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aecf-kidscountdatabookcover-2014The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been tracking child well-being in their annual KIDS COUNT Data Book for the past 25 years. The data in the 2014 report continues to measure indicators in four domains: 1) Economic Well-being, 2) Education, 3) Health, and 4) Family and Community. The figures are based on data as recent as 2012.

This year, Oklahoma fell to 39th overall in Child Well-Being in the KIDS COUNT state profiles. Terry Smith, the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, was quoted in the Oklahoman as saying

“After a brief improvement in the rankings due to the recession’s impacts on the rest of the nation, Oklahoma has begun to fall again as the overall economy improves.”

Smith went on to say (more…)

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“How much arithmetic does a pupil forget in a summer vacation?”

“Is this loss made good, or more than good, by a week or two of review in the fall?”

These questions are relevant today, but they are not quotes from a recent article on summer learning loss. These are the questions asked in 1906 by William F. White, a professor of mathematics at the State Normal School in New York. He authored one of the early studies documenting the loss of math skills among school age children after summer break.

Summer-Learning-Day-logo-no-urlFor more than a century, educators have documented, studied and tried to combat summer learning loss. It has become well known that all children are prone to losing math skills during the summer, and modern studies show the loss of reading skills is also an issue, especially among children from low-income families.

The National Summer Learning Association highlights one reason for the reading gap that exists based on household income; (more…)

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It’s been a slow recovery. With the January release of CFED’s annual 2014 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, we have further proof of this fact. The report, Treading Water in the Deep End, shows many American families are financially insecure, and this includes a growing number of Oklahomans.

2013_scorecardIn Oklahoma, it is estimated 49% of households live in a persistent state of financial insecurity, with no little or no savings to cover emergencies. This is up from last year’s estimate of 43.8% of Oklahomans who were considered “liquid asset poor.” Poor showings in areas related to income, assets, healthcare and education contributed to Oklahoma’s overall rank of 31, compared to other states.

The Assets and Opportunity Scorecard examines the financial security of Americans by assessing states based on 69 different outcome measures. The measures are grouped into five broader categories: 1) Financial Assets and Income, 2) Business and Jobs; (more…)

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There is growing concern about the amount of student loan debt in the U.S, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) warning that more than $1 trillion is owed on outstanding loans.  The reason behind this record amount of student debt is tied to the rising cost of college and the increase in college enrollment.

While a college degree is still a worthwhile investment, the debt today’s graduates accumulate can impede their financial stability for decades after they leave school.  In fact, it can leave many young people with the impression they can’t afford to take a job in public service, such as teaching, because it doesn’t offer a salary high enough to pay off their loans. This reality drives talent away from public service, and is one of reasons the CFPB 09-26-12-Student-Debt-00-01 and others are trying to raise awareness of loan repayment and forgiveness options (See: Public Service & Student Debt).

According to the CFPB, the cost of attending a public university in the U.S. has increased 42% in the last ten years, and for private universities the cost rose 31% for the same period.

Yet even in the face of rising costs, more people are attending college.  In the last 20 years, college enrollment has risen from 13.8 million to 21 million.  Pew Research now estimates 19%, or one out of five, American households owe outstanding student debt as of 2010.

As worrying as the cost of a college education may be, there is still value in it.  Last year (more…)

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Not long ago, I was talking about early learning with a cousin who teaches Pre-K here in Oklahoma. Our state’s publically funded Pre-K program, although universally available to children, is not mandatory. However, my cousin Jane said we still need to stress to parents that regular attendance for enrolled students is important, even if the program itself is voluntary. This is a familiar theme in my world; because attendance is something we are mindful of here at CAP Tulsa as well.

preschool attendance in chicago public schoolsAnd we’re not alone in our concern, either. Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that preschool students do, in fact, miss a lot of school. Their recent report, Preschool Attendance in Chicago Public Schools, states almost half of three-year-olds and more than one-third of four-year-olds are chronically absent from school. To put Chicago’s rate of preschool absenteeism into perspective, only 11% of kindergartners across the country are chronically absent.

But what does chronically absent mean? And why is regular attendance important at such an early age?

“Chronic absenteeism,” for the purposes of the Chicago report, was defined as having an absence rate of 10% or higher. The “absence rate” is determined by taking the number of days a student missed school and dividing it by the total number of days he or she was enrolled. As they put it – if a typical student was enrolled for 150 days, he or she would be chronically absent if 15 or more days were missed over the course of the school year.

Researchers determined, among other things, that chronic absenteeism is higher among students who live in high-poverty areas. This is troubling because (more…)

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We all need a break once in a while.  No one can argue with that.  However, the long summer break can be challenging for low-income families with regards to child care and food security, as discussed in a previous post.  Another downside to long summer breaks is the well-documented learning loss that occurs when children are not engaged in educational activities for long periods of time.

The good news is that this “Summer Slide” is not inevitable.  By taking part in special activities, kids can have a fun and educational summer. Summer Learning DayResearchers have found one reason for the achievement gap between low- and middle-class students is a lack of access to quality summer enrichment programs among lower-income families.

Summer learning loss is cumulative, building over time so that many kids from low-income families fall further behind their peers year after year. According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose two months of grade level equivalency in math during the summer break.

Studies also show that while students from middle-income families make slight gains in reading skills over the break, students from low-income households lose more than two months of reading achievement. While a number of districts have turned to year-round schedules or extended school years to combat summer learning loss and meet the child care needs of working families, summer programs offer a slightly less expensive way to target educational enrichment courses to high-risk students.

According to a 2011 Wallace Foundation report, Making Summer Count, school districts running their own summer programs spent less (more…)

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Today’s guest post is written by Ken Wenglewski, Manager of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program.  Last month, Ken had a chance to see firsthand the challenges and rewards of running a public school.  We thought his experience was a great way to show how people can create and maintain links between schools and the neighborhoods.    

TPSOn April 5th, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in Tulsa Public Schools’ “Principal for a Day” at Rogers High School, under the leadership of Stacey Vernon. Stacey was awarded Principle of the Year so it was an honor to shadow her work.

Coming to Rogers was a bit surreal. My wife attended Rogers so walking the halls was very nostalgic.

My day started by working with the Assistant Principal Kendra Bremlett. We talked about her role as support for Stacey. We also spoke of the exciting things that will be happening this Fall with the implementation of College Summit; one of our department’s educational partners.

Later, Stacy took over and we met with April Dalto, a science teacher who had her class cook hotdogs with natural sunlight. The class was energetic, engaged and very creative.

Back in Stacy’s office, I was offered the opportunity to communicate through an Auto-dialer system called School Connects. I read a script out loud, on the phone, telling parents to show up at a bowling event. I had a blast sounding like a DJ for a radio station!

There was another memorable moment back at Stacey’s office. She has a pinball machine in the back office that she likes to use when she isn’t buried in instructional leadership duties. Needless to say, it isn’t used very often.

To that point, the most amazing thing that I observed with Stacey was her ability to know all of the students by name. (more…)

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