Archive for the ‘Early Learning’ Category

Budget Woes Dominate Legislative Session

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The Delaware General Assembly ended its session this year on an interesting quirk and plenty of frustration. After going past the June 30 budget deadline for the first time in decades, the legislative session officially concluded in the early morning hours of July 2nd, after a required extended time window, and a contentious budget negotiation. In years past, education policy issues have dominated the legislature’s agenda, but a sizable deficit and tense budget negotiations resulted in an attention shift.

Delaware’s tough financial outlook, plagued by revenue shortfalls, dominated the activity in the legislature. The negotiations became so difficult that the General Assembly did not adopt a budget during its marathon last day of session, instead coming back on July 2nd to adopt a final budget.

When the FY 2018 budget was signed on July 3rd by Governor John Carney, it included significant implications to education.

  • While the State Board of Education was not eliminated, as was originally proposed in March, all of its funding was cut. This leaves an unclear future for the State Board given the potential loss of its operating staff.
  • Within School District Operations, there was a reduction of $26 million that will be effective on July 1st. District and charters will submit reductions plans to the Department of Education and the Office of Management and Budget by October 31 to define how they will implement these cuts to their operations budget. The reduction in funds will be allocated proportionally to districts and charter schools based on the Division 1 unit count.
  • The Teacher Leader Pilot program—which aimed to support educator career paths and inform instructional practice—was eliminated, resulting in an overall reduction to Teacher Compensation Reform in the amount of $800,000.
  • After facing both proposed cuts and increases throughout session, early childhood initiatives, which includes tiered reimbursements, or higher payments for programs that reach higher levels of quality in the Delaware Stars Quality Rating and Improvement System, were funded at $4.3 million more than FY17. However, it is unclear at this time exactly how resources will be directed based on the following epilogue language: “For FY18, no new program applications will be accepted and all current Delaware Stars for Early Success participants at S Levels 2, 3 and 4 will be held at their current level.”
  • College Access programs—like dual-enrollment sub-grants, PSAT sessions, and College Application Month—were considered for significant reductions. While some scholarship funds were ultimately eliminated, the programs saw only a $100,000 cut once the dust finally settled on the budget.
  • Finally, $1 million has been allocated to provide Opportunity Grants. This funding will provide up to 10 competitive sub-grants to districts and charters for the purpose of providing integrated student services and trauma-informed supports to low-income students or to providing other additional supports to low-income and English language learner students based on the needs of those students during the 2017-18 school year.

Several other items were reduced, including World Language Expansion, Parents as Teachers, Department of Education staffing, and pass-throughs to programs at institutions of higher education.

While the budget took up most of the spotlight, several other education-related bills gained attention.

Multiple bills were introduced to curb high school dropout rates. Rep. Sean Matthews pursued HB23, which requires any student who wishes to drop out before the age of 16 to complete an exit interview, along with their parents and school personnel, to review the disadvantages to not having a high school diploma. Parents would then have to provide written consent. This bill passed overwhelmingly, and was subsequently signed into law by Gov. Carney. Several other dropout prevention bills were introduced this year but did not make it to the governor’s desk. Ideas included raising the minimum age of school attendance (HB17 and HB55) and reducing truancy by requiring a parent conference after a student misses five days of school (HB 24).

School choice was also a key issue.

  • Kim Williams leads the Enrollment Preferences Task Force and is committed to acting on the recommendations outlined in their Report. To address geographic enrollment preferences, Rep. Williams pursued a controversial bill, HS 1 to HB 85, to remove a provision that gives preference to students who reside within a five-mile radius of a charter school. Detractors of this bill cite concerns of discrimination. While the bill would open up more options for students and families, it would not change the enrollment preference for applicants who live in the geographically contiguous part of the school’s district. This means that in-demand schools like Newark Charter School could give preference to enrollees who live in the Newark part of the Christina School District—but would not have to extend the same advantage to applicants who live in the Wilmington section of the district. While Newark Charter School is only one of the schools utilizing the five-mile preference it received most of the attention. This bill passed both the House and the Senate and currently awaits the governor’s signature.
  • As a follow-up, Rep. Williams introduced HB 269, which aligns the timelines, processes, and procedures for choice for school districts, vocational-technical school districts, and charter schools. This bill was introduced late in the session and will be considered in early 2018.

