Archive for the ‘Early Learning’ Category

Delaware Remains Among Lowest States Providing Pre-K for Four-Year-Olds

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The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released its latest state rankings for pre-K enrollment, and, much like last year, Delaware landed toward the bottom at 36th in terms of providing access for four-year-olds. Less than 10 percent of Delaware four-year-olds are enrolled in state-sponsored pre-K.

 

Little has changed with Delaware’s NIEER standing since 2002 with preschool enrollment and spending per child relatively flat, while our state-funded pre-K (ECAP) has not been expanded since its inception in the 1990. The report correctly mentioned that the program expanded eligibility to include three-year-olds for the first time in 2017-2018, but Delaware is not yet serving three-year-olds in ECAP.

 

Make no mistake: Delaware has seen some great early learning progress over the last decade. But NIEER’s rankings put Delaware behind all of our neighboring states and many others across the country in terms of four-year-olds being served by state-supported pre-K.

And, when Head Start, special education, and ECAP are included, Delaware ranks 36th for enrollment of low-income students.

 

Three- and four-year-olds in Delaware attend a scattershot of pre-K offerings, if they attend at all. Some providers are funded through the state, some are private businesses, while others receive a mix of private and public funding. There is little coordination or alignment between various programs.

 

In Delaware and other states, state-funded pre-K typically carries higher standards than other childcare options when it comes to academics, staff (BAs for teachers and Child Development Associate degrees for assistants, as recommended by NIEER), and expectations on the students. And, as we’ve noted before, as we continue to align the pre-K and K-12 systems, we need to ensure as many kids as possible are coming to kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed.

 

This jibes with recent ELS data that show us nearly half of Delaware students are entering kindergarten behind the curve, signaling the need to increase access and quality of state-sponsored pre-K—and all early learning environments that support young people from birth.

 

The good news is there’s a lot of interest in Delaware to improve our ranking and serve more children.

 

  • Local and national studies agree—pre-K can have a big impact.
    • Secretary of Education Susan Bunting, who initiated the Project V.I.L.L.A.G.E. program in Indian River School District, found that English learner participants in pre-K outperformed their nonparticipating peers through high school.
    • A UD study demonstrated that ECAP participants were outperforming their nonparticipating peers through middle school.
    • Pre-K is one of the highest return on investments a state can make.
  • Delawareans support expansion.
    • 86 percent of Delawareans in a recent poll support expanding pre-K.
    • Delaware recently joined a national network focused on high quality pre-K expansion through CCSSO.
    • The Vision Coalition of Delaware in Student Success 2025 recommended to “establish and incrementally expand voluntary, full-day, high-quality prekindergarten for three- and four-year-olds.”
    • Districts across the state are expanding their programs, especially Colonial.
    • The Coalition for Our Kids has advocated for greater investment in ECAP.
  • And, it’s possible—we have a model. In the 2000s, Delaware implemented a 10-year, phased-in, full-day kindergarten requirement during which districts had the time to build facilities, raise the local funding required, hire teachers, and inform families. Pre-K could be done in much the same way, but with public and private settings, with community-based providers providing services as they do now.

 

Contact your legislator and the governor to encourage them to invest in high-quality pre-K.

 

As we’ve said many times on this blog, investments in quality early learning yield enormous returns, for students, families, and society as a whole.

Making Sense of the Federal Education Budget

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On March 23, Congress approved, and President Trump signed, a $1.3 trillion appropriations bill that will fund the federal government through September 30, 2018.

 

This funding bill wasn’t easy to come by—it took several short-term extensions to fund the government, as well as a two-year deal on the overall budget caps.

 

The Rodel team combed through the budget lines pertaining to education and considered what it might mean to Delaware.

 

 

In Early Care and Education:

 

Federal budget: A $2.4 billion increase to Child Development Block Grant (for a total of $5.2 billion)  

 

What it means for Delaware: This will mean about $6.4 million in flexible spending to Delaware. The Delaware Early Childhood Council will inform how it gets spent.

 

Federal budget: A $610 million (or seven percent) increase of to Head Start (for a total of $9.9 billion)

 

What it means for Delaware: Early childhood programs that help low-income families access daycare will get a boost.

 

 

 

In K-12 Wraparound Supports:

 

Federal budget: A $700 million increase for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (for a total of $1.1 billion)

 

What it means for Delaware: Additional funding will be available through Title IV block grants. The grants developed under ESSA provide states with a flexible way to spend federal dollars to help students receive a well-rounded education. Funding could be used to improve school climate and culture, promote effective use of technology, to support school counseling, mental health, and safety. In Delaware’s ESSA plan, the state aims to use Title IV Part A funds to offer technical assistance and training to districts and charters for academic enrichment and student support programs.

