Early Learning Newsletter | December 2018 | Happy Holidays and Meet OESE’s New Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs

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

Happy Holidays and Meet the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s New Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs

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December 2018

In This Issue:

From the Directors

Meet the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s New Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs 

Directors Laurie VanderPloeg and Annie Hsiao

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

I am excited to introduce myself. I am Annie Hsiao, and I have joined the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) as the deputy assistant secretary for policy and programs. In this role I will provide leadership for OESE’s discretionary grants, including the early learning work and ED’s collaboration with the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to administer the new Preschool Development Grants — Birth through Five program.

Most recently, I was the senior advisor to the acting assistant attorney general of the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice. In that position, I advised on policy, strategy, and programs in the division charged with awarding all of the agency's grants, promoting crime reduction, and supporting victims of crime; as well as with public safety, rule of law, and juvenile justice reform. Prior to that, I was the director of strategic partnerships at Leadership for Educational Equity, a program manager at the Charles Koch Foundation, and a program officer at the Walton Family Foundation. I also served as the director of education policy at the American Action Forum, and, with an appointment from the George W. Bush administration, as the director of government and community relations at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

I am originally from California, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and Asian American studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s degree in education policy from Harvard University.

OESE and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) look forward to continuing their partnership to promote positive learning experiences for our youngest learners!

During this busy time of the year, we hope you take time to check out some of the resources we are highlighting this month, including exciting work from the Early Learning Research network and a great opportunity from our colleagues at HHS for individuals interested in promoting developmental screenings to become an Act Early Ambassador.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!

Laurie VanderPloeg and Annie Hsiao


Project Spotlight

Logo: ED’s Institute for Education Sciences-funded Early Learning Network

Optimizing Learning Opportunities for Student Observation System

Over the last two years, the Early Learning Network’s assessment team at the University of California, Irvine, has been developing and testing a web-based observational tool for practitioners in pre-K through third grade classrooms to help improve student outcomes and strengthen student-teacher relationships. Using electronic assessments and observation, the Optimizing Learning Opportunities for Students Observation System, known as OLOS, provides real-time feedback on children’s academic progress and teachers’ instructional practices. It also offers recommendations on how to best meet students’ unique learning needs. The tool is still in the pilot phase but shows promise in becoming a practitioner-friendly comprehensive measure in early learning programs.


Early Learning Updates from ED

Learn the Signs, Act Early Ambassadors logo

Opportunity From the Centers for Disease Control’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. Program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities — with support from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau — announced a funding opportunity for Act Early Ambassadors to work with CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. (LTSAE) program. These opportunities are intended to improve early identification of developmental delays and disabilities, including autism, by

  • promoting the adoption and integration of LTSAE resources and materials to support developmental monitoring in systems that serve young children and their families;
  • serving as a state or territorial representative of CDC’s national LTSAE program; and
  • supporting the work of Act Early Teams and other state and territorial or national initiatives to improve early identification of developmental delay and disability.

Applications are due on Jan. 18, 2019 to apply for 42 available ambassadorships in multiple states and territories.


Resources for You

Pruebe hoy la app GRATIS de los CDC Sigamos el Desarrollo

Milestone Tracker Mobile App for Parents in Spanish!

The CDC is pleased to announce that its free app, the Milestone Tracker, is now available in Spanish! This mobile app is part of a suite of free, family-friendly materials available through the Learn the Signs Act Early program. The Milestone Tracker allows parents to track their child's development in a fun and easy way that gives them

  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 health care 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
Let's Participate logo

Let’s Participate! Model Demonstration Program

In 2012, OSEP funded Let's Participate! Model Demonstration Program to develop resources for early childhood professionals to promote the use of child-specific assistive technology (AT) that increases participation of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities in early learning activities and programs. Although this project has ended, many great resources are still available for practitioners working with young children with disabilities. Check out the website and explore the resources, including information about how to set up an AT lending library in your community.

New CEELO Resources

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently published a new resource to assist state efforts to define and develop highly effective offices of early learning. The presentation highlights the CEELO vision paper addressing organizational capacity, effectiveness, and leadership and staff capabilities necessary for states to lead improvement in the long-term. Presenters also explore strategies and opportunities for advocacy that focus on creating organizational capacity. Additional resources are available on the CEELO website’s Highly Effective Offices of Early Learning page.

ECTA Early Childhood Recommended Practice Modules

Check out the Early Childhood Recommended Practice Modules, now available from the Early Childhood TA Center (ECTA). The modules were developed for early care and education, early intervention, and early childhood special education faculty and professional development (PD) providers and are designed to support the implementation of the Division for Early Childhood Recommended Practices in the areas of assessment, environment, family, instruction, interaction, teaming and collaboration, and transition. Each of the seven free interactive, multimedia modules includes self-guided mini lessons with video demonstrations and quizzes, and a short simulation exercise. Faculty and PD providers can embed the modules in coursework and PD sessions and use accompanying instructor supports and learning guides to facilitate and extend practitioners’ learning.


Featured Webinars

National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations logo

Save the Date: National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations Jan. 28 Webinar

Join the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations for a webinar on Jan.28 on developing and implementing intensive individualized interventions using the prevent-teach-reinforce approach for young children.


Voices From the Field

Courtney Hansen and her two young boys

Courtney Hansen: "It Takes a Village"

This month we are highlighting a guest blog we posted earlier this school year by Courtney Hansen. Courtney is a non-attorney special education advocate and mother of young twin boys, one of whom has Down syndrome. Check out Courtney’s blog where she shares her thoughts about advocating for her boys’ education from the perspective of a military family.



Connect With Us Online!

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. 

Twitter Logo Blue

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!