Chalkbeat publishes city Early Childhood Education Guide

As any parent, teacher, or administrator will tell you, the success of Philadelphia’s early learners depends on factors inside and outside of the classroom. 

Chalkbeat Philadelphia's 2022 Philadelphia Early Childhood Education Guide dives deeply into areas both inside and outside the school setting as we continue to explore how to improve outcomes for the city’s youngest learners.

Outside the classroom, we’ll look at the ways hunger can disrupt the education of young children — as well as some local solutions for filling this most basic human need. 
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Back inside the classroom, we will take stock of the district’s push to have students reading on grade level by the time they finish third grade, an effort that started in 2015 but was interrupted by the pandemic. 

Straddling home and school life is the effort to embrace students’ customs and cultural identity in the classroom, a strategy that some researchers believe will create a sense of belonging that translates into better academic performance.

Philadelphia invested in early literacy efforts. Is it working?

During November, Mayor Jim Kenney visited several child care centers to highlight what he considers one of his biggest achievements as mayor: making affordable, high-quality early childhood education available to an additional 4,300 students through PHLPreK, an initiative that supplements state and federal programs including Pre-K Counts and Head Start.

The focus on prekindergarten is part of the city’s effort to ensure that all students can read on grade level by the end of third grade. This Read by 4th campaign began in 2015, and has brought together universities, foundations, businesses, and other institutions to emphasize literacy activities in everyday life as well as in the classroom.As a target on the road to universal proficiency, the Philadelphia Board of Education has set a goal that 62% of third graders will be proficient readers by the 2025-26 school year. Yet while many systems have been put in place to help the city achieve its goal, the results so far have been mixed — at least as measured by standardized test scores.  

Approximately 31% of Philadelphia’s children experienced food insecurity in 2020, up from just over 24% a year earlier, according to Philabundance, which operates food banks in the area as a member of the Feeding America program.

And almost half of principals in a 2020-2021 School District of Philadelphia survey said food insecurity was a “great” or “moderate” challenge. Black and Hispanic/Latino households had higher rates of food insecurity, as did families whose children were still learning English, the district found.

This level of food insecurity can have dire consequences for early learners, who need stability at home and in school settings to thrive.

To view Chalkbeat's Early Childhood Education Guide, go here.