About the Ready Schools Toolkit

Friday, May 27th, 2011 | Author: Kimberly

As part of the North Carolina Ready Schools Initiative, the North Carolina Partnership for Children convened expert teams to create a Toolkit of information and resources to enhance implementation and support the growth of Ready Schools. The teams included representatives from local Smart Start partnerships, the SPARK grantees (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids), the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, universities and colleges, DPI and other agencies, and non-profit institutions.

The Toolkit was designed to include instructional information about the Ready Schools Initiative and conceptual/philosophical information about the 8 Pathways, as well as lessons learned and best practices.

The Ready Schools Toolkit consists of 2 parts; the first part intended for use by schools and School-Based Teams and the second part designed to be used by Community-District Teams. Part 1 of the Toolkit was released in April 2011. Part 2 was released in October 2011.

We recommend using the Toolkit as a resource during the Action Planning and Implementation phases of the Ready Schools Process (view a chart showing the Ready Schools Process). 

Both the School-Based and Community-District Teams are responsible for developing their own Ready Schools Action Plan. The School-Based Team’s Action Plan is intended to be integrated with the School Improvement Plan. Most Teams will begin by focusing on one (or more) of the 8 Pathways, based on the priorities identified during the Needs Assessment phase. Teams can consult the appropriate section(s) of the Toolkit for additional information and resources. Links to the resources listed in the Toolkit as well as others can be found on this website.

Visit the For Schools section to access Part 1 of the Ready Schools Toolkit. Part 2 of the Toolkit is located in the For Communities section.

Category: About the Toolkit, For Communities, Ready Schools  | Comments off

Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2 — for Communities: Grassroots Community Building

Thursday, May 05th, 2011 | Author: Kimberly

Community-District Teams reach out to individuals and organizations to serve as advocates who either have a shared interest in PreK-3 educational environments or whose work could be mutually beneficial to both parties. Team members take time to develop and maintain meaningful, long-lasting relationships with individuals from other organizations and attend their meetings and events to communicate and share the work of Ready Schools. A critical role of the Community-District Team is to gather a variety of sustainable funding sources.

Download Pathway Nine: Grassroots Community Building from the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2.

Download Appendix J, Resources for Grassroots Community Building.

Selected Grassroots Community Building Resources:


The Center for Participatory Change (CPC): http://www.cpcwnc.org/

Through grassroots organizing, capacity building, networking, and grant making, CPC helps rural people make improvements to their communities via projects that they plan, implement, and evaluate themselves. This site provides a toolkit for fundraising, grant writing, leadership skills, and running a non-profit. The CPC offers small grants to grassroots organizations in Western North Carolina.

The Citizen’s Handbook: practical assistance for those who want to make a difference: http://www.vcn.bc.ca/citizens-handbook/0_1_Intro.html

This website provides “what works” tips for community development.

Organize to Win: A Grassroots Organizing Handbook: http://www.britell.com/text/OrganizeToWin.pdf

Provides essential elements and motivational strategies for grassroots campaigns.

Ready Schools + Ready Communities = Ready2: http://hugh.ncsmartstart.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Ready2.-The-Power-to-Connect-Ready-Schools-Ready-Communities-Slides-optimized.pdf

This link is provided by the Down East Partnership for Children. It is a PowerPoint presentation that describes the impact of their Ready2 initiative.

Working with the Community: Activist Milestone #11, Build a Coalition of Community Allies: http://www.results.org/skills_center/advocacy_how_tos/working_with_the_community/milestone_34/

From the Advocacy How-Tos section of the Skills Center on the RESULTS website. The Skills Center also includes information on and resources for Group Building and Leadership and Fundraising.


Adopt-A-School Toolkit

Many industries, companies, and employees are actively engaged in educational institutions. This toolkit provides a guide for employers to structure their involvement. It shares lessons learned by other Adopt-A-School porgrams.

Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2 — for Communities: Assessing Progress and Assuring Quality

Thursday, May 05th, 2011 | Author: Kimberly

Community-District Teams systematically use both formal and informal assessments to assess their progress in identified areas for focus in order to improve outcomes for all children. The Team monitors progress and redirects focus to new goals as needed.

Download Pathway Eight: Assessing Progress and Assuring Quality from the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2.

Download Appendix I, Resources for Assessing Progress and Assuring Quality.

Selected Assessing Progress and Assuring Quality Resources:


The Community Toolbox: http://ctb.ku.edu/en/default.aspx

Developed by the University of Kansas, this website includes how-to guidance, toolkits, and other resources for building healthy communities. It covers topics such as: Assessing Community Needs and Resources, Promoting Interest and Participation in Initiatives, Developing a Strategic Plan, Evaluating Programs and Initiatives, Maintaining Quality, and much more.

Evaluation Publications and Resources: http://www.hfrp.org/evaluation/publications-resources

Resources from the Harvard Family Research Project.

Program Development and Evaluation: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/pdande/

This website from the Universtiy of Wisconsin-Extension provides detailed information on a program development model that includes situational analysis, priority setting, program action, the logic model, and evaluation.

National Network for Collaboration: http://crs.uvm.edu/nnco/

Website provides information, activities, and links related to collaboration including: change process, identifying goals, assessing progress, communication skills, and community capacity building.

The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood National Technical Assistance & Quality Assurance Center: http://www.childcareservices.org/ps/teach_ta_qac.html

This website addresses assuring quality, built-in support, and accountability for safeguarding your early childhood professional development investments.

Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2 — for Communities: Teacher Supports and Adult Learning Communities

Thursday, May 05th, 2011 | Author: Kimberly

Critical to student and school success is the commitment of time and resources to support the on-going professional development and learning of administrators, teachers, and staff. The Teacher Supports and Adult Learning Communities Pathway helps connect district-, school-, and commnity-based efforts to support and develop the knowledge and skills of adults who are essential in the early learning process: early childhood professionals, service providers, family and community members, teachers, administrators, and staff. The Ready Schools Community-District Team addresses this challenge by using advocacy, linkages, and resources to facilitate the needed professional development and support.

Download Pathway Seven: Teacher Supports and Adult Learning Communities from the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2.

Download Appendix H, Resources for Teacher Supports and Adult Learning Communities.

Selected Teacher Supports and Adult Learning Communities Resources:


Edutopia: Teacher Development: http://www.edutopia.org/teacher-development

Edutopia.org, an initiative of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, contains a deep archive of continually updated best practices, from classroom tips to recommendations for district-wide change.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Training Opportunities: http://www.naeyc.org/ecp/trainings

NAEYC is dedicated to improving the well-being of all children, with a particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8. Follow this link to find training opportunities for early childhood professionals.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction: Professional Learning Communities: http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/profdev/resources/proflearn/

Provides detailed definitions, specific steps, and resources for implementing professional learning communities (PLCs), or adult learning communities (ALCs), as they are called in the Ready Schools Toolkit.

North Carolina Institute for Child Development Professionals: http://ncicdp.org

Promotes the implementation of a comprehensive professional development and recognition system that links education and compensation for child development professionals to ensure high quality care and education services for children and families.

PBS TeacherLine: http://pbs.org/teacherline

Professional development for PreK-12 educators. A service of PBS Teachers.

Zero to Three: http://www.zerotothree.org/

A national nonprofit organization that informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers, and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers.

Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2 — for Communities: Effective Curricula, Instruction, and Child Assessment

Thursday, May 05th, 2011 | Author: Kimberly

Community-District Teams are essential in advocating for the use of research-based and data-driven educational methods and materials shown to be effective in helping a diverse population of children, including those with special needs. Diversity is inclusive of linguistic, cultural, ethnic, physical, and cognitive characteristics. There is alignment of standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment from preschool through elementary grades and beyond. The goal is that all children achieve appropriate academic growth to reach essential standards.

