Two kindergarteners getting help with writing

ELC Learning & Sharing

Two kindergarteners getting help with writing

The resources described in this section represent components of Minnesota’s early learning system targeted in Minnesota’s ELC grant plan: Great Workforce, Program Quality, Access for High Needs Children, Parent Choice and Engagement, and System Accountability. By highlighting communities that have discovered innovative ways to use the ELC resources to serve their young children and families, our hope is that early learning stakeholders in Minnesota (and other states) can learn from our work, successes, challenges, and findings.

Community Stories
How are communities in Minnesota utilizing resources to improve access to quality for high-needs children? Stories collected from our community will explore the models and resources used to improve access and overcome barriers, address issues of sustainability, integrate resources, and engage local private sector leadership.

Check out the Evaluation Briefs to learn more about how the four Transformation Zones (Itasca County, Northside Achievement Zone, Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood and White Earth Nation) used their Early Learning Challenge Access resources of ELC Scholarships and Title I PreK Incentives to provide children in their community with access to high quality early learning programs.

  • Great Workforce

    How are the adults who educate Minnesota’s youngest children doing? What skills, behaviors, and training are they developing? What needs do they have to keep improving? How are the pre-service and in-service systems improving to best support providers and teachers? Learn more about training resources:

    CLASS Coaching

    Coaching and Consultation on Caring for Children with Special Needs

    Eager to Learn

    Higher Education and Child Development Associate (CDA) Scholarships

    MN Center for Professional Development Registry

    MN Centers of Excellence for Young Children with Disabilities

    MN Child Care Credential

    MN Infant Toddler Credential

    Parent Aware-Related Training

    Professional Development Advising

    Minnesota’s Knowledge and Competency Framework (KCF) is now available in three versions for people working with: pre-school children in center and school programs; infants and toddlers; and children in family child care home settings. Companion guides are available for those working with preschool children in center and school programs and children in family child care home settings.

    By July 1, 2016 all courses in Develop will be categorized according to the content areas outlined in the Knowledge and Competency Framework. The Department of Human Services has developed knowledge and competency training for both trainers and early care and education providers. Both trainings are approved by the Minnesota Center for Professional Development and listed in Develop. Training will be delivered through the Child Care Aware resource and referral training delivery system.

    The Minnesota Department of Education has made grants available to two and four year Institutes of Higher Education which will partner to deeply and meaningfully embed the Knowledge and Competency Framework in credit-based courses as well as determine ways to use the Knowledge and Competency Framework to scaffold student learning.

  • Program Quality

    How are we attending to issues of what quality is and how do we build more of it? How are we doing at a statewide level, and within geographic, programmatic, community specific levels? Learn more about getting a Parent Aware Rating.

    Parent Aware Evaluation
    As part of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge, PASR partnered with Greater Twin Cities United Way to fund a look at the implementation of Parent Aware as a statewide program, using Child Trends as the external evaluator. The 2012 report is available here. The Year 2 Parent Aware Evaluation Report (based on all ratings issued as of 12/31/2013) is available here. These and other evaluations of Parent Aware are posted on the PASR website. Download the most recent evaluation report, published in April, 2015 and covering Year 3 of statewide implementation.

    Revision of Parent Aware Quality Indicators
    One of the projects in the Early Learning Challenge plan was a revision of the Parent Aware quality indicators in 2013. There was not sufficient information available in 2013 to inform significant changes to the Parent Aware standards and indicators. The measures launched in January 2012 had only been in place for about one year, with fewer than 150 programs having completed the full rating process as of December 31, 2012. In addition, the Parent Aware evaluation had only issued one report at the end of 2012. Therefore, the only changes considered during Phase I of the Parent Aware Indicator Review Process sought to refine and clarify the measures based on learning from initial statewide implementation.The Phase I changes to the indicators are now complete and are available here for child care centers and here for family child care homes.

    The second revision of the measures used in the Parent Aware rating tool occurred in 2015-2016. Early educators and other early care and education stakeholders were invited to provide their feedback and ideas for changes in the fall of 2015. The Minnesota Departments of Human Services, Education and Health are actively engaged in reviewing the suggestions received, while also reviewing the results of the Parent Aware Validation Report and other research. The Parent Aware Indicator Review Process is complete. The new indicators were released in September 2016.

    Private Investment in Parent Aware
    Parent Aware is central to the State’s Early Learning Challenge Plan, providing the quality framework for early learning programs in Minnesota. To meet the state’s ambitious targets for number of Parent Aware rated programs, Minnesota is turning its focus to recruiting Licensed Family Child Care programs to volunteer for rating. To encourage programs to become rated, DHS recently released guidance to help private funders align their funding. See Supporting Parent Aware: Guidance for MN’s Philanthropic Community.

