A message from Sherry M. Cleary, Executive Director:
Governor Cuomo’s 2018 budget proposal, released yesterday, includes a funding allocation of $5 million for QUALITYstarsNY for the second year in a row. We are grateful to have the support of the Governor’s office and we honor his commitment to high quality early childhood in New York State.
QUALITYstarsNY is New York’s early childhood quality rating and improvement system, designed to ensure that New York’s youngest children have access to high quality care and education across the state. With next year’s support, we will be able to continue to serve 750 early childhood programs and over 34,000 children. The parents of these thousands of children can confidently leave their children every day in the centers, schools, and family homes that participate in QUALITYstarsNY, knowing that their little ones are in the nurturing and stimulating environments that research shows is vital to their healthy development and lifelong success.
QUALITYstarsNY provides an evidence-based standards framework and uses a data tracking system to ensure maximum accountability and the efficient, effective use of public funds. Most importantly, it works. The number of highly rated programs increased by 65% over a three-year period. With the support of New York State and other public and private sources, QUALITYstarsNY is determined to expand the number of participating programs to provide access to excellent care to more children across the state and to protect the extensive investment made in Pre-K. With a target to serve 3,400 center- and school-based programs and 3,200 family providers serving 230,000 children, from birth through five years, within the next five years, additional support is urgently needed for the vital expansion of the program.
Kate Tarrant is the Institute’s Director of Research and Evaluation. A central function of her work is facilitating the NYC Early Childhood Research Network , which funds research projects that examine the early care and education workforce of New York City’s universal prekindergarten programs in partnership with the Foundation for Child Development. We asked Kate to share some of her reflections about her work with us.
What is your current role? In your own words, how would you describe the work you do?
As the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Institute, my work falls into two buckets. First, I facilitate the NYC Early Childhood Research Network. The Research Network is a group of policymakers and early care and education researchers who are currently investigating the implementation of Pre-K for All with a particular focus on the early childhood educators and teaching practices. The research is designed to inform policy about early childhood education at all levels, especially since so much of NYC’s Pre-K is in sites with many different aged children. It’s my job to support their collaboration. The second major category of my work is to bring research and evaluation capacity to the Institute. This takes place in a number of ways. I design and conduct evaluations of some specific projects and then I also work with our other initiatives to do strategic planning about ways that we can track, improve, and showcase our work.
Who do you work most closely with at the Institute? What outside partners/organizations do you work with?
I am fortunate that I get to work closely with a lot of people within the Institute and with outside partners as well. Since I support research and evaluation activities across all of the Institute’s initiatives, I partner with all of the Directors. I am also currently evaluating our New York Public Library professional development project and so I am working closely with Helen Frazier, Director of Early Childhood, who is leading that work. I am lucky to work with many outside partners through the Research Network, including the early childhood leaders at ACS, DOE, and DOHMH, as well as early childhood faculty from the major universities and colleges throughout the metropolitan area.
What motivated you to work in the early childhood field?
I think the early childhood bug bit me when I was in high school and worked at a day camp as a counselor for four-year-old children. Since then, I’ve always wanted to work with children and families. My career in the early childhood field began about 15 years ago at an organization that advocated for young children’s safety, health, and wellbeing. In that role, I saw the importance of connecting research, practice, and policy and how a comprehensive approach to early childhood policy and practice had the potential to level the playing field and support children and families. Since that time, I have been committed to working toward that vision. I stay motivated because I’ve seen a lot of progress in policy and research focused on providing children from families who are economically disadvantaged with access to quality early learning. There are so many smart and dedicated people working hard toward the goal of providing children from birth through age eight with enriching and nurturing childhoods—but there is so much more to do!
If you could learn a new skill today, what would it be?
That’s a hard question. There is so much I’d like to learn. Learning how to play an instrument would be at the top of my list, I love to dance and listen to music, and when my children were babies, singing and listening to music became a huge part of our daily lives. It's therapeutic and inspirational. A close second would be to learn how to speak Spanish fluently.
What brings you joy in your work?
I really enjoy working with and learning from people who are dedicated to young children’s wellbeing. I feel like anyone who is involved in helping young children thrive has an important perspective. With my work, I try to elevate voices from the field to make more responsive early childhood policy.
If you had one piece of advice for a new early childhood teacher, what would it be?
Take care of yourself and have fun. For me, the best way to do that has been through supportive relationships with my colleagues who I can laugh with, vent to, and learn from.
Elisa A. Hartwig
Authentic assessment is a powerful tool for early childhood educators to analyze information gathered during everyday classroom activities and routines in order to understand each unique child’s development. Consistent and comprehensive reflection on observation notes, photos, artistic creations, emergent writing, and dictations provides teachers with meaningful insight about each child and about the group as a whole. With this insight, teachers can plan activities and experiences that are responsive to children’s interests and needs. Teachers can share their understanding of each child’s growth with his or her family, while also gaining important insight from them in return.
A robust, on-going authentic assessment practice can also help early childhood educators to make sure that they aren’t mistakenly seeing children for something they’re not. Authentic assessment is even more powerful because it can reduce unintended, or implicit, biases. Implicit biases are automatic, subconscious ways that we read the environment and predict behavior. Specifically, implicit biases can affect teachers’ expectations of and interactions with the young children in their classrooms.
In a recent study by Walter Gilliam at the Yale Child Study Center, preschool teachers were shown to erroneously expect challenging behavior from Black boys, even when no behavior challenges were present. This suggests that preschool teachers may hold differential expectations of challenging behavior based on the race of the child. The study also demonstrated that preschool teachers who were not of the same race/ethnicity as the child were more likely to perceive severely problematic behavior as typical or expected.
