January 2015 Newsletter

News & Resources from the Office of Early Learning • January 2015

Early Learning at ED

                Subscribe to our monthly Early Learning at ED newsletter here.

Message from the Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett

Libby Doggett

Welcome to 2015!  My team (at ED and HHS) and I look forward to working with you to make this year an exciting one for our youngest children and their families.  Rather than predictions for 2015 we have eight resolutions:

1.    Arne predicted that more than 60,000 additional children will enroll in high-quality early learning programs, including 33,000 children through the 18 newly-awarded Preschool Development Grants.  We will work to exceed this number.

2.    We will work with the 20 Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) States to increase the number of highly-rated early learning programs and the number of children in such settings—and to tell the story of the success of RTT-ELC.

3.    We will work with our colleagues at ED through the new P-3 early learning school turn around model, through our guidance to other programs, and through our leader, Secretary Duncan, to embed early learning at the foundation for education success.

4.    This year, a new National Academies consensus study on the early childhood workforce – funded by ED, HHS, and philanthropy – will provide us with more answers on what educators need to know and be able to do.  We commit to getting the findings from this report out far and wide

5.    We will work with Invest in US, the new initiative created by the bipartisan non-profit First Five Years Fund in partnership with private philanthropic leaders, to continue to generate new private funding to expand the reach and enhance the quality of early education for thousands of additional children – $340.7 million and counting!

6.    We resolve to work with the 29 states supported through RTT-ELC or the Enhanced Assessments Grants to implement Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEAs) to effectively implement these developmentally appropriate tools to help with the transition from the early years to elementary school and improve instruction for young children.

7.    We will work with the Administration and Congress to include preschool as a part of a reauthorized ESEA.

8.    We will work to keep early learning as a Presidential priority.

We know our country’s future prosperity depends upon ensuring all our young learners are prepared for school and life. You have all played a big part in this movement to date, and we want to work with you to make 2015 and even better year than 2014.  Let’s get started.

Preschool for All

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Secretary Duncan Calls Education Law to Include Preschool

Secretary Arne Duncan laid out a bold vision for the nation’s landmark education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in a speech this week in Washington, D.C. “I believe that every single child deserves the opportunity for a strong start in life through high-quality preschool, and expanding those opportunities must be part of ESEA.”  On the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the ESEA bill, he called for a new law that will work to ensure strong opportunities for all students, and protect the most vulnerable. Read more here.

RTT-ELC: Program Spotlight and Technical Assistance


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Georgia Introduces Resources to Support the Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards (GELDS).

Georgia launched a series of television spots to increase awareness about the Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards (GELDS). Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) collaborated with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) to produce the twelve-spot series called “Play to Learn.” Each spot focuses on a different skill outlined in the GELDS. Georgia is also implementing a plan to support the state’s young dual language learners through a partnership with WIDA. Georgia adopted WIDA’s Early English Language and Development Standards (E-ELDS) and will provide a GELDS/E-ELDS crosswalk resource to early childhood educators.

Early Learning at ED

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New Guidance for English Learners

The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) recently released joint guidance reminding states, school districts and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential. Read more here.  

A new toolkit to help school districts identify English learner students, including preschool-age children, prepared by the Education Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition. Read more here.  

The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) recently released joint guidance reminding states, school districts and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential. Read more here.  

A new toolkit to help school districts identify English learner students, including preschool-age children, prepared by the Education Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition. Read more here.  

Ieads work

The Office of Special Education Programs in the US Department of Education provides funding to parent centers through competitive grants to non-profit organizations.  This year, forty-one Parent Training and Information Centers will be funded throughout the United States and territories. 

International News

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International Initiative

Although cultural practices may differ, promotion of child development, health, and education is of central interest to all societies. FPG works to generate and share knowledge that will contribute to the well-being of children and families around the world. As an internationally known institute for child development research, FPG engages in projects with child development scientists and practitioners in other countries.  Read more here.

Federal Agencies at Work

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Healthier School Day: Tools for Schools offers topic-specific policy and resource materials to assist schools in meeting the new nutrition standards. Refer to the latest regulations, find free nutrition education curricula, or get ideas for adding tasty, kid-friendly foods to enhance your school meals program.  Read more here.

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Smithsonian Kids

From Art to Zoo, the Smithsonian has something to interest kids and students of all ages. Begin your Smithsonian adventure by visiting some of the websites here.

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Defending Childhood Protect Heal Thrive

AG's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence

defending childhood

The Attorney General's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence has released their final report and recommendations. To read the full report click here.

Teachers can play a critical role in preventing and reducing the impact of exposure to violence on children. They can help children by creating a predictable environment, listening to students' stories, and assuring children and adolescents that whatever happened was not their fault. Specific ways to help children exposed to violence include knowing and watching for signs of possible exposure to violence. Tips for teachers, read more here.

