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Instruction and Monitoring in Title I Preschools

Does ED encourage the formal teaching of reading in Title I preschools?  

ED encourages Title I preschools to teach early reading and cognitive skills that provide the foundation for formal reading instruction. Early childhood education programs, including Title I preschools, should not implement an elementary school curriculum, either; they should  provide opportunities for children to develop early reading skills through activities that are appropriate and enjoyable for young children. Along that vein, early childhood education programs, including Title I preschools, do not de-emphasize play—rather, they encourage teachers to use constructive and imaginative play as intentional opportunities for children to develop their vocabulary, understanding, and ability to think about the world around them.

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What general strategies do high-quality preschools use in selecting, developing, or supplementing a curriculum?

Teachers should identify and provide activities and instructional materials based on scientifically-based reading research that develop children’s language, cognitive, and early reading skills. The curriculum should be intellectually engaging, have meaningful content, and provide multiple opportunities for developing and practicing language and cognitive skills, including the use of explicit instruction. Wisconsin Early Childhood Collaborating Partners (WECCP) provide useful resources and strategies for selecting a high-quality curriculum.

If the state in which the preschool is located has high-quality preschool guidelines in cognitive and language domains, we encourage the preschool to align the curriculum with those standards.

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Has Wisconsin developed high-quality preschool guidelines?

Yes. The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WIMELS) specify developmental expectations for children from birth through entrance to first grade. The standards reflect attention to all the domains of a child's learning and development. Each domain is divided into sub-domains. Each sub-domain includes developmental expectations, program standards, performance standards, and developmental continuum. Samples of children's behavior and adult strategies are also provided.

To ease the implementation of the WIMELS into district preschools, the guidelines have been aligned with common preschool curricula, as well as the Common Core Standards.

 Training opportunities are available.

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How can preschool teachers effectively monitor children’s progress to ensure that children enter school ready for success?

Throughout the year, teachers should regularly monitor children’s academic, social, and emotional development in a variety of ways. Through progress monitoring, teachers are better able to plan instruction and ensure that children’s needs are being met. There should be formal and informal observations of children’s progress in academic and social activities. Teachers can monitor children’s progress by:

  • observing children as they play with each other, respond to directions, participate in activities, and use language to communicate;
  • collecting samples of children’s drawings and writings;
  • documenting progress;
  • talking with children about their own progress; and
  • talking with parents about what they have observed at home.

Teachers should think about how their instruction can be better tailored to the individual child’s needs if the student is not progressing in a particular area. Through the use of screening and diagnostic tools, teachers can become aware if the child should be referred for any special services. It is important that teachers communicate with parents about the child’s strengths and share any concerns about the child’s development.

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Are LEAs or schools required by Title I to test preschool children?

No. Under Title I, third grade is the earliest grade at which children must be tested. However, the more that teachers know about children’s academic, social, and emotional development, the more able they are to meet those children’s needs. Therefore, the Secretary recommends that LEAs and schools develop age-appropriate screening and assessment measures to assist with individualizing instruction so that all Title I preschool students develop a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy. In addition, through initial screening and by checking the children’s progress, teachers and schools can identify those children who need special help or who face extra challenges.

Screenings and assessments for preschool children do not imply the use of paper-and-pencil and large-group assessments which are not allowed below the third grade in some states. Rather, appropriate assessments for preschool children include individually administered standardized assessments, observational checklists completed by teachers while students play, or analysis of student work. The information gleaned from these types of assessments should then be used to make informed decisions about instruction and enhance teaching and learning, rather than to make judgments regarding the efficacy of a school or a system.

When choosing a screening or assessment tool, LEAs and schools should ensure that it has been validated for its intended purpose and population. For example, it is not appropriate to use a first-grade skills assessment for screening or assessing a preschool-age child.

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Does Wisconsin endorse particular screening and assessment tools?

The DPI does not endorse specific screener or assessment tools. A workgroup at DPI is currently reviewing screening, monitoring, and assessment in the early childhood years to inform the use of these practices in the early childhood setting in the future. In the meantime, the WECCP provides a list of screening and assessment tools early childhood settings can use.

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Does DPI endorse particular pull-out interventions for Title I students in preschool programs?

DPI does not endorse a particular pull-out intervention or program for Title I students in preschool programs. DPI consultants are currently developing a list of programs to provide as suggestions for schools adding preschool instruction to their Title I plan. If you have a recommendation, please contact Katharine Rainey (608) 266-3625 or Jennifer Waldner
(608) 266-5184.

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How can gains made in preschool be sustained in subsequent years?

Participating in even one year of early education of sufficient high quality can make an important contribution to children's later reading and school success. However, programs achieve the most enduring and meaningful results when children continue to receive comparable educational services at least through the primary grades. These follow-on activities include parent involvement and activities that are designed to promote continuity in children's educational experiences (Reynolds, 2000).

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For questions about this information, contact Title I and School Support Team (608) 267-3721