August OEL Newsletter

News & Resources from the Office of Early Learning • AUGUST 2014 ISSUE

Early Learning at ED

Subscribe to our monthly Early Learning at ED newsletter here

Message from the Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett

Libby Doggett & Family

Transformative Family Engagement

 “Transformative family engagement is more than parent involvement- it is a shared responsibility of families, schools, and communities aimed at helping students learn and achieve.” That was the central message at the White House Symposium held on July 31st, attended by members from the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC), U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Serving as a panelist, I was able to share both my professional and personal experiences. Early in my career, I served as a bilingual first grade teacher in Austin, Texas and witnessed first-hand the importance of engaging families to improving student achievement. Later and throughout my career, I continued to see the strong connection between family engagement and student success.

Read the full plog post here.

Preschool for All

Poll Shows Bipartisan Support for Federal Action on Early Learning

First Five Years Fund Poll

A new poll conducted for the First Five Years Fund by the bipartisan team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates shows that 71% of voters, including 60% of Republicans, support greater investment in early childhood education if it increases the deficit in the short-term, but pays for itself in the long-term by improving children's education, health and economic situations so that less spending is needed in the future.

85% of voters say ensuring children get a strong start is important, second only to increasing jobs and economic growth.

Seven in ten American voters support a proposal that would increase federal investment to help states provide more access to high-quality early childhood programs for low- and moderate-income families.   

More findings from the poll and further implications here.

RTT-ELC: Program Spotlight and Technical Assistance

Sign up for the Webinar!

Program Spotlight: Oregon

As a phase two recipient of just over $30 million dollars, Oregon has been working hard to create and implement successful projects into its communities. In its first full year of grant funding (2013) Oregon created Early Learning Hubs that support a stronger state infrastructure and allow integrated and coordinated services to be more accessible. Many programs are working hard to familiarize themselves with the Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) and as of the end of April, 785 programs attended an Increasing Quality Training program, and of those 546 are Commitment to Quality Designees. These programs are working with the State to provide safe, quality, affordable and accessible childcare. Together Oregon is serving 19,931 children in Quality Rated Programs. Oregon will also have all 197 school districts participate in the Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) which will help develop more consistent K-12 data. In addition, the Offices of Health, Human Services, Early Learning, and K-12 are working together to create alignment and shared accountability. Learn more about Oregon and other RTT-ELC grantees progress.

Annual Grantee Meeting Highlight- Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA)


The RTT-ELC Annual Grantee Meeting on April 29–30, 2014, brought together grantees and stakeholders from states across the country. One of the sessions during this conference focused on how states can successfully create and implement kindergarten entry assessment (KEA) systems. Participants listened to state representatives and other stakeholders talk about what has gone well and what lessons they have learned in creating and implementing statewide KEAs. Participants also viewed a PowerPoint presentation and received handouts. If you did not attend the session, you can access the same information on the ELC TA website. Learn about states' KEA initiatives here by accessing the material, notes from other sessions, and resources here.

Early Learning at ED

CEELO Leadership Academy

CEELO Leadership Academy

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO)'s Leadership Academy is designed to provide a year-long, intensive, professional development experience to strengthen leadership and management competencies for individuals responsible for early childhood education programs in State Departments of Education (SEAs), Early Learning Agencies (ELAs), and other state early childhood education agencies. Applications are available now through August 15th.

Learn more about the Academy and access the application.

Peer Learning Communities

Developing Peer Learning Communities

CEELO has developed a step-by-step guide to developing communities of practice/peer learning communities to explore education (and other) issues in depth.

Principal Prep

Principal Preparation and Early Childhood Programs

CEELO's latest products, a policy report and associated Fast Fact, explore how states are preparing principals to support early childhood teachers.

Bibliography on Teacher Evaluation

This annotated bibliography, Selected Resources to Support Early Childhood Teachers in State Educator Evaluation Systems, offers resources on observations of teacher practice, student learning and growth, professional development, legislation and policy guidance, and national resources to support early childhood teachers in state teacher evaluation systems.

