The Center for the Study of Education Policy (CSEP) received a $50,000 grant to design micro-credentials for building leaders and aspiring principals designed to build their knowledge of research-based, effective early childhood classroom practices. Micro-credentials are competency-based professional learning “modules” in which principals will earn a credential based on successfully passing a performance-based assessment. The micro-credentials will be tied to national and state policies that create incentives for principals in Illinois and nationwide.

According to Dr. Lisa Hood, “CSEP began developing micro-credentials for school leaders as part of a U.S. Department of Education funded project, TEAM Lead, which serves approximately 100 principals across Illinois. Through a concept we call LEAD Hubs, CSEP partners with six Regional Offices of Education (ROEs) to support principals to focus their instructional and organizational capacities towards school improvement efforts.”

“This PK3 DAP micro-credential project will develop a suite of micro-credentials that provide PK3 DAP classroom practices and tools and resources that can tie to the work of the TEAM Lead project and would allow the suite of MCs and resources to be embedded into the work at the partnering ROES”, said Hood.

Content in the micro-credentials will also support leaders’ knowledge related to the implementation and use of the Illinois KIDS tool, which collects authentic observational data to assess children’s school readiness at kindergarten entry. In addition to deepening the work of TEAM Lead, this project builds on the work of two former CSEP initiatives:

  • McCormick-funded PK3 Teach Lead Grow project aligned early childhood education research-based practices, the Danielson Framework for Teaching teacher observation tool, and the standards of practice outlined in the Illinois’ Performance Evaluation Reform Act (2010). Through this work, a website was developed that contains a clearinghouse of PreK-3 classroom and teacher observation practices that was developed with the purpose to strengthen principals’ understanding of developmentally appropriate practices, including play-based learning, by seeing those practices in action using videos of teachers’ practice, as well as administrators and teachers collaborating in the teacher evaluation process to promote teachers’ professional growth.
  • Birth through Third Grade Continuity Project was funded by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) during the first round of the Preschool Development Grant—Expansion (PDG) grants by the U.S. Department of Education. CSEP provided technical assistance to PDG grantees and their communities to build education leaders’ knowledge and skills to build partnerships within their communities to improve the B-3 continuum of education and care programs and services within the community. This included early childhood community-based programs working with school/district educators, social service providers, health care providers, and so forth to ensure that children and their families benefitted from a high quality, aligned, and coordinated system of services and education programming.