Recommendations From Governors' Task Forces on Education: Readiness: Additional Strategies Must Focus on At-Risk Children

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Can We Reduce the Risk Of Failure?

Teaching and learning are serious business. Our nation sent out several education alarms over the last decade, and almost every state responded by initiating educational reform measures. Many governors took leadership positions in ushering in the educational reforms. Now, we must take leadership roles in making policies to help at-risk children and youth succeed in meeting the new educational standards.

Increases in standards will have a positive impact on raising student expectations and, thereby, performance. However, for students who enter school with skills far behind their peers or who fall behind their peers after entering school, higher standards may impose a forbidding barrier rather than create a positive challenge. Without other additional strategies, such students are at risk of failing the standards before they have a chance to benefit fully from public-educational opportunities.

In spite of these challenges before the states, the message of the task force on readiness is one of hope. Many school districts and states have initiated actions to help at-risk children and youth .. . .

Excellence does not come easily, nor inexpensively. But what is our alternative in today's society?

Richard W. Riley

State Initiatives To Help At-Risk Young Children Become Ready for School:

1. Provide in-house assistance for first-time, low-income parents of high-risk infants.

2. Develop outreach initiatives using all community and religious organizations to assist young children who have only an absentee parent(s) or guardian(s) as his or her source of nurturance.

3. Provide kindergarten for all 5- year-old children.

4. Provide quality early-childhood development programs for at-risk 4- year-olds, and, where feasible, 3-year-olds.

5. Provide all interested parents of preschool children with information on successful parenting practices.

6. Stress continued improvement of developmental and educational programs in day-care centers for preschool children. This includes improving staff development and in-service training, and providing for accreditation or similar standards for day-care centers.

7. Develop state and local structures through which all agencies work together to provide appropriate programs for children and their parents.

State Initiatives To Assure That At Risk Children and Youth Meet the New Educational Standards:

1. Provide extra help in the basic skills for students who have major deficiencies.

2. Develop incentives, technical assistance, and training for teachers and principals to employ effective school and classroom procedures and practices.

3. Provide a challenging curriculum for all children.

4. Provide valid and reliable assessment of student performance so students, parents, and teachers can work to correct deficiencies.

5. Reward schools for making progress in educating all children, including at-risk children.

6. Establish cooperative programs involving schools and homes so parents can learn how to support their children's teachers.

7. Develop incentive programs or direct state aid to reduce class sizes of I kindergarten and the lower grades.

8. Establish alternative programs to work with high-school students who have dropped out of school.

9. Establish a mechanism for state intervention into school districts when progress is not being made with low-achieving students.

Vol. 06, Issue 01, Page 39

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