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Coquille district reinvents itself with early childhood education

Coquille Photo Two editedSharon Nelson, principal of Lincoln School of Early Learning, and Tim Sweeney, superintendent of Coquille School District, chat with preschoolers during lunch.Five years ago, Coquille School District leaders agonized over closing their fifth and last elementary school after a decades-long enrollment decline. 

But today that school is thriving as the Lincoln School of Early Learning, bursting with preschool, kindergarten and other early childhood education programs and adding a building to make room for even more children.

Superintendent Tim Sweeney and his staff still marvel over how they managed to pull this off. 

“You would be stunned with what you are able to do when you start taking the steps,” says Sweeney. “This can happen anywhere.”

Indeed, the Children’s Institute through its Early Works program has helped two unlikely elementary schools – Earl Boyles in East Portland and Yoncalla in the hills south of Eugene -- launch robust early learning programs over the last five years. Lincoln Elementary, like Earl Boyles and Yoncalla, is in a district that enrolls a high proportion of children from low-income families. Yet all of these schools found innovative ways to offer preschool and other services by teaming up with other organizations, both public and private, that serve young children.

They all see that by investing early in education, they can reduce future costs that come with remediation and school failure. Early education prepares children for kindergarten, improves their school success and can prevent the achievement gap that so often leaves poor kids behind.

Read more: Coquille district reinvents itself with early childhood education

Summer Slide: Learning loss, what it is and how to prevent it in the dog days of summer

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When kids think of summer slide, they may imagine fun times at the water park. But for educators and parents, summer slide – or the learning loss that occurs when kids are on break from school – is a big concern.

Summer Slide has been researched for more than 100 years – when public schools in the U.S. first began taking breaks over the summer. And since then, the research has shown that kids need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills like math, science and reading, or they lose ground. Today, summer slide accounts for up to 80 percent of the achievement gap between children from low- and middle-income families according to Richard L. Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen, editors of “Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Achievement Gap.”

Read more: Summer Slide: Learning loss, what it is and how to prevent it in the dog days of summer

Community Health Needs Assessment 101: Yoncalla Early Works

Yoncalla Early Works takes a comprehensive approach to preparing kids for success in school and life. For the last two years, the project has combined early learning, health, and family engagement strategies to set young children on a path to third grade readiness. Third grade readiness is important because reading proficiently by the end of third grade is one of the greatest predictors of high school graduation. In fact, kids who don’t read at grade level by the end of third grade are 25 percent less likely to graduate.

EdScreen Shot 2017 06 14 at 4.15.49 PMIn the summer of 2016, the rural southeastern Oregon communities of Yoncalla, Drain, and Elkton joined together to gather critical information about how to improve the health of young children in their communities. With assistance from Children’s Institute and Portland State University, community members conducted a “Community Health Needs Assessment.” The term Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) may sound confusing, but the assessment is a way to determine a community’s needs and address them effectively. 


Read more: Community Health Needs Assessment 101: Yoncalla Early Works

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