Clayton Early Learning

Data Utilization at Clayton Early Learning

Kristin Denlinger


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!