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Susman-Stillman.jpgOn CEHD's 2020 Blog, Amy Susman-Stillman provides insights into the College's Policy Breakfast taking place on December 5, 2013. The event will focus on closing Minnesota's achievement gap through creating a sustainable early childhood system in the state. Dr. Susman-Stillman's work focuses on the role child care plays within in this evolving system. In her article, she offers some simple but powerful tips that babies' caretakers can use to support optimal development.

McConnellS-2009.jpgScott McConnell, professor of educational psychology and the Center for Early Education and Development's director of community engagement, and Ann Bettenburg, student services director for Moundsview schools, traveled to Ulaanbaatar Mongolia November 4-8 to better understand the current policy, practices, and infrastructure that support services for young children with disabilities throughout the country.

Working with the Mongolia Open Society Forum and Soros Open Society Foundations, McConnell and Bettenburg will be using information gained during this visit to prepare for and coordinate a study tour for policymakers, program directors, and advocates in Minnesota early in 2014.

The 2013 Light a Candle Award recipient is Lynn Haglin, who was presented the award at the Center for Early Education and Development's 40th anniversary celebration on Nov. 7 at the McNamara Alumni Center.

MaryMcEvoy.jpgThe Light a Candle award was created by CEED in honor of Mary McEvoy (right), Ph.D., a tireless researcher, advocate, and collaborator. A highly respected scholar, Dr. McEvoy served as the director of CEED from 1992 to 1999 and chaired the Department of Educational Psychology from 1999 to 2002. The award is presented to an individual or group that successfully promotes ties between research, policy, and practice to improve the lives of young children in Minnesota and throughout the world.

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Lynn Haglin is the vice president and KIDS PLUS director for the Northland Foundation in Duluth. Her experience includes over 30 years in administration, community development, education, and philanthropy, with an extensive background in early childhood, youth development, and intergenerational programming. Haglin provides leadership for the foundation's KIDS PLUS Program, which is dedicated to improving the well-being of children and youth from birth to adulthood. Under her guidance, the KIDS PLUS family of programs has developed a wide array of initiatives in response to regional needs; raised millions of dollars from local, state, and national funding partners; provided extensive technical assistance to develop 52 coalitions serving rural communities and Indian reservations; and received numerous state and national honors and distinctions for innovative work aimed at helping children, youth, older adults, and communities thrive. During the past 10 years, Haglin has provided leadership for the Minnesota Initiative Foundations' Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative and the Minnesota Thrive Initiative.

Haglin has been involved in numerous boards and committees such as Ready 4-K: Youth Community Connections, Children, Youth and Family Consortium; BUILD Core Committee; and the Minnesota Department of Human Services Family, Friend, and Neighbor Advisory Committee. She is currently involved with the Start Early Funders Coalition, Parent Aware for School Readiness, Minnesota Department of Human Services Parent Aware Advisory Committee, and Minnesota Afterschool Network Strategic Leadership Team and Policy Committee.

Haglin holds a master of arts in educational leadership and administration from Western Michigan University and a bachelors of science in elementary education from Bemidji State University. Before joining the Northland Foundation in 1992, Haglin started her career as a kindergarten teacher and educator for the Early Childhood Family Education Program; she also taught at the college level. She and her husband, Reid, live in Superior, Wisconsin, and have two married sons, one soon-to-be married son, along with three granddaughters under the age of five.

CEED offers its congratulations and gratitude to Lynn Haglin for her dedication to early childhood education and the ways in which her work exemplifies the words of former Senator Paul Wellstone that inspired the award's name:

I know what I believe: I believe that every infant that I hold in my hands--every one of them, it makes no difference if it's a boy or a girl, rich or poor--that every child in Minnesota and our world can have the same chance to reach her full potential or his full potential. I call on all Minnesotans and all of Minnesota to light a candle and lead the way. We can lead the way in Minnesota, and we will lead the way.

--Paul Wellstone

MazzoccoM-2013.jpgInfants who score highly on detecting number changes do better on standard tests by the time they reach preschool. Michèle Mazzocco, professor at the Institute of Child Development and research director for the Center for Early Education and Development, comments in an article in Nature, an international weekly journal of science.

Co-founder of the Center for Early Education and Development and retired professor of child development, Richard Weinberg, Ph.D., is highlighted on the College of Education and Human Development website. Read more about Dr. Weinberg.

To expand access to early childhood education to Minneapolis children and families, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) and the University of Minnesota have formalized a new partnership. The goal is to improve the overall quantity and quality of services by working together and with community partners to establish new early childhood education centers in the City of Minneapolis, beginning in North Minneapolis immediately and eventually expanding to a second center during the next several years.