Let's Read! Let's Move!

Let's Read! Let's Move!

The Let's Read! Let's Move! campaign has programs nationwide that encourage children to continue reading and moving during the summer to combat summer reading loss and childhood obesity. In DC events have been held at the National Museum of the American Indian, the U.S. Supreme Court, Air and Space Museum and the Library of Congress. The events have featured Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court Pamela Talkin, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, and several others reading books to energetic and enthusiastic young learners. YMCA volunteers with the Physically Healthy and Driven program led age appropriate games that encouraged children to get moving! Learn more about this nationwide initiative here or visit to read more about the D.C series.

Learning from the Past

Learning from the Past in Early Childhood Education

Steve Barnett, CEELO Principal Investigator presented the ECEC Evaluation: What Can We Learn from the Past? at The Transatlantic Forum on Inclusive Early Years in Amsterdam on July 1, 2014. The presentation included information on maximizing the policy impact of research and evaluation. It discussed the Perry Preschool Study, the Nurse Family Partnership, and NJ Abbott pre-K program. The presentation concludes with lessons learned for program evaluation.

International News

Ghana Pedagogy


Westernized countries are not the only ones invested in early learning; Ghana has prioritized expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education. They are working to implement a Ghanaian pedagogy that places an emphasis on activity-based, child-centered, and child-led learning. The five year plan has been separated into three phases and will ultimately cost just over $244 million dollars. Read more about Ghana's comprehensive five year plan. 

Federal Agencies at Work


Early Care and Education Quality Improvement: A Typology of Intervention Approaches

This briefing put together by the Office of Planning, Resource, and Evaluation (OPRE) looks at past research and future implications of quality improvement (QI) systems. Focusing on the four main aspects of the QI framework (workforce, setting, family, and system) the researchers determined that there is minimal evidence to guide decision-making in early care and education (ECE). This presents a huge opportunity for advancements in the field, and brings light to areas that need further research and development within QI systems. Read the full report here

Research and Reports

D.C. Bill Would Ban School Suspensions for City's Pre-K Students

D.C. Pre-K Bill

D.C. Council member David Grosso announced a new bill that would prohibit schools from suspending or expelling pre-k students in most situations. The data from the City Discipline Report from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education found that there were 181 3- and 4-year-olds that received out of school suspensions in the 2012-2013 school year. Read the full Washington Post story to learn more.   

State Developments in 2014

The National Women's Law Center put together a policy brief on 2014 state early learning developments. Many states have gotten the message and have increased their commitment to prekindergarten, child care, and early learning this past year. There is obviously a long way to go to ensure that all children have access to the early learning experiences they need to succeed and that their parents need to support their families. It is exciting, however, that policymakers are hearing the message about the importance of early learning. You can find the policy brief and the blog about the memo here. Look for our comprehensive State Child Care Assistance Report for 2014 this fall.

The Jamaican Study: Early Childhood Education Can Compensate for Developmental Delays, Boost Earnings and Reduce Inequality

Economic Productivity

A study done by James Heckman, Paul Gertler, and fellow researchers at the University of Chicago, the University of West Indies, the World Bank and the University of London found that high-quality early childhood intervention boosted the earnings of severely disadvantaged Jamaicans by 25%. Read the summary or full report to find out more. 

Shifting Views: Exploring the Potential for Technology Integration in Early Childhood Education Programs

This study presents how two faculty who teach in early learning-related degree programs integrated educational technology into their play-based, early learning teaching pedagogy. This was done as a way to model how teachers can support children's play and learning opportunities. The authors identify how collegial dialogue helped them to use various technologies and social media in their teaching, which transformed their curriculum and pedagogical philosophy. The full text of this study is available for free in ERIC. To find other peer reviewed, full text articles on early learning in ERIC, click here.

Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education

Improve Quality of Teacher Interactions

This new report, a follow-up from one done in January, calls for policies that improve the quality of interactions between teachers and children. The new report focuses on two approaches that will spur the most impact towards that goal: 1) streamlining programs, standards, and eligibility requirements and 2) tapping into sources for predictable, sustainable, and increased public funding.

