Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Efforts To Close The Achievement Gap In Kids Start At Home

Two-thirds of Providence children entering kindergarten already fall short on state literacy tests. Riquetti says this disadvantage in her students would compound over time because so much of learning depends on basic vocabulary...Riquetti now helps run Providence Talks, the city's ambitious effort to change this so-called word gap that researchers discovered two decades ago. They found that professional parents tend to chat away to their children, using sophisticated language even before kids are old enough to understand, while low-income parents tend to speak far less and use more directives: "Do this, don't do that." To help parents measure progress, the city collects hard data. In fact, it's happening as they look at the book. Little Ayleen is wearing a recorder hidden inside a bright red vest specially designed for it. The recorder logs every word spoken, all day long, and can distinguish different voices. It also distinguishes a TV, computer or radio that may be blaring in the background—words from those don't count when it comes to building a child's vocabulary, and in fact too much screen time may hurt, researchers say. During the next visit, Taveras will bring a report that graphs the word count, hour by hour. Parents keep a log to know what they were doing at the time. more

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