January Newsletter

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               News & Resources from the Office of Early Learning
                                         January 2014 Issue


Message From the Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett


Happy New Year!  The announcement of six new Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) states—Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont—was a wonderful way to begin 2014.  These states join the 14 current RTT-ELC States for a grand total of 20.  I was thrilled to see the high-quality and comprehensiveness of the winning states’ plans.


By 2017, Georgia has committed to include all licensed, registered, and publicly funded programs in its Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS). Kentucky will shift its current rating system from optional to mandatory for all public early learning programs and require them to prominently display their rating.  Michigan will include quality ratings for publically-funded programs in its State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS). The efforts by these states and others will give every parent an objective way to assess the quality of the program to which they send their children. 


New Jersey will include all sectors of the early childhood workforce in its core knowledge and competencies framework and career lattice system. Pennsylvania will create fifty “innovation zones” to develop strong family engagement strategies.  By 2016, Vermont will have a statewide plan for a Comprehensive Assessment System that aligns screenings and assessments, coordinates the implementation of assessments, describes data sharing procedures, and sets forth a professional development plan for all early childhood educators.  


I also know great work is also being done in the other states that applied, but did not receive funding, in the latest RTT-ELC competition. In New York, for example, universal prekindergarten now reaches 44% of the 4-year-olds making the state 9th highest in the nation. Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, and the District of Columbia are part of two state consortia developing common Kindergarten Entry Assessments. And Governors from both sides of the aisle—such as Mike Beebe of Arkansas, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, and Steve Bullock of Montana—have been strong advocates for increased investments in early learning this past year.


ED and HHS will work to support these states in developing and implementing their systems of high-quality early learning programs, and increase their capacity to collect and use data to improve outcomes for children. We will also support non-grantee states through technical assistance and facilitating professional learning communities, including through a new public website. The Administration's $1 billion investments in coordinated state early learning systems and the President’s bold plan to increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities for young children complement each other to give America's children a strong start. I know 2014 will be a great year for children.

Strong Start for America's Children

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New Paper: Benefits of Expanding Access to Quality Pre-K  






The National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) published a working paper showing the educational and economic benefits of expanded prekindergarten access. Some questions include: 1). What does all the evidence say about effective preschool education and long-term cognitive benefits? 2). What are the estimated effects of state and local  pre-K programs in more recent years? 3). Can government improve the quality of public preschool education?  You can read NIEER’s responses here. Also, learn about the Strong Start for America’s Children legislation at the federal level that would invest in high-quality early development and learning from birth through the preschool years.


New RTT-ELC TA Website


 The RTT-ELC program has launched a new Technical Assistance website that is available for both grantee and non-grantee states.  http://elc.grads360.org#program/home 




The State of Ohio’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) Grant application laid out Governor John R. Kasich’s aggressive reform agenda, which closes the kindergarten readiness gap between children with high needs and their peers by increasing access to high quality services, improving the quality of early childhood experiences, and measuring and reporting progress toward desired results for Ohio’s young children in need. Ohio’s Year 1 report provides information on the state's major accomplishments.  


Click Here To Read More.


New Kindergarten Readiness Assessment

During previous school years both parents and educators understood the importance of a child’s learning and development during the kindergarten year, which is why the school administered the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment - Literacy  (KRA-L) at the beginning of the school year.  During the fall of 2014 a new assessment will be administered which will replace the (KRA-L).  This new test will give the educators a more comprehensive detail of each student development at the start of kindergarten, touching on the student’s physical well-being, motor development and more.  To learn more click here.

For information regarding Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge states and the FY11 Scopes of Work, please click here.


Promise Neighborhoods

Promise Neighborhood: Mission Economic Development/ Mission Promise Neighborhood:

The Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) is a five year neighborhood initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. MPN will bring together successful local nonprofits and public and private partners to work with kids and families to empower the community, break cycles of poverty, and ensure every child can reach their full potential, from cradle to college to career.  

The “Promise Neighborhoods” model builds on successful efforts of the Harlem Children’s Zone, which provides children and families with high-quality, coordinated educational, health, social, and community supports from cradle to college to career. MPN will provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services so that children and families in San Francisco’s Mission District prosper in a safe, culturally relevant and economically prosperous community. For more information click here.

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 The Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL) promotes the adoption and sustained use of evidence-based early literacy practices with children, birth through five years of age, with identified disabilities and developmental delays, and at-risk for poor early literacy outcomes.  CELL developed resources for early childhood practitioners, parents, and other caregivers of young children to support them in using evidence-based early literacy practices in everyday activities.  Resources and products from CELL can be found at:  http://www.earlyliteracylearning.org.


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This report addresses the burdensome administrative processes that make it difficult to get and keep child care benefits, and the cumulative challenges clients face when they try to access other benefits for which they are eligible.  To read more click here.


Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE)


The research brief,  Number and Characteristics of Early Care and Education (ECE) Teachers and Caregivers:  Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), provides the first nationally representative portrait of ECE teachers and caregivers working directly with young children in center- and home-based settings.



