Hartford Early Childhood Education Professional Development

Summary

Many factors influence the quality of child care and early education programs, but perhaps none matter more than the education and experience of early childhood providers. Consequently, developing a well-trained workforce in early care and education must be a key goal for city leaders committed to building a strong foundation for early learning. The City of Hartford has made a broad-based, strategic commitment to provide high-quality early education to its young children by strengthening its workforce through a citywide, coordinated professional development initiative for Pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st and 2nd grade teachers. This multi-year component, implemented over the course of seven years, includes an Instructional Leaders Institute; an Administrator's Forum; an Early Childhood Network; a dedicated WikiSpace; Peer Learning Groups; extensive onsite coaching support for Instructional Leaders; a data system exclusively developed by the City's technology department as well as classroom monitoring to measure the quality of instructional practices and validate the accuracy of child assessment measures.

The vision established by all partners is "Regardless of what center or school Hartford's young children attend, they will have access to a high-quality, educationally aligned experience." This is especially important given the myriad of options available (Charter, Magnet or Open Choice Schools and Community-based Early Childhood Centers) and the significant mobility among these options. The Capitol Region Education Council (CREC), the Hartford Public Schools and a select number of community-based preschool programs have committed to building an educational alignment for Hartford children preschool through Grade 3 in order to ensure their success in the early grades. The FirstSchool framework has been identified as a resource to support this collective work in a citywide pilot initiative in which CREC, HPS and Community-based preschools identified schools and centers in which data will be collected.

The Strategy

Partners
On a regular basis early educators the City of Hartford, Hartford Public Schools, and the Capitol Regional Education Council (CREC) come together for training by researchers from UNC Chapel Hill to learn more about developmentally appropriate instructional practices and how to create a culturally competent learning environment.

CREC: Designated three educators to be certified in EduSnap which required three full-days of training and then rater approval which took between half a day to several days until reliability was achieved. Each approved rater then had to collect data in each assigned classroom for one full day (six hours). Each rater collected baseline data in four classrooms over four days. Post-data collection in each classroom is currently being collected. Facility space for 100 participants for a one-day FirstSchool conference was provided at no cost. The Assistant Executive Director sits on a Leadership Team that meets quarterly and CREC staff participate in monthly Alignment Task Force Meetings. CREC teachers and administrators attended 19 FirstSchool workshops including onsite classroom visits and meetings with teachers.

Hartford Public Schools: Designated four educators to be certified in EduSnap which required three full-days of training and then rater approval which took between half a day to several days until reliability was achieved. Each approved rater then had to collect data in each assigned classroom for one full day (six hours). Each rater collected baseline data in four - eight classrooms and post-data collection in each classroom is currently in process. Facility space for 50 participants for a one-day FirstSchool conference was provided at no cost. The Chief Academic Officer sits on a Leadership Team that meets quarterly and HPS staff participate in monthly Alignment Task Force Meetings. HPS teachers and administrators attended 19 FirstSchool workshops including onsite classroom visits and meetings with teachers.

Community-based preschools: Designated four educators to be certified in EduSnap which required three full-days of training and then rater approval which took between half a day to several days until reliability was achieved. Each approved rater then had to collect data in each assigned classroom for one full day (six hours). Each rater collected baseline data in two-eight classrooms over four days. Post-data collection in each classroom is currently being collected. Community-based teachers and administrators attended 19 FirstSchool workshops including oinsite classroom visits and meetings with teachers.

Outcomes

Hartford's Department of Families Children, Youth, and Recreation (DFCYR) has secured blended fiscal resources over the last two years from school districts, the Capitol Region Education Council and city general funds to contract with FirstSchool, a school reform framework for teaching minority and low-income Pre-K to 3rd grade students. In 2015, three schools partnered with three community-based preschool programs, family engagement providers and the Hartford Public Library system to roll out Hartford's pilot FirstSchool model. As part of this pilot, 12 educators were trained in EduSnap, FirstSchool's data collection system. FirstSchool principal researchers have visited Hartford on four occasions to provide joint professional development trainings to Pre-K to 3rd grade educators, administrators and key stakeholders to establish a high-quality, educationally aligned. To date, nineteen workshops (mostly full-day events) have been provided by FirstSchool researchers to nearly 1,000 Hartford administrators, educators, parents and family engagement professionals. In addition, 11 educators from CREC, HPS and community-based preschool programs have been certified as EduSnap data collectors under the FirstSchool framework. Baseline FirstSchool data sets have been collected and analyzed on 45 PreK-Grade 3 classrooms representative of Student Approaches to Learning; Teaching Approaches; Settings; and Content.

Contact Information

Institute for Youth, Education, and Families
rucker@nlc.org

Jane Crowell
Jcrowell@hartford.gov
3rd Floor, City Hall, 550 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103 
(860)757-9595

Related Topics