The NC Ready Schools Initiative is an on-going, multi-partner effort led by the North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc./Smart Start (NCPC) in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Office of Early Learning (OEL) to ensure that every child is supported, learning, and progressing across the PreK-3 continuum. The long-term goal of this Initiative is to make sure that all children are ready to learn when they enter school and that all schools are ready for all children regardless of their economic, cultural, and language background. This provides a strong foundation for children’s lifelong success.
For general information or questions about Ready Schools, please contact:
North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc./Smart Start
To inquire about Ready Schools support and technical assistance, please contact:
Office of Early Learning
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
At the state level:
- Urge professional development organizations (such as NAEYC) to offer collaborative professional development for early education and kindergarten teachers on demonstrated best practices for successful school transitions, including supports for children whose native language is not English, children with disabilities, and children with challenging behaviors.
- Urge elected officials to ensure that all agencies providing programs and services for children collaborate on policy decisions and coordinate their services.
- Request that state agencies funding early education and K-3 provide support for professional development regarding Ready Schools implementation and improvement.
At the county/school district level:
- Have a voice in school transition programs in your county and advocate for the needs of young children. Urge schools to offer transition activities for students and their families that occur at times when families can attend, including evenings, weekends, and summer.
- Encourage your school district to work with the early childhood education community in meaningful ways to identify issues related to school transitions and to share resources in building Ready Schools.
- Ask school board candidates about their plans to address the issue of school transitions and student success.
- ?Plan joint professional development opportunities between early care and education, PreK, and K-3 teachers and staff.
At the community level:
- Help families understand what a Ready School is and what they should look for as their children enter kindergarten.
- Use existing resources to help prepare families for kindergarten transition the year before a child enters kindergarten.
- Work closely with your local schools to develop effective transition strategies for 4 year olds. Serve as a resource for your local school community.
- Participate in adult learning communities with elementary school teachers and other early education professionals when possible.
- Look for opportunities to involve local community members and organizations in your early education programs.
At the state level:
- Urge professional organizations to examine the costs of poor transitions in terms of child outcomes and impact on teaching staff.
- Advocate for common measurement and reporting tools for all schools to use statewide through grade 3. Develop a communications strategy to report progress and use results to inform policy decisions.
- Offer professional development and conference sessions that feature best practices for successful transitions and Ready School principles.
At the county/school district level:
- Encourage your school district to develop effective alternatives to kindergarten retention, such as intervention plans that identify strategies for supporting children who need extra help in the first quarter of the school year.
- Ask school board candidates about their plans to address the issue of school transitions and support for the Ready Schools Initiative in assuring student success.
- Explore ideas for making schools more family-friendly.
At the community level:
- Assess your elementary school in terms of its readiness for young children from diverse backgrounds and make becoming a Ready School a goal of all school staff, families, and the community.
- Offer diverse transition activities for students and their families that occur at times when families can attend, including evenings, weekends, and summer.
- Offer professional development on demonstrated best practices and curricula for the population of children served by the school, including supports for children whose native language is not English, children with disabilities, and children with challenging behaviors.
- Encourage your school and school district to involve community stakeholders (early childhood education, schools, families, business, faith community) in meaningful ways to identify community issues related to school transitions and to share resources in building Ready Schools.
- Hire kindergarten teachers with early childhood education experience, B-K degrees, PreK-3 specialization, or other early childhood expertise.
- Provide ample time for teachers to meet regularly, both within and across grades, to implement aligned learning experiences for children.
At the state level:
- Write to your legislators and urge them to advocate for school readiness as a goal for all North Carolina elementary schools.
- Advocate for additional resources to support strong transition programs and other activities to help elementary schools meet the readiness criteria.
- Urge elected officials to support statewide early care and education policies, initiatives, and programs.
At the county/school district level:
- Urge your school district to adopt Ready Schools as a focus for all early childhood education and elementary school leadership.
- Advocate for supports and incentives to schools for committing time and resources to meaningful transition and ready school-related activities.
- Encourage your school district to offer several types of kindergarten welcome activities for children and their families that occur at times when families can attend, such as evenings, weekends, and summer.
- Question potential school board candidates about their views on school readiness and what they plan to do to ensure successful school transitions and student success in elementary school.
At the community level:
- Stay active in your child’s school life. Studies indicate that parental involvement declines once children begin kindergarten. Staying informed and involved shows your child—and your child’s school—that academics are important.
- Become involved in your school and county Parent Teacher Association or Parent Teacher Organization.
- Volunteer to serve on your child’s School Improvement Plan or Ready School team and encourage school personnel to actively participate in better school transitions.
