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Kagan To Receive Award for Contributions to Education

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Sharon Lynn Kagan

Sharon Lynn Kagan

Professor Sharon Lynn Kagan, a visionary leader for improving the care and education of young children, is being recognized for her outstanding contributions to American education on Thursday, July 14, in Denver, Colorado. The James Bryant Conant Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the education community, will be presented to Kagan during a banquet given in her honor by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). The Conant award is named for ECS' co-founder. The Education Commission of the States (ECS) is a national, nonprofit organization that helps governors, legislators, state education officials and others identify, develop and implement public policies to improve student learning at all levels. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, 2004-06 ECS Chairman, will present the award to Kagan as part of the 2005 ECS National Forum on Education Policy, to be held July 12-15 in Denver.

Kagan is an associate dean for policy, the Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy, and co-director of the National Center for Children and Families. Kagan is also the director of the Office of Policy and Research at Teachers College, and is an adjunct professor at Yale University's Child Study Center. She has been instrumental in defining and building early childhood care and education as a critically important public policy field, and as the foundation for a lifetime of education and learning. Throughout her career, she has coupled research and policy to increase public understanding of, and investment in, programs and services that support young children and their families.

"Dr. Kagan is a highly valued adviser and contributor to ECS, and I am delighted she is receiving the recognition she so deserves," said ECS President Piedad F. Robertson. "Her pioneering efforts to strengthen and improve child care and early learning in America will have a lasting influence on state education policy and the educational development of our nation's children."

In the early 1990s, as co-chairman of the National Education Goals Panel on Goal One - All children in America will start school ready to learn" - Kagan helped to conceptualize a comprehensive definition of "school readiness," encompassing a broad range of abilities, skills and supports that young children need to be ready to succeed in school and in life. Her work with the panel helped to integrate research in developmental psychology, physiology, literacy and social-emotional development.

In addition, more than any other person, Kagan has defined what a system of early childhood education should include. Her work has contributed to bringing together diverse stakeholders in the early childhood field - child care, Head Start, school-based pre-kindergarten and family child care and support. It also has helped put early childhood education on a par with K-12 and postsecondary education in terms of requiring a foundation of high-quality services, including finance structures, governance, teacher quality, leadership and standards. She has published more than 150 articles and written or edited 12 books focused on issues such as the development of policy for children and families, family support, early childhood pedagogy, strategies for collaboration and service integration, and the evaluation of social programs.

More recently, she has been involved in defining how standards and accountability systems can be used in early childhood settings - both nationally and internationally - to better understand what young children should know and be able to do; to help programs improve their services; and to hold policymakers accountable for ensuring every child and family is supported and nurtured.

To see the detailed agenda on the ECS National Forum, see http://www.ecs.org/nf2005 or contact Catherine Walker at 303.299.3609 or cwalker@ecs.org .

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