Early Childhood Education Issue Areas

Early childhood education and development is essential at IEL because it establishes a strong foundation for learning and well being that research has consistently shown not only benefits children throughout schooling but is also linked to positive outcomes for adult life. The Coalition for Community Schools partners with three national early learning initiatives to promote student attendance and reading proficiency as well as to prevent summer learning loss.

Building Adult Capabilities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change
This  video depicts a theory of change from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University for achieving breakthrough outcomes for vulnerable children and families. It describes the need to focus on building the capabilities of caregivers and strengthening the communities that together form the environment of relationships essential to children’s lifelong learning, health, and behavior, especially when they are younger. 


Early Chronic Absence

The Importance of Being in School, a report released in 2012, reveals that chronic absence is a hidden national crisis. An estimated 7.5 million students across the United States are missing at least 10 percent of the school year, but their absenteeism is not being noticed or acted upon because it is masked by data on average attendance and truancy (unexcused absences). Chronically absent students are found in virtually every type of community—urban, suburban or rural. The problem of poor attendance can start early, long before middle or high school. Nationwide, one out of 10 kindergartners and first graders are chronically absent. In some communities, as many as one out of four young students miss that much school.

Whether absences are excused or not, the resulting loss of instructional time is substantial and, for many students, the academic consequences are decidedly negative. Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade and are more likely to have poor attendance in later grades. By middle and high school, chronic absence is a proven early warning sign that a student will drop out. This is especially true for those students living in poverty who need school the most and are sometimes getting the least.

Our partner: Attendance Works

Reading on Grade Level by the end of Third Grade

One of the most important predictors of school success and high school graduation is reading on grade level by the end of third grade.  74% of students who fail to read proficiently by the end of third grade falter in the later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma.  Education research recognized that proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from just learning to read to also reading to learn, and to master the more complex subject matter they encounter in the fourth grade curriculum.  Yet two-thirds of fourth graders in the U.S. are not proficient readers according to national assessment data.  This disturbing statistic is made even worse by the fact that more than four out of five low-income students miss this critical milestone.

Our partner: Grade-Level Reading Campaign 

Summer Learning Loss

Too many children lose ground over the summer months.  All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.

More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.  Without access to the enriching activities available to their more affluent peers, research shows that children from low-income families lose as much as three months of reading comprehension skills over the summer.  By the end of fifth grade, they are nearly three grade levels behind their peers.  As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.

Our partner: National Summer Learning Association

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