From the Chair - April 20, 2011

April has been a busy but rewarding month for the Texas Early Learning Council.  I am happy to announce that we will soon begin phase I of the development of an integrated early childhood health and education information system, which we are calling The On-Track System (TOTS). During this phase we will assess the feasibility of developing a state-of-the-art early childhood health and education data system that seeks to integrate relevant data sources from multiple state, federal and local agencies in order to provide critical and precise information to educators, parents, and policymakers about the school readiness needs of Texas children.  Visit our website to learn more about the vision for The On-Track System.  This month, we also began the process of selecting a research team to conduct a comprehensive, statewide needs assessment concerning the quality and availability of early childhood education programs in Texas.  Texas has not conducted a comprehensive needs assessment since 1969. We hope to select a contractor soon and we will let you know when they get started! Our Workforce and Professional Development Subcommittee completed a draft version of a new career ladder document for our early care and education workforce.  This is a much needed tool that will support the ongoing development and training of early childhood education professionals.  You can read about it below.  Our Collaborations and Standards Subcommittee brought together its Infant and Toddler Early Learning Guidelines Steering Group.  This steering group will meet in person in late May in Austin, to finalize a vision, mission, and guiding principles for the important work they are doing to support infants and toddlers in the state.  Stay tuned for more information on this important work. Finally, we recently received proposals for work to develop our Texas early childhood program standards comparison tool.  This dynamic tool will allow parents, providers, and policymakers to readily query a database of program standards and guidelines on key early childhood indicators such as safety standards, staff qualifications, quality, curriculum, etc.  We are hoping to begin work on this project next month.  We will keep you informed on its progress.

The Council is moving quickly to meet its ambitious goals; however, one of our priorities is to ensure that we hear sufficient feedback and input from the community on the efforts we are enacting.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions, input, or clarifications needed on any of the projects we are engaged in.

John W. Gasko, Ph.D.

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