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September 21, 2018

Ohio Health Policy Brief -The Importance of Early Learning

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Groundbreaking Study Finds Ohio Children Who Start Behind, Usually Stay Behind

The sheer volume of metrics in which these early gaps emerge should serve as a clarion call to policymakers that more must be done. - Groundwork Ohio
The IBM Center for the Business of Government[1] credits a native Ohioan, Dr. Shelley Metzenbaum, for having coined the phrase "data-rich, but information poor" to describe the challenge public leaders often face about how to lead their organizations into the future with data.

The irony is that Ohio may now become the first state to be "information-rich" on the lifelong impact of early childhood education. Through a groundbreaking analysis of its own data, Groundwork Ohio[2] - public advocacy group - published what they tag as "the most comprehensive early childhood report in Ohio history."
Indeed, the 2018 Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity Report[3] analyzed 26 child outcome metrics spanning a child's life course from prenatal care to postsecondary attainment. The massive 200-page report includes data from five state departments and utilizes resources from an additional three.
The "bottom line" of all this analysis, according to the group, is that "children who start behind, usually stay behind." Metrics during the first five years of a child's life, the critical phase for brain development, were extremely predictive. Other metrics were predictive of future progressive outcomes in a child's life. For instance, Groundwork Ohio found that kindergarten readiness predicted third grade reading achievement, which, in turn, predicted eighth grade math achievement. Eighth grade math achievement predicted high school graduation, which was also predictive of postsecondary attainment.[4] The analysis further revealed that gaps were appearing far earlier than state or federal policy recognized, and that race and poverty were also determinant factors.
"Given this, we propose an irrefutable solution - increase state investments in high-quality early childhood education for Ohio's most vulnerable children," says Shannon Jones, Groundwork's executive director and former state legislator. 
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