And, a bill addressing new educators and educator candidates came forward. In 2016, Sen. David Sokola sponsored SB 199 which created a one-year “provisional” license for teacher applicants who have not yet met the performance assessment requirement. The bill basically increased the time that an educator is considered to be a “novice,” from a three-year time period to a four-year time period. The intention was to allow additional mentoring supports for Delaware’s early career educators and to enable more high-quality teachers to enter our local workforce through other states and alternative teacher training models. This session, Rep. Williams introduced HS1 for HB143, which aims to remove the provisional license and re-establish the three-tiered licensure system. Some districts claimed the one-year requirement to complete a performance assessment placed a burden on out-of-state applicants and caused difficulty in hiring. Under the new three-tiered system, an initial license provides two years for the licensee to obtain a passing score on an approved performance assessment and eliminates the general knowledge exam. This bill has been signed by the governor.

Not surprisingly, school finance was also a recurring theme.

  • Earl Jaques proposed SCR 39, which will create a task force to study school district consolidation. There are questions about how much money consolidation would really save, but the task force will spend the fall researching possible answers, including whether or not consolidation is feasible and if so, how we might proceed.
  • As taxpayers across the Delaware continue tightening their belts, school districts are finding increasingly harder to pass referendums. In response, Rep. Jaques proposed legislation (HB 213) to allow school districts to raise taxes simply by the rate of inflation without having to seek a referendum. This legislation did not move forward and remains in the House Education Committee in hopes of being worked when the legislature returns in January 2018.

For the third straight year, Rep. John Kowalko pursued an “opt-out” bill. This session, HB 60 would’ve allowed parents to hold their children out of the statewide annual assessment. While the bill was considered in the House Education Committee, it failed to gain the necessary votes to be released to the full House for consideration.

This is only a snapshot of the action in the legislature this past year. Reference this appendix for a full list of education-related bills, and be sure to visit our Legislative Monitor. We also encourage you to join the conversation and become an advocate in Delaware public education. Attend a meeting of one of the many education-related committees underway. Scheduled meetings can be found on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar.

March 2017 Teacher Newsletter

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Teacher Voice & Opportunities to Support Students

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Teacher Voice & Opportunities to Support Students

The Rodel Teacher Council Wants To Hear From You



The Rodel Teacher Council is studying social and emotional learning (SEL) in Delaware and the nation and needs your input! Please take 15 minutes to share your knowledge of, attitudes, and beliefs toward SEL through this online survey. Individual responses will be kept confidential and will not be attributed to individuals.

 

Your responses will be compiled to create a clearer picture for educators and policymakers of what practices and programs are happening now and what else might be needed to make sure every child is supported socially, emotionally, and academically. The survey closes on March 17.

Complete The Survey Here

Conference Opportunities &
Requests for Input

Early Career Teacher Survey (Survey Closes Mar. 10)
Delaware’s Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow, Robyn Howton, is conducting a brief survey of second and third year teachers to better understand their experiences. The purpose of the survey is to better understand how teacher preparation programs can prepare teacher candidates for the realities of the classroom. After completing the six question survey, fill out the subsequent form for the opportunity to win one of three $50 Amazon gift cards.
Delaware’s 23rd Annual Inclusion Conference (Mar. 15, Dover)
The ​Inclusion ​Conference ​is ​designed ​to ​address ​the ​needs ​of ​educators, ​parents, ​policymakers, ​service ​providers, ​and ​child ​care ​providers ​involved ​with ​or ​interested ​in ​promoting ​inclusion ​for ​all ​from ​birth ​to ​21.

2017 LRNG Innovators Challenge (Applications due Mar. 16)
LRNG Innovators has a new grant challenge, inviting educators to imagine engaging ways to help young people explore their interests, igniting a passion that can lead to college, to a career, or having a positive impact on their community. Proposals may include programs, curricula, or projects that actively assist youth to discover interests connecting the spheres of their lives, both in and out of school, and provide potential future opportunities.

