Projects

Ensuring School Readiness Community of Practice

Background

The SECC early childhood staff will continue to sustain its regional community of practice (CoP) that focuses on ensuring school readiness and the success of preschool-age children. The CoP will continue to provide an online site that serves as a virtual workspace for SEA representatives and stakeholders to interact and collaborate with national experts and staff from other SEAs as well as access to up-to-date research-based practices and emerging promising practices.

Project Updates

Most Recent Update: |

The SECC and MWCC cohosted an early childhood institute entitled, Nurturing High-Quality Early Learning and Leadership Across the Pre-K-3 Continuum on September 26–28, 2017.  Major capacity building outcomes for the institute included improved human capacity outcomes and improved organizational and structural outcomes to support high-quality early education across the continuum. For example, the institute included early education teams from states in both regions who collaboratively engaged in discussions on researched-based practices that foster a seamless continuum from pre-K to third grade, learned ways to utilize data to inform practices, explored evidence-based resources, participated in sessions led by experts in the field about the progress and challenges of other states, and discussed strategies for improving early childhood supports for implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)States were provided opportunities for reflecting and creating action plans as well as opportunities for cross-state collaborations, sharing, and discussions. Additionally, the institute fostered improved political capacity through state and expert led discussions on utilizing data to inform practices and engage stakeholders, discussions on key elements of  an early learning needs assessment focusing on ESSA implementation to engage and support local education agencies (LEAs), and to closing leadership gaps by collaborating with stakeholders at the local and community levelAn event website provided additional access to evidenced-based resources, such as presentation materials, articles, and handouts, and videos of panel and plenary sessions. The website can be viewed at http://southeast-cc.org/events/nurturing_early_learning_institute.html.  In addition, the SECC early childhood project lead conducted a presentation on the Ensuring School Readiness Community of Practice (CoP), which provided a new launch of the CoP for Year 6.

 

Previous Updates:

The SECC and MWCC cohosted an early childhood institute entitled, Nurturing High-Quality Early Learning and Leadership Across the Pre-K-3 Continuum on September 26–28, 2017.  Major capacity building outcomes for the institute included improved human capacity outcomes and improved organizational and structural outcomes to support high-quality early education across the continuum. For example, the institute included early education teams from states in both regions who collaboratively engaged in discussions on researched-based practices that foster a seamless continuum from pre-K to third grade, learned ways to utilize data to inform practices, explored evidence-based resources, participated in sessions led by experts in the field about the progress and challenges of other states, and discussed strategies for improving early childhood supports for implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)States were provided opportunities for reflecting and creating action plans as well as opportunities for cross-state collaborations, sharing, and discussions. Additionally, the institute fostered improved political capacity through state and expert led discussions on utilizing data to inform practices and engage stakeholders, discussions on key elements of  an early learning needs assessment focusing on ESSA implementation to engage and support local education agencies (LEAs), and to closing leadership gaps by collaborating with stakeholders at the local and community levelAn event website provided additional access to evidenced-based resources, such as presentation materials, articles, and handouts, and videos of panel and plenary sessions. The website can be viewed at http://southeast-cc.org/events/nurturing_early_learning_institute.html.  In addition, the SECC early childhood project lead conducted a presentation on the Ensuring School Readiness Community of Practice (CoP), which provided a new launch of the CoP for Year 6.

The SECC continued to have planning meetings for the Southeast and Midwest Comprehensive Centers of American Institute for Research’s early childhood institute, “Nurturing High-Quality Early Learning and Leadership Across the Pre-K Continuum.” A save-the-date e-postcard, invitation letters, and a registration link have been sent to the various early childhood staff at the state education agencies (SEAs) that are served by AIR’s comprehensive centers. Staff are finalizing graphic design and content, and the website for the institute is nearly complete. In addition, the agenda for the institute is nearly complete. The institute will feature experts from national organizations and SEAs who will discuss the progress and challenges that states are facing as well as strategies for improving early childhood supports for Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation efforts. The institute will take place at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel on September 27–28, 2017.

The SECC Early Childhood Team conducted several planning meetings for the Southeast and Midwest Comprehensive Centers of AIR Early Childhood Institute. Dr. Jim Squires, Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), provided consultation to the team. The institute entitled, “Nurturing High-Quality Early Learning and Leadership Across the Pre-K-3 Continuum Early Childhood Institute,” will support early childhood education teams by providing evidence-based resources and strategies to support the pre-K-3 continuum. The institute will take place September 27–28, 2017, at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel Atlanta Airport Hotel. SECC Project Lead Kathleen Theodore supported the facilitation of the Alabama Pre-K-3 Leadership Academy meeting. The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education and the Alabama State Department of Education have partnered to sponsor the Alabama Pre-K-3 Leadership Academy as a pilot program. The meeting attendees included administrators who were selected to participate in the pilot program.The pilot program is research-based and will result in development of a structure to align and coordinate academic standards, instructional practices, professional development, and developmentally appropriate classroom assessments from pre-K to third grade. In addition, the SECC Early Childhood Team disseminated the July Early Childhood Community of Practice (ECCoP) E-Newsletter to state education agency (SEA) early childhood specialists and other early childhood stakeholders. The ECCoP newsletter continued to feature states’ accomplishments, evidence-based resources, and research.

On June 7–8, SECC early childhood Project Lead Kathleen Theodore attended the annual CEELO Roundtable Meeting. The theme of this year’s roundtable was “Leading for Change in Early Education,” which focused on building state education agency (SEA) leaders and early childhood specialists’ to utilize and provide leadership on evidence-based practices to support effective, high-performing early childhood systems from birth to third grade. Theodore participated in networking activities with SEA early childhood leaders and specialists to strengthen relationship building and collaboration in the SECC region. Theodore also supported SEA early childhood specialists through the presentations on implementation science building and systems thinking by reflecting on current state implementation of early childhood programs and using these strategies to encourage the development of processes and models to promote continuous quality improvement of early childhood programs.

In addition, through conversations with SEA early childhood specialists and leaders, Theodore also was able to plan future technical assistance work and SECC Early Childhood Community of Practice events that include collaborative conversations in which SEAs share and learn about best practices that are utilized in each state. The SECC continues to make an impact by sharing knowledge and lessons learned. On June 29, Theodore co-presented with two EDC staff members, Diane Schilder, principal research scientist; and Lynn Goldsmith, senior scholar; at the Build Initiatives’ Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), Conference in Dallas. The presentation entitled, “Professional Development: Meeting the Needs of Child Care, Head Start and Pre-K Administrators and Teachers,” was very interactive and provided opportunities for  the audience to engage in a conversation about actions states are taking to create aligned professional development systems that meet the needs of early care and education providers.

On May 4, SECC and CEELO held their monthly conference call to continue collaboration and discussion of early childhood efforts in SECC’s region and nationally.  In particular, the discussion focused on each state in the SECC region, their current efforts in early childhood, and how CEELO and SECC are providing technical assistance. SECC early childhood staff conducted preliminary planning for the SECC Early Childhood Institute, which is scheduled to be held in September. The monthly meeting with Mississippi was cancelled due to the proximity of the upcoming CEELO Roundtable Meeting from June 7–10, 2017.  SECC and CEELO will meet with SEA early childhood specialists at the roundtable meeting. The SECC Early Childhood Education Community of Practice (ECCoP) team disseminated the May newsletter. The newsletter highlighted several resources on social and emotional learning (SEL). In addition, the newsletter highlighted Alabama’s Jeana Ross who is the secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. Secretary Jeana Ross was featured in the Voices from the Field section of the U.S. Department of Education’s April 2017 Early Learning Newsletter. The publication recognized Ross’ leadership role in Alabama’s First Class PreK program, which has achieved and maintained the highest quality rating from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

On April 4, SECC and the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) held their monthly conference call to continue collaboration and discussion of early childhood efforts in SECC’s region and nationally. In particular, the discussion focused on each state in the SECC region, their current efforts in early childhood, and how CEELO and SECC are providing technical assistance. The SECC Early Childhood Community of Practice (ECCoP) team discussed the results of the survey to AIR directors for comprehensive and content centers and regional educational laboratories. The team will discuss the results and potential opportunities with the SECC director. The SECC and CEELO Early Learning Focus Call on April 24 with South Carolina was rescheduled in May due to schedule conflicts. The SECC ECCoP team disseminated the April newsletter. The newsletter provided a research spotlight on Kindergarten Readiness Assessment featuring a CEELO Fast Fact, Implementing a Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) System and a resource spotlight featuring a link to a series of research briefs by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation on the use of administrative data in early care and education research. This newsletter was the final one for RMC Research Corporation Consultant Debbie Mazzeo, who is now working with Zero to Three in Washington, DC. We thank Debbie for her hard work and wish her the best in her new endeavor. The ECCoP team welcomes our new consultant who will be replacing Debbie, Vicki LaRock. We look forward to working with Vicki again.

