Austin Childcare Providers Network (ACPN) is seeking to address the disconnect in curriculum between early childcare programs and kindergarten through aligning teaching and learning from childcare to kindergarten, align assessments and data that informs instruction across early childhood and kindergarten, and strengthen cross-sector partnerships to ensure families are included in the work. ACPN seeks to pilot a program in which two of its member day care centers would be equipped with Creative Curriculum and partner closely with three to four feeder Chicago Public School (CPS) kindergarten classrooms. Day care providers would join the CPS Creative Curriculum training that kindergarten teachers receive and foster a partnership with the goal that pre-school students ultimately transition into kindergarten classrooms at partner schools with ease and meeting kindergarten readiness benchmarks.
Why We Invested
ACPN’s pilot represents new programming within an established community organization and has the potential to make a meaningful impact on kindergarten readiness. The organization’s founder and executive director, Ruth Kimble, has been a leader in the early childhood education space for two decades and has developed critical relationships along the way, including a close partnership with Austin Coming Together. As part of this work, ACPN has identified CPS engagement as critical for success. Promising conversations have begun with the district.
The initiative’s core intended outcomes include kindergarten readiness and third-grade reading proficiency, which is a critical enabler of future academic success. Currently, less than 30 percent of Austin children are on track in third grade, and the Austin community’s overarching goal is to increase this by 20 percent over the next five years. While the pilot will focus on two daycare centers, Executive Director Ruth Kimble believes this work will serve as a model to be adopted citywide and particularly in communities of color. We estimate that ACPN has an addressable market of over 3,000 children in Austin alone. Given ACPN’s emphasis on building providers’ capacity, they are also eager to track leading indicators related to instructional practice and curriculum adoption.
ACPN is participating in a project with NORC at the University of Chicago to understand the pilot’s theory of change, identify key processes and outputs to measure, and develop instruments to measure those outputs and outcomes. NORC is providing consultation around the design of the evaluation plan, supporting focus group data collection, and providing input as the ACPN team conducts analyses and establishes emerging findings. A Better Chicago covered 85 percent of the cost for this project.