Arkansas Prekindergarten Research Alliance
This alliance seeks to examine factors related to improving the quality and effectiveness of the state's prekindergarten programs and their impact on children's school readiness and grade 3 success. Alliance work includes developing a research agenda, conducting research, and supporting the use of data and evidence to improve practice, policy, and student outcomes.
Latest Work Update: Spring 2017
During this quarter, the Arkansas Prekindergarten Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions and to plan and hold events.
On March 21, the alliance sponsored a bridge event webinar titled "Leading the Way: How States Are Addressing Early Learning Under ESSA." Cohosted by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), this webinar provided resources and strategies for integrating early learning into state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including examples from state leaders in Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Washington.
On April 27, the alliance convened in Little Rock, Arkansas, for a quarterly meeting. The meeting included two workshops to build alliance members' capacity to access and use Arkansas and national resources to improve outcomes for preK students.
In the first workshop, REL Southwest staff demonstrated how to use GIS maps to visualize data and explore preK eligibility and availability in Arkansas. Members gained hands-on practice in specifying the timeframe and data elements (such as poverty, education attainment) to include in their maps. The GIS maps were developed as part of the alliance's PreK Participation and GIS Mapping project.
In the second workshop, alliance members learned how to use a custom resource tool to identify and access available data and research related to topics in the alliance's research agenda. Alliance members then discussed possible uses for the tool in their current work.
Members also received an update on the Alignment of the Arkansas Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) to Other Measures of PreK Teacher Performance technical assistance project. Staff are in the process of developing a matrix to compare and contrast TESS with two other widely used preschool evaluation instruments: the Early Childhood Environment Rating System (ECERS-R) and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS™).
Finally, members discussed networking opportunities and whether they will continue some or all aspects of the alliance's work after the current REL Southwest contract ends in November 2017.
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