October Means Raising Awareness for Early Literacy and Intervention!

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

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October 2017: In This Issue

From Acting Director Ruth Ryder: Welcome Sylvia Lyles, Acting Director of the Office of Early Learning!

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Office of Early Learning (OEL)

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Hello Early Learning Leaders!

This month we're celebrating early learners with disabilities. October is Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Learning Disability, and Down Syndrome Awareness Month. We're also honoring World Sight Day, which took place earlier this month. We invite you to visit the Department's Homeroom blog, as well as the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) blog and Twitter account for heartfelt stories, useful information, and unique viewpoints from individuals and families affected by and living with these disabilities. Prepare to be inspired!

We're also continuing the celebration of early learners who are also English learners, in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Check out "Voices From the Field" below for an interview with Lillian Durán, who is at the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL) and specializes in improving instructional and assessment practices with preschool-aged dual language learners (DLLs). 

Earlier this month, U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff from OSEP and the Institute of Education Sciences participated in the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) 2017 International Conference. This conference brought together leaders, practitioners, and families to discuss early intervention and early childhood special education. ED staff had an opportunity to network with leaders from the field and joined several presentations, including those focused on personnel development, inclusion, and early learning discipline practices. 

On Oct. 17–19, ED partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to host the 2017 annual meeting for Preschool Development Grant (PDG) and Early Learning Challenge (ELC) program grantees. The meeting connected grantees across these programs, and provided an excellent opportunity for participants to discuss common early learning policy decisions at the state and local levels, lessons learned, successful strategies, and emerging early childhood issues. The meeting included sessions on how best to provide high-quality early learning opportunities for our most vulnerable young learners.  

Welcome, Sylvia Lyles!

We're excited to announce that in July 2017, Sylvia Lyles became the new acting director of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education's Office of Early Learning. I look forward to collaborating with her on publishing this newsletter and continuing our efforts to improve outcomes for young learners! Lyles has more than 35 years of federal service experience. She previously worked at agencies including the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Army’s civilian education program, and in several offices within the U.S. Department of Education. 

Grantee Spotlight: Wisconsin YoungStar Cohort Model

Wisconsin Young STAR program logo

As part of Wisconsin’s ELC grant, the state developed a training and networking initiative for both family child care providers and center-based early childhood education staff. The initiative was designed to generate interest and increase participation from these providers in the state's quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), referred to as YoungStar. This initiative, the YoungStar cohort model, brought providers together and engaged them in improving early childhood program quality by 1) building positive professional relationships; 2) exploring new content and learning to gain a deeper understanding of best practices; and 3) increasing networking and peer to peer mentoring opportunities. As part of the cohort model initiative, providers attended face to face meetings once a month, for eight months, and were offered three hours of on-site consultation focused on the provider’s improvement goals. You can read more about the cohort model in the Wisconsin-based Supporting Families Together Association's fall 2017 newsletter.

Early Learning Updates From ED


NEW! Pay For Success Toolkit

Pay For Success Toolkit cover page

ED has released a new resource, the Pay for Success Toolkit: Considerations for State and Local Leaders. Pay for Success (PFS) is an innovative financing strategy that leverages private investments to address societal problems and challenges that typically use only government funds. The new toolkit is an introductory guide for state and local governments and other stakeholders that are interested in exploring the possibility of a PFS project for education initiatives, or in addressing related challenges facing their communities and populations. It provides information to help stakeholders determine if PFS is a viable financing strategy by 1) laying out the steps usually involved in conducting a feasibility study, and 2) highlighting critical questions and important safeguards to consider when using PFS to support education programs. You can find more information on ED’s PFS activities here.

Preschool Development Grants 2016 Performance Reports 

ED and HHS will soon release At a Glance: Preschool Development Grants Program Year 2016 Progress Update, a report that highlights some of the work undertaken by the 18 PDG states during 2016. You can currently review the individual states' 2016 annual performance reports on ED's PDG program website. The progress update report will also be available on this site once it's released.

OSEP Funds New Centers Focused on Early Childhood

OSEP recently announced three new investments in early childhood. These technical assistance (TA) centers are not only used by states but will offer a wealth of resources to practitioners and families.

