High-Quality Preschool so that Every Child Achieves

Office of Early Learning May Newsletter 2015 

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Message from the Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett


High-Quality Preschool so that Every Child Achieves


We are working hard at the federal level to augment and stimulate expansion of preschool at the state and local levels.  In April we took a small step forward: the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) added a new competitive grant program called the Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants to their rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).This program would provide funding for states to improve coordination, quality, and access to early education. In addition, the bill includes new specific supports for early learning in Titles II, IV, V, and X and retains the allowed use of Title I funds for preschool.


Secretary Duncan applauded the leadership of Chairman Alexander, Senator Murray and the members of the HELP Committee on this and other important aspects of the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act proposal.  Though there is still much to be done to make it a good law, the bill now honors the widespread bipartisan call to expand access to high-quality preschool.


We also have two new reports to help advance our push for high quality early learning opportunities for all children. ED released A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America,  reiterating the low numbers of children in preschool: 59 percent of 4-year olds – or six out of every 10 children – are not enrolled in state preschool, Head Start, and/or special education preschool services.  The report makes the case for integrating early learning into any reauthorization of ESEA.


The other report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, was released from the National Academies of Science.  One of the study’s 13 recommendations is that lead teachers of children from birth to eight have a minimum of a bachelor's degree with specialized knowledge and competencies in early child education. Note that this recommendation isn’t just about the preschool years (ages three to five), but starts at birth and continues through the third grade. The report validates the importance of early childhood teachers and the need for their work to be supported and respected whether in schools, Head Start or child care settings.


The report also includes recommendations for higher education from course and degree content, to access, to pathways and more.   Many of the report’s recommendations align with the work our Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge states (and other states) are doing to secure more resources to help the workforce go back to school and develop well-articulated educational and career pathways, opportunities for continued education and professional growth, and better compensation and career stability.


Implementation of the recommendations from the report will not happen overnight and will not come easily or cheaply. Overcoming the disparities, entrenched fragmentation, and funding inequities prevalent in our field across the diverse programs serving children along the age continuum will be challenging.  We are ready to tackle these challenges. 


Voices From the Field

Yasmina Vinci

Interview with Yasmina Vinci

Executive Director, National Head Start Association

by Senior Policy Advisor Steven Hicks


This month the Head Start community will celebrate and reflect on the incredible impact Head Start has made on millions of lives over the last 50 years.

“Learning ABC’s and 123’s, although critical, is not sufficient to fully prepare children to be ready to succeed later in life. Early learning must focus on the whole child and the whole family. That means embracing a comprehensive approach to early learning, which includes home visits, health screenings, improved nutrition and two-generation efforts that provide a foundation for stabilizing the family and home, and ensuring the entire family is prepared and invested in their own lifelong success.” Read more here.

Preschool Development Grants

Arizona Flag


With widespread support across the State, Arizona’s Preschool Development Grant outlines the state’s plan to raise the quality and accessibility of preschool programs across 15 High Needs Communities. Arizona proposes to use 65% of grant funding to increase preschool access and quality in the targeted High Needs Communities with a proposed outcome of up to 3,478 preschool slots by the end of grant cycle. Alternatively, 35% of grant funds will be dedicated to the maximizing of early childhood education infrastructure. With a focus on community collaboration and information technology, Arizona looks to support its sub grantees in its goal of high-quality and access to Pre-K throughout the state. Read about Arizona and the other Preschool Development Grant states here.

RTT-ELC:  Program Spotlight

CA online logo

California Early Childhood Online (CECO)

To support early childhood teachers, the California Early Learning and Development System (CAELDS) provides an integrated set of resources for early learning and development and best practices in early education. The courses provided on California Early Childhood Online (CECO) enable teachers to increase knowledge of these resources and their ability to provide developmentally appropriate experiences for children in their care. In the first year, over 4600 teachers accessed the site.  View the learning modules here.

Technical Assistance


Supporting Inclusive Practices: Professional Development Resources

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center and Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance Program partnered to create a compilation of professional development resources to support inclusive practices. These materials focus on resources that can be used to prepare personnel to serve young children with disabilities in settings with their typically developing peers, which is a requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  View the resources here: 

Part 1: Description of Resources in the Compilation

Part 2: Matrix of Resources from Projects and National Associations

Part 3: Matrix of Resources Developed by Individual States


SIG Early Learning Model Webinar

On April 23, 2015, CEELO and the Center on School Turnaround (CST) hosted an online session designed for state early learning and school improvement administrators gearing up to include the early learning model in their school improvement plans under the new rule for the SIG grants. Presenters reviewed the eight components* of the new model and discussed key requirements, including school leadership and expanding high quality prekindergarten and full-day kindergarten.

Early Learning at ED


The OSEP-funded IRIS Center developed a new module that highlights the importance of establishing classroom rules for young children including those with disabilities, and communicating with the family about rules and expected behaviors.  The module entitled Early Childhood Behavior Management: Developing and Teaching Rules, features strategies for teaching and reinforcing rules for young children.  The content addresses DEC Recommended Practices, and provides guidelines for effectively developing and displaying rules.  These resources are free and are available here.

ERIC 50 years

Head Start/Child Care Partnerships: Program Characteristics and Classroom Quality

As part of President Obama's Early Education Plan, Congress authorized $500 million in the 2014 Omnibus Act to support states and communities in expanding high-quality early learning through the creation of a new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership initiative.  Read more here.

International News

OECD Better Policies for Better Lives

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Network upholds the mandate of the Education Policy Committee to assist countries to develop effective and efficient policies for education and learning to meet individual, social, cultural and economic objectives. Read more here.

Federal Agencies at Work

CDC Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ADHD Release New Study “Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder among Children with Special Health Care Needs.” The data show that 1 in 2 preschoolers ages 4-5 with ADHD received behavioral therapy and about 1 in 2 were taking medication for ADHD. Almost 1 in 4 preschoolers were treated with medication alone.   Read more here.

CDC’s Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers Toolkit Now Available

Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers is a free, online resource developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Designed for parents of toddlers and preschoolers, Essentials for Parenting addresses common parenting challenges, like tantrums and whining.


Plan Now to Make Summer a Healthy Time in Your Community

At the beginning of March — National Nutrition Month — our partner agency the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service announced an ambitious goal of serving 200 million meals to children and teens in low-income communities this summer.

National Institute of Mental Health NIMH

Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters:  What Community Members Can do

Each year, children experience violence and disaster and face other traumas. Young people are injured, they see others harmed by violence, they suffer sexual abuse, and they lose loved ones or witness other tragic and shocking events. Community members—teachers, religious leaders, and other adults—can help children overcome these experiences and start the process of recovery.  Read more here.

Research and Reports

OPRE Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation

Beyond the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study

Over 100 studies demonstrate that parental warmth, supportiveness, and sensitivity predict growth in self-regulation while harsh discipline techniques and maltreatment are associated with self-regulation difficulties. Read this review of literature on the impact of early adversity and stress on self-regulation development to explore other conclusions drawn from our look at this issue.

Early-Childhood Education in the U.S.;  An Analysis
The Education Week Research Center analyzed American Community Survey data to identify patterns in the school enrollment of young children.  Read more here.

Edcation Week

national women's law center

A new National Women’s Law Center report, Extra Credit: How Louisiana Is Improving Child Care,  analyzes the impact of a unique package of tax credits intended to improve the quality of child care in Louisiana – the School Readiness Tax Credits – in the first four years of their implementation.

AARO Austin Area Research Organization

Background on our Pre-K Enrollment Initiative & AARO 

Research by E3 Alliance shows that only half of all Central Texas students are Kindergarten-ready when they enter school.  And every year in Central Texas, over 2,000 low-income 4-year-olds are eligible for FREE public school Pre-K, but they don’t enroll in any public or private pre-school program.  Additional information about AARO can be found at here.

The Century Foundation logo

The Century Foundation and Poverty & Race Research Action Council have launched a new report "A Better Start:  Why Classroom Diversity Matters in Early Education" describing the racial, ethnic and economic disparities in preschool classrooms across America and how diversity and quality are linked, as well as the steps policymakers can take to increase diversity in preschool classrooms.

Resources You Can Use

ATF logo

Worthy Wages

In addition to the persistent teacher-retention crisis and chronic under-funding of early education, the impact of low wages earned by early childhood educators can also have damaging effects on young children. That's why AFT and the Center for the Child Care Workforce annually hold Worthy Wages Day on May 1.  Read a blog about the importance of worthy wages for success in early learning education by ED's Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy and Early Learning Libby Doggett.

Child Mind Institute logo

Speak Up for Kids

The Child Mind Institute is committed to finding effective treatments for childhood psychiatric and learning disorders, building the science of healthy brain development, and empowering children and their families with help, hope, and answers. Helpful resources provided by The Child Mind Institute include:  “Speak up for Kids” achieved webcasts featuring leaders in the field of mental health, youth and their parents, and celebrities who have experienced mental illness who address barriers to getting care.

IES National Center for Education Statistics

New REL Studies on Early Childhodd Program Quality and Data Use

Two new reports from the Regional Education Laboratories (RELs) Midwest and Northeast & Islands describe two ways states and districts are using data to measure the quality of early childhood education programs and inform improvements.

Examining Ratings and Dimensions of Quality in an Early Childhood Education Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).  Read the report here.

Data Collection and Use in Early Childhood Education Programs: Evidence from the Northeast Region.  Read the full report and the companion Stated Briefly report here.

Let's Move

Active Communities

The way in which communities are designed and function can promote—or inhibit—physical activity for children and adults. Children’s ability to be physically active in their community depends on whether the community is safe and walkable.  Read more here.


Common Core State Standards

NIEER hosted a blog forum on the Common Core State Standards; all the responses and comments have been collected into one document. NIEER is planning to host at least one webinar on the topic.

nasbe logo

NASBE Releases Statement on Every Child Achieves Act of 2015

National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) Executive Director Kristen Amundson released a statement regarding the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA), the proposed update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). 

DEC Division for Early Childhood

The position statement on Leadership in Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education has been released. This position statement focuses on promoting high-quality leadership at all levels of the early intervention/early childhood special education service systems.  Read more here.

Better Hearing and Speech Month

Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM)

Each May, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) highlights Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) to raise awareness about communication disorders. The 2015 theme is "Early Intervention Counts." Results of a recent survey of ASHA’s membership revealed that 45% of expert respondents reported lack of awareness as the number one barrier to early detection of communication disorders.  For more information and resources about early detection of communication disorders, visit ASHA’s website at here and here 

Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute

What Questions Do Children with Autism Encounter in Inclusive Preschools?
Children with higher language levels are more likely to receive cognitively challenging questions--and cognitively challenging questions are asked more often in classrooms with more adults relative to children.  Read more.

New Talking is Teaching Guide from Too Small to Fail

Talking is Teaching Community Campaign Guide a new resource designed for communities to start or enhance their own Talking is Teaching campaigns. 

Too Small To Fail

Child Trends

Wisconsin’s Infants and Toddlers

To help states target policies related to infants and toddlers, the Alliance for Early Success has funded Child Trends to create several state profiles. Wisconsin's infants and toddlers number more than 200,000.  Read more here.

Be Engaged, Get Involved!

There are many ways for Parents and Families of Head Start children to become involved and stay engaged in your children’s education and future.  Read more here.

National Head Start Association

Council for Professional Recognition

Council CEO Named Teachstone Ambassador

Council Chief Executive Officer Valora Washington, Ph.D. was recently selected as an “ambassador” for Teachstone,® a Charlottesville, Va.-based creator of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System® (CLASS®) an observation tool that measures the interactions between teachers and children. As a Teachstone Ambassador, Dr. Washington agreed to partner with Teachstone to develop and promote content related to advancing quality early learning experiences for children. For more details on the Ambassador Program, read more here.

ASCEND The Aspen Institute

Two Generations. One Future: An Anthology from the Ascend Fellowship, edited by Dr. Christopher King; Dr. P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale; and Dr. Mario Small, offers insights into 2-Gen 2.0 approaches spearheaded by 20 leaders from across sectors, including the fields of human services, mental health, justice-involved families, and early childhood.  Read more here.

Committee for Education Funding

The Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 115 national education associations and institutions from preschool to postgraduate education, has a new report -- Education matters:  Investing in American FutureThe report looks at President Obama’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget for prioritizing investing in education as a proven strategy to increase jobs and improve our nation’s economic growth and competitiveness. 

Corporation for National & Community Service

AmeriCorps preps preschoolers 
AmeriCorps members within the Minnesota Reading Corps PreK program significantly boosted emergent literacy skills of PreK students aged 3, 4 and 5. In this evaluation, they helped 4- and 5-year-olds meet or exceed spring targets for kindergarten readiness in all five assessed areas. By the end of the school year, 3-year-olds significantly outperformed students in comparison classrooms in rhyming words and picture names. ( Corporation for National & Community Service)

Monthly Multimedia

Center for Developing Children Harvard University

Brain Development Videos Available Online

The InBrief series from the Center on the Developing Child provides brief summaries of recent scientific presentations and research on the science of early childhood development and early childhood program evaluation

Zero to Three

The Magic of Everyday Moments

Four new videos have been added to the series to help early learning providers create conversations with parents and trainees.  Each video shows in a clear and compelling way how parents can nurture key skills and attributes children need to be eager, competent learners and to form strong, healthy connections with others as they grow—all through everyday interactions and routines.  Read more here

Last Word

OEL Staff

Office of Early Learning Visits the Judy Center in East Baltimore, Maryland

The Judy Center at the Commodore John Rodgers School in East Baltimore works to ensure school readiness by providing wrap-around services to the whole family. It provides a central location for educational programs, family support, health-related services, and family involvement activities for children birth through Kindergarten and their families who reside near this Title I school.  Working in collaboration with community-based agencies, organizations, and businesses, the Judy Center provides a user-friendly way for families to access opportunities so their children can start their formal education on a level playing field with their peers.