First 2,000 Days program starts in Anson
by By Imari Scarborough
The Anson County First 2,000 Days Team held its first meeting on Monday in Wadesboro. Anson County Schools Superintendent Michael Freeman, HOLLA! CEO Leon Gatewood, Anson County Commissioner Vancine Sturdivant and the Anson County Partnership for Children co-hosted the meeting. Senator Gene McLaurin attended the first part of the meeting and Rep. Mark Brody, who had a House conflict, voiced his interest in attending future meetings.
The First 2,000 Days team have the following objectives, according to Partnership executive director Elaine Scarborough:
Develop shared community agreements for specific actions toward these objectives.
Scarborough said she was pleased with the turnout of 44 participants at Monday’s meeting. “We had a good representation from a lot of groups,” she said, adding that efforts were made to balance the groups racially and by profession. Child care providers, school employees, and many others participated. “All of us in the community are very concerned, of course, by how our county looks to other counties, especially compared to them,” she said. “We look at test scores but also assessments, which are different than a test because they’re done individually and let you see their needs.”
All of the school end-of-grade testing (EOGs) are segregated and available for viewing on the Department of Public Instruction’s website, letting users view scores by groups including white children, black children, white females, black females, etc., Scarborough said. Now, Anson schools will begin segregating the kindergarten assessment scores taken before and after the school year starts. This will allow for more detailed analysis since analysts can see how races and genders compare in performance and show what differences there are in childhood learning and what improvements can be made. It will also let users see whether there is a difference in scores among children who have gone to N.C. Pre-K or to high-quality (four- or five-star) child care before kindergarten versus those who did not.
The new segregated assessment scores will be helpful in determining what efforts can be made to improve the child’s learning, Scarborough said. A child learns the most in its first 2,000 days — from birth to three years — meaning that investing in early childhood education is key for later success. It is better to make the investment when they will learn more in kindergarten than to try to have them “catch up” as they go through elementary and high school as well as community college, Scarborough said.
She compared the process to a textile factory. “If you think of it as an industry, you have to receive a good raw product in order to receive a good product at the end,” she said. “If you receive a product like yarn, and some is good and some not up to quality, you’ll see that when the cloth is manufactured. The same goes for school. We see the differences in whether the children are ready for school. It’ll be more difficult for them to succeed in schools later if they don’t learn when they are younger. We know there are gaps, even at that age. And we know that the gaps get wider, and wider, and wider as the children get older, so it only makes sense to try to do something before they get to school so that they can be more successful in school.”
Currently, the group is looking at data before deciding on an action plan. The plan will be “small” but will be a step toward making a difference, Scarborough said. Additionally, she said the project is not just supported by the school system but, under Freeman’s leadership, is helping lead it. The initiative is sponsored by a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant. Participation is free, and all meals and breaks are provided. The group meets at the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall at 208 South Greene St. in Wadesboro.
Upcoming meeting dates and times include:
For more information or to RSVP for meetings, email Scarborough email@example.com or call her at 704-695-5841.
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