Download Pathway Six: Effective Curricula, Instruction, and Child Assessment from the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2.

Download Appendix G, Resources for Effective Curricula, Instruction, and Child Assessment.

Selected Effective Curricula, Instruction, and Child Assessment Resources:


Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): http://www.brookespublishing.com/store/books/pianta-class/index.htm

An observation tool for educators to assess classroom quality in PreK through grade 3 based on teacher-student interactions in the classroom rather than evaluation of the physical environment or a specific curriculum.

Foundations: Early Learning Standards for North Carolina Preschoolers and Strategies for Guiding Their Success: http://www.earlylearning.nc.gov/Foundations/index.asp 

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction expectations for preschool success.

Learning Through the Eyes of a Child: A Guide to Best Teaching Practices in Early Education: http://www.earlylearning.nc.gov/Foundations/pdf/learning.through.the.eyes.pdf

A guide that describes, cleary and simply, how play-based center activities teach literacy, math, science, social studies, and the arts.  A practical tool to help teachers make the connection between what children are learning and how they can ehance that learning in line with the NC Standard Course of Study.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Position Statements on Curriculum, Assessment, and Program Evaluation: http://www.naeyc.org/positionstatements/cape

NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Standard Course of Study K-12: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/curriculum/

What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) - Early Childhood: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/reports/topicarea.aspx?tid=13

The WWC (from the US Department of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences) publishes intervention reports that evaluate research on early childhood education curricula and instructional strategies for 3- to 5-year-old children.

Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2 — for Communities: Engaging Environments

Thursday, May 05th, 2011 | Author: Kimberly

Community-District Teams advocate and provide resources for providing a safe, welcoming atmosphere and using developmentally appropriate practices. Active learning environments that engage children in a variety of learning activities both inside and out of the school walls are a crucial component of Engaging Environments. Teams reinforce the notion that all students should be immersed in environments that encourage them to explore, create, manipulate, change, question, imagine, respond, and reflect.

Download Pathway Five: Engaging Environments from the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2.

Download Appendix F, Resources for Engaging Environments.

Selected Engaging Environments Resources:


National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): http://www.naeyc.org/positionstatements/dap

NAEYC’s Position Statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP).

Natural Learning Initiative (NLI): http://www.naturalearning.org

NLI has compiled a wide variety of resources to promote the importance of the natural environment in the daily experience of all children.

  1. Move More North Carolina: A Guide to Creating Active Outdoor Play Spaces: http://www.naturalearning.org/sites/default/files/PlaySpacesGuide_eatsmartmovemore.pdf

The NC Children and Nature Coalition: http://ncchildrenandnature.org/resources/for-educators/

Comprehensive resources for engaging children in outdoor classrooms.

Quality in Outdoor Environments for Child Care: http://www.poemsnc.org/

Provides a link to the Preschool Outdoor Environment Measurement Scale (POEMS).

UNC FPG Child Development Institute: http://ers.fpg.unc.edu/

Overview of the ECERS-R (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised) and SACERS (School-Aged Care Environment Rating Scale) evaluation instruments as well as much more information.


Characteristics of a Good Learning Environment for Young Children

A checklist created by P. L. Snowden in 2007.

Category: Engaging Environments, For Communities, Ready Schools  | Comments off

Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2 — for Communities: Respecting Diversity

Thursday, May 05th, 2011 | Author: Kimberly

Respecting Diversity is vital to creating rich learning experiences and welcoming environments in which all children and their families are valued and supported. Awareness of diversity and developing appropriate responses to the various types of diversity is needed to successfully identify and connect to the resources that exist in the communities, families, and schools served by Community-District Teams. This Pathway is key to developing a foundation of informed and sustainable responses to diversity and is important in building inclusive, involved, and caring Ready Schools and communities.

