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Supporting ongoing quality improvement in early childhood education by focusing on standards, curriculum, and assessment

February 25, 2021
by Joanna Meyer

The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) envisions a state where every child is surrounded by a strong network of nurturing adults who deeply value the importance of the first years of a child’s life and have the skills, knowledge, support, and passion to meet the child’s unique needs. For many children, early childhood education (ECE) providers are critical members of this network of supportive adults.

In late 2019, the OEC used a competitive application process to identify organizations to provide Quality Improvement Supports for ECE providers in 2020 and 2021. The OEC selected The RESC Alliance to provide Quality Improvement Supports in several areas, including Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment. The RESC Alliance is Connecticut’s Alliance of Regional Service Centers, and it includes EASTCONN, C.E.S., LEARN, CREC, ACES, and EdAdvance; C.E.S. is one of PEER’s founding organizations.

The RESC Alliance’s work on Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment Supports includes a variety of activities. For example, The RESC Alliance is developing and delivering competency-based professional learning sessions for ECE providers from a variety of settings. Topics include meaningful curriculum, using the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards (CT ELDS) in the cycle of intentional teaching, using the Connecticut Documentation and Observation for Teaching System (CT DOTS) in the cycle of intentional teaching, using data to improve child outcomes, supporting diverse learners, and engaging families in the cycle of intentional teaching. These professional learning opportunities launched this month. Workshops will be offered at different levels (introductory, intermediate, and advanced) in a virtual format. Each workshop will be offered several times during the winter and spring and scheduled at various times to day to accommodate the schedules of ECE providers. The fliers for the February and March workshops provide more information. While the initial sessions are focused on center-based providers, the RESC Alliance will be working with Connecticut’s Family Child Care Networks to offer sessions to home-based providers.

The Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment Supports provided by the RESC Alliance also include technical assistance in the form of coaching. The first wave of technical assistance coaching began in November 2020 and will conclude in June 2021. Center-based and school-based ECE programs were invited to apply for the opportunity, and about 50 programs were selected. Each participating program has been matched with a coach who is working with the program to identify goals and focus areas for their work together. The flier introducing this opportunity provides more information. The RESC Alliance anticipates that it will offer a second round of technical assistance coaching this fall.

Finally, the RESC Alliance’s work on Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment Supports also includes a study examining the reliability of the CT DOTS. The RESC Alliance engaged PEER to design and conduct this study in collaboration with the OEC and the RESC Alliance. The goal is to build on the initial CT DOTS reliability study that the OEC conducted in collaboration with EASTCONN and gather additional evidence on the reliability of this assessment. Specifically, the study will explore the variation in CT DOTS ratings across teacher raters who are examining previously-captured evidence of children’s progress. The CT DOTS is an important tool for gathering data that can inform teaching and learning in ECE settings, and PEER is excited to work with the OEC and the RESC Alliance examine how the CT DOTS functions.

Submitted by Joanna Meyer on February 26, 2021