Focus on Education
Our work in education is focused on school readiness, school leadership and school effectiveness.
BCF’s focus on Judy Centers to boost school readiness among Baltimore City children continues to deliver great results. These early childhood resource centers, which have been established across Maryland, connect children and their families with a variety of educational, health and social services. Baltimore’s Judy Center students continue to outscore their peers not only in Baltimore but across the state on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.
While state and city percentages of children deemed ready for school dipped this year, nine of the 12 Baltimore City Judy Centers had above-average readiness scores ranging from 44 to 81 percent. Even more significant, of the 327 kindergartners at these same 12 schools who tested “ready,” 3 out of 4 were Judy Center students.
One example of a Judy Center activity driving this success: Literacy Lab tutors at five Judy Centers have started working one-on-one with children each day on letter names and sounds, rhyming, alliteration and picture naming. The result? The number of children in those centers who scored above target on literacy soared by thirty-six percent.We are proud of the new Judy Centers BCF has helped to open in Baltimore City. Thanks to the tremendous generosity of our donors, thousands of children and their families are now reaching the kindergarten starting line ready for the long race ahead. We are especially proud of the three centers: Harford Heights, John Ruhrah and Liberty, which have been distinguished by state grant monitors as model centers, having not only met but exceeded all standards for Judy Centers.
Five verbs best describe BCF’s strategy to support development of school leaders: identify, prepare, support, celebrate and advocate. Examples of how we are carrying out this commitment include support for a portfolio of leadership development opportunities for City Schools principals encompassing coaching, mentoring and peer networking activities for over 60 principals. Also, through our grant to the Principal Support Fund at the Fund for Educational Excellence (FFEE) we have helped 14 principals implement a special project of their choice.
Finally, BCF sponsored the inaugural Heart of the Schools Awards event, produced by FFEE, to provide public recognition for school principals. At the 2016 event five principals were singled out for recognition and a cash award for their schools, following a public nomination process which drew 450 nominations for 88 principals, generating public attention and enthusiasm for the role played by school principals.
With grant support from BCF, Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC) has been defining what makes a school "effective" - along with metrics and available data sources. Instruction, teachers, safety, leaders, and external engagement have been preliminarily identified as keys to effective schools, and BERC is on its way to measuring and reporting on each.
We continue to support City Schools implementation of School Effectiveness Reviews, or SERS, an objective analytical tool used to measure schools individual progress. We are gratified that City Schools has expanded use of an additional prioritization day in the SER process, providing time for school leaders to develop an action plan based on the SER results. BCF funded the prioritization day as a pilot in eight schools in 2014 and 24 schools in 2015. Inspired by the results, in 2016, City Schools included prioritization days for all SERs conducted.
BCF also acts as an advocate in Annapolis for better policy and funding for early childhood education.