As the nation increasingly understands brain development during the early years, the importance of early childhood care and education becomes inarguable. So it is essential to build academic continuums that bridge early care and education and elementary education, and develop models for integrating educational research and policy, particularly with respect to closing the achievement gap for all children regardless of socioeconomic status, English language proficiency or other determinants of academic success.
The Early Childhood Education Professional Learning Communities Project
was a multi-year professional development project that was part of the LA County Early Care and Education Workforce Consortium funded by First 5 LA and Los Angeles Universal Preschool. The multi-year professional development project provided elementary principals and transitional kindergarten (TK) professional development and technical assistance with the implementation of developmentally appropriate TK programs and the development of Early Childhood Education Professional Learning Communities. It offered a model for collaboration among preschool educators and transitional kindergarten teachers to support the articulation and alignment of preschool through transitional kindergarten and beyond.
The goals of the program include:
- Support to principals and teachers in the implementation of high quality, developmentally appropriate transitional kindergarten programs;
- Promote quality early learning practice among preschool and transitional kindergarten teachers;
- Increase collaboration among preschool and transitional kindergarten teachers through the implementation of a site-based ECE Professional Learning Community.
The ECEPLC Project was launched in 2011 to address training needs generated by passage of California’s Kindergarten Readiness Act (SB 1381) which created a new grade called Transitional Kindergarten (TK) for young 4-year-olds. The project provided training, resources and technical assistance, and fostered the development of professional learning communities (PLCs) that brought together principals, TK and kindergarten teachers, and ECE (i.e., preschool) providers. The goal of the PLCs is to build and strengthen the continuum across preschool programs and elementary schools in order to promote best practice and increased collaboration among those who teach and care for young children. Participants across the project’s two cohorts represented 60 elementary schools and 16 school districts across Los Angeles County.
The ECEPLC Project design reflects the project goals. Project components include:
Professional development activities that foster deeper understanding of child development, early childhood education, and developmentally appropriate practice.
- Teacher Institutes
- Principal Institutes
Training and technical assistance, individualized in order to address the particular needs and goals of each participating school.
- Project Consultants
- On-Site Mentoring
Opportunities for teachers and principals to engage with and learn from their peers.
- ECEPLC TK Conferences
- Cross-Site Visits
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) that promote:
- Horizontal and Vertical Alignment in Curricular Content and Pedagogical Practice
- PreK-Grade 3 Learning Continuums
- Collaboration, Communication and Cooperation Between Preschool Teachers, Primary Teachers And Principals
The Early Childhood Education Professional Learning Communities (ECEPLC) Project is a research-based model that is replicable, scalable and sustainable. Project evaluation confirms that intended outcomes can be achieved economically and efficiently. The project leads to:
- Increasing the professional competencies of teachers who work with young children;
- School leaders developing an increased, informed appreciation and understanding of the early years as a critical period in children’s education;
- Building the infrastructure and relationships necessary to support and develop a preK-primary grades continuum.