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RT @Larryferlazzo RT @rpondiscio: Dan Willingham on ed research: "A Draft Bill of Rights for Educators" @DTWillingham @RealClearEd realcleareducation.com/articl…

Today's post (by @EstherQuinCo): Not all discipline disparities may be the result of implicit bias - bit.ly/1nvFmnL

Today's post (by @EstherQuinCo): Not all discipline disparities may be the result of implicit bias - bit.ly/1nvFmnL

New post (by @EstherQuinCo): Not all discipline disparities may be the result of implicit bias - bit.ly/1nvFmnL

RT @EstherQuinCo 2-min animation about how to #closethewordgap - tips for parents and educators from @shankerinst youtube.com/watch?v=Qj0Nm3…



Early childhood education was one of the earliest issue areas undertaken by the Institute after it was established in 1998, spurred in part by Al Shanker’s strong belief, first voiced over 40 years ago, that the nation’s efforts to close persistent academic achievement gaps were severely hampered by inequities that began in the earliest stages of childhood development. More…



Early Childhood Education: the Word Gap & the Common Core

December 11th 2013 | More…

Given states’ difficulties in implementing the Common Core State Standards thoughtfully, many early childhood educators have begun to worry bout what the NAEYC refers to as “a downward pressure of increased academic focus and more narrowed instructional approaches.” But, as the NAEYC’s statement on the CCSS also observed, that “threat also provides an opportunity” for early education to exert more positive, “upward pressure” on the K–12 system. Could the recent attention to the “30 Million Word Gap,” by Hillary Clinton, The New York Times, the Bloomberg Foundation, and others, including the Shanker Institute, represent one such opportunity?



Implementing Large Scale Change in a Midsize Urban District

In partnership with Susan B. Neuman, St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS), and the St. Louis Federation of Teachers, the Shanker Institute is leading a district-wide initiative whose goal is to enhance the quality of early childhood education in St. Louis Public Schools by providing professional development that integrates oral language development and content-rich instruction for early childhood educators. Our goal is to create an infrastructure for SLPS to sustain quality improvements in early education that is tied to gains in children’s achievement. More…

Literacy Ladders. Let’s Talk™

Let’s Talk™ is a program aimed at raising community awareness and expertise in how a child’s knowledge and language develop in tandem, forming the foundation for all subsequent learning. The program focuses on family engagement and provides parents with coordinated training and support on research-based strategies and practices. Let’s Talk™ also engages daycare providers, home visitation programs, school systems, hospitals, and existing community based programs. Through a variety of channels, the initiative will equip families and educators with knowledge and strategies aimed at supporting children’s knowledge and vocabulary development. More…

Recent initiatives by other organizations related this program.

Let’s Talk Professional Development Series

The Shanker Institute’s Let’s Talk Professional Development Series provide rigorous, standards-based information on the latest research and practices for the most important foundation for early literacy development: The acquisition of background knowledge in key academic domains acquired through speaking and listening. The Let’s Talk PD Series comprise three distinct modules: (1) oral language, (2) mathematics and (3) science. More…


Past Programs

2011   An Institute sponsored session at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) annual conference exploring the role of curriculum content in effective training programs for early childhood educators.

2010   The Institute sponsored a conversation on early childhood education, bringing together an influential group of researchers, policymakers, and educators, including Carmel Martin, assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and Jacqueline Jones, senior adviser on early learning issues to U.S. Education Secretary.




Preschool Curriculum: What’s In It for Children and Teachers, an accessible research synthesis of how and how much young children learn in the academic domains of oral language, literacy, mathematics, and science. The Institute partnered with the University of Michigan to design four professional development modules for early childhood educators based on this review.

Oral Language Brochure, joint Shanker Institute-AFT brochure about supporting oral language learning in the classroom. This resource has been disseminated at events by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the National Head Start Association (NHSA) and Education International ECE Task Force etc.

A Call For Common Content, statement encouraging our leaders and policymakers to face the questions we have avoided for generations: What is it, precisely, that we expect all educated citizens to have learned? What explicit knowledge, skills, and understanding of content will help define the day-to-day work of teaching and learning?

Animation on the Early Language Gap, the vocabulary gap between rich and poor children develops very early and it is about more than just words. In fact, words are the tip of the iceberg — if so, what lies underneath? Find out by watching this three minute video.


Related Readings

Selected Shanker Blog Posts


Other Organizations

Campaign for Grade Level Reading

Center for the Child Care Workforce

Colorín Colorado

Erikson Institute

First Five Years Fund

Foundation for Child Development

Nancy M. and Douglas M. Yeager Family Foundation

National Association for the Education of Young Children

National Institute for Early Education Research

New America Foundation Early Education Initiative

Zero to Three