How can we as leaders ensure that our early childhood programs are providing the highest quality care to our children?
Even before the pandemic, we asked ourselves this question often. Our search for a way to support teachers and continuously improve the quality of our programs led us on a journey culminating in the implementation of The Essential 0-5 Survey in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.
The Jefferson Parish Early Childhood Collaborative focuses on providing intentional professional development to support teachers and leaders. Our PD typically focuses on day-to-day interactions between teachers and children inside the classroom, and for directors, it focuses on team support, assessment of children, and behavior management strategies. Before we implemented The Essential 0-5 Survey, we did not offer any professional development that focused on the organization as a whole.
The Essential 0-5 Survey, developed in partnership by Start Early and the University of Chicago Consortium, is a measurement system that provides insight into the strength and weakness of organizational climate for individual programs.
At this year’s Teachstone Interact CLASS Summit, we’ll partner with Stuart Lassiter, an early childhood practice consultant at Start Early, to share the innovative research and framework behind The Essential 0-5 Survey, and our experience implementing it in Jefferson Parrish. During our session – Strengthening Organizational Conditions through Collaboration and Data – we’ll show why it is vital to measure both parent and teacher/staff perceptions in order to provide program directors a holistic understanding of their programs’ strengths and weaknesses.
The Essential 0-5 Survey is rooted in decades of research from the University of Chicago Consortium and their 5 Essentials framework focused on K-12 education. Research demonstrates the impact organizational conditions have on program quality: a program strong in three of the five essentials is ten times likelier to substantially improve student engagement and achievement in math and reading (see graph 1).
In Jefferson Parish, we hope that our implementation of The Essential 0-5 Survey will not only provide a greater knowledge of our programs’ organizational environments, but also empower leaders, teachers, and families to collaboratively make improvements so that our children have the best chance to thrive.
Dr. Stricklin serves as the Director of the Jefferson Early Childhood Network supporting leaders of publicly funded programs in south Louisiana. She has worked in early education for over 30 years as a teacher, administrator, trainer, coach, and consultant. Currently, she leads a broad coalition of thought partners who are collaborating to increase access to high quality early care and education across neighborhoods in Jefferson Parish Louisiana.
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
We’re still soaking up the wisdom shared by our many, many excellent speakers at the spring 2021 InterAct Summit. From its inception, Teachstone has been an organization based in research. Because the CLASS is reliable and valid, teachers and programs trust it to give meaningful, accurate, and actionable information. To learn more about the current work being done in the field, we invited co-founder Bob Pianta to give an update on new research findings.
I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.
At Teachstone, we are all in on early learning. The research shows us that, with the help of effective educators, there is so much potential to build a strong foundation for children’s learning well before elementary school. But some research, including the Head Start Impact Study and the research on Tennessee’s voluntary pre-K, has complicated the story. Researchers found that in some cases, gains made in early childhood education seemed to fade out by around third grade.
Follow-up research has added to the narrative.