    LearnTogetherMN interviewed many of the privately-funded efforts to engage Licensed Family Child Care programs in Minnesota’s quality system during early 2014, and brought those organizations engaged in that effort together in May to share what they are learning. The summary report highlights lessons learned through those efforts, as well as some exciting work happening in Delaware.

  • Access for Children with High Needs

    What are the rates of access to high quality early learning programs for high needs children? What are communities and programs doing to improve access? What kinds of things are creating unintended consequences by not significantly improving access for children with high needs? Learn more about Early Learning Scholarships currently available in your community.

    An evaluation of the Scholarships and the Title I PreK Incentives being conducted by SRI International is looking at how those two access strategies are being implemented in the four Transformation Zones and what impacts they are having children, families, programs and the communities. Specific evaluation questions include:

    Describe and analyze the effectiveness of the implementation of the Scholarships and the Title I-PreK Incentives by studying the Models of Community Collaboration and Innovation employed;

    Describe the Use of the Scholarship and Title I-PreK funds to increase access and meet the needs of families;

    Examine the extent to which Access for Children with High Needs to High Quality Early Learning Development Programs has increased;

    Describe Family Engagement with the Scholarships and the Title I-PreK Incentives including the effectiveness of outreach methods and family decision-making; and

    Examine the impact of the Scholarships and Title I-PreK project on Child Outcomes, specifically school readiness.

    SRI International, the external evaluator selected by the State of Minnesota to evaluate the impact of various access strategies, has published short Evaluation Briefs for each of the four ELC Transformation Zone’s efforts to use federal funds to increase children’s access to high quality early learning programs. SRI has published a full Year 1 report, summarizing impacts across the Transformation Zones. In April 2015, SRI published a full Year 2 report on the impact of Scholarships and Title I Incentives on access to high quality early learning programs in Minnesota.

    The Minnesota Department of Education recently published an Early Learning Scholarships Program Evaluation Report for Fiscal Year 2016.  Note the report includes a number of appendices:  Appendix A analyzes scholarship amounts by region, Pathway (1 vs. 2), program type and star rating.  Appendix B analyzes the efficiency and effectiveness of Early Learning Scholarhsips.  Appendix C provides an analysis of outcomes for children receiving Early Learning Scholarships at the completion of their preschool year.

  • Parent Choice and Engagement

    Are parents finding information to make choices? Do parents have access to the choices they want? Do parents have access to information and, as needed, programs to support parenting skills? In August 2014, a powerful new tool launched to help parents find early care and education programs to prepare their young children for kindergarten. The website,, contains information on more than 12,000 early care and education programs, searchable through a user-friendly tool. Parents can find information on programs’ quality, location, schedule, and type of care. There’s also a short Is Your Child Ready quiz, where parents can assess whether their 1-5 year old is on track for success in kindergarten.

  • System Accountability

    How are the components of statewide and local systems working together? What is working well and what are the challenges? How are we measuring and reporting group outcomes, and acting on those data to improve them?

    Download Minnesota’s 2014 Annual Performance Report for the US Department of Education. The report contains information on all Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grantee states’ progress toward their goals through Year 3 (2014). Previous reports are also available in the Download Center.

    At the stateside level, the Governor’s Early Learning Council advises the Governor, Legislature and Children’s Cabinet on policy and program issues related to children ages birth to eight. The Council views the Early Learning Challenge grant as one of many initiatives that are part of a major reform of Minnesota’s early learning system. The Council recently issued a Progress Report on early learning reform efforts in Minnesota.

  • Kindergarten Entry Profile

    Each fall, the Minnesota Department of Education looks at a sample of children entering kindergarten in districts throughout the state. As part of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, Minnesota has revised the tool and methods used to measure children’s status at kindergarten entry. The new Kindergarten Entry Profile (KEP), formerly the School Readiness Study, includes a menu of tools which measure children’s cognitive, social-emotional, language, literacy and physical development.A one-page handout and a frequently asked questions document about the revision pilot have been made public. Download an executive summary of the pilot test. The KEP menu provides districts the freedom to choose an instrument that best fits with their individual assessment culture. Each KEP tool has been tested for alignment to the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (Minnesota’s early learning standards) and the Kindergarten Academic Standards.

    The KEP tools included in the menu are:

    • Desired Results Developmental Profile
    • Formative Assessment System for Teachers
    • Teaching Strategies GOLD
    • Minnesota Work Sampling System

    Minnesota Department of Education is developing a set of research briefs to help districts use the results from the KEA Pilot to inform their assessment for the World’s Best Workforce.

  • Title I Toolkit

    As part of the Early Learning Challenge Grant, Minnesota created a toolkit to help local school districts interested in using a portion of their Title I funding to support high quality Early Learning and Development programs for children in their area. Topics covered in the Toolkit that may be of interest to all districts, even if not participating in the ELC Title I Incentive program, include:

    • Planning
    • Necessary Components
    • Implementation