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FROM THE BRAIN TO THE CLASSROOM: THE RESEARCH CASE FOR A COMPREHENSIVE BIRTH-T0-3 RD POLICY AGENDA DEBORAH A. PHILLIPS, PH.D. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY National.

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Presentation on theme: "FROM THE BRAIN TO THE CLASSROOM: THE RESEARCH CASE FOR A COMPREHENSIVE BIRTH-T0-3 RD POLICY AGENDA DEBORAH A. PHILLIPS, PH.D. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY National."— Presentation transcript:

1 FROM THE BRAIN TO THE CLASSROOM: THE RESEARCH CASE FOR A COMPREHENSIVE BIRTH-T0-3 RD POLICY AGENDA DEBORAH A. PHILLIPS, PH.D. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY National Governor’s Association Birth to 3 rd Policy Institute May 9, 2012

2 Brains and Skills are Build Over Time Critical aspects of brain architecture begin to be shaped by experience before and soon after birth, and many fundamental aspects of that architecture are established well before a child enters school

3 Brains and Skills are Build Over Time Because it is far more difficult to alter neural circuits substantially after their sensitive periods have ended experiences during these sensitive periods play an exceptionally important role in shaping the capacities and sensitivities of the developing brain (and thus of the child)

4 Brains and Skills are Build Over Time  Early learning confers value on acquired skills  Early mastery of competencies makes learning at later ages more efficient, easier and thus more rewarding  Early intervention lowers the cost of later investment

5 FIRST YEAR Birth(Months)(Years) Sensory Pathways (Vision, Hearing) Language Higher Cognitive Function Source: C. Nelson (2000) Timing of Early Brain Development

6 Third Grade as a Pivot Point? 2011 NAEP: 34% 4 th graders read at proficient levels; 33% below basic Race and poverty gaps in 3 rd grade reading Reading proficiently at third grade predicts high school graduation

7 Third Grade Reading and Drop-Out Rates Source: Hernandez, D. (2012). Double Jeopardy: How Third Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation. Annie E. Casey Foundation.

8 What About Math? 2011 NAEP: 40% 4 th graders do math at proficient levels; 18% below basic Disparities in 4 rd grade math NAEP scores Math supports literacy and literacy supports math

9 School Entry Skills Predict 3 rd Grade Achievement 3 RD GRADE SCHOOL ENTRY Reading Math General Reading.18***.05*** Math.27***.10*** 2 nd Grade Reading.14***.12**.11** Math.23***.27*** Sources: Duncan, Dowsett, Claessens et al., 2007; Romano, Kohen, Babchishin & Pagani, 2010

10 Effect of Persistent Problems vs. No Problems at Ages 6, 8, and 10 High School Completion College Attendance Reading Math-.13*-.29** Antisocial Behavior -.10***-.24* Duncan & Magnuson, 2011

11 Math Achievement Trajectories SOURCE: Schoenfeld & Stipek (2012). Math Matters. UC Berkeley and Stanford University

12 Early Origins of Learning Disparities Low-income preschoolers a year behind middle-income peers on achievement tests

13 Gaps in Reading & Math by K Maternal Education Percent of Kindergarteners Passing Proficiency Levels in Fall (NCES, 2000)

14 Early Origins of Learning Disparities Low-income preschoolers a year behind middle-income peers on achievement tests Kindergarten children with 1 vs. 0 risk factors were twice as likely to have reading scores in lowest 25%tile

15 Gaps in Reading Widen Over Time (NCES, 2000)

16 Gaps in Math Widen Over Time (NCES, 2000)

17 Early Origins of Learning Disparities Low-income preschoolers a year behind middle-income peers on achievement tests Kindergarten children with 1 vs. 0 risk factors were twice as likely to have reading scores in lowest 25%tile Disparities in home learning environments (600 vs words)

18 16 mos.24 mos.36 mos. Cumulative Vocabulary (Words) College Educated Parents Working Class Parents Welfare Parents Child’s Age (Months) Source: Hart & Risley (1995) Disparities in Early Vocabulary Growth

19 Early Origins of Learning Disparities Low-income preschoolers a year behind middle-income peers on achievement tests Kindergarten children with 1 vs. 0 risk factors were twice as likely to have reading scores in lowest 25%tile Disparities in home learning environments (600 vs words) Disparities in access to high-quality pre-K

20 Effect of Persistent Versus Problems vs. no Problems at Ages 6, 8, and 10 High School Completion College Attendance Reading Math-.13*-.29** Antisocial Behavior -.10***-.24*

21 B Thinking, Feeling and Behaving are Inseparable

22 How to…. Enter a peer group Take turns and sustain a play bout Identify and respond appropriately to own and other’s feelings/become empathetic Deal with others’ anger/rejection Express own anger, sadness, anxiety Pay attention and shift attention Follow directions Remember instructions

23 What are Executive Function Skills? Inhibitory Control — filter thoughts and impulses to resist temptations and distractions Mental flexibility — adjust to changed demands, priorities, or perspectives Working Memory — hold and manipulate information in our heads over short periods of time

24 An “Air Traffic Control System” in the Brain Executive functioning is group of skills that help us to focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, set goals and make plans, make decisions in light of available information, revise plans, and resist hasty actions  a key biological foundation of school readiness

25 When Do Executive Function Skills Develop? Weintraub, et al., (2011) Birth Age (Years) Skill proficiency

26 Working Memory Inhibitory Control Cognitive Flexibility Adult 2-5 years 9-16 months Remember multiple tasks, rules & strategies that may vary Self-control, situationally appropriate responses Revise actions & plans in changing circumstances Remember 2 rules (shoes here, coats there) Delay eating a treat, follow arbitrary rule Shift actions as rules change Execute simple 2-step plan (means-to-end tasks) Begin to maintain focus despite distractions Seek alternate methods when 1 st attempt fails Planes and EF “Land” Gradually Source: Center on the Developing Child (2011). Working Paper No. 11.

27 Children Learn in an Environment of Relationships Serve and return Skill development Stress buffering Teachers as secure base

28 Some Implications The brain is a highly adaptive organ –Approach intervention/education as a developmental process –What children know and can do at every age is the platform upon which subsequent learning builds – Never too late to offer strong learning opportunities, but odds and cost-benefit ratios of changing trajectories far better if start early

29 Some Implications Math and language as essential but not sufficient –Proficient at pre-K/K highly predicts successful school trajectories –Dependent on EF skills –Children with poor regulatory and EF skills are not “bad kids”’; they are struggling. – Address early, along with language and math, given underpinning of all learning – Models for doing this now available

30 Some Implications Learning occurs in an environment of relationships –Dependable, nurturing relationships as key mechanism of developmental growth –Children need to feel safe and secure in order to learn –Teachers are attachment figures –Peer environment matters!

31 Final Thoughts Stitching together programs that put (age groups) in parentheses. No cohesive ECE system or “platform” for 0-5 Alignment challenges on steriods Change in the educational settings affecting one age group ripples through the others, e.g., common core Broader context of historically diverse childhood population… …growing up in the trough of a recessionary economic cycle with no “New Deal” in sight Challenges assumptions about who is at risk/eligible Ups the ante on children’s needs for stability and predictability as part of “quality”


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