Everything is at Risk in a New ESEA

News & Resources from the Office of Early Learning March 2015

OEL Banner

Subscribe to our monthly Early Learning at ED newsletter here.

Message from the Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett


Everything is at Risk in a New ESEA

Congress is working to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), otherwise known as No Child Left Behind.  This presents our field a wonderful once-in-a-generation opportunity as well as a huge challenge. We need to assure that a new ESEA is updated based on the research that irrefutably says education begins well before kindergarten.  But early learning only helps when K-12 is strong.  Many forces are trying to weaken the major equity and other strong parts of ESEA that have helped improve education over the last decade for all children.  So we want early learning incorporated, but only if the remainder of the law is strong as well.

As the House and Senate continue to discuss what the new education law should include, educators, researchers, and advocates across the country are making their voices heard.  Last week, the Secretary and I had the opportunity to hear some of those voices when we visited Patrick Henry Elementary School in Alexandria, VA (Virginia was recently awarded a Preschool Development Grant).  At Patrick Henry parents, teachers, administrators, and community members told us during a roundtable discussion how they are working to increase the whole continuum of early learning programs and how high-quality preschool is a key part of their educational system.

I hope everyone will pay attention to what is happening with ESEA reauthorization.  “The goal here isn’t to pass a bill,” said the Secretary, “it’s to pass a good bill.”  The new education law must ensure all families have access to high-quality early learning so that all our children—not just some—have a fair shot at life.

Voices from the Field

Steven Dow

Interview with Steven Dow, Executive Director, Community Action Project of Tulsa County

“The resources that communities have right now -- that state and local governments have -- are limited and so the role of the federal government in saying that this is not just something that we want to leave up to states and local communities, but that the federal government is going to prioritize it and begin to make its own commitments to young children, I think is critical.”  Read more here.

Preschool Development Grants

US Map highlighting Alabama

Alabama's Preschool Development Grant gives the state an opportunity to add 400 classrooms to their high-quality voluntary First Class Pre-K to serve an additional 7,200 children over the course of the grant.  This will expand the availability of high-quality pre-K in Alabama from 9 percent of eligible children to 26 percent by 2018. Alabama’s First Class Pre-K students consistently over time and across grades score higher in reading and math, miss fewer days of school, are less likely to need special education services, and are less likely to repeat a grade than students who did not participate in First Class Pre-K. Read about Alabama and the other Preschool Development Grant states here.

RTT-ELC:  Program Spotlight

North Carolina map

North Carolina’s K-3 Formative Assessment

Through the RTT-ELC Grant, North Carolina is designing a developmentally appropriate individualized K through grade 3 formative assessment. This assessment will provide feedback on the whole child and provide data to inform daily instructional practices and address all developmental domains in NC’s early learning and development standards. Statewide implementation will begin in fall 2015. More information can be found on NC’s RTT-ELC website.

RTT-ELC Technical Assistance


Building High-Quality Systems: The ECTA Center Completes its New System Framework

After 18 months of development, the ELCTA Center have created a comprehensive tool—the System Framework—designed to support states in building and sustaining high-quality early intervention and preschool special education systems.Read more here.


 Early Learning as a School Improvement Intervention

At the 2015 National Title I Conference , Jana Martella of CEELO, joined Libby Doggett,  Lenay Dunn, and Carlas McCauley in presenting Early Learning as a School Improvement Intervention, an “overview as to how early learning strategies can improve achievement as a school improvement intervention.  Also, key research on the impact of high quality early learning programs will be presented.” The Policy Report on Integrating Early Learning Strategies in the SIG program, a related resource, is available here.

Young immigrants and dual language learners: Participation in pre-K and Kindergarten entry gaps

A new blog from Milagros Nores, Associate Director of Research for NIEER, highlights findings from a recent CEELO webinar. Both discuss what it means to be Hispanic and a DLL (a dual language learner) or Hispanic and come from a home with immigrant parents, and the impact of each factor on Kindergarten readiness.

Early Learning at ED


IRIS Center Modules about Evidence-Based Practices and Programs

The OSEP-funded IRIS Center developed three modules that feature information about evidence-based practices and programs to support children with disabilities. Module 1 discusses the importance of identifying and selecting evidence-based practices. Module 2 provides an overview on implementing an evidence-based practice or program with fidelity.   Module 3 examines how to evaluate the effectiveness of evidence-based practices.  These resources are free and are available here.

International News


Early child development for 2030: China's post-MDG plan

In December, China’s State Council issued the National Child Development Plan (for 2014‒2020) for Poverty-Stricken Areas, which aims specifically to reach 40 million rural children in 680 counties. Read more here.

Federal Agencies at Work

usda logo

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Raise Awareness

Promoting summer feeding sites in your community is one of the most important things you can do to ensure no child goes hungry this summer.  Read more here.

children and families logo

Reporting child abuse and neglect

Each State designates a specific agency to receive and investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. Find out how to report child abuse and neglect in your State.

Research and Reports

center for the study of child care employment logo

New Report on Math Teaching Practices

Strengthening the math-related teaching practices of the early care and education workforce: Insights from experts by Sharon Ryan, Marcy Whitebook, and Deborah Cassidy. This report, supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation, explores the perspective of nationally recognized experts in math and early care and education.  Read more here.


Organizational climate and early learning

The author of this study found a significant association between organizational climate in preschool centers and overall classroom quality. Findings suggest that policies should focus less on structural influences on quality in early childhood education and more on process quality and organizational climate.  Read more here

Resources You Can Use


Help Your Child Become a Great Problem Solver

Families can help children develop problem-solving skills by taking advantage of opportunities to talk about solving problems. Here are some conversation starters.  Read more here.

NAEYC's Week of the Young Child is back, April 12-18!

Join thousands of young children, teachers, and their families across the country for an exciting, week-long celebration of early learning. Each weekday focuses on different ways to make play meaningful and learning fun! Visit the NAEYC Week of the Young Child website for more information on how you and the young children in your life can get involved this year. 

new america

Dual Language Learners (DLLs) National Work Group

In January, New America launched the Dual Language Learners (DLLs) National Work Group, which will serve as a hub for policy analysis surrounding DLLs. New America will be working with organizations and experts around the country to improve the conversation around DLLs and find research-based reforms that support this growing group of students. More of New America’s early education work is available here on EdCentral.

national head start association


NEW YORK --Nickelodeon has kicked off its 2015 Nick Jr. Beyond the Backpack kindergarten readiness initiative geared to help parents and caregivers prepare their preschoolers for academic success, see more here.

the Joan Ganz Cooney Center logo

New Publication Released

The Cooney Center and members of the Aprendiendo Juntos Council (AJC) released three new publications that take a closer look at the way Hispanic-Latino families engage with media.  Read more here. 

Monthly Multimedia

zero to three

Little Kids, Big Questions: A Parenting Podcast Series From ZERO TO THREE

ZERO TO THREE’s podcast series Little Kids, Big Questions addresses some of the most common (and challenging) issues facing parents of babies and toddlers, such as: helping a baby learn to sleep through the night; dealing with a picky eater; and learning to set limits on children’s behavior.  Read more here

Last Word

Arne and Student

Secretary Duncan and an early learner at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Alexandria, VA (Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)  Find out more here.