There is not enough space at high-quality facilities in North Minneapolis to meet the demand for successful early childhood education, University research recently found. This program is meeting a real need and aligns with the state's focus on supporting all families seeking quality education for their young children.
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"MPS continues to make significant investments in early childhood education because we believe that it is critical to reducing and eliminating the disparities in student achievement," said Dr. Bernadeia Johnson, superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools. "I am grateful to the University for helping to elevate early childhood education and to our community partners for their long standing commitment to young children and their families. "

The partnership will support early learning "centers of excellence" that are based on the most current research and that demonstrate strong results for the children and families that participate. The program model will be based on both best-available research and evidence-based practices, and the already-established promising and proven practices of existing high-quality programs. The partnership will focus on the planning, development, and implementation of permanent sustainable solutions for children ages 0-5 in Minneapolis.

MPS will provide leadership, space, and staff--with a long-term goal of sharing this space with other community partners. The University will share intellectual capital, through research, to best support early learners; convene and facilitate a conversation to find long-term solutions for this partnership; and continue to innovate and improve the experience for young students.

"The investment we make now in Minneapolis' young children will pay dividends in the years to come--they are our future college graduates and workforce," said University of Minnesota President Kaler. "The U is uniquely poised to partner in this effort, with our past and current work in early childhood education as well as ongoing commitment to close the state's achievement gap."

MPS has a long history of partnering closely with the University's Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) and Department of Educational Psychology faculty, and this investment will continue that tradition. Many other University resources will provide assistance to this partnership: Professor Michael Rodriguez, who is leading achievement gap efforts; the University's Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center (UROC); the Human Capital Research Collaborative; and other academic departments and centers.

Minneapolis Public Schools and the U of M plan to broaden their partnership to include other community based organizations that have long been working on providing early childhood education to the children of Minneapolis. These programs, through their existing services and ongoing commitment to finding the best ways to serve young children and their families, will enrich the knowledge and bandwidth of the overall partnership such that more children reap the benefits of high-quality early childhood education.

See more on the story in the Minnesota Daily.

MazzoccoM-Pref.jpgStudents in 2nd and 3rd grade who have whole number misconceptions -- such as claiming 23 is the largest two-digit number when the correct answer is 99 -- are more likely to make uncommon computational errors as late as the 8th grade.

This is the result of a longitudinal study, published recently in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, led by Michele Mazzocco, Institute of Child Development professor and research director for the Center for Early Education and Development.

In the study, 224 2nd and 3rd graders' were asked to report the smallest and largest single digit, two-digit and three-digit numbers. After each answer, the students were asked if they were sure of their answer.

Two hundred of the 224 answered correctly that 9 is the largest single digit number while 180 knew that 99 was the largest two-digit number. Only 87 were able to identify 999 as the largest three-digit number. It's important to note that these results reflect typical developments in learning about multi-digit numbers among these age groups.

"The fact that many 2nd graders didn't know the largest three digit number is not particularly informative, said Mazzocco. "However, of the students who gave an incorrect response, what we looked at was the number they gave. For instance, if a student responded that 900 is the largest three-digit number -- although it's incorrect, the answer is logical. More importantly, 900 is a common error made by 2nd and 3rd graders answering this question. When a student gave an illogical, infrequent response, such as 236 or 653, that student may not only have incomplete place value concepts but may also lack a solid understanding of one-digit whole numbers, such as 6, 5 and 3."

For students who made these uncommon errors in 2nd and 3rd grades, the study found that the lack of number knowledge predicted specific types of place value errors made, by the same children, on math assessments at grade 8. It also showed that young students who have early whole number misconceptions go on to have slower and less accurate performance and persistent, atypical computational errors in later school years.

"This research suggests that specific qualitative assessments of symbolic number knowledge in early grades may reveal more about children's thinking about numbers than does a typical 'pass or fail' test. This in turn may reveal which students are most at risk for persistent poor math outcomes in future years," said Mazzocco.

Classifying students with mathematics learning disability (MLD, or dyscalculia) is typically based on composite scores from broad measures of math achievement, according to Mazzocco. These scores may predict later math achievement levels but do not specify the nature of math difficulties likely to emerge among students at greatest risk for long-term failure in math.

"One of our goals with the study was to help define what poor number concepts might look like in early childhood and to help teachers identify which students have not developed a good number sense early on," said Mazzocco.

Early response to the study from educators and researchers has generated interest in more qualitative research on identifying MLD in young children, Mazzocco said.

"Number misconceptions are fairly typical in very young children, and they are not always cause for alarm. Our current work is designed to focus on which number concept errors in preschool predict persistent number misconceptions throughout school, and our next steps are to study how early misconceptions alter the path of early mathematics learning," added Mazzocco.

See more in this Minnesota Public Radio story.

The University of Minnesota has signed an agreement with the Iowa Department of Education to provide universal screening and progress monitoring assessments for reading achievement from pre-kindergarten through grade six. As part of the agreement, two sets of assessment tools developed by U of M researchers, one for preschool programs and another for elementary grades, will be implemented by Iowa teachers statewide starting in the 2013-2014 academic school year.