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Children Are Not Little Adults

They are often more likely to be at risk from environmental hazards because of unique activity patterns/behavior, physiological differences, and windows of susceptibility during early life stages including fetal development and puberty.  Read more here.  Early Life Stages:  Childhood should be viewed as a sequence of life stages, from birth through infancy and adolescence. When assessing early life risks, consideration is given to risks resulting from fetal exposure via the pregnant mother, as well as postnatal exposures. Read more here.

Research and Reports

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New in ERIC: "I Love My Work But..." The Professionalization of Early Childhood Education

There are two separate but related issues that have challenged advocates, researchers and practitioners in the field of early education and care work for decades: improving the quality of children's programs and increasing the wages and benefits of the workers. The solution has been framed as a need for professionalizing the workforce--professional development training, higher education and enhanced skills. While seeking professional status is expected to improve the quality of childcare programs and worker compensation, the relationship between quality, compensation and professional development training has not been fully explored. Through in-depth interviews with 32 early childhood educators the author explored the relationship between educational qualifications and experience, with teacher pay and conditions of employment.  To read the full text of the study, please click here.

Resources You Can Use

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2014 was a busy year for The National Head Start Association (NHSA), from the Head Start photo exhibit making its way from Maine to California, to the National’s Racing Presidents kicking off Nike Go Smart on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, to President Obama’s shout out to thousands of Head Start parents gathered in New Orleans for the NHSA Annual Parent Conference. To kick off 2015, NHSA will hold its annual Winter Leadership Institute, where key thought leaders will lead sessions, panels, and discussions on the most important policy issues facing the Early Learning community.


About Early Intervention Why intervene Early?

There are three primary reasons for intervening early with an exceptional child:  to enhance the child’s development, to provide support and assistance to the family, and to maximize the child’s and family’s benefit to society.  To learn more, click here.

NEW america

In December, the Early Education Initiative at New America released After Winning, Then What? An Inside Look at Four Winners of Federal Early Education Grant Competitions. This brief includes an overview of four competitive grant programs that impact early education: Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge, Investing in Innovation, Promise Neighborhoods, and the Social Innovation Fund.


NAEYC Starts the New Year with a New Strategic Direction

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has unveiled its new and bold Strategic Direction – one that positions NAEYC as a leader, convener, and partner in the early learning community. The new Strategic Direction reaffirms that NAEYC’s work will center around the collective vision for all young children to thrive and learn in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential.

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ECEC Releases High-Quality Community Early Care and Education Programs: An Essential Support for the Workforce of Today and Tomorrow

ECEC has released a white paper, High-Quality Community Early Care and Education Programs: An Essential Support for the Workforce of Today and Tomorrow, that examines the critical role these programs play within the early childhood program landscape. Affordable access to high-quality Community Early Care and Education Programs remains at the core of successful early childhood state systems that involve a range of programs, including Early Head Start and Head Start, state prekindergarten, and home visiting that operate within various settings, such as community programs and schools. The paper is available here.

center for parent information and resources

Parents of young children with disabilities face additional challenges to help their children learn and thrive.  Parent centers in every state help parents learn more about the nature of their children’s disabilities and their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Parents can find the parent center that serves them at the Center for Parent Information and Resources here at find your center, where they can also find a landing page with links to resources on evidence based practices  that improve early learning. 


Save the Date: Webinar on Evaluating Early Childhood Educators

Save the Date: Tuesday, January 27th from 3:00-4:30 ET, for CEELO’s upcoming Webinar with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at the American Institutes for Research, on Evaluating Early Childhood Educators: PrekindergartenThrough Third Grade, a Supplement to the Practical Guide to Designing Comprehensive Educator Evaluation Systems. 

Enhancing Leadership

As part of TA efforts to enhance leadership at the state level, CEELO participated in and hosted the inaugural meeting of the CEELO Leadership Academy , a webinar on Tools to Support Principals as Evaluators of Early Childhood Education Teachers, and working with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders to develop a webinar for next year on Evaluating Early Childhood Educators: Prekindergarten Through Third Grade, a Supplement to the Practical Guide to Designing Comprehensive Educator Evaluation Systems.

Tools to support principals as evaluators of early childhood education teachers

CEELO, in collaboration with the Great Lakes and Midwest Comprehensive Centers, sponsored this webinar for state and local leaders in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Professional Learning Academy: Supporting District Implementation of Early

Childhood Policy

A new CEELO FastFact describes the Professional Learning Academy in NJ. The goal is to build a community of practice among New Jersey school districts to provide support in their understanding of critical topics and their application to early childhood. The Academy provides an opportunity for districts to come together to discuss these critical topics guided by literature, expert presentations, district presentations, and facilitated discussions across and within districts.

