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In 2012, 100 teachers completed the first year's implementation of the DE-ELS survey.

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Early Learner Survey

Delaware Early Learner Survey Overview
Summer 2013

Each year, nearly 8,500 children enter kindergarten with varying degrees of skills. Delaware is committed to providing young children with quality early learning opportunities, both prior to kindergarten entry as well as during kindergarten itself. As part of this commitment, we are phasing in the Delaware Early Learner Survey.

Authorized by House Bill 317, and supported through Delaware's successful participation in the federal Early Learning Challenge, we are introducing kindergarten assessment conducted across the following five domains of learning, language and literacy development; cognition and general knowledge; approaches towards learning; physical well-being and motor development; and social and emotional development within the first 30 school days. Delaware began using the Early Learning Survey in 2012 with a 3 year phase-in period to reach all children and all teachers.

The purpose of the Early Learner Survey is:

• To inform individualized instruction, support services and interventions in kindergarten and the early elementary grades.
• To provide aggregate (and not child-specific) data for state and local policy-makers to assess the outcomes from the early childhood system, plan future policy related to closing the readiness gap, and make strategic decisions regarding resource allocations

Schools, early learning programs, teachers and parents all want to know about the strengths and needs of children to provide effective learning opportunities and support successful linkages between the early learning and K-12 school systems. DE-ELS will help by providing state-wide, high level data.

In 2012, 100 teachers successfully completed the first year's implementation of the DE-ELS survey. More than 1,000 children were assessed across the state in 14 School Districts and 4 Charter schools. Within the first 30 school days, Kindergarten teachers completed a formal observation of each child's developing skills using an adaptation of a tool known as Teaching Strategies GOLD®. This tool has been customized for Delaware in accordance with the following principles:

• comprehensive, with a "whole child" approach, pursuant to House Bill 317, passed in June 2012;
• informed by item of priority and value to kindergarten teachers;
• aligned with Delaware's Early Learning Foundations and the Common Core;
• reflective of scientific judgment on relevance for intended purpose of the tool; and
• inclusive for use with the diversity of Delaware's early learning population.

Our work in Delaware on developing and implementing the DE-ELS is part of a national focus on school readiness for all children. The DE-ELS can:

• inform teacher's instruction at the beginning of the kindergarten year;
• provide information about the skills and needs of kindergarten children statewide;
• inform efforts to improve the transition from early learning to kindergarten; and
• inform efforts to improve supports to early learning providers and families.

As we move into the second year of implementation in the 2013-14 school year, an additional 300 teachers will be trained in the spring of 2013 and will use the survey in their classrooms in the fall of 2013. In response to teacher and Administrator's first-year feedback, there have been many revisions and resources added to assist teachers in conducting the DE-ELS.

• The Teaching Strategies GOLD® tool has been further customized for the 2013-2014 school year for a total of 34 dimensions and objectives to be assessed.
• A teacher resource binder has been created and will be disseminated during spring professional development events.
• A Delaware-specific DE-ELS manual has been created by Teaching Strategies GOLD®.
• A kit of classroom materials has been purchased for teachers to utilize for data collection. ( 1 kit for every 4 teachers)
• Districts and Charters will have an opportunity for 1-2 DE-ELS Advisors to assist/mentor new teachers utilizing the assessment.
• Professional development will be delivered by the Office of Early Learning during the months of April -August for all participating teachers.
• Strong communication strategies have been identified to support District and Charter schools through the identification of liaisons.

Comments and questions regarding the Delaware Early Learner Survey should be directed to Brandi Miller, Program Manager with the Office of Learning at brandi.miller@state.de.us or by phone at (302) 577-5249.

Delaware Office of Early Learning
820 North French Street, 5th Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801