 states to provide high-quality preschool for every child. "Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education," he said.

A wide divide

Have you ever thought of how the digital world influences us — and by extension, our children?

A number of recent articles made me rethink access, about the use and popularity of digital books by young readers (and their parents), and about what and how is presented in them in both mediums.

A new book for your professional reading, at a discount!

Important professional books — you know, the sort you need to have close at hand, come along every once in a while. We've gathered many of those titles in our Research by Topic section. Look for those listed under Foundational Research.

Third grade again?

If you've been following the news, you may have read about proposed state legislation (in Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and Tennessee) that would make students repeat third grade if they can't pass the state reading exams.

Reading scores, and a closer look at urban scores

Most of us are familiar with the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), whose scores form the Nation's Report Card. The most recent Report Card came out in March 2010, and scores suggested students reading performance from 2007 to 2009 remained essentially flat. As before, almost a third of the nation's fourth graders performed Below Basic, and for subgroups, the failure rate is even higher: 52% of black students, 51% of Hispanic students, and 49% of students in poverty all scored Below Basic.

School size matters

The elementary school my girls go to recently underwent a huge renovation to accommodate predicted growth in our area. In addition to the growth, about 100 kids are being redistricted to our school because the other local school is overcrowded. Our school will be opening with over 500 kids this fall, a much larger population than we've had in the past.

Year round school: What do you think?

I read with interest this story from the Washington Post that describes one family's experience with year round school.

As a Mom who juggles work and young kids, the transition to summer for my family is nothing short of absolutely chaotic. My house has become nothing but bags (one for camp, one for swim team, one for bug spray and sunscreen, etc) and wet towels from the pool. We've been out of school since June 5 and we've yet to find our summer groove.

What is a high-quality preschool?

Around our town, parents of preschoolers are busy observing in classrooms and filling out lengthy application forms for next year's preschool. Most of our preschools have a $25–$40 application fee and waiting lists a mile long, so it's a process that many undertake cautiously and anxiously.

Same thing next year? Grade retention.

We're approaching the fourth grading period at our school, which leads some teachers and parents to think about whether a struggling child should be retained. It's never an easy conversation to have.

Kindergarten: Half or full day?

One of my blog posts that got people talking was the one about our decision to enroll Anna in kindergarten as a 5 year old (rather than waiting until she turned 6). Both our girls have summer birthdays; we waited to send our older daughter, but wrestled with the same decision for our younger daughter.

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase