Winter 2016 Updates

Welcome to our winter issue. This has been a busy year in early childhood--and a busy one for CEELO. Between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015 CEELO provided responsive technical assistance (TA), along with Strategic TA and Information Resources and Technology-Supported TA to more than 40 states. CEELO engaged in an evaluation, collecting data over the course of Year 3, to evaluate the quality and quantity of activities and to understand how stakeholders were using resources and benefiting from CEELO activities. The findings indicated that CEELO exceeded most targets regarding number, type, quality, relevance and usefulness of activities completed during the year. Please explore the CEELO website for more information, or see our entire Annual Report. This summary includes some highlights of resources developed over the year (with links to those resources), and perspectives on the impact of TA in states. An Executive Summary will be posted soon.

Technical Assistance Highlights

Our mission is to build the capacity of SEAs and their partners. Do you have a TA question? Check out our web page for your state's TA liaison, and see examples of questions we’ve answered for different states here.

What are the consistent supports and sensible accountability systems needed to drive teaching quality that will result in improved outcomes for children in your state? What state policies can we implement to promote effective teaching? The BUILD Initiative and the Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) have been working together on a joint project with state leaders and national experts designed to strengthen policy that promotes effective early childhood teaching, birth through 3rd grade. A result of our ongoing collaboration, "Sharpening the Focus: State Policy to Promote Effective Teaching that Improves Learning" encourages state policymakers and their partners to critically review professional development and accountability policies, offers guidance on policy implementation, and makes recommendations for the "powerful and few" core state policies that can improve teaching and learning for all young children. An executive summary is also available.
How are states approaching and implementing Kindergarten Entry Assessments, and what does research say about KEA initiatives? On July 30, the Early Childhood Education Research Alliance (ECEA) at the Regional Education Laboratory for the Northeast & Islands (REL-NEI) and CEELO met at the Education Development Center's (EDC) headquarters in Waltham with 25 state members from the New England states. REL researchers presented information on KEAs to the ECEA members and other participants, including representatives from New Jersey and Maryland who shared lessons learned from their states’ experiences with KEAs. CEELO has provided multiple resources on assessment to state partners that can be found here.

How can Preschool Expansion Grantees share their experiences and learn from others? CEELO provides opportunities for small groups of expansion grantees--4-6 state teams--to come together to address critical issues in implementing high-quality preschool programs. The Peer Exchanges are highly interactive face-to-face meetings for state teams to share successful strategies among states, presentations by experts, time for facilitated state team action planning, and supporting materials. Each Peer Exchange also includes one or more webinars in preparation or follow up to the in-person meeting, related resources and materials, and individual technical assistance as needed.All materials and resources developed for the are available to the public on the CEELO website. Look for the tools and resources from each of the peer exchanges held to date:
What is the role of families in developing successful early childhood programs and systems? CEELO is co-facilitating with our TA partners at Applied Engineering Management (AEM) a Community of Practice (CoP) on Family Engagement This CoP is a central location for professionals interested in and working on issues related to family engagement to come together to share ideas, strategies, experiences, and resources. Members will identify the specific areas for focus as the CoP becomes established. Suggested topics for focus may include ideas such as including parents as partners in systems-building; two generational programs; pre-k to K-12 family connections; engaging higher education in preparing the workforce for family engagement; home-school connections; or identifying the barriers for families’ involvement.


Spotlight on the States

Connie Casha, Early Childhood Education Director at Tennessee Department of Education, participated in the first cohort of CEELO's Leadership Academy (LA). In this interview she discusses her perspectives on leadership and participation in the LA. 

Connie’s current responsibilities include overseeing and supporting the operation of the Tennesee Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program, 935 voluntary pre-K classrooms located in 137 school districts in all 95 Tennessee counties. She works closely with other state agencies, community organizations, and public policy groups, to promote awareness and development of high quality programs for young children. She played an integral role in developing early learning developmental standards, and implementing research-based social-emotional developmental practices in programs and schools serving children from birth to second grade. Connie’s interests are in high quality early childhood programs for all children, including strengthening the continuum of learning from birth to grade three; appropriate assessment of young children for learning; and supporting the early childhood workforce through professional development. 
The CEELO Leadership Academy was an incredible experience. It came at a great time for me personally and professionally. It was a very small group, and we all clicked very quickly and became a very cohesive group in terms of confidence in talking about our work, our lives, everything that was going on.

