CLASP: Policy Solutions That Work for Low-Income People

October 26, 2016

According to new research from the Yale Child Study Center, many early childhood programs demonstrate implicit bias in assessing children’s behavioral challenges and making decisions about suspension and expulsion.

The study asked early childhood teachers and administrators to watch two videos—one featuring a Black boy and girl, the other a White boy and girl—and identify challenging behavior. It found that teachers spent a disproportionate amount of time watching the Black boy. When explicitly asked which student required the most attention, 42 percent of participants said the Black boy, 34 percent the White boy, 13 percent the White girl, and 10 percent the Black girl.

The study tracks closely with recent data from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Office for Civil Rights. According to ED’s 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), Black children comprise just 19 percent of those enrolled in public school pre-kindergarten but 47 percent of preschool children who receive one or more suspensions. Black boys are also more likely to be expelled than their peers. In addition to implicit bias, these children experience higher stress levels and less access to high-quality early education.

The body of evidence showing racial disparities in accessing and succeeding in early childhood programs demonstrates a strong need to review and modify federal, state, and local policies. We need to create a level playing field where all kids can access quality programs and receive equal treatment—supporting their success now and in the future. If we fail to address racial disparities, we’ll be undermining healthy development for millions of our youngest children.

Source: CLASP: Policy Solutions That Work for Low-Income People

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Promising Practices for “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” 


What works in helping communities to learn the signs and act early?

This is a collection of locally inspired models and ideas that have been implemented and evaluated to varying degrees in programs and communities.

A promising practice helps spread the reach of the campaign and has the potential to positively impact families with young children and the organizations, health care professionals, and early care and education providers who serve them.

Many of the activities in this collection represent the work of Act Early Ambassadors and State Systems grantees who found creative solutions for implementing Learn the Signs. Act Early. with greatest potential impact using very modest resources. We hope their work will inspire you to think about how you can adopt and adapt activities in your local programs and communities to promote awareness of the importance of tracking developmental milestones and acting early on concerns.

How were Promising Practices identified?

The collection includes activities from the beginning of the campaign (2005) through 2014. We established criteria to assess each activity and determine which to include in the collection. Criteria were informed by program values that broadly define what we consider to be a successful and promising activity. Each year we will review partner activities and apply the criteria to them so we can continue to update and add promising activities to the collection.

What about activities not captured here?

Some activities contain more detail than others, and some activities may have been excluded because we did not have sufficient information to score them. In the years to come, we plan to:

  • Improve our ability to gather as much information as we can about our partners’ important work to promote and integrate Learn the Signs. Act Early. within programs and communities across the country,
  • Expand evaluation studies of promising activities, and
  • Use this collection to raise awareness among partners about their role in sharing their important work with us and collecting process and outcome data to demonstrate impact.

If you have questions or suggestions about the collection or any of the specific activities, please contact and include “Promising Practices” in the subject line.

Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Assessing Preschoolers’ Disruptive Behavior: Associations Among Teachers, TAs, and an Impartial Observer


This study examined associations among Teachers, TAs, and Observational ratings of children’s disruptive behavior. Alignment between Teachers and TAs did not predict observational measures above a single teacher’s ratings. Teachers and TAs were equally aligned with observational measures, except for ratings of oppositionality. Findings point to the importance of a multi-method assessment that gathers information from various sources, including TAs.

Source: The Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), Curry School of Education

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Research on Early Childhood Teacher Education: Evidence From Three Domains and Recommendations for Moving Forward 


It is essential that a solid research base be established to provide a foundation that will enable the field of early childhood teacher education to examine whether, for whom, and in what ways teacher education matters. The purpose of this article is to review several important domains in early childhood teacher education to illustrate the characteristics, key features, and significant gaps in current research, and to identify the kinds of research that are most needed to enhance the impact of early childhood teacher education. We conclude by identifying five crosscutting research priorities and describing what is needed to create a supportive environment that produces—and implements—early childhood teacher education research.