 

Federal budget: A $20 million increase for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (afterschool programs) (up to $1.2 billion)

 

What it means for Delaware: Delaware will be eligible for additional grant funding to support things like homework assistance, meals, and academic enrichment activities. Delaware has a number of these programs running across the state, providing before- and after-school activities, including remedial education, tutoring services, counseling, and programs for at-risk students.

 

 

In Higher Education: 

 

Federal budget: Sufficient funding to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $175 for a total of $6,095; $107 million (10-percent) funding increase for Federal Work-Study and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (for a total of $840 million)

What it means for Delaware: These increases will help make college more affordable for low-income students, helping to address inequities.

 

Federal budget: $60 million increase for TRIO, for a total of $1.01 billion and $10 million increase for GEAR UP college preparation programs for a total of $350 million

What it means for Delaware: Delaware will be eligible for additional competitive funding available for programming designed to support low-income, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress from middle school through postsecondary and career.

 

Federal budget: $350 million for a new discretionary relief fund for borrowers to receive public service loan forgiveness

 

What it means for Delaware: This temporary expansion of the relief fund program is intended to reach individuals who would have otherwise been eligible for the program (which allows eligible borrowers to earn loan forgiveness by working in public service and by making 120 qualifying payments) but were not enrolled in a qualifying repayment program.

 

 

 

In Workforce Development:

 

Federal budget: $75 million increase in career and technical education (CTE) state grants under the Carl Perkins Act

 

What it means for Delaware: This increase to support CTE programs will be allocated to states based on the federal-to-state formula.

 

Federal budget: $145 million for Apprenticeship Grants, a $50 million increase

 

What it means for Delaware: These dollars represent competitive funding that Delaware could apply for, which would help expand the types and availability of registered apprenticeship programs available for Delaware residents.

 

Federal budget: $2.8 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Grants to states, an $80 million increase

 

What it means for Delaware: Additional funding will be available through state formula grants for adult programs, youth programs, and dislocated worker programs. The in-school and out-of-school youth funds can be used to support youth with one or more barriers to employment to prepare for post-secondary education and employment opportunities, attain educational and/or skills training credentials, and secure employment.

5 Headscratchers About Kindergarten Registration in Delaware

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Kindergarten registration in Delaware is a notoriously confusing process for parents, with piles of paperwork that differ from district to district and charter to charter, along with varying deadlines for registration and school choice.

 

There is some hope on the horizon, as for the first time,  the Delaware Readiness Teams have taken the lead to help simplify the information for families (in English and Spanish) to help them complete the process on time.

 

But in the meantime, here are just five hazards relating to kindergarten registration in the First State.

 

  1. There is no single deadline. Delaware districts and schools have different registration timelines. Did you know that the deadline for choice closes in January? If families want to participate in choice, they need to first register in their “feeder” district. Knowing when to register your child for kindergarten is important so your family can plan accordingly.
  2. Dozens of students in single districtshundreds across the stateregister after school has started. Children’s transitions should be supportive of learning and the social and emotional supports needed to make learning happen. Learning about other students, classroom expectations, and what is to come is a big part of a successful transition.
  3. Schools often don’t have accurate intel on expected incoming students and are not prepared for additional students. This requires schools to form additional classrooms and hire teachers after the start of the school year, which is disruptive for children adjusting to school settings for the first time.
  4. When they register late, students miss out on valuable learning time. If students are not in school, they are not learning.One in 10 Kindergarten student miss nearly a month of school each year. Low-income students are four times more likely to be chronically absent, and kindergarten students who miss more than 10 percent of learning time perform much lower on fifth grade reading scores.
  5. Each district and charter has a different process and criteria for collecting data. With 28 districts and charters in the state that offer kindergarten, it is difficult to navigate the registration process for each one. There are various sources of information, varying timelines, and several forms for parents to fill out—by hand. Common questions include:
    • How do I know what school my child should attend?
    • Where to I register?
    • What paperwork do I need to complete?
    • Where do I find this information and where do I need to go? Can I do it online?

 

But fret not. Connect with the Delaware Readiness Teams to skip the headaches and get the info you need. Or better yet—join a team and help support families and children in your community during this important phase of life. Check us out online, follow us on Facebook, attend an event, and get in touch.

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