Clayton Early Learning
29Dec/15Off

Data Utilization at Clayton Early Learning

Kristin Denlinger

By

Kristin Denlinger

Kristie Denlinger and Peter Blank

Data Utilization at Clayton Early Learning

While Clayton schools are supporting children and families build strong foundations through high quality care and early education, support services and community programs, the Institute at Clayton Early Learning is conducting research that extends far beyond the walls of our two schools.

The Institute conducts studies and gathers data to help prepare our students for kindergarten, ensure that our program’s needs are being met, and advocate for children at the local, state, and federal policy level.

What do you mean by data?

Child Outcomes

Children at Clayton participate in several developmentally appropriate assessments throughout the year to help us understand what specific knowledge our children have gained and how they’re learning in comparison to other children of the same age.

Since we are working with very young children, these assessments looks more like games that are fun and engaging; allowing children to demonstrate knowledge and competence through play. For example, an assessment might test for the skill of prepositions (in, on, under, etc.) by presenting a student with a series of variety of toys, then asking the child to “put the spoon in the cup.”

Teacher Data

We obtain teacher data in the form of surveys, observations, and TS Gold reports. Teachers and staff at Clayton fill out several surveys throughout the school year that provide valuable information about the culture of our classrooms and programs, such as how teachers spend their time, how they interact with parents, how they use data, etc. Teachers are also observed in their classrooms interacting with children several times a year using a standardized observational tool. After the observations, the tools are used for professional development to help teachers20150814_assessment_037-2 improve their practices and to ensure all students are having their individual academic needs met. Finally, TS Gold is the state approved assessment system we use here at Clayton where teachers can input data that demonstrates children’s competencies in areas like socio-emotional development, language development, and math skills.

Parent Data

Parents at Clayton are given an annual survey that gives us valuable information about the families that we serve.  Questions on the survey center around family events and situations such as the family moving, housing and food insecurity, activities that the parents do with the child, and the parents’ experience at Clayton.

How is data used?

Individual Level

Our child assessment data is shared with teachers with parental consent twice a year and is used to help tailor instruction to the needs of each child. For example, if a teacher is concerned about whether a child’s language comprehension skills are developing at an appropriate pace because the child is not responding to instructions, the teacher may not know if this is a behavioral issue or if the child just doesn’t understand what the teacher is saying.  If the child receives a developmentally appropriate language assessment, we can compare their comprehension skills to those of other children of the same age.

In addition to this common measure, we can also identify the specific skills that the child can or cannot yet demonstrate, such as knowledge of prepositions (on, in under, etc.). From there, the teacher not only has an objective understanding of the child’s skills but they can also adjust their practices with the child based on the skills they know, such as using more gestures with their instructions to the child in order to foster their language development.

Child assessments allow us to ensure that children aren’t slipping through the cracks or getting bored. Using data driven evidence, we can make sure that each individual child is getting the academic supports they need and that our teachers can use their resources to the child’s best advantage.

Program Level

We are able to evaluate and improve our program using the data we collect in a variety of ways, including using child and teacher data to help us evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in our curriculum and using parent and teacher surveys to evaluate the culture of the school and the biggest needs of our families.

For example, a few years ago a large group of our families reported varying degrees of food insecurity. This gave us the objective data to support our Food for Families program, which has expanded and works to provide our families with fresh produce and access to our own food pantry.

Cross-network Level

Clayton Early Learning is a part of the Educare Learning Network, a national network of early learning centers aimed at providing the highest quality comprehensive care to low income families. This network, led by the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the Buffet Early Childhood Fund, gives Clayton access to valuable resources, research, and peer learning from similar partner programs across the county.  As a member of this network, we report our own data and participate in longitudinal studies to show the effectiveness of quality early education for our children and families. This data can also be a powerful tool for local, state, and federal policy advocacy, as well as helpful in applying for grants for future research.

We are always pursuing new projects and looking to use our data in a variety of ways to advance quality early childhood education and development. For more information about Clayton Early Learning and the Educare Network, use the site links listed below and be sure to subscribe to this blog where we will provide readers with an insider’s look at various aspects of data use at Clayton!

http://www.claytonearlylearning.org/research/

http://www.educareschools.org/our-approach/educare-learning-network/

2Oct/15Off

Tools of the Trade: The Bracken School Readiness Assessment

Kristin Denlinger

By

Kristin Denlinger

Among the greatest benefits for children who attend high quality early care and education programs is access to tools and resources that will support the student’s readiness for kindergarten. Though the goal of school readiness for kindergarten bound students is clear, many families may wonder how readiness is determined and what tools are used to measure student growth and development.

