Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our Future Workforce: Kids

At a meeting recently of the Bay Area Community Council, we heard some eye-opening statistics about the importance of Birth-to-5 education from Sue Vincent, exec. dir. of Encompass child care and head of Start Smart:
• Brain (i.e., learning) development has to be actively nurtured beginning at birth ... or it’s very likely development will be stunted and never catch up later on! If a child’s vocabulary is “behind” at age 3, it will be behind in First Grade ... and will most likely still be behind at 11th grade. The U.S. ranks 21st in developed countries in supporting this development. “According to literacy expert Andrew Biemiller, ‘Vocabulary at age 3 predicts first grade reading success; first grade vocabulary predicts 11th grade reading level.’”
Some stats:
• By Age 3, children of parents on welfare have a vocabulary foundation of about 500 words, of working class parents, 700 words, and of college-educated parents, 1200 words. Reading to your child matters!
• By Age 5, a child’s brain reaches 85% of its adult weight, developing 700 neural synapses (the connections that help learning) every second.
• Of 50 children who have trouble reading in first grade, 44 of them still have trouble in fourth grade.
• Children who are chronically hungry (think at risk schools, students using the federal free breakfast/free lunch funding) are more likely to be in special ed, to repeat a grade, to get into fights, and to have lower test scores. It can cost up to four times as much to educate a child who doesn’t have enough to eat compared to one who does.
• “Researchers ... found that ‘extra talk’ -- where parents ask questions and use a large vocabulary to elaborate and extend what children are doing or saying -- is strongly connected to emotional and social growth, and creates a positive relationships with the child. The richness of language children are exposed to appears to be a cornerstone of emotional, social and intellectual development.” (Hart & Risley)

Some other learnings:
From Green Bay School Superintendent Greg Maass:
• He wrote his graduate thesis on leadership. Today, he is “strongly challenging our accountability measures within schools. I am now looking for better leadership capability at the school principal level. There’s a difference between being a good administrator and a leader. We need to develop and emphasize the latter more.”
• He’s gone to a “professional learning communications” model, where teachers meet regularly with their grade and/or specialty peers, share results, share practices, and make changes.

From NWTC CEO Jeff Rafn:
• A quarter of his 43,000 students come from each of these age brackets: 18-25, 26-35, 36-50, and 51+. Very surprising. A much older skewing “student’ body than suspected.
• Only 17% of jobs today require only a high school education. Fully 83% require learning beyond high school.
• NWTC”s English Language Learning program supports over 39 different languages this year.

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