Download Pathway Four: Respecting Diversity from the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2.

Download Appendix E, Resources for Respecting Diversity.

Selected Respecting Diversity Resources:


Dimensions of Diversity: http://diversityeducation.cas.psu.edu/

The goal of this site is to provide resources to help all of us increase our awareness, understanding, and value of diversity. This site contains a quarterly newsletter, diversity program manuals, publications, curricula, and links to other diversity-related resources and sites. Many materials may be downloaded and printed.

Ed Change: http://www.edchange.org/

Offers professional development, research, and resources for diversity, multiculturalism, and cultural competence.

Teaching Tolerance: http://www.tolerance.org/professional-development

Provides educational materials including articles that make you think and presentations that you can share. These resources are designed to help teachers improve their practice and turn K-12 schools into strong communities that welcome diversity, giving all students an opportunity to learn.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Position Papers:

  1. Responding to Linguistic and Cultural Diversity: http://www.naeyc.org/positionstatements/linguistic
  2. Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) Implementation: Cultural Competence: http://www.naeyc.org/policy/statetrends/qris/culturalcompetence

The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems: http://www.nccrest.org

Supports state and local school systems to assure a quality, culturally responsive education for all students.

W. K. Kellogg Foundation: http://ww2.wkkf.org/Pubs/CustomPubs/CPtoolkit/cptoolkit/Sec3-Including.htm

Section 3 of the Community Partnership Toolkit is entitled “Including” and covers providing diversity training, assessing organizational cultural competence, offering opportunities for cultural celebrations, and exploring issues of power.

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Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2 — for Communities: Transitions

Thursday, May 05th, 2011 | Author: Kimberly

Community-District Teams support the development and implementation of effective district-wide transition plans that address the needs of the school, family, child, and community. Teams facilitate ongoing communication and collaboration among elementary schools, early care and education, and families to ensure smooth transitions from the Infant-Toddler Program (IDEA, Part C) to preschool, from preschool and home to school, and across grade levels within and between schools. Inherent in this Pathway is the importance of aligning environments, curricula, standards, instruction, and assessment across settings.

Download Pathway Three: Transitions from the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2.

Download Appendix D, Resources for Transitions.

Selected Transitions Resources:


Promoting Smooth Transitions to Kindergarten: http://www.recognitionandresponse.org/content/view/22/108/

Includes a transition toolkit for early childhood educators as well as research and resources. Part of the Recognition and Response website developed by the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Ready, Set, Go! Your Go-To Guide to Kindergarten Transition: http://www.readysetk.org/

Media toolkit designed to support families, caregivers, and schools. Developed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Child Care Resources, Inc., and NC Deparment of Public Instruction.

Terrific Transitions: Supporting Children’s Transition to Kindergarten: http://www.terrifictransitions.org/TT

A collaboration between SERVE Regional Educational Laboratory and the National Head Start Association. Includes an annotated bibliography with resources for transitions across five specific topics: Transition Overview, Program Design, Cross Program/Agency Activities, Families, Policies and Supports, and Evaluating the Process.

The Transition to Kindergarten: A Review of the Current Research and Promising Practices to Involve Families: http://www.hfrp.org/family-involvement/publications-resources/the-transition-to-kindergarten-a-review-of-current-research-and-promising-practices-to-involve-families

A resource from the Harvard Family Research Project.


Kindergarten Transition Resources: For Families, Community Members, Teachers, Caregivers, and Policymakers. 2006. Minnesota Department of Education. http://education.state.mn.us/mdeprod/groups/EarlyLearning/documents/Instruction/008965.pdf

Document from the Minnesota Department of Education outlining strategies and resources for all stakeholder groups.


I’m Going to Kindergarten

A parent booklet from Catawba County Ready Schools that provides information pertaining to transitioning children to Kindergarten and building family, school, and community partnerships.

