Early Learning July Newsletter

News & Resources from the Office of Early Learning • JULY 2014 ISSUE

Early Learning at ED

Message from Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett

Libby Doggett

My conversations with my daughters, friends, or granddaughters often include a discussion of what each of us is reading. Because of my lifelong love of books I was especially delighted when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced last week that doctors should encourage parents to read to their children beginning in infancy, and is partnering with organizations that will provide free books to low-income parents. This new policy from the AAP not only promotes early literacy, it enhances parent-child attachment and interaction. As early educators we are all too familiar with the research that shows the daunting 30 million word gap between children from upper- and lower-income families. 

For decades medical providers at 5,000 sites have distributed books and tool kits to promote early reading through our i3 grantee Reach Out and Read. Our military is working with nonprofits to provide the opportunity for personnel separated from their families to send a book and a DVD reading the book to their children. I am also delighted that many of our RTT-ELC states are helping families connect through books. Happy reading to each of you this summer!

Pre-School for All

White House Summit

The White House Summit on Working Families

On June 23, 2014, the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted a Summit on Working Families that aimed to ignite a nation-wide conversation focused on creating a 21st century workplace that works for all Americans. ED and HHS worked with the White House on this report, Supporting Working Families with Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education, to show what the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grantees and other states are doing to help working families find high-quality early learning programs. Watch the President Talk about what we can do to help families get ahead -- and find out what you missed at the Working Families Summit.

RTT-ELC: Program Spotlight and Technical Assistance

Program Spotlight: Funded by RTT-ELC, Early Achievers Improves Quality in Washington State

Washington State is changing the conversation around early learning to focus on offering high quality preschool to all children—especially those most at risk for starting school not ready to succeed.

Washington State has seen an incredible number of licensed child care providers voluntarily join Early Achievers, Washington’s quality rating and improvement system, since the state went live with it in July 2012. Washington has used its RTT-ELC grant to take the voluntary system to scale.

More than 2,300 licensed child care facilities around the state have joined to date. This includes 862 centers (nearly 60% of all centers) and 1,305 family homes (33% of all family homes). The state Department of Early Learning credits this to extensive outreach by their child care licensors and the state Child Care Aware, as well as the robust package of supports available to Early Achievers participants. In addition to licensed programs, Washington successfully created a customized pathway for Head Start and state pre-k programs in Early Achievers which has boosted participation across the state. 

In addition to scholarships, coaching, tiered subsidy reimbursement and other financial incentives, the state has created Training Resource Centers around the state. The Training Resource Centers allow licensed providers to join state- and federally funded preschool programs in high-quality trainings offered in the preschools. In the future, the Training Resource Centers will also offer shared services to support licensed child care programs in offering high-quality early learning programs with access to additional supports for family health and support.

Due to legislation passed in 2013, all state-funded preschool programs must join Early Achievers by 2015, furthering the state’s efforts to create one system of high-quality classroom learning.

Technical Assistance

On May 19-20, 2014, ELC TA partnered with the Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) and The National Early Childhood TA Center (ECTA) to host a forum to discuss issues related to

  • state practices for integrating IDEA programs in state TQRIS/QRIS processes and
  • strengthening partnerships across state agencies for building a coordinated approach for serving young children with disabilities.

The event was held in conjunction with the  2014 National Inclusion Institute

Teams from Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland,  and Pennsylvania participated in the meeting.

In addition to these discussions, Ruth Ryder, Deputy Director in the Office of Special Education Programs and Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning in Office of Early Learning at the U.S. Department of Education attended the meeting and held a listening session to hear what interventions, models, programs, and practices states are using to support inclusive opportunities of children with disabilities and to hear what federal policies and guidance states might need to support the inclusion of young children with disabilities.


How RTT-ELC States Can Support Infants and Toddlers

In December 2013, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont became the newest states to receive Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge (ELC) grantsIn addition to planning to use the majority of their ELC funds to strengthen systems that support all young children, these states’ applications also included some proposals intended to improve outcomes specifically for infants and toddlers. Read about what each state is doing here

Early Learning at ED

Peg+Cat creators Billy Aronson and Jennifer Oxley

Ready to Learn TV show Peg+Cat Wins 3 Emmy Awards

One of our very own Office of Innovation and Improvement grantees has won three Emmy awards in the ceremony held in Los Angeles last June. Ready to Learn TV show “Peg+Cat,” which teaches preschool math skills, won three Emmy Awards including Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Animated Program, Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program (Hayley Faith Negrin, as Peg), and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation (Jennifer Oxley, Production Design). Peg + Cat is a production of the Fred Rogers Company and was created under the Ready to Learn grant to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

Improving Data, Improving Outcomes

The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy), the IDEA Data Center (IDC), and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center will be hosting a national meeting Improving Data, Improving Outcomes in New Orleans, LA on September 8 - 10, 2014. The meeting combines issues related to the development or enhancement of Part C, Part B Section 619, and/or coordinated early childhood data systems; improvement of data quality; and the measurement and use of child and family outcomes data in order to make data informed decisions. For more information, please visit http://ectacenter.org/~meetings/data2014/mtghomepage.asp

CEELO Roundtable on Teaching Excellence

Slides and Resources from the CEELO Roundtable, Excellence for Every Child: Improving the Quality of Teaching Birth through Grade Three, are now available on the CEELO website Roundtable page. Speaker Libby Doggett invited participants to provide feedback on their efforts. 

CEELO tweet

State Early Learning Directory

The latest version of the Directory of State Early Learning Contacts, updated from the inaugural publication in August 2013, is now available. State by state, the directory provides contact information for the SEA lead, 619 Coordinator, Title I Director, Head Start State Collaboration Director, Part C Coordinator, Home Visiting Lead, and other key learning contacts. 

