Rutgers Center for Effective School Practices Receives $7.3 Million in NJ Race to the Top Funding to Transform Training for Early Educators

The Rutgers Graduate School of Education’s Center for Effective School Practices announced today that it is receiving $7.3 million through an agreement with the New Jersey Department of Education to establish the New Jersey Early Learning Training Academy, a program that will coordinate and align the preparation of early childhood education professionals.

The New Jersey Early Learning Training Academy (NJ-ELTA) will include delivery and approval of high-quality professional development programs that will build high standards for the education and care of children from birth to age 8 throughout the state.

The initiative, which is the centerpiece of the state’s plan for early education and care, has been enabled by federal funding for New Jersey’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant.  The New Jersey Department of Education is joined as the lead funder by an interdepartmental consortium that includes Children and Families, Human Services, and Health, and is supported by the state’s Council for Young Children.

“This training academy will empower early childhood professionals with the tools they need to create high-quality programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers throughout the state,” said David Hespe, Acting Commissioner of Education. “By focusing on training the professionals, the children are the ones who will ultimately benefit.”

NJ-ELTA will establish a statewide training academy with regional satellite venues in partnership with Passaic County Community College in northern New Jersey and Atlantic Cape Community College in southern New Jersey. Initially, NJ-ELTA will deliver services through a train-the-trainer model through which staff will support Quality Improvement Specialists who assist the centers and schools that have volunteered to participate in Grow NJ Kids, the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. Eventually NJ-ELTA will expand its outreach to become the lead provider and authoritative clearinghouse for all state-sponsored training in early childhood.

“Good outcomes for all children depend on consistent implementation of best practice in all settings,” said Dr. Cynthia L. Blitz, Executive Director of Rutgers Graduate School of Education’s Center for Effective School Practices, and the Principal Investigator and Project Director for NJ-ELTA. “Research confirms that the type of high-quality professional learning and practitioner support that we will provide leads to the successful implementation of best practice.”

NJ-ELTA will be housed at the Center for Effective School Practices (CESP) with two satellite locations at Passaic County Community College and Atlantic Cape Community College.  Trainings and outreach will be coordinated across the regions, taking the special needs and strengths of each region into account.  CESP leads the research alliances for the Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic(REL-MA), including the Early Childhood Education Research AllianceREL-MA is sponsored by the United States Department of Education to help Mid-Atlantic stakeholders access and use high-quality research so that they are armed with the evidence they need to make decisions about educational policy and practice.