Read more about the report or access the full report here.

Resources You Can Use

Baby Steps: Preschool Enrollment Trends by State

Baby Steps

This chart allows you to see preschool enrollment trends in each state over the years based on the latest Kids Count analysis by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  

Look Before You Lock

Look Before You Lock

Heatstroke is the number one killer of children, outside of car crashes. That's why the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.

Learn more about how to keep children safe during the hot summer months. 


Inspire Her Mind

Several organizations are heading initiatives to highlight STEM careers for women.  For example, Verizon Foundation is heading up a new initiative highlighting the importance of STEM jobs in the very near future and how girls are often not encouraged to pursue their love of science, technology, engineering and math, resulting in women holding less than 25% of the STEM jobs in the country. Find out more about the campaign.

In this issue: 

Voices from the Field

Thomas Schultz

A Q&A with Thomas Schultz, Program Director for Standards, Assessment, and Accountability for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

Q: How has your current work along with your experience at the Office of Head Start, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Association of State Boards of Education influenced your thinking on early childhood education?

Schultz: I am more convinced than ever that early childhood education is a crucial strategy in providing equal educational opportunity and breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Since I began my career as a Head Start Regional Office staff member in the early 1970s, we have generated incontrovertible evidence of achievement disparities and shortfalls in the early learning years – as well as a wealth of studies showing that high quality early childhood programs can prevent or substantially ameliorate those early achievement gaps.

Q: How do you see the work CCSSO does on having an impact in the early childhood sector of public education?

Schultz: Chief state school officers and their early childhood program managers are key leaders in developing standards for children’s learning and development and program quality across the birth to 3rd grade years, and in managing state pre-k programs, services to young children with disabilities and a variety of other early learning programs. They play a key role in communicating the importance of high quality early childhood and family engagement initiatives as a vital component of education reform. They are key partners with other state and federal agency leaders in building more coherent state systems for funding and guiding improvement in all publicly-funded early childhood programs.

Q: Working closely with states, do you get the sense of urgency about improving quality in early childhood programs that those of us in the Office of Early Learning on the federal level feel?

Schultz: As states have adopted higher standards for Kindergarten-12th grade students, governors, legislators and state department of education leaders are raising the bar for early childhood programs as well as elementary and secondary schools and teachers.  State leaders share a strong sense of responsibility for ensuring that every childhood classroom provides high quality, engaging and intentional learning opportunities for our increasingly diverse population of young learners – whether classrooms are funded by federal, state, local or private sector dollars.

Q: Why is the President’s proposal to provide high-quality preschool for all four-year olds important to our country and what do you see as some of the challenges and opportunities?

Schultz: The proposal was historic in that I don't recall any president making the case for investing early childhood as strongly as President Obama did in his State of the Union addresses in the past two years. Hopefully his proposal will lead to a bipartisan effort from Congress to provide funding for high quality programs for all young children. It also offers states opportunities to consider how federal and state dollars can be used collaboratively to create a more effective funding system and to take a fresh look at the issue of defining, measuring and improving program quality and outcomes. For me, our biggest challenge is building a workforce that can carry out our very ambitious expectations for teaching young children. Our policies call for teachers to foster children’s learning in a variety of content areas, promote their growth in multiple domains of child development, administer multiple forms of forms of child assessments and use assessment data to tailor curriculum and teaching strategies to children’s varied levels of achievement and diverse learning styles. If we want teachers to succeed in all these areas, we need to improve our efforts in workforce recruitment, preparation, selection, mentoring, evaluation, compensation and ongoing professional development.   

Monthly Multimedia

Head Start

Head Start Offers Boost for Kids with Least Academic Stimulation

Elizabeth Miller discusses the home environment of the children Head Start has the most positive academic impact on. Listen to this exciting podcast to learn more about her data analyses of more than 3,000 Head Start participants. Listen to the full podcast to learn more.