Milestone Tracker App for Families and Early Math Insight

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

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November 2017: In This Issue

From Acting Directors Sylvia Lyles and Ruth Ryder

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

Ruth Ryder and Sylvia Lyles

Hello Early Learning Leaders!

This month we're excited to share with you several new tools, including a free mobile app developed by our colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Milestone Tracker. This innovative new tool allows users to track their child’s development in a fun and easy way.

We're also pleased to share exciting work in the field of early math by two Institute for Education Sciences (IES)-funded researchers, Julie Sarama and Doug Clements. Check out "Voices From the Field" below to read more about the passion they bring to engaging preschoolers and preschool teachers in an area many early childhood teachers find intimidating. 

Finally, we invite you to learn about the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation's (OII) 2017 Education Innovation Research program grantees. This innovative grant program partners local school districts or communities with evidence-based and innovative interventions to address the needs of vulnerable learners. Several of the awarded 2017 grants specifically address the needs of young learners.

Grantee Spotlight: Louisiana School Finder Tool

Lousiana School Finder

The Louisiana Department of Education recently announced the launch of the Louisiana School Finder, an interactive online tool designed to help families more easily locate and evaluate 1) schools and 2) child care centers across the state. The tool provides detailed information about each site's offerings and academic performance. It includes both annual school performance scores, and the state's first-ever early childhood performance profiles. Louisiana used their Preschool Development Grant funds to support local activities that factor into the early childhood performance profiles, such as classroom observations and resources to strengthen early childhood program quality.

Among its many features, the Louisiana School Finder provides families with

  • school performance scores and early childhood performance ratings that show how well schools and centers are preparing students for the next grade-level;
  • listings of course offerings, clubs, and enrichment and extracurricular activities;
  • a comparison tool and filters that allow users to customize their search and identify the schools and early childhood centers that are the right fit for their child; and
  • basic information about schools and centers, such as their address, website, hours of operation, and principal or director's name.

Early Learning Updates From ED


OII's Education Innovation Research Program Awards New Grants

OII recently announced this year's grantees for the Education Innovation Research (EIR) program. Sixteen grants that totaled more than $95 million were awarded. The EIR program provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale innovations that are entrepreneurial, evidence-based, and field-initiated. Innovations are funded to improve academic achievement and attainment for high-needs students, and must include a rigorous evaluation of the project. Several of the 2017 EIR grants focus on early learning, including the Metro Nashville Public Schools grant that will scale up the implementation of the Pyramid Model for promoting social competence in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. For more information about these awards and other past competitions, visit the EIR program awards page.

Resources for You: CDC Milestone Tracker, Plus Helpful Tools From Our Grantees

CDC Milestone Tracker

New! Milestone Tracker Mobile App for Parents

The CDC is pleased to announce its free new app, the Milestone Tracker, which allows users to track their child's development in a fun and easy way. This mobile app is a recent addition to CDC's popular suite of free, family friendly materials available through the "Learn the Signs. Act Early." program. The Milestone Tracker gives parents 1) tips to help their child learn and grow; 2) a way to track milestones and recognize delays; and 3) the ability to share this information with their child's healthcare provider. Specifically, the app offers the following:

  • Interactive milestone checklists for children ages 2 months through 5 years, illustrated with photos and videos
  • Tips and activities to help children learn and grow
  • Information on when to act early and talk with a doctor about developmental delays
  • A personalized milestone summary that can be easily shared with doctors and other care providers
  • Reminders for appointments and developmental screenings

We also invite you to view an upcoming webinar hosted by the CDC, which will air on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2018, from 3 to 4 p.m. ET. This webinar will allow you to learn more about the Milestone Tracker’s unique features and how it can be used to engage families in tracking developmental milestones. Register here.

CEELO's New Communications Toolkit

CEELO center logo

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently launched its Cost of Preschool Quality (CPQ) Communication Toolkit. The toolkit is a free online resource to help early education administrators and advocates communicate the value of high-quality early learning as a public investment. This communications resource follows the release of their CPQ estimator, another free tool available to those looking to fund and implement high-quality early learning programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. 

The new toolkit provides 1) evidence-based responses for common questions about early learning expenses; 2) definitions of key quality indicators; and 3) succinct explanations of the associated costs and benefits, which are supported by quotes from national experts. The toolkit offers talking points, insight from national experts, CPQ data, and effective graphics that users can feature in presentations outlining the benefits and key elements of quality preschool. The toolkit also features sample outreach materials, such as a press release template, suggested social media posts, and printable handouts. 

      Engaging Families in Early Childhood Data Initiatives

      DaSy logo

      The DaSy Center (Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems) recently posted a blog on the importance of engaging families in early childhood state- and program-level data initiatives. Data-driven decision making is transforming education and family servicesfrom personalized learning plans for individual children to school-level program development to state-wide systemic changes. As systems move in this direction, education leaders, policy makers, and researchers must embrace the importance of the families who shape the stories that are told with this data, and leverage them to improve systems and programs. Check out the DaSy Center's blog post on this topic, along with specific resources that may be helpful to programs, at "Read More" below.

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      Recommended Research: New Newsletter From IES-funded Early Learning Network

      Early Learning Network logo

      The Early Learning Network (ELN), funded by IES, seeks to advance the understanding of policies and practices that narrow the achievement gap and maintain early learning success as children transition from preschool to elementary school, and beyond. ELN researchers are examining 1) education policies, 2) individual classrooms, and 3) children’s transitions from preschool through third grade. In all three areas, researchers are identifying factors associated with early learning and school achievement that can be changed to improve children’s outcomes. We invite you to sign up for ELN's mailing list here to receive their new monthly newsletter and learn more about their activities and findings.

      Voices From the Field: Early Math Experts Julie Sarama and Doug Clements

      Sarama and Clements

      This month we had the opportunity to interview Julie Sarama and Doug Clements, professors and Kennedy endowed chairs at the University of Denver, about their research on young children’s mathematical thinking and the evidence-based approaches to teaching math to young children. Check out the interview on the OSERS Blog, where Sarama and Clements share their work and suggestions for making early math an important aspect of high-quality preschool. 

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