Our History

The Children's Learning Institute

Prior to the creation of the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI), the Department of Developmental Pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston housed two nationally recognized centers: the Center for Academic and Reading Skills (CARS) and the Center for Improving the Readiness of Children for Learning and Education (CIRCLE). Although separate centers, continuous collaboration regarding research, resources and knowledge was a motivating force in the decision to become one united institute. In 2003, The University of Texas System Board of Regents officially merged the two centers and their various programs into CLI.

Two Major Forerunners

Established in 1996, CARS was devoted to improving academic skills in children through research and implementation. CARS was able to enhance the educational experience of students by bringing evidence-based learning approaches to the classroom, developing teachers’ knowledge about the conditions under which students learn, and helping teachers assess students’ strengths and weaknesses, form instructional plans and monitor progress. CARS contained numerous publications written by nationally recognized researchers on learning disabilities, classroom curriculums and instructional methods.

The goal of CIRCLE was to help families and teachers assist young children in preparing to read and learn before they entered kindergarten.

Much of this research is incorporated in CIRCLE’s work.

In the fall of 1999, Texas First Lady Laura Bush identified CIRCLE at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to lead then Governor George W. Bush’s early childhood education initiative. CIRCLE was created as the state's premier center for early childhood education and focused on providing training to early childhood teachers and caregivers by positively impacting teachers’ skills in language and literacy. The goal was to help families and teachers assist young children in preparing to read and learn before they entered kindergarten.

Governor Rick Perry designated CIRCLE as the Texas State Center for Early Childhood Development in 2003. Pleased with the changes occurring in participating early childhood classrooms, the 78th Legislature passed Senate Bill 76 that same year, appointing the State Center with the task of implementing the statewide school readiness demonstration research project, also known as the Texas Early Education Model (TEEM).

A Bigger Impact

To encourage the expansion of CARS, CIRCLE and other initiatives, and to focus, develop and orchestrate the implementation of best practices statewide, the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) was formed.

Services at CLI range from clinical assessment, diagnosis and treatment of learning disorders to cutting-edge research on techniques that enhance a child’s home and learning environment and improve prekindergarten education. The CLI team includes experts in the fields of child development, education, medicine, neurodevelopment and research analysis.

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