Preparing Educators and Personnel; Engaging With Research and Data

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

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June 2018: In This Issue


From Acting Directors Ruth Ryder and Tammy Proctor

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

Acting Directors Ruth Ryder and Tammy Procter

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is quite busy this summer, especially in preparing for our upcoming grantee meetings. This includes the OSEP Project Directors' Conference on July 23–25. We also have our Improving Data, Improving Outcomes meeting coming up Aug. 14–16. This is hosted by the OSEP-funded DaSy Center (Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems), and brings together state coordinators and data managers for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C and Part B, Section 619 (preschool). Both of these events will be held in Arlington, Virginia. We look forward to interacting with many of you at these events! 

Below we've spotlighted some incredible stories and successes from the field, and shared new resources, many of which come from our partners at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Thank you, as always, for reading Early Learning and for the work you do!


Grantee Spotlight: Tennessee’s Preschool Development Grant

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Tennessee Department of Education

The primary goal of the Tennessee Department of Education’s (TNDOE) Preschool Development Grant (PDG) program is to substantially expand access to high-quality pre-K in two high-need communities in the state. In addition to increasing the number of children accepted into these pre-K programs, TNDOE will invest in their quality. This includes increased professional development at the state level; starting an innovative coaching program based in Nashville, Tennessee; and implementing the following activities:

  • an annual Early Childhood Summit for program directors across the state to support their quality improvement work and allow them to share best practices
  • quality assessments of every PDG and Voluntary Pre-K classroom in the state, providing TNDOE with a quality measurement based on national standards and using a standardized tool
  • a robust data management system that allows the state to integrate information from early learning programs across multiple platforms
  • regional communities of practice to support TNDOE’s work with districts

This year’s Early Childhood Summit will take place on July 23 and feature sessions from early childhood experts on coaching, inclusion, kindergarten entry inventory, and many other topics. We invite you to read more about TNDOE's efforts to strengthen early learning programs that build a foundation for academic success on its website


Funding Opportunities: Personnel Preparation From OSEP

ED logo SSRP

OSEP recently released two funding opportunities to train and prepare personnel in early intervention, special education, and related services: 1) Preparation of Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services Leadership Personnel (CFDA No. 84.325D) funds doctoral degree preparation; and 2) Interdisciplinary Preparation in Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services for Personnel Serving Children with Disabilities who have High-Intensity Needs (CFDA No.84.325K) funds master’s degree, educational specialist degree, or clinical doctoral degree preparation. The applications can be found here; the deadline for both competitions is July 30, 2018.


Early Learning Updates From ED: Resources and More

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State Learning Opportunities From OSEP-funded Technical Assistance Centers

OSEP's network of early childhood technical assistance (TA) centers is offering a variety of new opportunities to build individual and state capacity around the implementation of IDEA for young children, with or at-risk for disabilities, from birth through age 5. This handy list can help states consider which TA opportunities best fit individual state needs and priorities.

New! Comprehensive Center Network Website and Information Portal

We are pleased to announce the launch of ED's Comprehensive Center Network (CC Network) website. The site compiles more than 700 resources developed by 23 regional and content-focused centers, and more than 200 projects currently underway in states across the country. The site makes it easy to search by state, region, or topic. Through the CC Network website, anyone can learn about and access resources from hundreds of efforts to improve outcomes for our nation's students. Our readers will note that many of these efforts include early learning-specific activities, and the site features "Early Learning" as one of its resource topics areas.  

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Resources for You: Early Literacy and High-quality Cost Analysis

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Convening on High-quality Early Learning Cost Studies

Last month, the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) and Illinois Action for Children co-hosted the Cost of Quality Early Learning Think Tank convening. Participants, including state and local leaders, advocates, and national experts who are engaged in cost studies of early learning programs, discussed using cost data to inform and drive policy decisions on financing high-quality early learning programs.

They also discussed the approaches needed to move the field toward adequate and stable funding of high-quality early learning programs. A forthcoming report will summarize highlights and identify recommendations. More information, including a full list of participants and convening materials, can be found here.

    Literacy Resources for Families: What Is Phonemic Awareness?

    Visit the ED-funded National Center on Improving Literacy's (NCIL's) website for new, interactive resources geared towards parents and families of children with, or at risk for, literacy-related disabilities. We'd like to highlight NCIL's module on phonemic awareness (PA) that explains PA skills, their importance, how practitioners should be teaching them, and other critical information for families supporting their child's PA development.

    Boys practicing phonemic awareness

    Featured Webinars: Discussing Key Early Education Issues

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    Assessing Kindergarten Readiness Through Early Learning Inventories

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    We invite you to view a webinar, which will soon be archived here, from the Institute of Education Sciences-funded Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest on selecting and implementing early learning inventories (ELIs), including advice and lessons learned from three states. 

    ELIs, also known as kindergarten-entry or readiness assessments, help educators understand children’s knowledge, skills, and behaviors at the start of kindergarten and target areas that may need support. In the webinar, presenters shared their experiences, decision-making processes, and lessons learned about selecting and implementing state ELIs, as well as an overview of the research base behind ELIs. The webinar is designed for state and district early childhood program directors and coordinators as well as other early childhood practitioners interested in this topic.

    Supporting Families Affected by Opioids and Other Substances Through Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consulation

    On June 28, join the HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA's) Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) for a free webinar. The webinar will discuss the resources they have available to help professionals who conduct home visits and others who work with infants and young children to support families affected by substance use disorders. The webinar is scheduled for 1–2 p.m. EDT and will be archived on the SAMHSA website. Register for the webinar here by June 27. 

    HHS subagency webinar hosts

    Voices From the Field: Maryland Parent Rene Averitt-Sanzone

    Rene Averitt-Sanzone photo

    This month, we invite you to read the hopeful and helpful story of Rene Averitt-Sanzone's family and their experiences with hearing impairment. Averitt-Sanzone is the executive director of The Parents' Place of Maryland, an OSEP-funded parent training and information center. In her post on the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Blog, she shares the ups and downs of her family's journey: discovering, screening for, and coming to terms with hearing impairment; and advocating for and watching the incredible successes of her remarkable daughters.