Based on commonly identified academic criteria, one tool used to measure a preschool student’s development is the Bracken School Readiness Assessment. As children prepare to transition from preschool to kindergarten, the assessment is used to measure the child’s knowledge in areas including

  • Color identification
  • Letter and number recognitionresearch and evaluation
  • Counting and measurement concepts
  • Identification and comparison of shapes

Unlike traditional testing, The Bracken is considered a ‘receptive’ assessment, meaning that children only need to point to select answers and that the student is not expected to vocalize or articulate their response. The assessor must remain objective throughout the assessment, but is dually charged with supporting the child in maintaining focus or engagement and must also anticipate distractions, boredom and other factors unique to working with young children.

Early education professionals must complete a comprehensive training program before they are considered qualified and reliable to administer The Bracken Assessment. This training provides instruction in objectivity, strategies for observing young students and practice in accommodating unexpected factors that include behavioral and environmental challenges.

This fall, teachers and other ECE professionals throughout Colorado will participate in assessor training in order to effectively implement assessment, like The Bracken, into high quality early education programs.

Concurrently, many preschool children will be assessed by qualified educators who will use The Bracken School Readiness Assessment. Those same students will be assessed once more in the spring for the purpose of objective growth measurement over the course of the school year. Both rounds of assessment will produce data that is used to gauge the child’s comprehension so that schools and families can develop individualized instruction strategies for the student as they prepare to transition from preschool to kindergarten.

For more information about The Bracken School Readiness Assessment and other tools used to track early childhood development,

contact Kristie Denlinger of the Clayton Early Learning Research & Evaluation Team kdenlinger@claytonearlylearning.org.

 

3Jun/15Off

5 Free Kid-friendly Festivals in Denver this Summer

Kristin Denlinger

By

Kristin Denlinger

1) Denver Chalk Art Festival

Kick-off your summer creativity with the Denver Chalk Art Festival! Chalk art is a fun medium that can be shared by kids and professionals alike. In the kids’ corner, kids can create their own art. Youth Groups will compete in a chalk challenge to help fund their school arts programs. The whole family can enjoy incredible works from award-winning street painters and live music throughout the festival.

When: June 6, 2015 (10am-10pm) & June 7, 2015 (10am-7pm)

Where: Larimer Square

More info: http://www.larimerarts.org/festival-info/denver-chalk-art-festival/

Image via Denver Chalk Art Festival website

Image via Denver Chalk Art Festival website

2) A Taste of Puerto Rico

A Taste of Puerto Rico is the largest Caribbean festival in Colorado! This festival is more than 10 years old and this year there will be a special tribute to the father of Salsa, Frankie Ruiz, by his brother Viti Ruiz. The whole family can enjoy musical act and cultural offerings, not to mention delicious Puerto Rican food.

When: Jun 14 (11am-8pm)

Where: Civic Center Park, E. Broadway & Colfax

More info: http://www.atopr.com/

Image via A Taste of Puerto Rico Facebook Page

Image via A Taste of Puerto Rico Facebook Page

3) Sand in the City

You don’t need to drive far to get to the beach this summer! Sand in the City is a family friendly beach party. Master sand sculptors will make giant works of art. Adults can enjoy local craft beer and music while the Kid Zone is jam-packed with obstacle courses, bouncy slides, magicians and buried treasure!

When: Jun 27-28 (12pm)

Where: Ralston Park, 64th & Simms, Arvada Co

More info: http://visitarvada.org/events/sand-in-the-city/

Image via Arvada Sand in the City Facebook page

Image via Arvada Sand in the City Facebook page

4) Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

In its 15th year, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival has been praised as one of the Best Festivals in Denver! Festival spectators enjoy the ancient sport of Dragon Boat Races, traditional and contemporary arts performances that showcase Asian and Asian American talent and Taste of Asia food courts. A kids’ ‘Dragonland’ area includes children’s performers and storytellers and educational crafts. The whole family can enjoy ‘Gateway to Asia,’ described as a “portal into Asian culture” with demonstrations and performances.

When: July 18-19 (10am)

Where: Sloan’s Lake, Denver

More info: http://www.cdbf.org/

Image via Colorado Dragon Boat Festival website

Image via Colorado Dragon Boat Festival website

5) A Taste of Colorado

A Taste of Colorado is a great way to experience some of the best food in Denver and end your summer with some family fun. Five stages will feature regional and national performers and a large Arts & Crafts Marketplace will be present. The Kidzone includes free craft activities and play equipment with music and magic. Families can learn about Colorado history together in the Festival of Mountain and Plain Area.

When: September 4 (11:30am-10pm), September 5, 6 (10:30am -10pm), September 7 (10:30am-8pm)

Where: Civic Center Park, E. Broadway & Colfax

More info: http://www.atasteofcolorado.com/

Image via A Taste of Colorado Facebook page

Image via A Taste of Colorado Facebook page

Tell us your family's favorite Denver summer festival in the comments below!