At the state level:
- Endorse the state Ready School definition.
- Encourage all elementary schools to use a Ready Schools assessment tool, assess their level of readiness, and add improvements to readiness to the School Improvement Plan.
- Develop common measurement and reporting tools for all elementary schools to use statewide through grade 3. Develop a communications strategy to report progress and use results to inform policy decisions.
- Encourage all Schools of Education in North Carolina to integrate early child development into K-6 teacher and administrator programs.
- Encourage all elementary school principals and K-3 teachers to obtain training in early child development.
- Develop in-service professional development programs for teachers and administrators that emphasize Ready Schools principles.
At the county/school district level:
- Adopt Ready Schools as a focus of all early childhood education and elementary school leaders.
- Provide supports and incentives to elementary schools for committing time and resources to meaningful transition and professional development activities.
- Examine effective alternatives to kindergarten retention, such as intervention plans, that identify ways to support children who need extra help in the first quarter of the school year.
- Offer diverse transition activities for students and their families that occur outside standard classroom time, including evenings, weekends, and summer.
At the community level:
- Involve community stakeholders (early childhood education, schools, families, business, faith community) in meaningful ways to work together in identifying community issues and sharing resources in building Ready Schools.
- Develop meaningful strategies to assure that parents become involved and stay involved in their child’s school experience.
This self-assessment tool is designed to help Ready Schools Community-District Teams identify their strengths and determine next steps. This assessment should take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. It is a good idea to take the self-assessment on an annual basis to help measure progress and inform the revision of your team goals and action plan.
If you are in charge of coordinating the self-assessment for your Ready Schools Community-District Team, your responsibilities will include emailing a central contact to establish a user account for your Team’s self-assessment, distributing a link to the self-assessment via email to each of your Community-District Team members, tracking the response rate and sending reminders, if necessary, to ensure everyone on the team completes the self-assessment by the established due date, and running a summary report that the team can review and discuss.
More detailed instructions (MS Word).
Community-District Team Member:
If you are a member of the Community-District Team and the team is ready to complete the self-assessment, your Team’s Self-Assessment Coordinator will provide you with a link to the self-assessment once the Team’s account has been established. If you have not yet received this link, please contact your Team’s Self-Assessment Coordinator to get the information you need to get started.
Just gathering information about the self-assessment:
If your team is not yet ready to complete the self-assessment but you would like to review the tool, you are welcome to explore the demonstration site. You can browse through the self-assessment by pressing the NEXT bottom at the bottom of each page. To move beyond Section 12, the system will require you to identify the top three Pathways you would like to address as a Community-District Team. You can just randomly select three and then press NEXT to move to the next section.
Please note that information you may save in this demo area will not be retained indefinitely. It will be deleted periodically so do not rely on having future access to anything you may save in this area.
In this section, you’ll find links to research that has been done on Ready Schools issues, materials that you may use to support your own Ready Schools efforts, and templates or materials that have been developed by others that you can adapt for your own use in your community or school.
You may download the entire Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 2, designed for use by Ready Schools Community-District Teams, in PDF format. You can also select from the following links to visit a specific section of the Toolkit, Part 2 and see the related resources for that topic.
- Up-Front Material
- Getting Started
- Pathway 1: Leaders and Leadership
- Pathway 2: Family, School, and Community Partnerships
- Pathway 3: Transitions
- Pathway 4: Respecting Diversity
- Pathway 5: Engaging Environments
- Pathway 6: Effective Curricula, Instruction, and Child Assessment
- Pathway 7: Teacher Supports and Adult Learning Communities
- Pathway 8: Assessing Progress and Assuring Quality
- Pathway 9: Grassroots Community Building
This section is also the home of the Ready Schools Community-District Team Self-Assessment Tool.
The school systematically uses both formal and informal assessments to plan and tailor instruction to address individual student needs, to improve classroom practices and instruction, and to improve outcomes for all children. The school develops a data driven written improvement plan that includes strategies for maintaining its mission and goals over time and monitors progress toward them.
Download Pathway Eight: Assessing Progress and Assuring Quality of the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 1.
Selected Assessing Progress and Assuring Quality Resources:
Evaluation Publications and Resources: http://www.hfrp.org/evaluation/publications-resources
Part of the Harvard Family Research Project website, this section provides links to publications and resources covering topics such as Evaluation Methodology & Design, Evaluating Family Involvement, Evaluating Early Care and Education, and Results-Based Accountability.
National Network for Collaboration: http://crs.uvm.edu/nnco/
This website provides information, activities, and links related to collaboration including: change process, identifying goals, assessing progress, communication skills, and community capacity building.
