For Immediate Release - May 06, 2011

GOVERNOR PATRICK VISITS EARLY EDUCATION CENTER IN PITTSFIELD TO HIGHLIGHT EFFORTS TO SUPPORT CHILDREN'S READINESS FOR SUCCESS

PITTSFIELD - Friday, May 6, 2011 -- As part of the Patrick-Murray Administration's strategy to close achievement gaps and ensure all children have the opportunity to succeed, Governor Deval Patrick today visited the Berkshire County Meadow Lane Head Start Program in Pittsfield to learn more about their successful approach to providing high quality early learning opportunities to support children's overall development and academic preparedness.

"Our best opportunity to help all students achieve is to give them a head start at learning before achievement gaps form," said Governor Patrick. "We will accomplish this goal by focusing on early literacy as a proven strategy to make a difference in the lives of our children."

Research demonstrates that reaching proficiency in reading by Grade 3 is the best predictor for a student's future academic attainment. The Patrick-Murray Administration is deeply engaged in efforts to increase early literacy rates as a key strategy in helping all students achieve at higher levels, realize long term academic success and positive life outcomes.

The Administration has worked to provide the teaching and supports that children and families need to be successful, as part of an overall strategy to increase the quality of early education and care programs across the Commonwealth. Through the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), the state recently launched the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) as a way to define and measure program quality and advance effectiveness in supporting children's healthy development.

Governor Patrick met with his Cabinet on site at the Berkshire County Meadow Lane Head Start program and then toured the facility meeting with children and their families and staff members.

"Berkshire County Head Start is deeply engaged in collaborative efforts with the community to increase early literacy rates as a key strategy in helping all students achieve at higher levels and realize long term academic success," said Berkshire County Head Start Executive Director Eloise Stevens. "We are pleased to host the Governor and his Cabinet and highlight our partnership with the Commonwealth."

"We are firmly committed to expanding access to high quality early education and care programs for our students because we know they make a difference," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "We owe all of our children the same opportunity to succeed."

The Berkshire County Meadow Lane Head Start program is an early adopter of QRIS and provides a broad range of academic opportunities to address children's growth and development across various domains. Its curriculum includes foundational support for early literacy development including alphabet and vocabulary knowledge, language discrimination processes, numeracy skills, and writing skills. The program provides enriching experiences linked to the state's early childhood standards and regularly assesses children's progress. The Berkshire County Meadow Lane Head Start Program receives state and federal funding to provide coordinated and comprehensive early education and care services to children and their families, including support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"Programs such as Berkshire County Meadow Lane Head Start are effective in providing high quality early learning experiences and are integral to building a seamless child development system that will ensure a prosperous future for the Commonwealth," said EEC Commissioner Sherri Killins. "EEC is committed to supporting the community in providing positive interactive relationships for all children and assisting families with supporting their children's learning, so that they can realize a lifetime of productivity and success."

EEC's ongoing, year-round efforts are focused on supporting children's development through access to high quality early learning experiences during the critical early years that provide the foundation for their future success. EEC works to increase educator competencies, improve program quality, support parents and families as their child's first teacher, and promote community engagement efforts. Examples of these efforts include a partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to align standards, assessment, and accountability across sectors, and the implementation of a new Professional Qualifications Registry to collect information on over 32,500 educators. Both efforts are key strategies of the Patrick-Murray Administration's agenda to improve opportunities for all children.

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