These assessment tools will support the Department of Education's statewide Response to Intervention (RtI) system, a process used for identifying the academic and behavioral supports that each student needs to be successful in school and to leave school ready for life. The process helps identify students who would benefit from more intensive evidence-based instruction and interventions matched to their needs, and monitors student progress to improve their educational systems.

1ahome-callout-photo-jean-quam-2.jpgJean Quam, dean of the U of M's College of Education and Human Development, says that the U is uniquely positioned to provide this particular set of services for the state of Iowa.

"For many years, the U of M has been leading the way in pre-K and elementary school assessment research and technology development," said Quam. "We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with the state of Iowa and its educators through this agreement."

Individual Growth and Development Indicators, or IGDIs, will be the preschool assessment tools to be implemented as part of the agreement. IGDIs are a set of brief measures of child language and early literacy, as well as web-based tools to help teachers monitor growth and development in preschool-aged children. IGDIs were developed by Educational Psychology Professor Scott McConnell and colleagues at the U of M's Center for Early Education and Development.

The results of this research have been licensed to Early Learning Labs, a U of M startup company launched in 2012 to commercialize this work. Early Learning Labs includes these tools in their line of myIGDIs - a broader set of measures of preschool children's development - and they will provide technical support for the project. To date, myIGDIs has been used in more than 11,000 school settings and has measured 180,000-plus preschool children across the United States.

1aMcConnellS-2009.jpgMcConnell is pleased to see this broader application of a research-based technology. "We see these tools as part of a long line of research on academic measures at the U of M, going back to Stan Deno's development of curriculum-based measures in the 1980s. These measures were designed to be both rigorous and easy to use, in ways we hoped would speed their application in real-world settings. As a result, it is terrific to see that broad application happening in Iowa."

Formative Assessment System for Teachers, or FAST, will be the kindergarten to sixth grade assessment system for reading. FAST assessments are web-based tools designed for educators to screen, analyze and monitor student performance in reading, mathematics and social emotional domains. These assessments are the product of decades of research at the U in curriculum-based measurement and computer adaptive testing. In its four years, approximately 300,000 students have used FAST assessments. Iowa will implement Adaptive ReadingTM, earlyReadingTM, and CBM-ReadingTM as part of its state-wide RtI literacy initiative.

1ChristT-2009.jpgAs the director of FAST, Dr. Theodore Christ commented, "In addition to high quality technology-based assessments, a primary innovation of FAST is the online technology designed with teachers as the primary users. Assessments are often designed with little consideration to the needs and demands on teachers. We use technology and research to optimize the efficiency, acceptability and utility of teacher-friendly assessments."

As part of the agreement, myIGDIs and FAST will be used to assess all preschool through grade six students throughout Iowa's 346 school districts. On-site training and technical support will also be provided as part of the three-year contract.

"The most important thing we can do for students in Iowa is to help them become proficient readers," said Michelle Hosp, director of the Iowa Reading Research Center. "We know that the best way to solve reading problems is to prevent them, and schools must have a valid and reliable early warning system to identify students who are on track in reading as well as those who are not progressing adequately. We're thrilled to provide these high-quality universal screening and progress monitoring assessments to Iowa schools through our partnership with the U of M."

Learn more about Individual Growth and Development Indicators (myIGDIs).
Learn more about the Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST).
Read more on the U of M's Office of Business Relations website.

Governor Dayton's Children's Cabinet, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota joined together for Building Power for Babies, an event held at the Science Museum of Minnesota on June 3, 2013. This event explored the importance of the first 1,000 days of life and the critical relationships between experience, environment, families and communities and how those relationships affect the life-long health and optimal achievement of Minnesota's youngest children. The event was part of Governor Mark Dayton's Children's Cabinet's strategy for improving outcomes for Minnesota's babies and toddlers. 

The event kicked off the Cabinet's second phase of strategic planning, which is focused on working with partners and parents to create safe, stable nurturing relationships and environments for infants and toddlers. This event was presented by the Science Museum of Minnesota with funding from the National Science Foundation, in association with Governor Dayton's Children's Cabinet and the University of Minnesota. The Science Museum's Wonder Years focuses on important research about optimal brain development and shows the importance of using scientific insights about children to inform public policy decisions.

The Center for Early Education and Development's (CEED) involvement includes Project for Babies' prenatal-to-three state planning group, headed by Jane Kretzmann, and a partnership between CEED and the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW). The CEED/CASCW partnership, coordinated by CEED's Nikki Kovan and CASCW's Tracy Crudo, works to translate development science for child welfare audiences and include their voices in the ongoing prenatal-to-three work happening in Minnesota. 

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