TSR Connect
A Closer Look

Tuesday, January 13, 2015



Save the Date for the 5th Annual Texas School Ready! Early Childhood Summer Institute - July 7-9, 2015! This year we'll be hosting the conference in our hometown of Houston. Look for more information soon via email.


Banners are back! TSR banners will be delivered to new TSR sites starting this month, and returning sites will receive their stickers for the 2014 school year. Displaying your banners outside your schools tells the community that you care about high quality early childhood education and helps spread the word that your students will be ready for school and ready for life!

TSR Updates

Happy New Year to our TSR family! We hope you had a wonderful time with family and friends as we closed out 2014 and welcomed 2015.

This month brings a new year and an important milestone for TSR, as we officially launch enrollment in the project's new digital face, CLI Engage. If you are affiliated with a Houston-area public school district or Head Start grantee, we greatly encourage you to attend the Children's Learning Institute's Winter Lunch & Learn on January 29, 2015, at the United Way of Greater Houston. During this free event CLI Director Dr. Susan Landry, together with Dr. April Crawford (Director of State Initiatives) and Howard Morrison (Texas Education Agency), will walk through the components of the new CLI Engage e-platform and its current pilot program in three independent school districts. Check out the article below for more details on CLI Engage!  If you would like to register for the Lunch and Learn, click here.

A Closer Look

TSR Tools Used in Two New Research Studies

As part of a highly competitive national grants program focusing on education research, the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Center for Education Research recently awarded the Children’s Learning Institute with two – out of the four - grants given to Texas-based institutions.

“Many states estimate that half of their students arrive at kindergarten already far behind where they need to be in order to succeed,” said Dr. Susan Landry, director of the Children’s Learning Institute and principal investigator for both grant projects. “However, there is a growing consensus that high quality preschool experiences can lay a strong foundation for school readiness even among economically disadvantaged children. We will test which instructional approaches best create this foundation.”

One of the grant-funded projects, known as ePATT (Parents and Teachers Together), will evaluate the impact of two web-based preschool programs — both developed at the Children’s Learning Institute — on children, their parents, and teacher outcomes. The first of these programs utilizes the tested and proven Texas School Ready! project in its remote, video-based form. The second program is Play and Learning Strategies (PALS), which provides training for parents. The coaches support parents remotely in combination with the web-based curriculum sessions and video training to develop a set of core behaviors that comprise a responsive interaction style between parent and child. Results from this study will be compared with a similar study carried out from 2009-2012, which was conducted in a face-to-face manner. In addition, an economic evaluation and comparison of the two studies will be conducted.

This 4-year study will be conducted with teachers in 66 Head Start classrooms and more than 528 children and their parents. The research will focus on children from low-income backgrounds, including a high percentage of Spanish-speaking, English language learners.

The results of this study will not only test the unique and combined effects of a classroom-based and home-based program, but also will provide information about the cost effectiveness of the in-person versus online delivery models of instruction.

“This study will allow us to see if a technological approach can produce similar effects of practical importance at lower costs,” Landry said. “We also will be able to examine whether the combined school and home approach is more likely to lead to school readiness for children of lower socio-economic status.”

The other grant project will compare two distinct approaches in providing professional development to child care teachers in language and literacy instruction: remote, video-based coaching, and in-classroom coaching. This project will take place in subsidized child care classrooms in urban and rural areas. Participants in this 4-year study include 210 child care teachers with 1,680 low-income children from diverse backgrounds. 

Researchers will measure the effects of these approaches on teachers’ skills as well as on children’s school readiness skills, including social and emotional development, language, math, early literacy, and reading. To help achieve its results, this study will employ Texas School Ready!, which includes teacher feedback for 90 minutes per week with either video-based, remote coaching, or in-classroom coaching, along with the completion of eCIRCLE online professional development classes.

This study also will analyze the cost effectiveness of the in-person versus online delivery models of instruction.

“Video-based, remote coaching has the potential to significantly lower the costs of training teachers and can be replicated,” Landry said. “In-class support is more expensive and can sometimes be challenging to implement. However, it allows for greater differentiation of demonstrations and co-teaching to bridge the gap between coursework and implementation with children to improve early learning.”

A Closer Look

CLI Engage Will Bring TSR to All Texas Pre-K Teachers

Texas School Ready! is getting a new digital face. For the past two years, CLI has been building an innovative online platform, known as CLI Engage, to house the components of the TSR program –- child progress monitoring and reporting tools, teacher professional development courses, classroom observation tools, and a newly revised CIRCLE Activity Collection. The best part? With funding from the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission, CLI Engage will be provided statewide at NO COST to all public school districts and Head Start grantees in Texas, as well as all public and private programs participating in the Texas School Ready! project. With CLI Engage, simply having an internet connection will allow teachers in the most remote districts in Texas to access the research-proven program improvement tools of the Texas School Ready! project. 

The platform is currently being piloted in the Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston independent school districts. Approximately 1,400 pre-K teachers and 850 kindergarten teachers are participating. To date, over 45,000 children are enrolled and can be assessed in areas of language and literacy, social and emotional development, mathematics, and much more through the CIRCLE Assessment System on CLI Engage. The system provides advanced reporting tools that empower teachers to utilize targeted, small group instruction, and allows administrators to track progress at the classroom, school, and district levels. 

The professional development component, known as eCIRCLE, will rollout to pilot participants this month. In addition to foundational coursework on child development and learning, teachers will be able to view expert commentary on instructional practices filmed in real classrooms. Participants can also access dozens of activities in the CIRCLE Activity Collection, many of which include filmed demonstrations and heavy scripting for beginner teachers. These activities are designed to target specific skills and are built into the CIRCLE Assessment System's reporting feature that suggests activities based on student assessment scores. 

The full platform is expected to be released to all Texas public school districts and Head Start grantees by Fall 2015, but open enrollment begins this month! For more information, click here

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Children's Learning Institute at UTHealth
7000 Fannin, Suite 2300
Houston, TX 77030

Learn more about Texas School Ready! visit us at www.texasschoolready.org