  • The Early Childhood Systems Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) was awarded to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This center will provide TA to states for building and maintaining high-quality early childhood systems equipped with supports to implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) consistent with its requirements. It will also support states in providing high-quality IDEA services for young children with disabilities and their families. 
  • The Early Childhood Personnel Center (ECPC) was awarded to the University of Connecticut Health Center. ECPC will improve the quality of personnel who serve young children with disabilities and their families by providing TA to state IDEA Part C and Part B, section 619 (preschool) programs for implementing high-quality comprehensive systems of personnel development (CSPD). It will also provide TA to faculty of institutions of higher education to develop programs of study for providing high-quality services and inclusive programs for young children with disabilities and their families.
  • The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovation is a new investment, awarded to the University of South Florida. This center will support young children’s social, emotional, and behavioral development, and reduce their challenging behaviors by developing an early childhood multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) framework. It will also support states, early childhood programs, and personnel in implementing this framework.

Resources for You: New From our TA Providers


CEELO and CCSSO Release New Toolkit

CEELO center logo

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently collaborated with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to debut a new toolkit. This resource, the Birth to Grade 3 Indicator Framework: Opportunities to Integrate Early Childhood in ESSA Toolkit (B3 Indicator Toolkit), summarizes the evidence supporting an early learning approach to 1) school improvement, 2) public reporting, and 3) school district accountability for young learners as they transition into the early elementary grades. The B–3 Indicator Toolkit was conceived as a vehicle to embed early learning strategies more deliberately into states’ education reform plans.

      Featured Webinars From PDG TA's Communities of Practice


      We invite you to visit PDG TA's Communities of Practice website for various resources on many topics related to early learning. Below we've highlighted some of the new webinars available through this TA program.  

      • Building Partnerships with the Families of Young Dual Language Learners, a two-part series: Part 1 of this series explores benefits, barriers, and some recommended strategies for developing partnerships with families of DLLs. Part 2 extends the discussion by delving more deeply into relationship-based strategies that respond to some of the unique challenges faced by families of DLLs, and suggesting creative solutions to these challenges. The webinars archived here.
      • Supporting Young Children Who Have Experienced Trauma, a two-part series: Part 1 introduces the concept of trauma, its prevalence among young children, and its impact on brain functioning and development. You can view the recording and slide deck here. Part 2 of this series will be presented on Nov. 9, 2017, 3–4 p.m. EST. It will discuss strategies for supporting young children impacted by trauma and further explore the concept of “trauma-informed organizations.” You may register for this webinar below. More information on both of these webinars can be found here.

        Register Now 1

        Recommended Research: The Care and Education of Young Children in the U.S.

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        Last month, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a new report, Early Childhood Program Participation, Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016. This report was based on the 2016 National Household Education Survey (NHES), which collected data on children’s participation in relative care, nonrelative care, and center-based care arrangements. The survey also collected information from parents about the main reason for choosing care, what factors were important to parents when choosing a care arrangement, and parents’ participation in various learning activities with their children. Findings include the following:

        • Among children in a weekly nonparental care arrangement, 41 percent were cared for by a relative, 22 percent were cared for in a private home by someone not related to them, and 59 percent were attending a day care center, preschool, or prekindergarten. 
        • Among children whose parents reported difficulty finding child care, nearly one-third (31 percent) cited cost as the primary reasonthis was higher than any other reason.
        • Among children ages 3 to 5 who were not yet in kindergarten, 81 percent had parents who read to them three or more times in the previous week, 69 percent had parents who sang songs with them three or more times in the previous week, and 68 percent had parents who taught them letters, words, or numbers three or more times in the previous week. 

        Voices From the Field: Lillian Durán, NCIL


        Check out the OSERS Blog for an interview featuring Lillian Durán, the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL)'s lead for recommended practices in assessment and intervention with young DLLs with and without disabilities. In the interview, Durán discusses 1) her research and experience related to literacy and second language acquisition for Spanish speakers; 2) the greatest challenges in her field, including strategies for overcoming them; and 3) the current and projected activities of NCIL related to early learners. 

        Lillian Duran
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