Building Educator Capacity Nationwide to Enhance Early Learning Outcomes

December 12, 2017

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) is a partnership between NIEER, the Education Development Center and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Launched in 2012, CEELO is one of 22 Comprehensive Centers funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance and training to state education agencies encouraging improvements in early learning opportunities and outcomes. Dr. Lori Connors-Tadros, leads CEELO’s work to improve outcomes for children birth through third grade.

Through CEELO, NIEER staff including Director W. Steven Barnett Ph.D., Associate Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers, Ph.D., and Assistant Research Professor Alexandra Figueras-Daniel, Ph.D., participated in issue-focused workgroups, shared research-based materials and information, provided peer learning opportunities and consulted with individual state education policymakers on topics such as P-3 education continuums, school finance, and implementing federal regulations such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Over the past federal fiscal year, CEELO and NIEER staff provided technical assistance to more than 40 states and 150 participants ranging from customized information responses to co-hosting a National Roundtable on early learning. Each region of the country, and most states in each region, received technical assistance, and staff presented at more than a dozen national and regional meetings, and held five Peer Exchanges for Preschool Development Grant–Expansion states.

Harriet Feldlaufer, Director of Connecticut’s Division of Early Care and Education, indicated that her staff has participated in CEELO peer learning networks. Plus, CEELO has provided support regarding federal Preschool Development Grant policy, implementation and evaluation regarding development and expansion of high-quality preschool education. Specifically, Ms. Feldlaufer stated, “We also collaborated with CEELO on a national survey of states regarding strategies for supporting the early child work force. This work was instrumental in preparing a set of recommendations to our legislature.”

CEELO also builds state administrator leadership skills through several ongoing programs. The 2016-2017 Leadership Academy includes Fellows from Indiana, Illinois, Hawaii, Nebraska, Georgia, Colorado and Alabama.   CEELO is working with New Jersey educators through the EC Academy engaging administrators, educators and policymakers to build peer learning among school districts. CEELO also brought together experts and teams of leaders from 12 states in a six-month Learning Table peer exchange to improve policy on teaching and learning.

This year, CEELO developed and provided technical assistance on using a Cost of Preschool Quality Tool enabling states to estimate the additional funding needed to raise standards in an existing early education program, to more closely align with best practice quality standards, as well as assess the costs of various state policy proposals. The tool is a powerful asset for early education advocates and education stakeholders alike as they educate policymakers for change.

John Pruette, Executive Director of the Office of Early Learning in the North Carolina Health and Human Services Division, also values CEELO’s work. In reflecting on the impact of CEELO, Mr. Pruette remarked that, “CEELO keeps me grounded in the most recent research and recommended practice but most importantly serves as an objective sounding board. With any move forward, you need an opportunity to vet your thoughts and opinions with a neutral party. CEELO’s contribution to my thinking has been invaluable in that regard.”

Who to contact:
Michelle Ruess