Supporting Families, Raising Expectations, and Spreading Awareness

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

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April 2018: In This Issue

From Acting Directors Sylvia Lyles and Ruth Ryder

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

Lyles and Ryder official portraits

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

This month, in Early Learning, we thank you! We know that many of you joined us in honoring Autism Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month; in engaging parents and families in their children's development and education every step of the way; and in setting high expectations for all children. And what an impact you make! For all of our readers, we've shared a wealth of resources related to each of these topics, including many engaging videos and webinars. 

Our "Grantee Spotlight" features exciting early childhood work in Arkansas that provides specialized support focused on the diverse and unique needs of families and their children. Related to engaging and educating families, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) held a ParentCamp this month to bring parents and other stakeholders together to discuss the topic of summer slide

We also emphasize the importance of establishing high expectations for children with disabilities, and working with families to help their children meet those expectations. In OSEP's latest virtual symposium, now available online, we bring experts from across the field together to discuss high expectations, appropriate supports, and the importance of individualized education programs (IEPs), especially in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that addresses these topics

Thanks, as always, for reading Early Learning, and for the work you do!

News Alert From OSEP: ED Seeking Input on IDEA Part B Funds for State Data Collection Technical Assistance


ED's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is currently seeking input from the public via the OSERS Blog. We are seeking comments, particularly from state educational agencies and state lead agencies, on how best to provide technical assistance (TA) to states on the collection and reporting of data required under Part B, Sections 618 and 616, of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This includes input on the most effective and efficient method of funding this TA. 

The blog post, which contains additional information and questions to consider when providing input, will be open for comments from April 24, 2018 through May 24, 2018.

April Awareness: Autism and Child Abuse Prevention Month


Read on for information about the awareness activities members of early childhood communities engaged in this month.

Picture of Julia, the muppet who has autism

World Autism Awareness Month

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Council’s website  houses information about autism awareness and related events, including a panel presentation, held earlier this month, featuring the Sesame Workshop. Panelists shared the story behind the creation of Julia, the first Muppet with autism (pictured left). A video recording of the event is available online. We also invite you to check out the OSERS Blog for posts from researchers, parents, and professionals working with children with autism. Follow OSERS on Twitter for even more autism-related updates.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS’) Children’s Bureau is sharing information on how to build strong and nurturing communities that are supportive of families, and play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect by promoting child and family well-being.

Grantee Spotlight: Arkansas' Network of Family Services Managers

Arkansas Better Chance program logo

In 2016, Arkansas was awarded a Preschool Development Grant (PDG) to expand and improve its pre-K program, Arkansas Better Chance (ABC). One of the activities of this grant involved providing funds to 16 local pre-K programs, each of which were then required to hire a family services manager to support local families in meeting their children's and families' needs. These family services managers provide comprehensive services for families, including

  • conducting a comprehensive assessment of the needs of each family and assisting them in setting and achieving ambitious goals; 
  • conducting home visits; 
  • assisting families in securing all necessary paperwork needed to enroll their children; 
  • ensuring that each family has a medical home and dental home, and that each child receives a medical, dental, and social-emotional screening; and 
  • actively referring families to community resources through established partnerships, and using a clearly defined referral process.

ABC program staff believe that just as early childhood programs must adapt their curriculum and practice to the unique needs, abilities, and interests of the child, so too, must they adapt to the diverse needs, abilities, and interests of parents and families.

Early Learning Updates From ED: Engaged Parents and IEPs


ED Event for Parents on Summer Slide

parent camp logo

On April 23, ED hosted ParentCamp: Informed Families ThrivePreventing the Summer Slide. This event was a series of workshops, facilitated by ED staff and invited guests, that brought parents, students, educators, and faith-based and community representatives together. They shared their experiences, concerns, solutions, and resources related to the topic of summer slide, including those specific to early learners. ParentCamp is designed to help participants make informed decisions about their children's education. Visit ED’s family and community engagement website for more information about all of the Department's ParentCamp events.


Virtual Symposium on the Importance of IEPs

On April 9, OSEP hosted the first event of its 2018 virtual symposia series. The symposium's many presenters focused on 

  • the factors that drive high expectations for children with disabilities;
  • how to support each child and family in establishing and meeting those expectations;
  • how to ensure that every child has access to an education that meets their individual needs;
  • how high expectations relate to state academic content standards; and
  • ways to incorporate evidence-based practices into IEPs. 

The practices and principles highlighted in this symposium were presented in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1, commonly referred to as Endrew F. OSEP's questions-and-answers document on Endrew F. can be found here. You can find additional information and resources for all of the symposium's topics on the symposium web page.

Resources for You: On Child Outcomes Reporting and Redesigned Head Start Website

New Collection of IDEA Child Outcomes Reports

DaSy (the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems) recently unveiled its latest special collection of resources, Child Outcomes Reports. This collection provides a convenient means for users to access a variety of IDEA child outcomes data reports that select state agencies have produced for their local early childhood programs. As users will note when perusing the collection, the featured states have offered many examples and templates that are intended to assist other states in this work.

Office of Head Start logo

Explore Head Start's Redesigned Website

We invite you to check out the recently redesigned Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) website from HHS' Office of Head Start. While exploring, users can navigate the ECLKC content topics from the main menu bar, and subscribe to email updates. The site provides the latest evidence-based information, training materials, and resources that respond to the needs of Head Start and Early Head Start programs. 

Featured Webinar Series: Discussing Key Early Education Issues


Webinar Series on Key Issues in Early Education 

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) is hosting a series of free webinars featuring national experts, and focusing on issues facing the early education community. This series comes in advance of CEELO's 2018 Roundtable for state agency early childhood specialists. This year's roundtable, conducted in partnership with the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDEand national technical assistance initiatives, will seek to address the issues raised in the webinar series, and focus on participants' collective and collaborative work advancing early learning. The webinar topics are the following:

Recommended Research: Ongoing Longitudinal Study Analyzes Early Academic Achievement

NCES logo

ED's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released findings from a longitudinal study that followed students from their kindergarten year to the spring of 2016, when most of the students were in fifth grade. The study, Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11, and the findings from the fourth-grade round, provide a first look at the reading, math, and science achievement of the students involved. Key findings include the following:

  • About 88 percent of children enrolled in kindergarten in the 2010–11 school year were in kindergarten for the first time that school year, and were in fourth grade in the spring of 2015.
  • In the spring of fourth grade, males had higher average math scores than females, while no significant differences by child's sex were detected in children's reading and science knowledge and skills.
  • In reading, math, and science, white students, Asian students, and students of two or more races had higher average scores in the spring of fourth grade than both black and Hispanic students. In math, Hispanic students had higher average scores on the spring assessment than black students.

Voices From the Field: Creating a Positive Child Care Environment

Jolly Toddler early childhood center logo

This month, we interviewed Nancy Thompson and Janine Figiel from the Jolly Toddlers child care center in Southampton, PennsylvaniaThompson and Figiel shared with us what it takes to create a positive, nurturing, and collaborative child care environment that benefits both early childhood program staff and the children in their care. One of the ways Jolly Toddlers has done this is by successfully implementing the Pyramid Model to improve young children’s social competence. Check out the full interview on the OSERS Blog.