Program Development and Evaluation: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/pdande/
This website from the University of Wisconsin-Extension provides detailed information on a program development model that includes situational analysis, priority setting, program action, the logical model, and evaluation.
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 ensuring quality. It provides built-in support and accountability for safeguarding your early childhood professional development investments.
This website provides key initiatives, resources, and articles for ensuring quality in PreK as it relates to improved outcomes for children.
NCDPI Comprehensive Needs Assessment: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/schooltransformation/assessments/
Within the District and School Transformation section of the Public Schools of North Carolina website, this sub-section provides information and and resources for needs assessment. The Comprehensive Needs Assessment provides a framework which provides schools and districts with a clear view of their strengths, areas for improvement, challenges, and successes. It enables a systematic review of practices, processes, and systems and serves as the corner stone of continuous improvement.
The school supports the learning of adults as essential to children’s well-being and achievement. Goals for adult learning communities include high-quality sustained professional development of school personnel as well as intentional parent and family participation in the planning and evaluation of children’s learning. Adult learning communities work within and across grade levels, between homes and the school, and between the school and other educational entities and learning opportunities in the community. School leadership ensures that Ready Schools are purposefully organized in terms of space, time, tools, and resources to maximize support for all adults to work effectively together with children.
Download Pathway Seven: Teacher Supports and Adult Learning Communities of the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 1.
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.
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 young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for 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.
ARTICLES & REPORTS
An Emerging Overview of NC’s Approach to Professional Development for Early Care and Education and School Age Professionals. July 2010. North Carolina Institute for Child Development Professionals. http://www.ncicdp.org/documents/An%20Emerging%20Overview%20July%202010.pdf
This document was developed to inform the work of state, local, and regional partners as they work respectively and collectively to improve the quality of early care and education and school age care professionals.
Early Childhood Professional Development Systems Toolkit, with a Focus on School-Age Professional Development. July 2009. National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center (NCCIC). http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/pd_toolkit/index.html
This toolkit provides a compilation of early childhood professional development resources and is intended to serve as a practical guide. It includes definitions, overviews, State stories, selected resources, State examples, and planning tools. Available free online.
Lauer, P. A., Dean, C. B., et. al. Teacher Quality Toolkit. 2nd Edition, 2005. McREL. http://www.mcrel.org/topics/TeacherPreparation/products/225/
The Teacher Quality Toolkit incorporates McREL’s (Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory) accumulated knowledge and experience related to teacher quality and standards-based education to support the continuum of teacher learning by providing tools and resources to improve both pre-service and in-service teacher education. Each chapter in this toolkit provides self-assessment tools that can guide progress toward improved teacher quality and describes resources for designing exemplary programs and practices. Available for free download.
The school diligently employs educational methods and materials shown to be effective in helping a diverse population of children achieve appropriate academic growth to reach essential standards. Children with disabilities and other special needs are accommodated and included in the regular instructional program to the maximum extent possible. Standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment are aligned from preschool through elementary grades and beyond; within a classroom, within a grade level, and across grade levels. Research and data help to drive instructional practice, and teachers plan within and across grade levels to ensure alignment and multi-level intervention strategies.
Download Pathway Six: Effective Curricula, Instruction, and Child Assessment of the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 1.
Selected Effective Curricula, Instruction, and Child Assessment Resources:
Collaboration for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): http://casel.org/
CASEL is a not-for-profit organization that works to advance the science and evidence-based practice of social and emotional learning (SEL). SEL is a process for helping children and even adults develop the fundamental skills we all need to handle ourselves, our relationships, and our work, effectively. This website offers a wealth of information about SEL, why it is important, school programs, tools for families and research, as well as public policy and advocacy resources.
Curriculum Mapping 101: http://curriculummapping101.com/
The curriculum mapping model based on Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ work clearly addresses the necessity to synthesize various models and create a framework that focuses on the recommendations, requisites, and desires that affect students’ learning and teaching environments. This website is loaded with information and resources on this topic.
ARTICLES & REPORTS
North Carolina Guide for the Early Years. 2nd Edition, 2009. North Carolina Public Schools. http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/curriculum/primaryk3/guide4early-years.pdf
The NC Guide for the Early Years is designed to be a major resource for early learning professionals, combining the latest research about how preschool and Kindergarten children learn with time-tested strategies and essential teaching tools.