Access to Care

Access to High Quality Early Care and Education: Readiness and Opportunity Gaps in Americaby Milagros Nores, PhD, and W. Steven Barnett, PhD, describes readiness and opportunity gaps in access to high quality early education. The report describes the “readiness gaps” at kindergarten entry as of 2010, and examines the extent to which there are “opportunity gaps” in early care and education services that may be associated with those readiness gaps.

Did You Know?

Number of Children Enrolled in Preprimary Education:


From 1990 to 2012, the percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs increased from 59 to 64 percent, with all of the growth occurring between 1990 and 2000. In contrast, the percentage of 5-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs declined from 89 percent in 1990 to 85 percent in 2012. 

The percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds in preprimary programs who attended full-day programs increased from 39 percent in 1990 to 60 percent in 2012. This increase in full-day enrollment rate was also observed for 5-year-olds. More recently, the full-day enrollment rate was higher in 2012 (72 percent) than in 2000 (59 percent) for 5-year-olds, but the rate did not change measurably for 3- or 4-year-olds.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2014). The Condition of Education 2014 (NCES 2014-083), Preprimary Enrollment.

Federal Agencies at Work

More Than 25,000 Resources Available at Research Connections!

Child Care & Early Education Research Connections provides a continually updated, free, and easily searchable collection of research on child care and early education for researchers and policymakers. The Web site provides access to more than 25,000 resources, including original scholarly research, government reports, fact sheets and briefs, data sets, and instruments. 

Schilder, Smith Leavell Publish in Early Childhood Education

Diane Schilder and Ashley Smith Leavell have published an article, “Head Start/Child Care Partnerships: Program Characteristics and Classroom Quality,” in the May 2014 issue of Early Childhood Education Journal. The authors' present findings—drawn from an analysis of survey data from 61 child care centers and observational data from 66 classrooms within these centers— provide evidence of the benefits of Head Start/child care partnerships.

Research and Reports


Discover MyPlate: Nutrition Education for Kindergarten Release

Discover MyPlate is a nutrition education resource that promotes the development of healthy food choices and physically active lifestyles for children in kindergarten. Read more and check out the free materials for schools, childcare, and community groups that work with kindergarten age children here.  

science education

Science in the Early Years

The Education Commission of the States just released their latest Progress of Education Reform paper, addressing the importance of science in early learning and its impact on literacy development. Learn more by reading the report and press release.

Early Childhood Educator and Administrator Surveys on the Use of Assessments and Standards in Early Childhood Settings

The Early Childhood Educator Survey and the Early Childhood Administrator Survey allow users to collect consistent data on the use of child assessments and learning standards in early childhood learning settings. Each survey includes modules on educator/administrator background information, assessment use, and learning standards implementation. The full text of this study is available on ERIC.

Listening to Workers: Child Care Challenges in Low Wage Jobs

The Ms. Foundation for Women, the National Women’s Law Center, and six worker justice organizations have come together to pursue a research project studying the challenges low-wage workers face in securing quality and affordable childcare.

Resources You Can Use

The National Governor's Association Takes Position on Early Learning

The NGA has offered principles to guide Congress and the Administration as they work on advancing early childhood education. Check out the Governors’ Principles for Federal Early Childhood Education Legislature here.  

ConnectED Hub

The WhiteHouse.gov/ConnectED Hub is Live

The White House’s ConnectED “hub” with resources for teachers, students and administrators is live. The ConnectED Initiative was designed to enrich K-12 education for every student in America by empowering teachers with the best technology and the training to help them make the most of it, and by empowering students through individualized learning and rich, digital content. 


Text4baby: A Great Source of Information and Advice for New Dads and Dads-to-Be

This month the White House is partnering with text4baby to target expecting fathers. Through its free text messaging service, text4baby is launching new messages for expecting fathers and fathers with babies under the age of 1. These messages contain important information and tips on how to improve child health and safety, ways to engage with your baby, and how to support a mother’s health.

In this issue: 

Voices from the Field


Interview with Council for Professional Recognition CEO Valora Washington

“We know from the NIEER reports that come out every year that there is so much work that still needs to be done at the local and state levels to improve both access and quality. I think that this is a major effort that is going to push that bar. Also, four-year-olds have been somewhat pushed off into a number of disconnected programs, so it really matters if you walked into a Head Start, family childcare, public school, or community-based programs. I think that this initiative has the potential to bring some coherence around what states are doing with that age group.” 

Click here for the full interview.

Monthly Multimedia: 

The Economic Case for Preschool 

In this TED Talk, economist Timothy Bartik discusses long-term economic benefits of preschool education. Check it out here


Early Learning Grant/ Webinar/ Conference Calendar

Georgetown University Training Institutes: Improving Children's Mental Health Care in an Era of Change, Challenge and Innovation

  • July 16, 2014 8:00 AM - July 20, 2014 5:00 PM (EDT)
  • Washington, D.C.

National Council of La Raza Annual Conference

  • July 19, 2014 8:00 AM - July 22, 2014 9:00 AM (EDT)
  • Los Angeles, CA

QRIS National Meeting: Building High-Quality Systems through QRIS

  • July 23, 2014 8:00 AM - July 25, 2014 5:00 PM (EDT)
  • Denver, CO

Birth to Three Institute

  • July 28, 2014 8:00 AM - July 31, 2014 5:00 PM (EDT)
  • Washington, D.C.

Webinar: Professional Development to Support Assessment

  • July 29, 2014 2:30 PM - July 29, 2014 4:00 PM (EDT)

STATS-DC Data Conference: "Informed Decision-Making, Powered by Data"

  • July 30, 2014 8:00 AM - August 1, 2014 5:00 PM (EDT)
  • Washington, D.C.

Check out more about these and other upcoming events here