(A)(1) The State's ambitious early learning and development reform agenda and goals

The extent to which the State clearly articulates an ambitious yet achievable early learning and development reform agenda and goals for improving program quality and child outcomes statewide, and for closing the achievement gap for High-Need Children; establishes a clear and credible path to achieving these goals (by presenting evidence on its past performance and commitment); and the extent to which the State's early learning reform agenda and goals are consistent with the State Plan.

Performance Measures: States must establish baseline numbers, annual targets, and final goals for the following:

  • Increasing the number and percentage of High-Need Children participating in high-quality Early Learning and Development Programs (disaggregated by race, gender, disability status, and English learner status, and by each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers); and
  • Improving performance of High-Need Children on the State's kindergarten entry measure (disaggregated by race, gender, disability status, and English learner status).

Comments

  • Replace “child outcomes statewide” with “a comprehensive set of child outcomes covering the Essential Domains of School Readiness”
  • After “are consistent with the State Plan,” add “and are aligned with other established State goals related to children”
  • Under Performance Measures, add “These baseline numbers, annual targets, and final goals may be aligned with those of other existing State child and youth services.”

The National Down Syndrome Society recommends adding the following performance measure to ensure that children with disabilities have increased opportunities to be educated with children of all abilities and backgrounds:

Increasing the number and percentage of children with disabilities, from all the disability categories in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, in high-quality Early Learning and Development Programs that are not solely for High-Need children; and

Requiring results based measurement from the outset is key here. Quantifiable goal statements with specified time periods is the first step for all states, followed by best estimates of change data and child and family outcome data.

Data for the field of early childhood is fragmented, poorly collected (sometimes it is still on paper) and not shared.

Data sharing and interoperability must occur if this grant is to be successful in improving outcomes for highly vulnerable young children who are already being served across state agencies with both state and federal funds.

JM Gruendel, CT