Posted on January 23, 2024 by childrenslearninginstitute
Texas is home to over 3 million young children, yet not all children arrive at kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed. After 20 years, the Texas School Ready (TSR) project continues implementing programs and providing resources to positively impact young Texans’ school readiness. Texas School Ready is one of CLI’s signature programs focused on early childhood quality improvement.
Since 2003, TSR has served over 100,000 teachers in early childhood education programs. Ongoing support from state agencies and various partners enabled TSR to grow from its initial pilot to a statewide program that provides high-intensity services (TSR Comprehensive, and more recently, TSR Registered Apprenticeship Program and Administrator Professional Learning Series) and free access to evidence-based quality improvement resources online (through CLI Engage). Originally known as the Texas Early Education Model, TSR has been made possible with combined grant funds from the Texas Education Agency, Texas Workforce Commission, Institute of Education Sciences, National Institutes of Health, United States Department of Education, and multiple philanthropic foundations.
TSR serves children across diverse settings, including public school programs, federal Head Start programs, and community-based child care (for-profit, non-profit, faith-based, and federally subsidized settings). Our mission is to positively impact the early learning experiences and environments of children who are most academically at-risk. Beginning as a program focused on pre-K settings serving children ages three and four, CLI fully expanded our high-intensity TSR Comprehensive service delivery to infant and toddler classrooms in 2021-2022, providing a comprehensive birth-to-5 model for early education programs in Texas.
The following research-based concerns drive TSR’s design and implementation:
- Early childhood is critical for building school readiness skills in language, literacy, mathematics, social and emotional, and cognitive development.
- Children who come from families in poverty and disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to receive quality early learning experiences at home and school.
- Cognitive readiness can be achieved in ways that support the whole child.
- Research-based, comprehensive curricula are essential classroom tools.
- Responsive teaching that attunes to children’s signals promotes social and cognitive development.
- Progress monitoring that informs adjustments to instruction better assures school readiness.
- Effective professional development, with ongoing coaching, ensures instructional goals are achieved.
Registered Apprenticeship Program
CLI received a grant from the Texas Workforce Commission to develop a registered apprenticeship program (TSR-RAP) for child care that leverages the TSR Comprehensive model. Apprenticeships help employers and job seekers by training teachers for jobs with diverse career paths and promising futures. Apprentices are full-time, paid employees who earn while they learn. As a program designed to support the early childhood workforce by building competency in evidence-based instructional practices that positively impact child outcomes, TSR Comprehensive is an ideal program to embed in RAP for focused career development. This approach leverages the existing TSR Comprehensive on-the-job individualized coaching and related professional development, with support to obtain a CDA credential by the end of the apprenticeship. CLI designed and developed the RAP toolkit as part of the grant and piloted the RAP model in Amarillo, Rio Grande Valley, and Houston in 2023. In the 2023-2024 school year, 30 apprentices (pre-K teachers) from among TSR Comprehensive participants joined this initial year of implementation; CLI’s goal is to extend RAP participation across TSR Comprehensive as we iterate and scale the model to meet each community’s needs.
Expanded TSR Comprehensive Administrator Support Services
Last year, CLI designed an expanded service model for TSR Comprehensive administrators to ensure program directors and instructional leaders are equipped to lead schoolwide improvement efforts, now known as the Administrator Professional Learning Series (APLS). The program focuses on three key quality improvement leadership concepts: building a culture of continuous quality improvement, having effective quality improvement conversations with teachers, and supporting teachers’ implementation of specific TSR strategies and tools. Using a combination of needs assessment, coaching, and PLC (Professional Learning Communities), directors apply the concepts they learn to articulate goals and action items that support high-quality TSR Comprehensive implementation. The new model also includes foundational trainings in TSR resources for teachers not assigned the full TSR Comprehensive model. CLI piloted the approach with 31 directors, administrators, and over 120 teachers during the 2022-2023 school year. The pilot received overwhelmingly positive feedback, prompting APLS to be formally integrated into TSR Comprehensive service delivery, beginning the opportunity to test out the new approach and gather feedback from participants and staff on how it can be improved.
As TSR continues to grow and develop, we look forward to serving children across diverse settings and supporting the educators who serve them.