I’ve been in my current position for almost 15 years, and had been in early childhood settings for 10 years before that. I’ve seen the landscape continue to change, especially being in state government. This was an opportunity for me to validate things I already knew about myself, to learn new skills, and to really have a lens into issues I was facing and come to terms with them.

Some sessions that resonated for me particularly:
Ellen Kagen Waghelstein. Two things that she focused on were ‘Wicked and Tame problems’ and ‘Adaptive and Technicolor approaches’ to solving those. This helped me see that most of the issues we deal with would be considered ‘wicked’ and need adaptive leadership skills to solve them--there is no right answer, there is no immediate solution; it is definitely an ongoing kind of process. The adaptive leadership really is focused more on educating others and taking a look at values, attitudes, habits, behavior.

Another great session was the
Systems Thinking process with Tracy Benson. We looked at new ways of thinking about problems: a couple that really hit me were changing perspectives to increase understanding of problems, and recognizing that a systems structures design generates its behavior. It made me think about What is my role, function, within the department here?

During the Academy they asked us to ask a lot of questions about ‘Why?’ That has helped me, and has opened up a dialogue in our department.

In the Academy, participants work on a self-designed job-embedded project to tailor the Academy work to their state and interests. Casha talks about her work: My project was on improving positive outcomes for children with special needs by increasing access to inclusive learning environments. It’s a wicked problem, so there’s lots to do yet. The ‘tame’ piece is raising awareness that it is a problem. I have strengthened my relationship with our 619 preschool consultants and coordinator through this process. We are working with 5 schools districts in particular and hoping they could be a model in terms of their practices in serving children with disabilities.

We want to provide guidance on what kinds of conversations people could be having about providing best practices and service to children; also providing guidance on funding, especially braiding and blending funding in the districts. In terms of the Academy, the cohort has stayed in touch, and we reach out to each other regularly to discuss early childhood issues. We’ve also met with some members of the second cohort. There is value in our network, and also in having access to Academy leaders and coaches: People understand where you’re coming from, but can provide a different perspective—or even ask me ‘Why?’

See below for links to detailed information on the CEELO Leadership Academy.


New Resources

Leadership Academy Reports
The CEELO Leadership Academy is to designed to address gaps in preparing state early education administrators for leading and managing systems and change. CEELO recently released a report on the first year of the Academy, and what was accomplished. 
Early childhood administrators from eight states gathered Nov. 2-4 in Washington, DC, to participate in the first meeting of the second CEELO Leadership Academy. The year-long academy is designed to strengthen leadership and management competencies of individuals with responsibilities for early childhood education programs in SEAs and related state early childhood education agencies. Fellows benefit from engaging with national experts on leading-edge thinking, working with an individual coach, and undertaking a self-designed job-embedded policy project to apply new learning and skills. This first session focused on Results-Based Leadership to ensure Fellows learn how to better understand, manage, and lead by always keeping the "why" of their work front and center.
Measuring Child Outcomes in the Early Years provides information to inform decision-making regarding the assessment of young children’s learning, development, and wellbeing (LDWB) for state and national assessments designed to influence early childhood education (ECE) policy and practice. This report draws from a scholarly discussion paper The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) produced for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that presented the pros and cons of various instruments used for reporting on international data of children’s cognitive and social outcomes.
Program Quality Improvement Systems is an annotated bibliography that identifies selected resources to assist states in assessing their current continuous quality improvement process for preschool programs as they expand services to increase access to high quality programs.
The Preschool Program Quality Assurance System Discussion Guide is a tool designed to facilitate policymakers’ review of their state’s Preschool Program Quality Assurance Systems (PPQAS). The discussion guide includes two frameworks to inform the critical analysis of the state’s current system. The first framework addresses common components of the system and the second framework considers the governance and functionality of the PPQAS.

Early Childhood Program Licensing Exemptions offers responses from state contacts on the NAECS-SDE listserv, who were asked about exemptions from licensing requirements for early childhood programs in their state. Responses indicate that licensing exemptions may apply to any center that provides preschool education. All states have certain legal exemptions from licensing and–depending on the type of early childhood program–these licensing exemptions may vary. 

Request TA from CEELO

Every state has a CEELO TA liaison who is ready to work with you to provide research, consultation, or meeting facilitation, or to connect you with additional expertise. See our website for contact information for your liaison.