Opinion
Early Childhood Letter to the Editor

History of Improvement Efforts Points to Early Years as Key

December 11, 2013 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

I just read your recent coverage on the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on teacher quality (“Gates Foundation Places Big Bet on Its Teacher Agenda,” Nov. 6, 2013). It reminded me of other efforts to improve student learning that I have also read about over the years in Education Week.

In 1996: The Goals 2000 effort reported “no significant parallel change in high school completion rates or most indicators of student achievement.”

In 1997: Tracking Title I showed “no significant change in the academic performance of students.”

In 2001: Regarding block scheduling, “studies show that lengthening class periods is not a proven means of raising standardized tests scores.”

In 2002: The $500 million Annenberg Challenge yielded results that were “downright disappointing.”

In 2003: The federal government’s $1 billion effort to give students a safe place to study and play after school “had little effect on academic achievement.”

In 2005: The results of the Gates Foundation’s $1 billion effort to create small schools were “insufficient to draw definitive conclusions about student performance.”

In 2006: Further analysis of the Annenberg Challenge showed no “noticeable systemwide impact on student performance.”

In 2009: A “controversial $14.4 million federal study testing the effectiveness of reading and math software programs has found few significant learning differences between students who used the technology and those taught using other methods.”

In 2012, I also read that new evidence from cognitive and neuroscience shows that what happens in early childhood, “like a child’s footprint in wet cement, leaves its mark forever,” and you can’t go back and rewire a child’s brain.

I have read Education Week for decades and have learned that until a free and high-quality education begins at conception, we will not bridge the pre-K-12 learning gap.

Mr. Gates, what are you reading?

Rebecca Shore

Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Charlotte, N.C.

The author is a former high school principal.

A version of this article appeared in the December 11, 2013 edition of Education Week as History of Improvement Efforts Points to Early Years as Key

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Assessment Webinar
The State of Assessment in K-12 Education
What is the impact of assessment on K-12 education? What does that mean for administrators, teachers and most importantly—students?
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Centering the Whole Child in School Improvement Planning and Redesign
Learn how leading with equity and empathy yield improved sense of belonging, attendance, and promotion rate to 10th grade.

Content provided by Panorama
Teaching Profession Webinar Examining the Evidence: Supports to Promote Teacher Well-Being
Rates of work dissatisfaction are on the rise among teachers. Grappling with an increased workload due to the pandemic and additional stressors have exacerbated feelings of burnout and demoralization. Given these challenges, what can the

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Early Childhood What the Research Says Preschool Enrollment Has Plunged: What That Means for School Readiness
Census data confirm that more than a million young children missed preschool during the pandemic, putting school readiness at risk.
4 min read
Pre-K teacher Vera Csizmadia teaches 3-and 4-year-old students in her classroom at the Dr. Charles Smith Early Childhood Center in Palisades Park, N.J. on Sept. 16, 2021.
Pre-K teacher Vera Csizmadia teaches 3- and 4-year-old students in her classroom at the Dr. Charles Smith Early Childhood Center in Palisades Park, N.J., last month.
Mary Altaffer/AP
Early Childhood Opinion The Problems With Biden’s Universal Pre-K Proposal
An early-childhood education leader expresses concerns that the universal pre-K plan risks separating pre-K from the wider child-care sector.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Early Childhood What the Research Says Starting School After the Pandemic: Youngest Students Will Need Foundational Skills
The earliest grades saw the biggest enrollment drops in 2020-21. Experts say these students will need significant help come fall.
4 min read
Image shows preschool boy wearing a protective face mask with a marker in hand.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Early Childhood Opinion Waterford Upstart on Providing Remote Learning to 90,000 Pre-K Kids
Rick Hess speaks with Dr. LaTasha Hadley of Waterford Upstart about its use of adaptive software to close gaps in kindergarten readiness.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty