The Latest in Early Learning: ED Updates, Resources and More!

The U.S. Department of Education's Early Learning Newsletter

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August/September 2017: In This Issue


From Deputy Assistant Secretary Monique M. Chism, Ph.D., and Acting Director Ruth Ryder

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education | Office of Special Education Programs

Hello Early Learning Leaders!

Welcome to the combined August/September edition of the Early Learning newsletter. We've highlighted some fantastic resources, funding opportunities, and exemplars from the field. Specifically, we've included a new interview with Wendy Lewis Jackson, who co-leads the Kresge Foundation's efforts to establish high-quality, innovative, and comprehensive early childhood programs in Detroit, Michigan.  

We also want to bring to your attention an extended opportunity for your input on our work. As you may know, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is currently undergoing a process to review and reform regulatory documents and activities in accordance with Executive Order 13777. The Department published a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on regulations and policy guidance recommend for ED review, modification, or repeal. The public comment period, which was recently extended, will be open through September 20, 2017. OSERS also published a blog post detailing the process for submitting comments, which you can view here.

As a result of the recent hurricanes and their aftermath, the Department has begun to collect resources on its website to support those impacted. ED's new "Hurricane Help" page houses a large amount of resources, including many that are relevant to early childhood education.

Finally, we want to thank state data staff who came to Washington, D.C., this August to attend the 2017 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) STATS-DC Data Conference. Several sessions focused on the importance of collecting and using early learning data. More information on the conference can be found in the "Early Learning Updates From ED" section below.


Grantee Spotlight: Illinois Preschool Development Grant Expands Opportunity

As an awardee of ED's Preschool Development Grants -- Expansion Grants, the Illinois Preschool Expansion Model is making strides toward 1) enhancing the state’s infrastructure to provide high-quality preschool programs, and 2) expanding high-quality full-day preschool programs for 4-year-olds in high-needs communities. After identifying 18 communities to serve as pilot Preschool Expansion Communities, the state began to coordinate efforts and resources for aligning education systems within the communities from birth to third grade.​​ Illinois believes that this type of alignment is essential, and the state is committed to a high-quality, comprehensive system of teaching, learning, and support for children during their early years. 

The Illinois State Board of Education is collaborating with Illinois State University and others to implement the Birth through Third Grade (B-3) Continuity Project. This project seeks to improve the alignment and integration of curriculum and comprehensive services among early learning providers and K-3 schools in Preschool Expansion Communities. In support of this work, the state brings together community and school leaders for the annual Illinois B-3 Continuity Conference. Takeaways and resources from this year's conference may be useful for other communities engaging in B-3 alignment work. For more information, check out this FAQ on the state's B-3 work.


Early Learning Updates From ED

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OSEP Extends Funding for DaSy Center

On July 31, 2017, the Department announced that it would extend the project period of the DaSy Center (the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems) for a sixth year. This technical assistance (TA) center works with states to support IDEA early intervention and early childhood special education state programs to develop or enhance their coordinated early childhood longitudinal data systems. You can view the details of the waiver of the five-year limit on project periods and of the extension of this project in the Federal Register.

NCES STATS-DC 2017 Data Conference

On Aug. 1–3, 2017, ED's National Center for Education Statistics hosted its annual data conference in Washington, D.C. State data staff in attendance participated in sessions related to this year's theme, "Better Data From the Inside Out." For additional information, including the agenda, presenters, and session descriptions, follow the link at "Read More" below. 

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Resources for You: New From CEELO and ELC TA – Plus Webinars Galore

New Resources from CEELO 

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The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently debuted several new resources:


    ELC TA Publishes 2016 State Performance Reports 

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    In three phases between 2011 and 2012, 20 states were awarded grants as part of the Early Learning Challenge (ELC) program. It is jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

    The Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance Program (ELC TA) has recently updated the state awardees' profiles on its website with both (1) 2016 final performance reports for those funded in Phase 1, and (2) 2016 annual performance reports for states funded in Phase 2 and Phase 3.

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    Featured Webinars

    • Archived: The Preschool Development and Expansion Grant Technical Assistance Program (PDG TA)'s June-July 2017 webinar series provided exciting presentations on three topics important to early learning: (1) discussing and reviewing a recent report about dual language learners’ educational success, (2) strategies for supporting young children in families experiencing substance abuse, and (3) ideas for engaging fathers. To view the webinar presentations, or to join the communities of practice relevant to these topics, visit PDG TA's website

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      • Upcoming this September is the webinar "Partnerships for Inclusion: Professional Development to Support Effective Inclusion Practices." The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) and the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning are hosting this presentation as the final webinar in a series focusing on questions that frequently arise when local early childhood programs collaborate to implement high-quality inclusion. Airing on September 25, 2017, 2–3 p.m. EDT, it will focus on professional development and TA to support the workforce in implementing effective research-based inclusive practices. You can find more information on this and other ECTA webinars here.

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      Recommended Research: What Affects Student Growth in Language Development and Comprehension?

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      ED's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has released An Exploration of Instructional Practices that Foster Language Development and Comprehension: Evidence from Prekindergarten through Grade 3 in Title I Schools. This brief features results from a study that measured a wide range of instructional practices from over 1,000 classrooms in 83 schools during the 201112 school year.

      The study identified practices that were most consistently related to student growth in language skills or comprehension, including

      • engaging students in defining new words during or after reading a text;
      • helping students make connections between their prior knowledge and the texts they read;
      • promoting higher-order thinking by asking questions that require students to analyze information, explain their thinking, and develop new ideas; and
      • focusing students’ attention on the meaning of a text before reading it, such as by introducing the topic and encouraging predictions.

      Given the exploratory design of the study, these practices are not offered as recommendations for classroom instruction but rather suggestions for future evaluation.

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      Voices From the Field: Wendy Lewis Jackson, Kresge Foundation in Detroit

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      Check out the OSERS Blog for an interview featuring Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director for the Kresge Foundation's program in Detroit, Michigan. In that role, Ms. Lewis Jackson is working to develop a robust and innovative early childhood system tailored to the needs of the city's most vulnerable children and families.

      Wendy Lewis Jackson photo
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