Foundations for Excellence

Example 2

puzzle piece iconSchool Readiness Goal: English and Spanish Language Acquisition

This example shows how a Head Start program—after it has collected and analyzed birth to 5 school readiness data from multiple years—proceeds to set a new program goal about language acquisition. Its planning process is outlined in this scenario. Table 4.3 delineates the steps the program will take based on its planning and review process.


The Always Be Conscientious (ABC) Head Start/Early Head Start program with home-based and preschool center-based options, has had its infant/toddler and preschool school readiness goals in place for the past two school years. These goals are aligned with the ELOF and ABC's governing body and Policy Council have approved them. The program has collected and compared child assessment data, adult-child interaction scores (Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®) Pre-K), home visitor practices that help parents support their infants' and toddlers' development (Home Visit Rating Scales (HOVRS) scores), performance on kindergarten entrance assessments, and data from other sources to determine progress on the school readiness goals. The program examined progress each quarter and at the end of the year, and it also collected data on trends over time.

During Ongoing Monitoring
The staff reviewed and compared child assessment reports and discovered that infants and toddlers in the home-based program consistently reached age-level scores on the program's ongoing child assessment tool in emerging language and literacy development (both home language and English). However, the preschool children, including those who transitioned from the Early Head Start home-based program, consistently scored below the norm on the vocabulary portion of the school district's kindergarten readiness assessment. ABC's aggregation of last year's data showed that mean scores of preschool children were below typical scores for similar children (e.g., age, socio-economic status, and culture and language background) for all language measures. This was also true for the previous year. While children did make progress on language measures, the majority of children transitioning from Head Start to kindergarten did not reach age-level scores. By reviewing sub-groups within the program, the staff could see variability among the classrooms. In a small number of classrooms, children scored at or above age level. The staff determined that they could use the data to make both program-wide and individual classroom adjustments.

During Self-Assessment
ABC's self-assessment team reviewed the multiyear school readiness data for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers and disaggregated the school readiness results by sub-groups:

  • Ages of children
  • Classrooms
  • Home visitor caseloads
  • Experience and educational levels of teachers and home visitors
  • Presence of bilingual staff who can support continued development of home language and acquisition of English
  • Children in their first year of Head Start
  • Children in their second year of Head Start
  • Children who transitioned into Head Start from ABC’s Early Head Start home-based program versus those who did not
  • Children who are DLLs

After reviewing the data and discussing what worked in the preschool classrooms where children had the higher scores, the self-assessment team recommended the following actions.

  • Focus ABC's professional development for the upcoming year on language and literacy, with an emphasis on increasing preschool children's vocabularies in their home language and in English.
  • Select and implement a supplemental curriculum enhancement to strengthen the language components of teaching and learning.
  • After assessing intensive coaching needs for all teachers, identify specific classroom teachers who would most benefit from intensive coaching on supporting children's language development.
    • The team also recommended that teachers in the classrooms with consistently higher-scoring children:
      • Assist with planning language experiences and supports across all program areas
      • Engage in peer coaching with other teachers not in need of intensive coaching
  • Offer targeted professional development for home visitors to help them continue to:
    • Support families' use of effective language and literacy practices with their infants and toddlers;
    • Encourage families' use of their home language (Spanish) once their children transition to the Head Start program
  • Review Human Resources' system for recruitment and hiring practices of bilingual staff.
  • Extend outreach to local colleges who have Spanish-speaking students to volunteer.
  • Monitor budget implications for the above.

During Planning
The ABC planning committee accepted the self-assessment team's recommendations and set the following new goal, objective, outcome, and expected challenge.

School Readiness Goal
Children will demonstrate an understanding of, as well as use, a variety of words in English and Spanish to communicate their ideas, feelings, and questions. They will also express knowledge of word categories and relationships among words during play, routines, learning activities, and conversations with others. Connects to P-LC6 and P-LC7 in the ELOF Language and Communication domain.

To strengthen the ability of teachers and parents to improve the vocabulary of enrolled preschool children in their home language (Spanish) and English as measured by improved scores on child assessment measures. Mean scores will improve by 50 percent by the end of the program year.

Expected Outcome
Children will enter kindergarten with age-appropriate receptive and expressive vocabulary in their home language (Spanish) and English.

Expected Challenge
Because LEAs have different kindergarten readiness expectations, it will be important to ensure all kindergarten-eligible children meet the language and literacy readiness expectations of the local schools they will attend.

This program organized and wrote its action plans according to area (e.g., teaching and learning; parent and family engagement; community engagement; health services; and program management) to ensure that staff understood their specific roles and responsibilities in relation to accomplishing this goal. This action plan is included as Table 4.3.

