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Strengthening the Early Education Continuum icon About the Strengthening the Early Education Continuum Alliance

Alliance members from Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are working together to improve early education and outcomes for the youngest students in the Mid-Atlantic region by strengthening the quality, alignment, and interpretability of data from birth through grade 3.

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Strengthening the Early Education Research Alliance

Planned and ongoing activities

In May 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill requiring schools with high chronic absenteeism rates to develop a corrective action plan to improve attendance. Under this new regulation, K–12 public schools must examine their absenteeism data and formulate strategies to decrease chronic absenteeism rates that are specific to their student population and community. REL staff are working with staff from the New Jersey Department of Education’s Division of Early Childhood Education to develop a resource compendium to help districts and private early childhood programs understand and address absenteeism in early years. The resource compendium will include a cohesive guidance document and a set of companion presentation slides for New Jersey state officials, district and school leaders, private pre-kindergarten program administrators, teachers, parents and families, and community stakeholders.

The REL is conducting a systematic evidence review on the effectiveness of play as a teaching practice for young children in pre-kindergarten through third grade using the ESSA non-regulatory framework for evidence.

The REL is coordinating and collaborating with staff from the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning to (1) determine what constitutes a strong or weak evaluation study according to the ESSA framework for evidence, and (2) identify existing evidence on the effectiveness of play as a teaching strategy for young children, communicate the evidence to school leaders and teachers, and determine prospects for expanding the evidence on the effectiveness of teaching strategies of interest.

The REL is conducting a study for MSDE that includes analyses to assess the most appropriate way to measure school-level growth for the early elementary grades, using the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) as a measure of baseline knowledge and skills and the statewide grade 3 English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics assessment as the later measure of student achievement. This study addresses a high-leverage need to make greater use of Maryland's existing statewide assessments for ESSA purposes, and to better understand schools' contributions to student learning in the earliest grades. A valid growth measure of the early elementary grades will help MSDE identify and support low performing schools and schools with best practices to replicate. The study will answer the following research questions:

  1. What model specifications, if any, are most appropriate when developing separate school-level student growth percentiles (SGPs) for ELA and mathematics that each rely on the KRA and a statewide grade 3 assessment administered nearly four years later?
  2. Are school SGP estimates valid, accurate, and precise when measuring growth in ELA or mathematics over multiple years and using different assessments as measures of baseline and current student achievement? How may partial-cohort administration of the KRA, which began in 2016, affect the precision of future SGP estimates, beginning with the 2019-2020 third grade cohort?

Principal investigator: Dallas Dotter

The REL will provide technical support and coaching to SDP staff, staff of Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), the Free Library of Philadelphia, and other stakeholders in Philadelphia involved with the Read by 4th initiative about setting thresholds on the Kindergarten Entry Inventory, using predicted probabilities of proficiency, communicating about the school readiness measure, and replicating the analyses if appropriate.

REL Mid-Atlantic is working with the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning to develop an indicator of school readiness at kindergarten entry that could measure intermediate progress towards Philadelphia's goal of increasing the percentage of grade 4 students who can read on grade level by 2020. The study will answer the following research questions:

  1. How do students' scores on the kindergarten entry assessment relate to their scores on the state reading assessment in grade 3?
  2. What threshold scores on the state's kindergarten entry assessment most accurately predict reading proficiency by the end of grade 3?

Principal Investigator: Mariesa Herrmann

The REL will provide coaching to Delaware staff on recommendations to improve early childhood teacher education and compensation, as well as the successes and challenges other states have had implementing education and compensation initiatives.

Completed activities

Delaware is working to refine its quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for early childhood care and education settings to ensure consistency in quality within each level, distinguish quality between levels, and ensure the validity of the ratings. This workshop provided research-based coaching to inform the QRIS redesign efforts and changes to its tiered reimbursement structure. The workshop discussed research evidence to inform decisions about the issues with which the redesign team is grappling and provide information on the experiences other states face in modifying their QRIS. View the archived event resources to view recordings from the workshop presentations.

Goals

  • Assess the extent of chronic absenteeism in the early grades and its association with other school outcomes, and identify evidence-based strategies to reduce absenteeism.
  • Use assessments from pre-kindergarten through grade 3 to better understand students' achievement levels, support needed, and learning growth.

Upcoming Events

Recent Events

Research Alliance Facilitator: Christine Ross, PhD
Name Title Organizational affiliation Organization location
Grace Becica Education Program Development Specialist New Jersey Department of Education New Jersey
Jenny Bogoni Executive Director - Read by 4th Campaign School District of Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Nicolae Borota Manager, Division of Early Childhood Education New Jersey Department of Education New Jersey
Katherine Bradstreet PreK-3 Alignment Office of Early Childhood Education School District of Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Diane Castelbuono Deputy Chief, Office of Early Childhood Education School District of Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Monica Grant Chief Academic Officer, Academic Support Delaware Department of Education Delaware
Jeffrey Grigg Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins University Maryland
Tonya Hall-Coston Acting Co-Administrator, Division of Early Childhood Education and Family Engagement New Jersey Department of Education New Jersey
John Fisher-Klein Education associate Delaware Department of Education Delaware
Kathy Kelly Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development Delaware Department of Education Delaware
Kimberly Krzanowski Executive Director Delaware Department of Education Office of Early Learning Delaware
Charlie Mitchell Research Assessment Specialist Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Katie Mosher Research Specialist School District of Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Maryanne Olley Early education advisor, Office of Child Development and Early Learning Pennsylvania Department of Education Pennsylvania
Eric Rodney Education Program Development Specialist New Jersey Department of Education New Jersey
Kristyn Stewart Senior Research Associate School District of Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Manuel Torres Research Scientist New Jersey Department of Education New Jersey
Judith Walker Early Learning Branch Chief Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Wendi Webster-O’Dell Education Program Development Specialist New Jersey Department of Education New Jersey
Barry Wiestling Early Childhood Education Advisor Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Pennsylvania
Deborah Wise Chief, Bureau of Early Learning Services Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning Pennsylvania
Interested in joining us or learning more? Contact us.