Ready News: June 28, 2019

Updates on the Perry Preschool Project

Recently, the Forum was delighted to hear about renewed interest in the active learning approach used by the Perry Preschool Project, highlighted by an NPR Morning Edition discussion.

The Perry Project began as a research study seeking the answer to whether access to high-quality education could have a positive impact on preschool children and the communities where they live. Under the visionary research guidance of psychologist David Weikart and the extraordinary dedication of Perry Elementary School principal Charles Eugene Beatty, 123 preschool children with risk factors for failing in school were randomly divided into two groups. One group entered a high-quality preschool program based on HighScope’s active learning approach, and a comparison group received no preschool education.

The Perry Project was conducted from 1962 to 1967, but led to a 50-year longitudinal study as researchers continue to follow the Perry Preschool participants throughout their lives in this landmark study that forever changed the trajectory of early education. In 1970, The Perry Preschool Project inspired Weikart to establish the HighScope Education Research Foundation and the HighScope Demonstration Preschool in 1971, which still serves 3- to 5-year-olds in a full-day program.

Weikart’s commitment to active learning was not limited to preschoolers.  In 1963, he and his wife established an educational camp for teens to demonstrate the transformative impact of a positive youth development approach.  No fewer than eight current and former Forum staff, including the Forum’s president & CEO, had the opportunity to work with Weikart at the camp. This groundbreaking approach was used with Michigan school districts in the 1980s to engage underachieving low-income students. The trainings, tools and longitudinal research from this adolescent work undergirds the work of the Forum’s Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality.

Learn more.

Review a recent evidence review of the project. 

Stay tuned for future commentary on this important work.

Implementing a Whole Child Approach: A Thought Leader Conversation with Jonathan Raymond

Free Conference Call and Discussion
Friday, July 12
1:00-2:00 PM EDT

How can schools, communities and families work together to support the whole child?

Jonathan Raymond, the former superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District and author of “Wildflowers: A Superintendent’s Challenge to America,” offers some simple advice:

“Make every decision from the perspective of what is best for children.”

Putting children and youth at the center is easy to say, but very hard to do. This may be one of the reasons that when polled, educators prefer specific descriptors like “social and emotional learning” (SEL) and “life skills” to open-ended ones like “whole child” and “youth development.” Jonathan’s language, however, is as expansive as his vision.

In this thought leader conversation, the Forum’s President & CEO Karen Pittman will sit down with Jonathan to look at the practical questions of:

  • How do we actually put children and youth at the center?
  • How do we strengthen adult capacity and commitment from the classroom to the citywide initiative?
  • How do we address the power imbalances that keep us tethered to old definitions of learning?
  • What can superintendents really do?

We hope you can join us.

Register now!

Results of the 2018 Opportunity Index

Where is opportunity in America? Every year, the Opportunity Index helps to answer this question. The nation’s overall opportunity score has improved by 1.2 percent since 2017, and twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia scored above the national Opportunity Score.

The Opportunity Index is an annual report developed by Opportunity Nation – a campaign of the Forum for Youth Investment – and Child Trends. The Index provides data that show what opportunity looks like in the United States.

Since 2011, the Index has provided a snapshot of conditions that can be used to identify and improve access to opportunity – in comprehensive terms – for residents and their communities. The data and full analysis online show how Opportunity Index scores have changed over time and what access to opportunity looks like today. The Index provides Opportunity Scores for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and 2,065 counties, which together represent 97 percent of the US population.

Learn more and find out your opportunity score.

Investing in Successful Summer Programs: A Review of Evidence Under the Every Student Succeeds Act

For many young people from low-income households, summer can be a time of losing ground to wealthier peers. Fortunately, summer can also be a time to make gains. Now, a new RAND report identifies programming that can help achieve that goal and be eligible for federal funding through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

“Investing in Summer Programs: A Systematic Review of Evidence Under the Every Student Succeeds Act” describes 43 summer programs with research that not only backs the programs’ effectiveness but is also rigorous enough to meet the top three of four tiers of evidence laid out in ESSA. This means they can qualify for a number of funding streams, including those in ESSA’s Title I section, a significant source of funding.

Summer is an opportune time to create programs that benefit children and youth, and we find evidence that many types of summer programs can be effective, the report says. The 43 programs cross the K-12 grade spectrum and span four categories: academic learning, career assistance, social-emotional wellbeing and at-home learning.

Review the report in the Wallace Foundation’s Knowledge Center.

Changemakers! Practitioners Advance Equity and Access in Out-of-School Time Programs

A foundational tenet of the out-of-school time (OST) field is that all youth deserve impactful and engaging learning experiences. That requires that organizations, programs and OST professionals remain responsive to the emerging needs of their diverse youth populations and the communities in which they live. A new book in the Current Issues in Out-of-School Time series, “Changemakers! Practitioners Advance Equity and Access in Out-of-School Time Programs,” illustrates the tensions that arise when organizations and OST professionals try to engage all youth, especially the traditionally underserved populations, when infrastructure, funding and mindsets have not kept pace with the evolving needs of youth and their communities. The issues raised in this book – funding, outreach, engagement of immigrant families – have yet to be fully explored with an equity lens. Within these broad topics, this book brings to the surface the equity and access challenges as well as posits solutions and strategies.

Each chapter is written from an insider’s perspective, by practitioners themselves, who articulate some of the key and relevant issues in the field. Each chapter ends with a Research-Practice Connection section written by the editors, which discusses the topic from a research lens and generates a set of questions that can be used by researchers in future studies to explore the topic in a more in-depth, expansive manner.

Learn more.