Table 4.3: Example 2 – ABC Head Start Action Plan (English and Spanish Language Acquisition)

Program Actions/Strategies that Support Both Goals and Objectives Person(s) Responsible Timeline Financial Supports Data, Tools, or Methods for Tracking Progress
Teaching and Learning
  1. Establish a year-long professional development plan focused on vocabulary, integrating English and Spanish in play, routines, and learning activities.
Education manager and coach August
  • Secure T/TA funds to support professional development plan, including intensive coaching through TLC
  • Budget for new language curriculum supplement
  • Scores on child assessment measures
  • Child assessments that also measure the growth in home language
  1. Provide small-group intensive coaching using Teachers Learning and Collaborating (TLC) materials focused on language-based responsive processes (e.g., 15-minute in-service suites, Language Modeling and Conversations; Language and Literacy ELOF Effective Practice Guides; Planned Language Approach (PLA) materials; and, when appropriate, the programs and strategies that support children who are DLLs.)
Site managers supervised by new coach Early fall
  1. Review current curriculum and consider adding a language and literacy enhancement; ensure current curriculum is responsive to children who are DLLs.
Education manager, site manager, coach, teachers Late fall
  1. Observe classrooms; support staff use of meaningful vocabulary that increases in complexity over time in both Spanish and English.
Coach Winter/spring
  1. Observe home visitors; support their efforts to encourage families to: 1) use their home language with their infants and toddlers; and 2) continue to speak their home language while their children are transitioning to and in Head Start. HSPPS require home visitors to help parents recognize that bilingualism and biliteracy are strengths.
Home-based supervisor Fall, winter, spring, summer  
  • Scores on child assessment measures
  • Child assessments that also measure the growth in home language
  • HOVRS scores
Parent and Family Engagement
  1. Conduct family events focused on the importance of talking with children in the home language; read books and use vocabulary in the home language. Share dialogic reading strategies. Use Importance of Home Language Series (from the PLA) and other culturally and linguistically responsive strategies to develop trainings.
Family support manager Fall, winter, spring, summer
  • Ensure supply budget will cover cost of book-bags
  • Track parent participation in each effort
  • Disaggregated child assessment data for children whose parents participate in each effort
  • Track any increase in book reading in home language and English, as reported by families
  1. Partner with families to create and use “bookbags” to send back and forth between home and Head Start, or to leave with families to use in their homes. These bags include a selection of books that are culturally responsive and are in the home language and English. Refer to resources on the ECLKC website to identify culturally appropriate bilingual books and books in languages other than English. Books in English for infants and toddlers are included when determined appropriate by families and home visitors.
Family support manager, teachers, home-based supervisor, home visitors Fall
  1. Invite families to tape their favorite books or stories in their home languages for use within programs.
Family support manager and site managers

Late fall

  1. Collect favorite “words of the week” (in English and home languages) from staff and families to use in newsletters and/or to post in classrooms.
Family support manager, site manager, teachers, and home visitors Winter
Community Engagement
  1. Develop a partnership with the local library system to increase use of libraries by families and increase visits to the program by children’s librarians. Share resources with libraries on selecting culturally appropriate books in languages other than English.
Head Start director and community engagement manager Spring N/A
  • Signed MOU
  • Parent self-reports
  • Aggregate:
    • With library cards
    • Borrowing books
    • Participating in events
  • Library report of numbers of visits to centers
  • Family reports are tracked to reflect any increase in book reading in home language and English, as appropriate
  1. Pilot library initiative at two local libraries and encourage children to check out books in Spanish and English.
Education manager All year
Health Services
Coordinate with attendance initiative to make sure children attend school regularly. Health manager Fall N/A
  • Attendance records
  • Screening results
  • Disaggregate child assessment data of children most often absent from school
  • Teachers survey on health vocabulary
Provide teachers with age-appropriate, health-related vocabulary in home languages and in English. Health manager and site managers Winter
Review results of hearing screenings to make sure that children who did not pass their hearing screening were referred for evaluation and services when indicated. Health managers and site managers Late fall
Program Management
  1. Recruit and hire coaches with expertise in working with children who are developing one or more languages. Also, when possible, recruit and hire bilingual coaches and other bilingual staff.
Head Start director and governing body July
  • Seek new funding for coaches
  • Budget for more staff time/ substitutes
  • Budget for new language and literacy curriculum enhancement and for staff training on the curriculum
  • Updated budget
  • PLA planning document compiled
  • Disaggregated child assessment data on children who are DLLs with teachers who have bilingual coaches
  1. Ensure that teachers selected to assist with planning language experiences and provide peer coaching to teachers receive appropriate support and training on being a peer coach.
Head Start director and education manager August – ongoing
  1. Hire substitute staff to ensure that teachers have time to participate in coaching and to attend other trainings.
Human resources director August
  1. Report regularly to governing body, Policy Council, and other stakeholders on progress in meeting goals.
Head Start director and education manager  
  1. Identify and purchase a new language and literacy curriculum enhancement that is responsive to all children, including children who are DLLs. Train teachers on the curriculum and check fidelity of curriculum implementation.
Head Start director and education manager  
  1. Provide training for teachers and families on dialogic reading.
Education manager and consultants  
  1. Ensure that management staff and other key personnel participate in the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning’s PLA and Practice-Based Coaching trainings.
Director, management team, and site directors