Learning Leader

Using Technology to Improve Early Education across Texas

For over ten years, the Children’s Learning Institute has managed the implementation, evaluation, and ongoing enhancement of the Texas School Ready Project (TSR) —a data-driven, comprehensive professional development and child progress monitoring program aimed at increasing school readiness skills in at-risk students. In 2014, in partnership with the Texas Education Agency, the Children’s Learning Institute began planning and developing a cost-effective, digital delivery system that could disseminate TSR’s tools across the state at no charge to eligible programs. This system became known as CLI Engage.

This September CLI Engage launched with its first state program, TSR Online—the free access of Texas School Ready resources to public school districts, Head Start grantees, and Texas Rising Star-certified centers. As of January 15th, 386 communities (school districts, Head Start agencies, education service centers, and other organizations) across Texas have enrolled in TSR Online, serving a total of 114,650 children. Former participants of the Texas School Ready project can sign up beginning February 1 (learn more here). 

21st Century Technology

When designing CLI Engage, we believed it essential to retain what we know from research is effective in program improvement models; yet we also set out to harness new technology that would deliver our resources in ways that defy the challenges we face in early education. Our vision—to not only collect data but to interweave its stories with direct connections to practical tools—yields highly targeted support for improving the quality of educational experiences across the widest variety of preschool and early care settings.

For example, through the TSR Online package on CLI Engage, teachers can take their students through simple, playful progress monitoring tasks. The system uses the scores to instantly identify for the teacher the students who need further skill-building through targeted small group instruction. The program goes on to provide immediate connections to lessons in the CIRCLE Activity Collection that support each emerging skill. Through a sophisticated reporting system, teachers and administrators can monitor growth in these skills across the year to determine if further intervention is needed for those students who continue to fall behind.

During the 2014-2015 school year, the Children’s Learning Institute conducted a large-scale pilot of the TSR tools on the CLI Engage platform with Houston ISD, Dallas ISD, and Fort Worth ISD. More than 2,450 teachers and 49,000 students participated and helped refine the system for its statewide launch this past Fall.

Endless Possibilities

While TSR Online is the first program featured on CLI Engage, its capacity is boundless. Educators, administrators, researchers, and policymakers can now benefit from a state-supported platform that has the potential to deliver countless program improvement tools across Texas. The Children’s Learning Institute has begun expanding CLI Engage, with the addition of new professional development courses and classroom activities for infant and toddler teachers and for home care providers. A new CIRCLE CDA Training Program on CLI Engage will help early childhood professionals seeking a CDA credential by the end of the 2015-16 school year. New resources for parents, including a Play and Learning Strategies self-paced learning program, will also be added. Finally, the Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment (TX-KEA) will be integrated into CLI Engage in Fall 2017.

Learn more at cliengage.org



visit ChildrensLearningInstitute.org



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