The Education Dept. distributes more than $3 million in grants to eight government organizations for Preschool Pay for Success feasibility pilots that will support innovative funding strategies to expand preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.
These grants will allow states, school districts and other local government agencies to explore whether Pay for Success is a viable financing mechanism for expanding and improving preschool in their communities in the near term.
Pay for Success is an innovative way of partnering with philanthropic and private sector investors to provide resources for service providers to deliver better outcomes—producing the highest return on taxpayer investments. Through Pay for Success, the government agrees to pay for concrete, measurable outcomes, but taxpayer funds are spent only if those outcomes are achieved.
Twenty-one applications were reviewed. Among the winners are one state (Minnesota), one charter school, one school district and five local government agencies. They are:
- Napa Valley Unified School District, CA, $380,944
- Santa Clara County Office of Education, CA, $392,704
- Ventura County Office of Education, CA, $397,000
- Minnesota Department of Education, MN, $397,158
- Mecklenburg County Government, NC, $335,677
- Cuyahoga County Office of Early Learning, OH, $374,320
- Clatsop County, OR, $350,000
- The Legacy Charter School, SC, $381,815
The feasibility studies will explore how Pay for Success can be used to expand and improve the quality of preschool programs for low-income and disadvantaged preschoolers. Each grantee identified potential outcome measures for students that attend preschool, such as improved kindergarten readiness, reading and math growth or achievement, and improved social and emotional skills.
The projects are ambitious.
For example, the Napa Valley Unified School District (https://goo.gl/bPq8dM) intends to use its grants to fund a 24-month project to measure critical student learning outcomes and the appropriateness of new financing options. The study will pay particular attention to the Napa County Office of Education’s (NCOE) innovative digital earl literacy (DEL) program, and specific outcome measures related to their successful efforts to integrate technology-supported literacy and language learning. The program uses a bilingual, specialized app called Footsteps2Brilliance (F2B) and its related digital learning curriculum. The DEL program is fully integrated into NCOE’s high-quality preschool program, and offers a unique opportunity to identify learning outcomes related to digital fluency in tandem with other evidence-based critical learning measures.
Each Pay for Success project will include an assessment of the design and expansion of an evidence-based preschool program and a cost-benefit analysis showing the return on investment to the community. In the event the Pay for Success model is determined to not be a viable model for funding early childhood learning in a particular community, the grantee’s final report will detail those reasons and offer potential alternatives to Pay for Success that would positively impact early childhood learning.
Pay for Success is one of several strategies DoEd has used to promote evidence-based policy. In addition to its potential to lead to high-quality Pay for Success projects that provide or expand early education for children, these investments will add knowledge to the field about a wider range of outcome measures that preschool Pay for Success projects should consider, the department said.
A new case study (https://goo.gl/nN0QbW) of five programs examined two types of promising strategies to support children’s learning in early elementary school: (1) aligning instruction from preschool through grade 3, and (2) differentiated instruction. The five programs: Boston Public Schools; Chicago Child–Parent Centers; Early Works (Portland, OR); FirstSchool (Martin County, NC); and the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) program (Redwood City, CA)
Findings indicate that all five aligned instruction across grades by coordinating standards, curricula, instructional practices and professional development. Common elements of these programs included the use of professional learning communities, coaches, parent engagement, and play-based or student-initiated learning.
Info: https://goo.gl/OkjmKL (winners).