Category: For Communities, Ready Schools, Transitions  | Comments off

Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2 — for Communities: Family, School, and Community Partnerships

Thursday, May 05th, 2011 | Author: Kimberly

Community-District Teams communicate that families serve as their children’s first teachers. Members of the Team advocate for schools and communities to actively work together to address academic, social, and cultural needs of their students and families. Community-District Teams partner with families, schools/district, and the community to provide opportunties, services, and information to children and families district-wide.

Download Pathway Two: Family, School, and Community Partnerships from the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2.

Download Appendix C, Resources for Family, School, and Community Partnerships.

Selected Family, School, and Community Partnerships Resources:


Connecting Families and Schools to Help Our Children Succeed: http://www2.ed.gov/PressReleases/02-1994/parent.html

A list of concrete actions that parents, schools, and communities can take to help all children learn.

Grow a Child: http://growachild.org/index.htm

Supports a collaborative effort between a number of North Carolina community agencies. Created to help families find local community resources and other simple ideas to turn good parents into extraordinary parents.

The SEDL National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools: http://www.sedl.org/connections/

Links people with research-based information to connect schools, families, and communities. Includes resources, webinars, annotated bibliography database, policy briefs, and handouts.

Working Together: School-Family-Community Partnerships: http://www.cesdp.nmhu.edu/toolkit/index.asp

Specific tools and resources around family and community involvement around six specific themes: improving communication; promoting positive parenting; enhancing student learning; increasing volunteerism; supporting decision-making and advocacy; and collaborating with the community.


Minority Parents and Community Engagement: Best Practices and Policy Recommendations for Closing the Gap in Student Achievement: http://www.maldef.org/assets/pdf/MCO_MALDEF%20Report_final.pdf

The programs discussed in this report are in California, but the solid advice is applicable for anyone wanting to improve parent and community engagement.


Survey on Family and School Partnerships

This survey is completed by a school employee for a school to assess the nature of family, school,  and community partnerships. It was shared by the Down East Partnership for Children.

Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2 — for Communities: Leaders and Leadership

Thursday, May 05th, 2011 | Author: Kimberly

Collaborative leadership is key to the success of Ready Schools Initiatives. The Community-District Team brings together school, district, early childhood, business, and community leaders as well as families to guide the development and communication of a clear vision, mission, and goals of a community action plan. The action plan must address the needs of the schools/district to support the transition from home and the early childhood community to the schools/district, recruitment of diverse stakeholders in collaborative efforts to serve PreK-3 children and their families, and education of the community about issues related to early childhood education and what it means to teach all children effectively.

Download Pathway One: Leaders & Leadership from the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2.

Download Appendix B, Resources for Leaders and Leadership.

Selected Leaders and Leadership Resources:


Annie E. Casey Foundation: http://www.aecf.org/Home/MajorInitiatives/LeadershipDevelopment/LdrshpResources.aspx

This page features an annotated list of publications from the Annie E. Casey Foundation Leadership Development Portfolio.

BUILD Strong Foundations for our Youngest Children: http://www.buildinitiative.org/

BUILD works to develop comprehensive early childhood development systems by working with states, agencies, and organizations to develop a system of programs, policies, and services that respond to the needs of young children and their famililes.

Early Childhood Learning and Policy Network: http://www.eclpn.org/

This network represents a collaboration between the faculty at UNC Greensboro, North Carolina A&T, UNC Charlotte, and Wake Technical Community College. They provide resources and policy papers to support the development of a network of university and community leaders that work together to facilitate leadership and affect policy development that promotes high quality early childhood education for all children.

National Institute for Early Education Research: http://nieer.org/

NIEER engages in and disseminates research about the physical, cognitive, and social development impacts of early childhood education.


Vision, Mission, and Goals from Catawba County Ready Schools

Action Plan from Davidson County Community-District Ready Schools Team


Category: For Communities, Leaders & Leadership, Ready Schools  | Comments off

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