Resources to Kick Off the New School Year!

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

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September 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!

It's that time again; parents are sending their children off to new early childhood programs, some for the first time, while educators and providers open their arms to these children and get ready to make a huge impact on their lives. This edition of the Early Learning newsletter highlights different resources that parents, providers, and educators can use for support during this exciting time of new experiences.

In addition to the resources below, we're very excited to announce the brand new Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five program! This grant program, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), is a great funding opportunity that will support innovation in states as they work to improve and enhance collaboration and coordination among their existing programs of early childhood care and education. We're also thrilled that it encourages partnerships across various state agencies that oversee these programs. Read more about this opportunity in Federal Update!, below.


Grantee Spotlight: New Jersey Preschool Development Success

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New Jersey PDG

As an awardee of ED's and HHS' Preschool Development Grant program, New Jersey focused its efforts on supporting local school districts to expand high-quality preschool opportunities. One aspect of this work was to encourage local school districts to participate in Grow NJ Kids, New Jersey’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. Grow NJ Kids works to raise the quality of child care and early learning throughout New Jersey. It gives these programs resources to self-assess and improve, while providing parents with information that allows them to evaluate the programs' quality and make the best choices for their child. Grow NJ Kids seeks to create a system that encourages ongoing improvement.

Three of the state's local school districts completed the process for assessing their programs through Grow NJ Kids and received a four out of five-star rating. The programs also received a financial award for their high-quality ratings and commitment to quality preschool environments. This progress demonstrates New Jersey’s efforts to align early learning work within its local school districts and other early care and education programs in its communities.   


Federal Update! Brand New Funding Opportunity for Building Strong Birth-to-Five Mixed Delivery Systems

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Administration for Children and Families

HHS' Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in consultation with ED, has announced Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5), a new funding opportunity for all 50 states and six territories. The PDG B-5 grant program seeks to empower state governments to develop, update, or implement a strategic plan for collaboration and coordination among early childhood care and education programs in a mixed delivery system to prepare low-income and disadvantaged children to transition into their local educational agency or elementary school. States and territories can apply for as little as $500,000 and as much as $15,000,000 for the first year of funding. Applications are due Nov. 6, 2018.


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Resources for You: Leadership Video Series and Back to School!

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Video Series: Supporting Families of Young Children in Leadership Roles

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State staff who ensure their states' implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C and IDEA Part B Section 619 (preschool) are also responsible for encouraging and supporting families of young children to participate in planning, development, and evaluation for local public education and child care programs that impact their children. This involvement of families in decision-making should also occur at higher levels of governance within the state, such as providing opportunities to join a state interagency coordinating council or special education state advisory panel. 

The OSEP-funded Early Childhood Technical Assistance (TA) Center recently developed a series of videos that provides testimonials and insights from family leaders who have experience becoming involved in the educational systems that provide services to their children under IDEA Part C and Part B Section 619. The series uncovers the challenges that families of young children may face when beginning their journeys as leaders and advocates in these systems. The videos allot time for personal reflection and facilitated discussion so that viewers can take pause to identify and consider strategies that support new and emerging family leaders.

Back-to-School Resources for Families and Caregivers

As children heading to school engage in new routines and learning opportunities, it can sometimes be a challenging experience for them and their families or caregivers. The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI) has developed and collected a number of resources especially for families and caregivers, to make changes and challenges easier to navigate. We'd like to highlight two relevant collections that are available on NCPMI's Family Engagement resource page: (1) Making Life Easier provides easy-to-use tip sheets on approaching daily routines; and (2) the Backpack Connections series provides handouts that can be used by both teachers and caregivers to help young children develop social-emotional skills and reduce challenging behavior. 

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Resources for Aligning Policies Across the Birth Through Third-Grade Continuum

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The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) has been working to help states strengthen the alignment of birth through third-grade educational policies and increase the coordination of resources and policies across statewide systems. The center recently launched a new webpage featuring TA partnerships and projects tasked with achieving these goals, along with relevant resources and materials.

We'd like to highlight a couple of these partnerships and resources, including the K-3 Policymaker’s Guide to Action. Developed by the Education Commission of the States (ECS), the guide has been used by CEELO and ECS to assist state education leaders in developing policies that strengthen the preschool through third-grade continuum and impact principal leadership; licensure and endorsements; assessments; third-grade reading laws; full-day kindergarten; developmentally appropriate curriculum; and other domains in these critical years. Another report, PreK-3rd Grade Systems: Lessons Learned from New York School Districts, spotlights several districts making progress in the implementation of PreK through third grade plans unique to their communities, analyzes information collected from the PreK through third-grade teams, and shares cross-cutting lessons learned. 


Featured Webinar: Creating a Culture of Data Use!

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On Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. EDT, DaSy (the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems) will host a one-hour webinar exploring its comprehensive online resource, the Data Culture Toolkit. The webinar will walk participants through the five key steps to building a culture of data use in a state or local education program: (1) Formalize your data team and its vision or purpose; (2) Assess your data use culture; (3) Prioritize your data team's critical questions; (4) Assess and improve your data quality; and (5) Explore and use data. We encourage you to register for this webinar today.


Research Corner: Back to School With "What Works"

The Institute of Education Sciences' What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviews research and identifies for education stakeholders "what works," including what resources and methods have been proven to work best for educators. We've spotlighted some helpful resources below to kick off the new school year.

  • Core Subjects DashboardWWC has collected some quick "Teaching Tips" from its practice guides for math, language arts, and behavioral issues to try in your classroom.
  • Homeroom: Looking for the best evidence on math, reading, and science? Use the Find What Works tool on WWC's homepage to compare the research. The WWC video tour can show you even more WWC features and how to use them.
  • Front Office: Administrators may find this practice guide on reducing dropout rates in middle and high school helpful for improving high school graduation rates.
  • Field TripVisit the Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) website and learn how they provide support for more evidence-reliant education systems.

If you're interested in getting the latest from the WWC, subscribe to NewsFlash or check out the WWC Facebook and Twitter accounts.


    Voices From the Field: Briana Harris, Tennessee Preschool Educator

    Brianna Harris

    This month, we interviewed Briana Harris, a lead teacher at the Cambridge Early Learning Center in Nashville, Tennessee. In the interview, Harris shares her excitement for the beginning of the school year, and her passion for teaching preschoolers. She also shares the steps she takes to ensure her students have a successful school year from the start. We invite you to read the full interview on the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) Blog.

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    Connect With Us Online!

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    Check out ED's Early Learning website for updates on all of ED's early learning activities, and to view the Early Learning newsletter archive. 

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    OSERS is on Twitter with the latest tweets from special education and early intervention advocates, educators, families, and students. Be sure to follow @Ed_Sped_Rehab and tell your friends. OSERS Assistant Secretary Johnny Collett has joined the conversation, too! Follow him today @JCollettOSERS. We'll see you in the Twittersphere!