Education Week - March 6, 2013 - (Page 27)

EDUCATION WEEK Why STEM Education Must Start in Early Childhood CONTINUED FROM PAGE 32 Kali Ciesemier natural-born scientists and engineers. Like stem, investment in early-childhood education is a workforcepipeline issue. Research has shown that high-quality pre-K cuts the rate of children being held back a grade in half; decreases juvenile arrests by a third; and increases high school attendance by a third, college attendance by a whopping 80 percent, and employment by 23 percent. High-quality early-learning environments provide children with a structure in which to build upon their natural inclination to explore, to build, and to question. There is an exciting and powerful link between stem and early childhood. Research confirms that the brain is particularly receptive to learning math and logic between the ages of 1 and 4, and that early math skills are the most powerful predictors of later learning. Research from the University of California, Irvine, confirms that early math skills are a better predictor of later academic success than early reading is. The study found that in a comparison of math, literacy, and social-emotional skills at kindergarten entry, “early math concepts, Tracing Technology’s Unintended K-12 Consequences CONTINUED FROM PAGE 25 the nation. Phrases like “hitting the books” may soon be nonexistent as budgets for e-readers chip away at the book budgets for school libraries. An electronic book has a lot of appeal: It is cheaper to manufacture, lighter to carry, and even manages to reduce a student’s carbon footprint. Since students are so comfortable with touchscreen methods, it stands to reason that reading may actually come more easily when learned through an electronic device. The problem again is not that the technology harms the actual learning me- such as knowledge of numbers and ordinality, were the most powerful predictors of later learning.” If math skills are such an important component of academic success, but people would rather be cleaning their bathrooms or eating broccoli, I’d say we have a problem. Math skills and other stem competencies are important to the country’s long-term competitiveness because today’s young children are tomorrow’s workforce. Workers who are fluent in these competencies will be more prepared and qualified to fill the jobs that our innovation economy demands. This concept is integrated into the Massachusetts education system, beginning at the earliest stages. The strategic plan of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care officially recognizes that “inquiry and exploration are foundations for math and science and are also the foundations for early learning.” The department’s commissioner, Sherri Killins, has made remarkable strides in linking stem and early childhood by encouraging stem professional-development opportunities for earlychildhood educators, aligning state standards and frameworks by ensuring a pre-K component to math and science standards, and intentionally integrating stem into daily activities with students through curricula and quality measurements through the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. Massachusetts has engaged in productive partnerships with the private sector as well, including tens of thousands of dollars in donated hardware and software from ibm to support the state’s implementation of its Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant from the federal government. Other companies, like National Grid, John Hancock, and JP Morgan Chase are also supporting efforts in the state to explore innovative ways to bolster the early childhood workforce. And why wouldn’t they? International competition for talent is getting stiffer. As the Center for American Progress and the Center for the Next Generation study points out, “half of U.S. children get no early-childhood education, and we have no national strategy to increase enrollment,” while China, for example, has plans to enroll 40 million children in preschool, an increase of 50 percent, by 2020. Just for some context, there are a total of about 24 million children from birth to age 5 in the United States. By 2030, China will have 200 million college graduates, more than the entire U.S. workforce. Which gets back to the original point: Where are employers going to find workers? To remain competitive in the global economy, investment is needed to ensure a workforce pipeline that would rather engage in science, technology, engineering, and math than cleaning bathrooms and eating broccoli. And the best way to shore up that pipeline is to start investing in it early. n chanics, but that it raises new issues about how one learns. When we read for pleasure, most of us are seeking a form of transportation. We feel a special interest in a particular subject matter. Excitement. A chance to escape reality. People who love to read have an interactive relationship with the material. Cracking open a fresh book is an experience unlike any other. Kids who are introduced to literature in the same way that they learn math problems, or have video calls with grandparents, or play noneducational games do not have the same reverence for reading, because it is nothing special. I’ve heard the argument that it is not the delivery method but the content that matters in getting kids excited about reading, but I’m not sure I’m biting. Again, this is an issue that is still too young to judge definitively. It is just one instance of the indirect impact of rapidly advancing technology that keeps me up at night. So what, then, is the answer? If technology is embraced by some and rejected by others, how can elementary and secondary school students be expected to know the right way to learn? It seems that the answers are about as clear as mud. I believe that technology has provided the swift kick that K-12 education has needed for decades to make the sweeping adjustments required to reach contemporary students and inspire education. I am just not sure yet which traditional teaching elements deserve to be clung to and which ones are meant for the curb. The debate of how best to prepare our children for a lifetime of achievement is one I believe deserves constant attention in order to give young students the best shot at academic—and life— success. n n MARCH 6, 2013 n 27 Customization Is Key To School-Safety Plans LETTERS to the EDITOR K-12 Experience Must Be Expanded To the Editor: Thank you for your Commentary, David T. Conley (“What’s in a Name?,” Jan. 23, 2013). I lead organizations composed of researchers, professional developers, and practitioners focused on researching, assessing, and teaching key social-emotional measures related to academic success. Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, educators have focused on the most obvious approach: improving academic achievement by teaching better and more rigorous educational content more effectively. However, the focus on the most obvious neglects what is equally obvious: Students learn only when they cognitively associate their academic activity as important and relevant to them personally, and proactively build the necessary socialemotional skills (such as academic confidence, stress management, and positive connections to teachers) to assure their academic success. The problem is that focusing exclusively on the most obvious hasn’t moved us toward improved academic outcomes, especially for our lower-socioeconomic students. The data are pretty clear that the status-quo focus on the most obvious in K-12 education will work for students who have their own sense of academic selfefficacy, motivation, and/ or a focused, interested, educationally established parent or caregiver. That status quo is obviously not working for the rest—which, judging by graduation rates, is arguably at least 25 percent to 50 percent of the population we are trying to serve. Accordingly, we must increase the understanding and practical application of the equally obvious by expanding the K-12 classroom experience to teach what Mr. Conley defines as “the full range of behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs students [can] demonstrate while engaging in the learning process.” We remain devoted to that task and welcome such partnerships. Steven Weigler Chief Executive Officer ScholarCentric and the Center for Academic Resiliency Research Denver, Colo. To the Editor: In his remarks to the nation on Jan. 16, President Barack Obama offered a wide range of ideas to make schools safer. One component of his safeschools plan is to ensure that all schools have a comprehensive emergency-management plan, and he directed his administration to develop a set of model emergencymanagement protocols. These model plans will presumably supplement guidance published in 2006 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center and follow the guidance of the federal government’s National Incident Management System. While this previous guidance provides a reasonably broad framework for such protocols, our recent review of emergencymanagement plans found them lacking the detail necessary to make them effective. Districts generally assume responsibility for developing an emergency-management plan. However, every school has unique security considerations, and so districtlevel protocols are generally not sufficiently customized to be comprehensive. For example, response time is a critical factor for emergency planning. A school with a response time of 45 minutes will have a greater need to maintain internal resources than a school with a five-minute response time. The layout of the school facility as well as numerous other factors can also have an impact on the requirements of an emergency plan. Existing school-level plans need to recognize these differences. The federal government can provide models, but such models will not make schools safer unless local officials tailor them to specific circumstances in each school. In addition, establishing voluntary standards and ratings for school emergencymanagement protocols would provide school officials, parents, and other stakeholders with information about the quality of their schools’ plans. Donald J. Cymrot Vice President of Education Stephen E. Rickman Director of Justice Programs CNA Alexandria, Va. Previously, Mr. Rickman served as the director of the District of Columbia Office of Emergency Preparedness (1990-1995) and the director of readiness for the White House Office of Homeland Security (2002). PAGE 28 >

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 6, 2013

Education Week - March 6, 2013
Los Angeles School Board Race Shatters Spending Records
Feds, States Dicker Over Evaluations
Governors Take Varied Routes in Boosting Aid
Principal Appraisals Get a Remake
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study: Best and Worst Teachers Can Be Flagged Early
FOCUS ON: PRESCHOOL: Obama Preschool Proposal Stirs Debate Over Training
Principals Lack Training in Shaping School Climate
KIPP Outpacing Regular Public Schools, Study Finds
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Wisconsin Data-Contract Fight Goes Public With Ad Campaign
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Pew Survey Gauges Teachers’ Attitudes About Tech., Equity
Blogs of the Week
Voting Rights Act Case Has Stakes for Districts
Back Home, Top Lawmaker Gets Earful on K-12 Policy
Policy Brief
Sequestration and Education: Frequently Asked Questions
9 California Districts Seek Own NCLB Waiver
House Panel Weighs School Safety Concerns
MATTHEW LYNCH: Tracing Technology’s Unintended K-12 Consequences
ANITA KRISHNAMURTHI: Recognizing the Impact of After-School STEM
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JD CHESLOFF: Why STEM Education Must Start In Early Childhood

Education Week - March 6, 2013