2013 News


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Portland Pursues Coordinated Planning for Early Childhood Education

Portland, Oregon

06/2013 Dr. Kim Atwill of Griffin Center has joined the All Hands Raised community collaborative working throughout Multnomah County Oregon with the goal of coordinating and streamlining efforts to improve the educational outcomes of children ‘cradle to career’, with one focus being the quality of early childhood services.

In early 2012, All Hands Raised worked with Social Venture Partners Portland, in cooperation with Multnomah County and Portland State University, to produce a summary report entitled “Disparities in Multnomah County Kindergarten Readiness: Which Children is Our System Failing?” Paralleling existing state and national research, this report documented the demographics—socio-economic, physical and relational risk-factors—of children from Multnomah County who are frequently not prepared for kindergarten. Children were identified as educationally disadvantaged if entering kindergarten with one or more of these five risk factors: low income household, single parent household, parents with low education attainment (i.e., high school or less), non-white and/or Hispanic, and having limited English proficiency.

From this work, the “Ready for Kindergarten” (R4K) collaborative was born and has since built on these results and identified four specific strategies to help children enter kindergarten ready to learn:
1. Universal access to prenatal care
2. Availability of and participation in quality child care
3. Participate in early childhood/Head Start Program
4. Increase percent enrollment in full day kindergarten

The R4K collaborative met throughout the 2012-2013 school year with leaders from the community—parents, business leaders, educators, and university staff—to formulate long-term solutions to these identified areas of need. In May 2013, the collaborative initiated its first of a two-step countywide effort to prepare children for kindergarten: Community-based Parent-child learning. To launch this effort, the collaborative held a book and supply drive to provide materials for young children to use with their parents prior to kindergarten entry. They followed up in June with a drive to increase the number of children enrolled in kindergarten early—in June and July.

 

School Arts Survey Indicates Widespread Inequities between Title I and Non-Title I Schools

Los Angeles, California

 

5/2013. Nearly one-third of Los Angeles school districts (24) now have a baseline measurement of their arts programs, by participating in the Los Angeles County School Arts Survey. The survey, which was developed and administrated by Griffin Center for Inspired Instruction for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, specifically measures the quality and equity of access to arts education programming for all students. The survey implemented in 2010 and 2012, and the latest results continue to indicate the students attending non-Title I schools have more access and higher quality arts learning experiences than those attending Title I schools. In addition, the findings strongly suggest that without adequately trained arts instructors on staff, it is difficult for schools to make a significant change in the quality of their arts programs. The next survey implementation will take place in 2013-2104. 

 

Early literacy Program Positively Impacts American Indian Students

Box Elder, Montana

 

01/2013. Griffin Center’s Dr. Kim Atwill first visited the Rocky Boy Head Start in August 2008. At that time, classrooms had minimal literacy materials, scoring an average of 19 out of 41 points possible on the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation (ELLCO) checklist, and three fourths of the children served were entering kindergarten unprepared to learn to read and write. This was the beginning of the RB Coalition Early Reading First project funded through the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the Rocky Boy School District in Rocky Boy, Montana, to improve the emergent literacy skills of American Indian children on the Rocky Boy Reservation. The RB Coalition includes nine participating classrooms housed in two centers, Brittany Raining Bird and Early Childhood Education, serving 150 three- or four-year-old children annually.

 

After four years of intensive, hand-over-hand mentoring and professional development, the classrooms consistently score at or above 38 on the ELLCO, and two-thirds of the children are entering kindergarten prepared. 

 

Four years ago, the program had minimal curriculum and curricular materials, and now staff from all nine preschool classrooms have learned how to implement the ten critical curricular activities. Staff have begun the transition from learning what to teach to learning how to teach.

More progress is needed, but the instructional staff and the administration have experienced first-hand the impact a systematic, structured program can have.

 

The internal supports are present to sustain this program by continuing to implement the curriculum, including:
– curriculum kits for nine units in each classroom;
– theme-based boxes with literacy support materials in the four-your-old rooms;
– additional books to increase the total number per classroom to 100;
– reproducible curricular materials;
– lesson plan templates aligned with the curriculum;
– curriculum checklist for the classroom; 
– observation checklist;
– professional development DVD with the ten critical activities demonstrated and explained.