Considering Inclusion Practices in QRIS (FastFact)
A new FastFact from CEELO, QRIS and Inclusion: Do State QRIS Standards Support the Learning Needs of All Children? reviews which states accommodate children with special needs in their quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), and highlights states with exceptional inclusion practices.


A new theme issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly co-edited by Mathematica senior fellow Kimberly Boller, Stacie Goffin (Goffin Strategy Group), and Steve Barnett at the National Institute for Early Education Research, looks at QRIS’s range of purposes and effectiveness as a change agent. The issue includes an opening commentary assessesing the state of QRIS and suggests two additional policy approaches to increase the availability of consistently strong early childhood education programs for young children.

national center for learning disabilities

Get Ready to Read! is designed to support educators, parents, and young children in the development of early literacy skills in the years before kindergarten. Intended for use with all children, the resources and information provided on this site promote skill-building, communication between adults, and ways to address concerns.  Read more here 

In this issue: 

Voices from the Field

Jason Sachs, Early Education Director, Boston Public Schools

By Senior Policy Advisor Steven Hicks

Steven: How did you begin your career in early learning?

Jason: Between college and prior to graduate school I was an intern in DC with the Senate, and one of the Senators, John Chafee was introducing child care assistance program (Act for Better Child Care) and that started my policy interest in early care and education.   I attended Tufts child study and human development program and then grad school at Harvard.  My day job was figuring out how to measure quality in Boston.  I worked in child care centers and after school centers to set benchmarks for improving quality, which was based on teacher salaries and NAEYC accreditation, and other structural variables of quality.. However I was also very interested in social emotional development and wanted to study the interaction between policy and individual student outcomes, specifically under what conditions do children do well? I wrote about this in my dissertation, “Inequities in Early Care and Education: What is America Buying?” In it I tried to show that low income students receive lower quality care/education and that the effects of this are quite detrimental.

Elisabeth Schaefer at the Massachusetts Department of Education said would you like to take what you are doing around quality measures in Boston and implement them across the state. So I worked with schools, large child care programs and resource and referral agencies to use measures of quality for their community.  I believed then as I do now, that data should drive quality improvements. Unfortunately a new administration came in and cut the program. In 2005, when Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wanted to implement universal preschool, I was recruited to help — and I’ve been here ever since.  The question we tried to answer was “how do you make high quality early education programs in a K-12 system?” Furthermore, the Superintendent also was interested in what might “percolate up” from our work.  We rolled out over 100 classrooms in 5 years using a coaching model, extensive PD, and strong math and literacy curriculum.  We evaluated our quality improvements every two years and in addition we were fortunate enough to have a graduate student researcher work with us to design and implement a student outcome study. Per what “percolated up” we are quite busy in the district implementing a new kindergarten curriculum, and designing 1st through 3rd grade curricula.  We see some fade out in the elementary years, and we think changing curriculum and practice will go a long way in improving 3rd grade student outcomes.

Steven: What do you see as the roll of the public schools and districts in improving the quality of early learning?

Jason: Community-based organizations have been doing the work of early childhood education for a long time.  K-12 is just entering the field.  All of us need do thinking locally about the appropriate role for each organization.  We have to look at where there are opportunities.  For example, in the public schools there are great professional development systems and structures available, e.g. planning is not done at nap time but rather there is designated time for teachers to work with one another to improve instruction. Principals have graduate degrees and are much more publicly accountable. Teachers are part of unions where there are systems in place for meeting and talking about student work and being evaluated. In community-based programs, the systems and rigor is not as extensive, for example the director is not always well-trained in instruction or in management. Because students stay in K-12 there is great opportunity to understand the impact of early education programs on later student outcomes.  I think we need to get clearer about what are the intended outcomes of programs and develop stronger accountability systems around.  I do think the public schools are clearer in what they are “supposed” deliver, e.g. academic outcomes. 

Steven: Why is the President’s proposal to provide high-quality early learning and development programs for our children important to our country and what do you see as some of the challenges and opportunities?

Jason: I think it’s exciting.  There is a direct role for public schools and community-based organizations.  It provides an opportunity for a strong dialog on who is teaching and what kids are learning.  That is huge.  It can help identify gaps, e.g. degreed teachers that are not well-compensated or lack of access to meaningful career pathway programs. Yes, children need to see themselves represented in the adults that work with them, but these adults also need to be well-educated.  This includes needed dialogue around the academic and the social-emotional needs of children.  Higher education needs to be a much stronger partner in workforce development as we need more teachers who the practical skills to implement strong curriculum.  I believe bringing in public schools will create some of this change. The proposal is exciting and bold.

Monthly Multimedia

PBS Parents

Toddler Language Development Milestones

18-36 Months: Learning to Love Books

When toddlers are introduced to the magic of books, they develop a love of reading that can last a lifetime. Language is the foundation for literacy, and you can help your toddler get ready for reading by incorporating listening and talking into everyday activities. Read more here.