From the Chair - May 31, 2011

The Texas Early Learning Council has taken remarkable strides towards accomplishing our major goals over the last month.  We began critical work on investigating the feasibility of building an integrated early childhood data system for Texas, which we are calling The On-Track System (TOTS).  Recently, Council members and I joined leaders from every state agency involved in early childhood for a kick-off webinar on the vision of the TOTS system, and the steps we need to take to get there.

Our Council's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) recommendation efforts took a great leap forward this month, as staff and Council members began putting the final touches on an important paper charting the Texas early care and education landscape and its readiness for a QRIS.  Look for that paper to be available on our website in mid June, 2011.

The Workforce and Professional Development Subcommittee met for a day-long working session in Austin, where they continued their efforts to create new, enhanced core competencies for the early childhood workforce.  This group is moving closer and closer to a new comprehensive early childhood professional development system for the state.

Our Collaborations and Standards Subcommittee just finished an exciting meeting in Austin on the development of new Infant and Toddler Early Learning Guidelines for the state of Texas.  Twenty-five leaders, stakeholders, and invested advocates joined the Council subcommittee to take the critical steps of laying out a vision, mission statement, and guiding principles for our state's Infant and Toddler Early Learning Guidelines.  As you may know, the Council is also working very closely with ZERO-TO-THREE to develop our guidelines, and we are very excited about the expertise and experiences they bring to this process!

I am also pleased to announce that our Outreach and Communications Subcommittee is on the verge of signing a contract with a prestigious group to conduct the first comprehensive early care and education needs assessment in our state in forty years.  We will announce this exciting partnership as soon as the agreement is final.

Finally, our staff is working hard to reach out and communicate the efforts of the Council.  Look for important new opportunities coming soon, such as public webinars, informative publications, and critical and current news items.

We are working very hard to improve school readiness in Texas!  The entire Council and myself are grateful for all the contributions made so far by stakeholders, subject matter experts, and other partners in the important work we are doing.  As the Council moves forward, we will continue to call on you and others who work so hard to support early care and education in Texas.  If you are interested in participating in specific Council projects, please let us know.

John W. Gasko, Ph.D.

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