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education – Volume 34, Issue 1

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Common Core: Putting Students on Paths to 21st-Century Success


A little more than 20 years ago, I graduated from college with a degree and an eagerness to help students. During my time as a camp counselor, I had the opportunity to work with young people, so I knew I possessed two gifts: the ability to reach young people and enjoy the intrinsic reward of their successes.

Once I began teaching, I struggled mightily, as most young teachers do. I definitely had my middle school students’ attention, but I wasn’t sure they were reaching their potential. The solution came when I decided to focus on students’ needs: what they needed to know and what they needed to be able to do. As my career progressed, I had a lot more learning to do—but focusing on my students’ needs put me on the path toward becoming a more effective teacher.

This year, while serving as a teacherpreneur with the Center for Teaching Quality, I started to examine our educational landscape and saw many needs involving the new standards. I spoke to both parents and teachers who wanted more resources about how the standards relate to 21st-century learning and career and college readiness.

I’ve studied the standards, and I believe wholeheartedly that they will make students more effective thinkers and learners who are better prepared for life after high school. Teachers across the nation are working hard to implement the standards and prepare students for college and careers in the 21st century—but sometimes it’s difficult to explain how the standards play a part in this journey.

Introducing Two New Tools for Parents and Teachers

I recently created two resources to help teachers and parents navigate what the new standards mean to children. The standards are just one of many paths to 21st-century success.

This downloadable, shareable, and printable poster has two parts. On the left side, you’ll see six classroom scenes that show a necessary 21st-century skill that teachers are developing through their instruction with the help of the standards. All six of these skills lead to 21st-century success—and can be found embedded in various lessons and activities at every grade level.

The right side of the poster shows where these classroom paths lead: to three top skills that employers say students will need to be college and career ready. Research shows that college and career readiness is the #1 topic of interest to parents when discussing the standards. So this poster shows exactly what parents want to see—how teachers are preparing students for 21st-century success.

This tool also includes an evidence sheet for teachers to use when speaking with parents about the standards. Teachers can “plug in” their own classroom activities to help parents understand how those activities build 21st-century skills and prepare children for college and careers.

I invite you to use, share, and comment on these tools. I hope to help all teachers communicate some of the many strengths of the new standards with parents. And I hope you’ll join the Collaboratory and the Common Core lab to share your experiences with the standards, including strategies for how you develop 21st-century skills in your classroom.

Source: Center for Teaching Quality

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Impact Findings from the Head Start CARES Demonstration: National Evaluation of Three Approaches to Improving Preschoolers’ Social and Emotional Competence


Head Start CARES Classroom-based Approaches and Resources for Emotion and Social skill Promotion is a national demonstration that tests the effectiveness of three program enhancements designed to improve preschool childrens social-emotional competence. The project also examines the support systems e.g., professional development model, technical assistance, monitoring that are needed to implement the enhancements as designed within diverse Head Start classrooms across the country. This report describes impacts of the CARES demonstration, focusing on outcomes during the spring of the preschool year in: 1 teacher practices; 2 classroom climate; 3 children’s behavior regulation, executive function, emotion knowledge, and social problem-solving skills; and 4 children’s learning behaviors and social behaviors. The report also explores possible impacts on pre-academic skills during preschool and social-emotional and academic outcomes during the Kindergarten year. All three enhancements had positive impacts on teacher practice and on children’s social-emotional outcomes during the preschool year, although in varying degrees and not necessarily in the expected ways.

Source: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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The Health and Well-Being of Early Childhood Educators: A Need for Compassion and Commitment


In a recent report, early childhood educators working in Pennsylvania Head Start programs reported chronic illnesses, such as obesity and headache, in significantly higher proportions than nationally representative cohorts of women of similar age and socioeconomic status. Notably, in this anonymous online survey, 24 percent of the over 2,000 Head Start staff surveyed reported clinically significant levels of depression.