On March 14, SECC and the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) held their monthly conference call to continue collaboration and discussion of early childhood efforts in SECC’s region and nationally. In particular, the discussion focused on developing a new format for conducting regular cross-state virtual meetings with state education agency (SEA) early childhood specialists in the region. SECC sent a survey to gather interest and support for hosting an Early Childhood Institute in fall 2017 to all AIR directors of comprehensive and content centers and regional educational laboratories. In addition, the SECC ECCoP team disseminated the February monthly E-Newsletter. The newsletter highlighted efforts to engage parents and AIR’s REL Southwest webinar entitled, Leading the Way: How States Are Addressing Early Learning Under ESSA, which was scheduled to take place March 21.

On February 7, SECC and CEELO held their monthly conference call to continue collaboration and discussion of early childhood efforts in SECC’s region and nationally. The SECC ECCoP team disseminated the February monthly E-newsletter. The newsletter highlighted the addition of two new folders on the CoP SharePoint site, which were added based on SEAs' feedback on the annual CoP survey. The new folders are listed under the “Resources” section—one for “Early Childhood Teachers” and another for “Administrators and Programs.” The folders contain resources to support teachers, administrators, SEA staff, and other stakeholders. Current resources include links to foster STEM learning, promote a growth mindset, increase family engagement, and enhance learning for dual language learners. The content of the folders will be refreshed as additional resources become available.

On January 3, SECC and the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) held their monthly conference call to continue collaboration and discussion of early childhood efforts in SECC’s region and nationally. The SECC Early Childhood Community of Practice (ECCoP) team disseminated the January monthly E-Newsletter, which highlighted Mississippi’s award of a $6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to expand its effort to develop an early childhood education infrastructure in Mississippi. In addition, the newsletter included Georgia’s governor Nathan Deal's announcement that a multiyear evaluation of the state’s preK students showed that gains in preschoolers’ foundational skills and academic development were sustained through kindergarten. The sampled children participated in Georgia’s PreK Program during the 2013–2014 school year and will be followed through third grade (2017–2018).

On December 6, SECC and CEELO staff held their monthly conference call to continue collaboration and discussion of early childhood efforts in the region and nationally. The SECC ECCoP team disseminated the December monthly E-Newsletter, which highlighted Mississippi’s increase in the number of early childhood collaboratives, from 10 to 14. The December newsletter also featured a new report from the Education Commission of the States, titled K–3 Policymakers’ Guide to Action: Making the Early Years Count. The report summarizes the top policy components for a high-quality K–3 system. The SECC ECCoP team has completed review of the survey, which was completed by SEA early childhood community members. As a result, the team is busy incorporating some interesting ideas for ECCoP activities in the new year.

The SECC early childhood team is in the process of reviewing the ECCoP Survey that was conducted in October. The purpose of the survey is to get feedback on particular topics of interest and learn ways that SECC can better meet the needs of the community. In addition, the SECC early childhood disseminated the monthly E-Newsletter, which highlighted the CEELO and state leaders from the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education webinar on October 31, titled Early Learning Guidance in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Early Learning Guidance Document was released by the U.S. Department of Education on October 20. John Pruette, executive director of the North Carolina Office of Early Learning, was a featured speaker for the webinar. He shared North Carolina’s strategies for strengthening early learning through ESSA.

On October 3, SECC and CEELO staff held their monthly conference call to continue collaboration and discussion of early childhood efforts in SECC’s region and nationally. The SECC early childhood team continued to update the virtual community site with current research-based information and practices, early childhood news, and events. The site serves as a vehicle for collaboration and knowledge building to strengthen early childhood systems across the region. The SECC early childhood team also disseminated the monthly Early Childhood Community of Practice (ECCoP) E-Newsletter to sustain collaborative efforts and deepen awareness of early childhood activities and efforts across the southeast region and nationally. In addition, the SECC team shared several E-Alerts with information about upcoming webinars that are important to states’ work with ESSA. In addition, the team sought feedback from CoP members concerning how SECC can better meet their needs and to learn about topics of interest. Presently, 90% of the members have participated in the survey.