Texas Community Campaign for School Readiness

The Texas Early Learning Council recently released an exciting opportunity for local agencies to get involved and improve early childhood for their neighborhoods: The Texas Community Campaign for School Readiness.

The Texas Community Campaign for School Readiness (TCCSR) will fund up to six communities in Texas to assess their specific early childhood needs and to implement system improvements at the community level.  Lead agencies that are awarded grants will partner with local school districts to assess the kindergarten children in their community over two years, using the Early Development Instrument (EDI).  After collecting data on the vulnerabilities of children in their communities, lead agencies will select a stakeholder group to plan and strategize around the data to improve school readiness, locally.

The Texas Early Learning Council is mandated to conduct an early childhood needs assessment for Texas.  To fulfill this requirement, the Council recently contracted with the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University to conduct a statewide early childhood needs assessment in Texas.  The TCCSR expands upon this statewide needs assessment by providing communities with the opportunity to conduct local early childhood needs assessments in their neighborhoods.  Using the EDI tool, Texas communities will be able to assess the specific needs of children in their community, and use this data to facilitate targeted early childhood system improvements.

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is different from most early child assessments; it is population-focused, rather than child-focused.  The EDI's population approach allows communities to aggregate the data collected on their children to determine specific vulnerabilities for the community.  Although EDI assessments are conducted on individual kindergarten children in designated neighborhoods, this data is compiled and analyzed as a community dataset.  The population approach enables communities to devote resources to improve entire communities, rather than individual children.

An EDI assessment takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete on each child.  Kindergarten teachers answer a series of questions on each student to assess the child's readiness for school in several areas of child development:

  • Physical health and well-being
  • Social competence
  • Emotional maturity
  • Language and thinking skills
  • Communication skills and general knowledge

For the TCCSR, lead agencies will coordinate with local school districts to conduct EDI assessments on kindergarten students.  After the EDI assessments are completed in the schools, the data is aggregated and analyzed at the community level.  Depending on the needs of the children and the resources in the community, the EDI will identify specific strengths and weaknesses in the local early childhood system - and inform system improvements.

Communities in the United States that already use the EDI to assess their early childhood systems have had very positive results, especially in increased awareness, more accountability, integrated decision-making, and more public and political support of early childhood improvements.  The Council wishes to spread these types of results to Texas communities.

The six communities that are awarded TCCSR grants will partner with Transforming Early Childhood Community Systems (TECCS), a national partnership between the Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities at UCLA and United Way Worldwide.  TECCS has experience in Texas; both Austin and Wichita Falls United Ways are currently using the EDI to assess their early childhood systems.  TECCS will provide technical assistance to communities and data analyses of information collected with the EDI.

The Texas Early Learning Council is eager to offer this opportunity to Texas communities to improve their early childhood systems.  Visit www.earlylearningtexas.org/tccsr for more information and application instructions.  The deadline to apply is August 1, 2011!

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