The project has three goals, along with related objectives.
|Research - Summarize and make publicly accessible the current research regarding seamless transitions from early learning to K-12 education, including the roles of early childhood and K-12 leaders in creating and supporting such transitions.||
1.1 Compile research compendium for web-based publication
1.2 Create policy scan
1.3 Conduct gap analysis
|Recommendation and Outreach - Working with an expert advisory committee, prepare policy recommendations to improve the learning continuum in Illinois, and create opportunities for public outreach.||
2.1 Create policy recommendations based on research, policy scan, and gap analysis
2.2 Conduct public outreach activities
|Leadership Training - Develop curriculum and training in the form of learning modules and training for both aspiring and practicing early childhood and K-12 school leaders, to foster better understanding of and leadership for an aligned learning continuum focused on how children learn and develop best.||
3.1 Develop or adapt curriculum module(s) in collaboration with other McCormick Foundation grantees and existing professional organizations
3.2 Make modules available to early childhood and principal preparation and professional development programs, along with training in their appropriate use
An expert advisory group will work with a team of researchers from the Center for the Study of Education Policy to study the issues and to develop potential policy solutions related to building a seamless learning continuum. This phase will be timed to take advantage of known windows of opportunity to influence policy development, such as progress on implementing recommendations of the Illinois School Leader Task Force.
The following research questions (and others that may emerge) will guide the work of the advisory group and research team during Phase 1:
Three products will result from Phase 1.
The expert advisory group will compile a set of specific policy recommendations to create a seamless learning system and strengthen leadership within that system, including policies at both the state and local levels. The advisory committee will also be instrumental in helping to disseminate the research findings and policy recommendations.
A subcommittee will be selected, consisting of experts in school leadership, early childhood education, learning standards and learning theory, along with successful practitioners, to develop or adapt learning modules and training for both aspiring and practicing school leaders and early childhood program leaders. This work will be coordinated with curriculum development at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the work being done by the early childhood leaders and education organizations across all regions of Illinois.
Learning Continuum Alignment: As defined by Bogard and Takanishi (2005), alignment focuses on the lining up of standards, curricula, and assessment into a coherent structure for Pre-K-3 children, though the LINC initiative is expanding this definition into the alignment of standards, curricula, and assessment that follow a child from birth throughout their learning and development.
Learning Continuum Coordination: Coordination is an ongoing process by skilled teachers and strong leadership directed at the effective learning and development of children that also implies a shared vision of specific goals to be accomplished.
Learning Continuum Transition: The learning continuum transition focuses on events and processes to ease the articulation across age spans and grade levels for children and their families. The focus of education transitions is often on the transition from kindergarten to early grades, though ideal learning continuum transition activities should enact specific practices throughout a child's progression through the early learning and K-12 systems. Rice (2007) categorized transition practices into four categories:
School Readiness: A child’s acquisition of knowledge, skills, and behaviors that make him or her ready for kindergarten and serve as a predictor for learning success.
Ready Schools: The influence of school context on children’s learning gains or ‘fade out’. A 1998 national Ready Schools initiative developed ten components for what make up a ‘ready school’, including:
The LINC advisory committee will meet from August to November 2008 to provide expertise and guidance in studying the current status of early learning/K-12 alignment in Illinois. Download the schedule of the meetings for dates, times, and locations. Materials for the meetings and minutes from each of the meetings will be updated regularly on this site.
August 5, 2008
September 10, 2008
September 24, 2008 - CANCELLED
October 7, 2008
October 29, 2008
December 18, 2008