Gilliam became interested in preschool teachers’ biases following data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights showing that Black and Latino male preschoolers are suspended and expelled disproportionately – nearly four times as often as their White peers. Unnecessary suspensions and expulsions deny our youngest residents the right to educational opportunities and put them at a disadvantage for further success and well-being. The Institute applauds the New York State Education Department’s commitment to eliminating these practices in all early childhood settings by the 2017-2018 school year. The Institute also acknowledges New York City’s Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina’s strong stance against suspensions and expulsions for young children up through 2nd grade.
Using authentic assessment to ground teachers’ understanding of children’s development in a collection of evidence that strives for objectivity and that is visible and accessible by others can help early childhood teachers to reduce implicit biases. The Institute’s Authentic Assessment Specialists guide teachers to record observations only of what they see and hear, thereby eliminating assumptions and interpretations about what a child might be thinking, feeling, or intending to do. Authentic assessment practice guides teachers to see children in a strengths-based way, rather than in terms of potential deficits or challenging behaviors. It allows children to be different – in fact, authentic assessment leads teachers’ to embody the Core Value of the New York State Core Body of Knowledge: “Every human being is a unique individual, with diverse modes of learning and expression as well as interests and strengths.”
Increasingly, kindergarten teachers are taking an interest in authentic assessment as an alternative to tests that can be anxiety-inducing and developmentally inappropriate for young children. Lindsey Desmond, a veteran kindergarten teacher in Manhattan, explains: “It’s a different frame for student achievement that focuses not on what the child didn’t get, but on her strengths, on what she can do and does know. It also gives a more interdisciplinary approach and so can be integrated into your practice more naturally, and it’s more culturally relevant as well because you can more easily utilize the child’s frame of reference in lesson-planning. Authentic assessment is culturally responsive because children can demonstrate how they apply concepts within their own cultural schemas rather than in a predetermined way.”
The Aspire Registry team has released their November newsletter. For more than a year now, the Aspire Registry Newsletter has discussed the latest Registry news and events, and highlighted the work of New York professionals in the field of early childhood. The newsletter also provides information about useful resources and tips for early childhood professionals. Each month, the newsletter is distributed to over 24,000 Aspire Registry members, a number that continues to grow.
In this month’s newsletter, the first article discusses the benefits of being a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The Aspire Registry team also announces that they recently received the Elijah McCoy Award by the City University of New York’s Office of the Senior University Dean for Academic Affairs. The award recognizes the team’s use of creativity and innovation to develop new or improved processes, methods, systems, services, or programs. Lastly, the newsletter features a spotlight on Stefanie Straker, a QUALITYstarsNY Quality Improvement Specialist.
To read the newsletter, click here.
The Agri-Business Child Development program (ABCD Program) was established to meet the needs of parents working on New York State’s farms back in 1946.
As a non-profit provider of high quality culturally and linguistically diverse child development services for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers, Agri-Business Child Development ensures that each child receives comprehensive educational, health and social services.
Sherry Cleary, the Institute’s director had the distinct pleasure of attending the 70th Anniversary celebration in East Syracuse and to bring greetings from the New York Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC).
Being present for this celebration was special to her as Sherry’s first teaching job, 41 years ago, was as a pre-school teacher at the Fredonia Migrant Early Childhood Program, one of the programs that remains in the ABCD network.
Maggie Evans, a member of the ECAC is the Chief Executive Officer of ABCD and has done a wonderful job shepherding the work of the statewide network of early childhood programs. She brings her passion and commitment to excellence to everything she touches. And this occasion was no different. There was a beautiful video premiered at the evening celebration and wonderful words were shared by articulate young adults who had experienced the migrant life as children. The celebration was followed by a day-long conference for staff of network programs. Congratulations to Maggie, her leadership team, and all the programs that make up the network of ABCD!!!
The early years represent the most sensitive time for children’s growth and development, and the effects of this time persist throughout children’s academic careers and into adulthood. This makes ensuring the highest quality education for our youngest learners critical for their future. A high quality education begins with high quality teachers, which is why the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute (Institute) and the Department of Education’s Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) have partnered to support teachers as they seek New York State Teacher Certification in Early Childhood (Birth-Grade 2).
Attaining your NYS teacher certification has many benefits, including increasing your earning potential, opening additional career opportunities, strengthening your knowledge of early childhood development, developing your teaching skills, and building your confidence in the classroom.
The first step in determining your eligibility to receive support services is to complete the online self-assessment form. Once the Institute staff have reviewed your self-assessment, an advisor from the Institute will follow up to help you develop a clear plan of action, outlining your path to certification within 3 years of your hire date.
Your certification support services may include:
- Test prep and tutoring
- Academic Advising
- Study Plan Development & Monitoring
- Career Counseling
Our form will remain open for submissions through November 30, 2016. Submit your assessment form today!
If you have any questions, please contact the Institute’s Career Development Services Center at 718-254-7735 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For general questions about teaching pre-K in New York City, email email@example.com.
Governor Cuomo Announces $10.4 Million in State Funding to Support 3-Year-Old Pre-K in 25 High-Need School Districts
Research has consistently demonstrated that the early years of a child’s life have a significant impact on their school success, as well their success later in life. In fact, recent reports indicate that approximately half of the achievement gap is already apparent before children enter the first grade. These findings also suggest that experiencing high-quality education at an early age can narrow the achievement between low-income children and their more affluent peers and better prepare students for academic success. In an effort to ensure that all of New York’s children have an opportunity to experience high-quality early care and education, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that $10.4 million has been awarded to 25 high-need school districts. With this funding, school districts will be able to increase access to high-quality pre-kindergarten for more than 1,500 three-years-old children.
New York has always made a strong commitment to its youngest and most vulnerable citizens across the state, and this investment will continue to support that work by expanding pre-kindergarten to more children than ever before. For more information and to read the official announcement from the Governor’s office, click here.