Preschool Nation Releases Two New Videos


Preschool Nation is a one-stop shop that allows families, business leaders, early education teachers and researchers, policymakers and community members from around the country to tell compelling stories, share resources and research and advocate for increased early education opportunities for more children.  Take a look at two of their videos:  Life through the eyes of a preschooler and "Let's Build A Preschool Nation Together"     

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Most states increasing investment in pre-K programs for 2013-14
Thirty states and the District of Columbia increased appropriations for state-funded preschool programs for 2013-14 -- a 6.9% increase over fiscal year 2012-13 -- according to a new ECS analysis. Ten states increased funding by more than 20%, while three states decreased funding and funding in seven states was flat. 



Linda Sullivan-Dudzic

Special programs Director, Bremerton School District, WA


Can you describe your P-3 model and why this approach is effective?



In Bremerton, we designed a model where we focus on lifting up our entire preschool community. We gathered a group of community members and individuals from childcare centers and developed a group called Early Childhood Care and Education. As a district we weighed our options and knew that using our funds to provide high-quality early learning to our community would have the strongest impact. We looked at research, community data, and trends to jointly design our P-3 model with the focus of enhancing our community. Our model has been very effective. We now reach 800 children before they enter kindergarten in our district. We also provide monthly professional development.



How do you think the President’s proposal supports a P-3 approach?



It is wonderful our nation and President Obama have recognized early learning starts way before kindergarten. Our nation is now deciding what is best for our students. With the help of our early childhood specialist, teachers and families, we need to define what quality looks like. We also need to make strides in aligning early learning benchmarks with K-12 standards and base our instructional decisions on how young children learn by looking to the current research on brain development, it is not enough to know what children need to know and be able to do.  We now need to add HOW Young children learn and how best to teach them. As a nation, our future depends on providing high-quality early learning prior to kindergarten, followed by quality full-day kindergarten and beyond at no cost to families, regardless of demographics or socio-economics, so that all our children have a better future.



How has the conversation around early learning changed as a result of the President’s proposal?



 In Bremerton, when I meet monthly with the Early Childhood Care and Education group, our community providers get excited that they are being recognized at a federal level. We are thrilled to see a stamp of approval from the President. Our community members and early childhood teachers are able to have conversations and involve the community and families in discussions of how we can work together for our students. Our school district is now able to take our Title I and Special Education dollars to reach hundreds of children rather than the few we reached before.  The President’s focus on early learning has opened open conversations in our community, beyond what they were before.



The ED Pubs web site is intended to help you identify and order U.S. Department of Education products. All publications are provided at no cost (including shipping) to the general public by the U.S. Department of Education.

strong start

Look what’s back in stock:  To help children reach those standards, this brochure, based on the Helping Your Child series of publications for parents and families, has been designed to provide parents with the latest research and practical information to help them support their children and ensure their children’s success in school and in life. Further, it builds upon the idea that all children benefit from quality early learning programs and effective preschool experiences.  Click here to order your copy.

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Shining Stars: Preschoolers Get Ready To Read: How Parents Can Help Their Preschoolers Get Ready To Read.  Click here for the web PDF.


“Innovations in Early Childhood,” an overview of the first in a series of early childhood forums on two-generation approaches is released. Innovations in Early Childhood: An Ascend Forum Overview  The brief discusses two-generation approaches, which focus on creating opportunities for and addressing the needs of children and their parents together.  The core elements include early childhood and postsecondary education, economic supports, social capital, and health and well-being to create a legacy of economic security that passes from one generation to the next.

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New Digest of Education Statistics Released


 The “Digest of Education Statistics, 2012,” from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), is the 48th in a series of publications initiated in 1962.  Its primary purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education -- from pre-kindergarten through graduate school -- drawn from government and private sources, but especially from surveys and other activities led by NCES. 

Validation of QRIS: Examples from Four States

In a recent Brief produced through the Quality Initiatives Research and Evaluation Consortium--INQUIRE--Zellman and Fiene (2012) provide a framework for QRIS validation and examples of the activities that could be conducted as part of validation efforts. To read more click here.

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Impact of Family Involvement

This report summarizes research conducted primarily over the past 10 years on how families' involvement in children's learning and development through activities at home and at school affects the literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional skills of children ages 3 to 8. To read more click here.

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Early Childhood Program Participation

This report presents data on the early care and education arrangements and early learning of children in the United States from birth through the age of 5 who were not yet enrolled in kindergarten in the spring of 2012. The report also presents data on parents' satisfaction with various aspects of these care arrangements and on their participation in various learning activities with their children.

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Birth Through Age Eight Policy Roadmap to Success!         

The Birth Through Age Eight State Policy Framework, developed by the Alliance for Early Success and in conjunction with over 150 experts, is a tool that state policymakers, early childhood advocates, and others can use to guide to improve health, learning, and economic outcomes for vulnerable young children.