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Blog | | First 5 California

First 5 California DLL Pilot Community of Practice: March 2022 Meeting Summary

By: Early Edge California, Advancement Project California, and Glen Price Group (GPG), in partnership with First 5 California and the California Department of Education

This blog is the tenth post in a series of blog posts about the First 5 California (F5CA) Dual Language Learner (DLL) Pilot Community of Practice (CoP). Click here for additional blog posts.

Resources for Educators and the Field

Resources Related to ECE & TK-12 Alignment

Resources Related to Assessments

Policy Implications

  • Policy makers should continue to invest in efforts to strengthen articulation and alignment between the ECE and TK-12 systems, including P-3 alignment planning funds for cross-system implementers.
  • It is critical for both the ECE and TK-12 systems to analyze the reliability, validity and purpose of readiness assessments, especially for DLLs.

The March meeting of the F5CA DLL Pilot CoP focused on strengthening articulation and alignment between the Early Childhood Education and TK-12 systems. Specifically, March covered the subtopics of:

  • Supporting Dual Language Learners (DLLs) to transition from ECE to TK-12 systems; and
  • Defining readiness and identifying appropriate readiness assessments. 

State Efforts to Support P-3 Alignment and DLL Identification

The California Department of Education (CDE) representatives Lillie Moffet, Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) State Policy Fellow, Opportunities for All Branch and Jennifer Osalbo, Consultant, Early Education Division (EED) shared the CDE’s current efforts to support DLLs in the context of P-3 alignment.

These efforts are focussed on creating an aligned system by:

  • Creating a seamless transition from preschool to K-12;
  • Aligning assessments and learning standards; and 
  • Creating programs that are inclusive of DLL children.

The CDE highlighted the ongoing P-3 alignment efforts including their work to implement the recently passed AB 1363 which requires the identification of DLLs in California State Preschool Programs, and their work to update the Preschool Learning Foundations, Frameworks to Support K-2, and the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) assessment. Please see here for more information regarding this work and please email P3-Alignment@cde.ca.gov to receive ongoing updates about the CDE’s P-3 alignment efforts.  

Challenges Inherent in Defining and Assessing School Readiness – Particularly for DLLs

CoP members continued to explore the topic of strengthening ECE and TK-12 alignment by learning about the ongoing challenges inherent in defining and assessing school readiness with Dr. Ida Rose Florez, CEO and Founder of Early Childhood Systems Solutions. Dr. Florez invited participants to pause for a moment and put into mind the faces of the children whose readiness is under discussion; to hear their laughter and remember their humanity. This pause was a reminder of how easy it is to lose sight of the people intended to be served in discussions of assessments and readiness.

Dr. Florez shared her rich, professional experiences. The discussion centered on the ways in which school readiness has been defined and how systems of assessments to measure children against those definitions have become institutionalized. Dr. Florez’ presentation clearly waved the banner that society is at a critical juncture and there is a need to address definitions and assessments of readiness directly, particularly because these are areas of the educational systems that perpetuate racism and inequality. There is a sense of  moral obligation to improve these systems, and California can lead the way.

Definition of Assessment as provided by Dr. Ida Rose Florez

Dr. Florez stressed that assessment is always about decision making. Absent decisions, there need be no assessment. Dr. Florez challenged the group by asking if the concept of assessments is even a valid need. Most, if not all,  do not have the resources or skills necessary to validly assess all DLL children using assessments crafted in the home languages of all children and administered by unbiased proctors who also speak the home language of the child.  Since the intent of assessments is to ultimately prove the effectiveness and validity of the education provided, the ultimate question becomes is this proof of effectiveness necessary? 

Dr. Florez continued by discussing reliability and validity in early childhood assessments. The standard definition of reliability in assessment is consistency. For example, one would not use a rubber band in lieu of a ruler to measure an item, since the rubber band as a tool would not provide consistent results. The emerging skills of young children are by nature inconsistent. This is especially true for DLLs who exhibit complex language growth patterns including silent periods and nonlinear language development. This brings into question the inherent reliability of early childhood assessments.

Validity is defined as the extent to which assessments yield information that results in sound decision making. Most educators recognize that they are typically not experts in psychometrics and therefore trust that an assessment’s developers have done their work to ensure that an assessment is reliable and effective. It is possible for assessment data to be wrong, sometimes even reliably wrong meaning that the results can be repeated, but that the decisions and information taken from the data are inaccurate and potentially harmful to the child.  

To address this issue, Dr. Florez highlighted there is a need to ensure that there are large enough norm samples for each population intended to be assessed and that the assessments are developed in the individual language as opposed to being a translation of an assessment in English. 

Dr. Florez suggested we might be better off if we focus more time assessing children on the following:

  • What evokes wonder for this child?
  • In what ways does the child show that they value mutual thriving for all?
  • What does this child know about how to set conditions conducive to life?

What does DLL assessment and alignment look like in practice?

 Sharol Viker from the Santa Barbara Team shared their experiences in working to successfully transition DLLs by building on their partnership between the ECE and TK-12 systems. Santa Barbara has a Kindergarten Readiness Network which includes preschool teachers, administrators, TK, and Kindergarten educators and staff. 

Santa Barbara is implementing joint training and support for ECE, TK, and Kindergarten teachers. They are committed to a continuous improvement approach which includes identifying appropriate staff, developing a common language, and building relationships between teams.

CoP Presenter Spotlight

“Children are layered networks that live in layered networks.”

—Dr. Ida Rose Florez

This blog will be updated regularly to share the emerging lessons learned, needed resources, and policy recommendations coming from the DLL Pilot CoP meetings. Learn more about the First 5 CA DLL Pilot.

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