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Noting that students' failure to master the basic skills by third grade places them at high academic and social risk, this report provides a synthesis of the findings from a meeting that drew 30 of the nation's leading experts on early childhood education and school reform to discuss the plight of primary education. The meeting was designed to examine the necessary program and policy strategies most likely to bring about broad-scale improvement in the results of instruction in prekindergarten through third grade, particularly for children at risk. Participants included national leaders in educational research, policy, and practice relevant to the early grades; outstanding district and state superintendents; representatives of key education organizations and task forces; and representatives of several foundations. The report is divided into four areas around which the meeting's discussion centered: (1) instruction, learning, and the school context; (2) standards and assessment; (3) teacher preparation and professional development; and (4) the current context of education. Appended are two additional papers, Conclusion: A New Pedagogy for Policy? by David K. Cohen and Carol A. Barnes, which describes the challenges of preparing educators to teach students more rigorous, high-level curriculum content; and Elementary Students at Risk: A Status Report, by Nettie Legters and Robert E. Slavin, which provides a status report on recent educational research documenting the numbers of elementary students at risk of school failure. (TJQ)

Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Academic Failure, Classroom Environment, Early Childhood Education, Educational Change, Educational Policy, High Risk Students, Instructional Improvement, Primary Education, Professional Development, Student Evaluation, Teacher Education, Teacher Improvement

Autor: Copple, Carol E.


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