3rd Annual Delaware Pathways Conference (Mar. 29, Wilmington)
Partners throughout Delaware are collaborating to help students prepare for life after graduation. Join leaders from business, education, and state and community organizations at the Annual Delaware Pathways Conference, and explore how Delaware’s workforce system is to guiding young people toward meaningful career and postsecondary experiences. Attendees will hear from legislators on the future of Delaware Pathways; business leaders who offer work-based learning opportunities; community organizations who are focusing on programs for youth; and students who will share their Pathways stories.

Blended and Personalized Learning Conference (Mar. 31, Providence, RI)
This event is a chance for educators and leaders to discuss blended learning as it exists today on the ground – both in terms of the day-to-day implementation in blended classrooms, and the strategies and systems that have effectively supported replication and scale across schools and districts. Hosted by the Highlander Institute with program support from the Christensen Institute and the Learning Accelerator, the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference enjoys strong endorsements from the education community.

Making A Difference Conference (Mar. 31, Dover)
The Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children partners each spring with Delaware Head Start Association (DHSA), with support from Delaware Department of Education for the annual Making A Difference in Early Childhood: A Conference for Early Childhood Professionals.

ECET2 Delaware Recap
Educators from all across Delaware descended on the DelTech Terry Campus for a day of teacher-led training and celebration.







The first-ever ECET2 Delaware: Connecting Innovative Educators brought together teachers from across the state for an inspirational and empowering day of teacher-led and teacher-focused programming.

Over the course of six hours, attendees celebrated teacher leadership, learned about innovative classroom practices, explored technology in the classroom at the demo lab, and built connections with other educators. All sessions were led by teachers.

ECET2 stands for Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Teacher 2 Teacher, the national movement has spurred more than 111 regional convenings in 27 host states, and over 19,000 teachers have attended an ECET2 event.

10 Must Read Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Personalized Learning Tip of the Month

This playbook shares the findings of three researchers who set off to discover what K–12 schools can learn from the best-run organizations in America.

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Close the Word Gap and Build Stronger Brains with Language Nutrition

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Investing in Education
It’s not just kids, parents, and teachers who feel the impact of our public schools. If you’re a citizen of Delaware, then you are—in one way or another—affected by our state’s education system. Check back regularly as we take a closer look at how When Students Succeed, We All Win.

 

Differences in the size of a child’s vocabulary first appear at 18 months—and are correlated with education and income. Dana Suskind, author of the book “Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain,” offers a more comprehensive look at the word gap and what it means for student success.

 

Words and interactions are incredibly valuable to the rapidly developing brain of an infant. They’re so valuable that some early literacy initiatives have begun calling it “language nutrition.”

3 Implications for Our Kids and Community

 

  1. Interactions are key in the first few years of a child’s life. According to Harvard University’s Center of the Developing Child, parents can positively influence their children’s brain development through “serve and return interactions.” This means that when an infant or child cries, babbles, or gestures, the adult responds with eye contact, words, and touching. These interactions help build neural connections that support the child’s communication and social skills. Check out this video to see more on serve and return.
  1. Frequent, positive interactions and words matter. Higher income parents spend almost a half-hour more daily talking, interacting, or reading with their children than low-income parents. It’s not just the amount of words, it’s the type too. Positive, affirmative phrases (“please walk” versus prohibitive phrases such as “don’t run”) also have an impact on the child’s language development and a child’s stress level.

 

  1. The word gap matters for student academic and lifetime success. For many low-income early learners who get less face-to-face interaction (reading and speaking together), that means a higher probability of being less successful in grade school, dropping out of high school, and earning less income. To combat this, researchers are calling for programs that start earlier and that equip parents with what they need to bridge the word gap. One program called Starling is trying to do just that by partnering with nonprofits, government, daycares, schools, and other community organization to promote a device that counts words so parents and caregivers can track how much they are talking to their child. And home visiting programs, such as Nurse Family Partnership and Parents as Teachers, help families learn and practice skills to build their children’s brains.

 

Take Action

 

  • Share QT30 (Quality Time 30 Minutes) with families with young children. Delaware Thrives promotes “serve and return” among parents through age appropriate activities that encourage early childhood development.

 

 

  • Check out Parents as Teachers. Parents as Teachers programs happen across the state. The Christina Early Education Center is one example of this free early learning resource that provides parents with information on child development and activities that help build your child’s cognitive and motor skills.

 

Check-out the Rodel website to learn more about Delaware education policy issues from Early Learning to college and career readiness.

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