Early childhood educators must be well to do well in their jobs. Current public and political attention to early childhood education and universal pre-K indicates a growing interest in ensuring that children have strong early childhood education that prepares them for future success. And research emphasizes that children need consistent, sensitive, caring, and stable relationships with adults in order to thrive. Adults who are well, physically and mentally, are likely to have an easier time engaging in such relationships than adults who are struggling with chronic illness, such as depression. Thus, it is critical that we pay attention to, invest in, and be compassionate about the well-being of the adults who provide early care and education.

Source: Child Trends

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Teacher Time: Webinars for Head Start Preschool Teachers Teachers Choice! Digging Deeper into Challenging Behaviors

1 – 2 p.m. EDT

The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL) is pleased to present Teacher Time, the monthly webinar for Head Start teachers. The series is hosted by NCQTL’s own Kristin Ainslie and Dawn Williams. Hear directly from early childhood education experts on topics unique to the joys and challenges that teachers face every day.

Thanks for sharing which topics interest you with NCQTL. This month we’re focusing on the most popular submission: Challenging behaviors. Join NCQTL on Friday, March 21, at 1 p.m. EDT for Teacher’s Choice! Digging Deeper into Challenging Behaviors. Dr. Gail Joseph will help staff think deeply about what children are trying to tell us through their challenging behaviors.

Dr. Joseph is an associate professor and director of Early Childhood and Families Studies at the University of Washington, and co-director of NCQTL. She has had experience as a Head Start teacher, teacher trainer, mental health specialist, and national consultant in promoting evidence-based social-emotional practices with young children.

Topics for the webinar include:

  • Personal hot button behaviors
  • Finding the meaning behind a child’s challenging behavior
  • Best teaching strategies to prevent challenging behaviors

Find more resources and classroom tools from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL). Materials include:

Who Should Watch?

While anyone is welcome to participate in these webinars, they are specifically designed to meet the unique demands of Head Start teachers.

Viewing the Webinar

There is no need to pre-register. On the day of the webinar, select this link to join:

To review system requirements and for troubleshooting information, visit:

Stay Connected with #NCQTL

During and after the presentation, we encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences on Twitter! Include #NCQTL in your tweets to participate in the chat. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can still follow the conversation at

We Want to Hear from You!

After each webinar, please share examples of your classroom photos, lesson plans, or samples of activities. Please don’t include children or adults in the photos, for confidentiality reasons. We have a small token of appreciation for those who send examples to


You may send your questions to or call (toll-free) 1-877-731-0764. Sign up to receive information and resources about quality teaching and learning.

Source: National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning

15 Minute In-Services Suite – Head Start

These 15-minute in-service suites were designed as a resource for professional development in busy, active early childhood centers and programs. The in-service suites are organized around one topic or big idea and address effective teaching and assessment practices that map onto the NCQTL HOUSE Framework.

Each in-service consists of a short video supplemented with handouts. A trainer version is available for use by Early Childhood Education Specialists and other training and technical assistance providers and includes a PowerPoint presentation, learning activities and other training materials.

The in-service suites can be used in a variety of ways to meet the needs of varied audiences. Staff can view the shorter version directly on the website. The trainer version can be used as part of a workshop presented alone, or combined with other in-services.

Source: National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning

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Number and Characteristics of Early Care and Education ECE Teachers and Caregivers: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education NSECE


What did the early childhood teaching and caregiving workforce look like in 2012? This research brief describes the Early Care and Education ECE workforce data developed in the National Survey of Early Care and Education NSECE. The survey focuses on individuals providing direct care and education for children birth through five years and not yet in kindergarten. Findings are based on over 10,000 questionnaires completed in 2012 by a sample of individuals representing about one million center-based classroom staff, as well as about 830,000 paid and about 2,300,000 unpaid individuals regularly providing home-based ECE to children other than their own.

Source: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families

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