Promoting Positive Outcomes for Children with Disabilities: Recommendations for Curriculum, Assessment, and Program Evaluation. 2007. Division of Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children (DEC). http://www.dec-sped.org/About_DEC/Position_Statements_and_Concept_Papers/Promoting_Positive_Outcomes
This document is organized into three major sections that parallel and are consistent with the organization of the NAEYC-NAECS/SDE position statement (2003): Curriculum, Assessment, and Program Evaluation. Each setion begins with a key recommendation, followed by the rationale for the recommendation, key issues for children with disabilities, specific indicators of effectiveness, and frequently asked questions.
Sadowski, M. Core Knowledge for PK-3 Teaching: Ten Components of Effective Instruction. 2006. The Foundation for Child Development. http://fcd-us.org/resources/core-knowledge-pk-3-teaching-ten-components-effective-instruction
This report outlines ten areas of core knowledge for teachers working in classrooms with students from Pre-K through third grade.
Self-Assessment and Planning Tool for Curriculum and Assessment: http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/ecprofessional/CAPE%20Self-Assessment%20&%20Planning%20Tool.pdf
Part of NAEYC’s resources for Building an Effective, Accountable System in Programs for Children Birth Through Age 8, this self-assessment and planning tool can be used for evaluating any curriculum and assessment system and helps users identify specific areas in need of improvement.
The school projects an open, child focused, welcoming atmosphere characterized by friendliness, respect, high teacher and staff morale, and the use of appropriate practices that support social/emotional development. The building and grounds are safe, inviting, and developmentally appropriate. The school’s learning environments actively engage children in a variety of learning activities.
Download Pathway Five: Engaging Environments of the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 1.
Selected Engaging Environments Resources:
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): http://www.naeyc.org/positionstatements/dap
NAEYC’s position paper and key messages on developmentally appropriate practice.
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.
New Horizons for Learning: Environments for Learning: http://education.jhu.edu/newhorizons/strategies/topics/Environments%20for%20Learning/index.html
New Horizons for Learning is now part of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. It remains a leading-edge resource for educational change by identifying, communicating, and helping to implement successful educational strategies. In this section of the website, you will find articles by visionary architects and educational planners all about discovering and creating the best environments for learning.
UNC: FPG Child Development Institute: Environmental Rating Scales: http://ers.fpg.unc.edu/
This site provides detailed information about the ECERS and SACERS instruments for evaluating early childhood environments as well as other related resources and information.
The Whole Child: School Environments: http://whatworks.wholechildeducation.org/featured-topics/school-environments/
This section of the Whole Child website from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) contains articles, podcasts, and real life examples covering topics such as shaping spaces to facilitate learning, designing a classroom for inclusive learning, and matching physical structures and school culture.
Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): http://www.teachstone.org/about-the-class/
CLASS is an observational tool for assessing classroom quality based on teacher-child interactions in PreK through third grade. Three important domains of interaction are examined: emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support. The system can be used for professional development, planning, evaluation, and research.
The school seeks to help children from all circumstances and backgrounds succeed; it interacts with children and their families in ways that are compatible with individual needs and family backgrounds. The school uses culturally appropriate curricula and instructional materials to enhance learning. Children with disabilities and from diverse backgrounds and circumstances are represented in curriculum, class materials, and activities. All of these children participate in a wide range of learning activities appropriate for their individual needs as full members of the school community.
Download Pathway Four: Respecting Diversity of the Ready Schools Toolkit, Part 1.
Selected Respecting Diversity Resources:
Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence (CREDE): http://www.cal.org/crede
CREDE conducts research to develop effective educational practices for linguistic and cultural minority students, including those placed at risk by factors of race, poverty, and geographic location. The website features numerous publications including research and educational practice reports, reseach and practitioner briefs, multimedia resources, digests, directories, and a newsletter.
Critical Issue: Meeting the Diverse Needs of Young Children: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/students/earlycld/ea400.htm
Offers key concepts for educators and families along with illustrative cases and national organizations for additional information.
This website includes information on professional development, research, and resources for diversity, multiculturalism, and cultural competence.
National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC): http://nccc.georgetown.edu/
The NCCC is a component of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. It provides training, technical assistance, and consultation; and creates tools, resources, and other supports to promote and sustain cultural and linguistic competency. This website outlines NCCC’s definition, conceptual framework, guiding values, and principles of cultural competence. It also includes self-assessments, promising practices, distance learning opportunities, and links to other resources.
Teaching Tolerance: A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.tolerance.org/
A place to find thought-provoking news, conversation, and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity, and respect for differences in schools and communities. This site includes professional development resources, kits, lessons and activities, and a magazine.
Diversity Toolkit: http://www.nea.org/diversitytoolkit/
This online toolkit from the National Education Association covers various aspects of diversity including class and income, English language learners, gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and social justice. It offers basic information, a short list of strategies and tools, and suggestions for how to find out more.