3. Great idea: "schools partner with the community to address non-school factors"
...The Early Years Institute is developing a suburban model of school readiness where the schools partner with the community to address non-school factors affecting school readiness from the time they are born. We use as our measure of accountability a tool called the Early Development Instrument (EDI) which was developed in Canada where it is now mandated nationwide. EYI enabled Westbury to be one of 14 sites in the country to test out this new assessment tool for UCLA and United Way Worldwide. Kindergarten teachers complete the EDI for each child, which covers all aspects of school readiness: health, social and emotional development, cognition and literacy, approaches to learning, and communications and general knowledge. The uniqueness of the EDI is that the data are reported back by neighborhood, rather than by child or classroom. This enables us to target, with laser-like precision, which vulnerabilities are occurring in what part of town. More importantly, it galvanizes the residents of that neighborhood to take action and help address the needs.
Educational reform must embrace the notion that when children come to school prepared, everyone in the classroom benefits and that ultimately leads to a higher quality of life for all of us. And when our children have high quality early education, research shows they have higher reading and math scores, better school attendance rates, and higher graduation rates. If we think of school readiness starting at birth, then educational reform must incorporate early childhood and it must be open to the contributions of organizations outside the school.