As you examine data and the impact of the work you have been doing at your site, you and your team will be looking at progress toward desired outcomes. You and your team have determined these desired outcomes based on the areas of your data-informed plan for improving language and pre-literacy instruction you have chosen to focus on and the specific goals you have set as a team. For many sites, these desired outcomes may be determined at the district or state level, depending on your type of program (for example, Head Start, Texas School Ready!, or Texas Rising Star). For sites with district or state requirements, you want to make sure that you follow the required reporting procedures.
As important as it is to report your progress to district and state agencies if you are required to do so, it is equally important to communicate your progress to the different stakeholders who play key roles in the success of children at your site. These stakeholders include all teachers, specialized staff, community partners, and families of the children in your care.
First, you will want to have ongoing communication with staff and include them in the process of examining progress. In fact, this process is key to staff’s professional development. Working on this Action Step can also help you and your team
identify what teacher practices are working and how to support all teachers in implementing effective practices;
identify staff strengths and needs and plan support for staff (allocate resources); and
set new goals and revise your data-informed plan for improving language and pre-literacy instruction.
To include staff in this process, you want to ensure they understand the types of information that tell them how they are progressing toward goals. As emphasized in the Assessment module and Lessons R1 and R2, staff may need support in conducting quality observations of the children in their classrooms and using the assessments at your site to measure children’s learning. They will also need to understand how to look at data in groups (such as by class or age level) and understand trends in the data. You and your leadership team want to ensure staff members have the knowledge to participate in this process, and to accomplish that, the team will need to provide professional development as necessary.
When leaders and staff both have a strong understanding of how children are progressing, they can plan steps together to continue to improve their delivery of care. You can set new goals together and draw on different staff members’ expertise in planning to meet those goals.
Families are also key stakeholders and need to be informed of your school’s efforts and progress toward goals. When families understand your site’s goals and the specific practices you are implementing to achieve these goals, they become collaborative partners in the process.
Consider what you know about your community as you plan to communicate with families: What languages do they speak most fluently? When are parents and families available for meetings? What information do you have to share, and how will that relate to them? How much access do families have to the Internet for online communication and resources?
When communicating with families, it is important to present information in a format that is clear and comprehensible to them; that is, visuals and language that people who aren’t experts in early childhood education can understand. Some key points to include in your communication about data are
an explanation of the assessment items;
the dates of assessments or observations;
any additional notes regarding the assessment or observation; and
goals for the future.
During interactions with families, you can gather ideas and information about how you can work together to achieve learning goals for children.
Including key stakeholders in your reporting process is critical in continuing progress toward your site’s goals. Overall, this Action Step is part of a strong assessment plan for your site, as the information you gather and examine is the most important tool you have to understand the impact of your efforts. When this component of your system is in place, you build a team climate at your school and a culture of collaboration to best meet the needs of the children you serve.
TO LEARN MORE: Use the following resources to learn more about using assessment to evaluate progress towards language and pre-literacy goals.
“Preschool Assessment: A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach” describes recommendations for using assessment information to evaluate the effectiveness of preschool programs. It is available through the National Institute for Early Education Research.
“Sharing Assessment Data with Preschool Families in Preparation for Kindergarten,” available through the Harvard Family Research Project, describes an example from the field where teachers implemented a successful data-sharing process with families of preschool children.
The National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement provides this useful resource that you and your team may want to review. The second section, which starts on page 7 and is titled “Program Opportunities to Engage Families in Children’s Learning and Development,” includes a discussion of what data means in early childhood, what to consider when sharing data with families, and how to use data to work with families to improve child outcomes.
As with any Action Step that focuses on measuring care and instruction for children ages 0–SE, it can be helpful to review the various state standards and use them as guidelines for what to look for when evaluating the success of your efforts. These include the Texas Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines and the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (Updated 2015).
NEXT STEPS: Depending on where you are in the process of examining progress toward site-wide goals, you may want to consider the following next steps:
Determine staff’s knowledge of analyzing data to evaluate outcomes for children and plan professional development accordingly.
Meet with your leadership team to establish procedures for communicating site-wide progress to different stakeholders.
Determine what types of information (data) you will use to evaluate the overall progress toward language and pre-literacy goals at your site and discuss the best ways to organize that data.
Schedule collaborative meetings with staff to discuss the data and identify trends to determine strengths and needs at your site overall.