2003 Helping Students Learn Archive
Ready to Learn
How much kids should be able to learn at 4 years old is at the heart of the reauthorization debate for Head Start, the federal program that helps about 1 million of the nation's poorest and most vulnerable children prepare for school. The Bush administration's proposal to emphasize literacy and academic skills in Head Start has raised new questions and renewed old battles about how young children learn—and when they should be required to show it on a test.
Level the Learning Field
If all children are to succeed in school, they need the same opportunities from an early age. Providing high-quality public preschool programs for all children would ensure that each child enters kindergarten on a more level playing field. The public preschool could simulate the early home literacy experiences that many disadvantaged children lack. Providing access to all children would ensure peer modeling and help to close the socioeconomic gaps that too often exist in public schools.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Hearing loss takes a toll on learning. Hearing-impaired children are likely to display delayed speech and language skills and social adjustment problems, all of which contribute to poor overall achievement. Children with severe or profound hearing loss are easy to spot, but those with moderate or minimal hearing problems sometimes go undetected. As a result, many students with minor hearing problems experience a slow but steady decline in academic achievement.
A Contract for Families
From birth to age 18, children spend more than 90 percent of their waking hours outside school in an environment that is heavily conditioned, both directly and indirectly, by families. Yet, the thrust of formal education policy is devoted overwhelmingly to school improvement, ostensibly to raise student achievement and improve educational equity. For children to succeed, true education reform needs to take place outside the classroom, too.