New, free early childhood education resources available for Texas Panhandle teachers

Pre-k and kindergarten teachers in the Texas Panhandle are getting more resources in an effort to better their teaching, students and classrooms.

The Children's Learning Institute (CLI) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston hosted an informational session Thursday to introduce teachers in Region 16 to the free tools offered on CLIengage.com.

"Amarillo was actually one of the early pioneers in this research looking for a standard early childhood approach to best practices and creating appropriate research proven strategies for teachers in the classroom," CLI Project Manager Colleen Allen said. "We now have the technology and digital platform to bring all of these resources across the entire state."

CLI is already providing teachers Texas School Ready infant, toddler and pre-k resources for their own professional development, more curriculum and to better monitor the classroom and student progress.

"They now have proven research strategies all available to them that links both the content that they learn about this with integrated data, real solid research proven decisions about best instructional practices in the classroom," Allen said.

A free tool launching in the fall is the Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment, a screener designed to help teachers learn more about their students academic skills to address their individual needs.

"[Teachers] can learn about what [students] know and are able to do and they can then tailor their instruction," CLI Program Manager Jennifer Lindley said. "When they are in the classroom and working with them and their reading or math skills, they can be really specific about what they need and how else they can help support them."

The Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment evaluates many learning areas, some grabbing the attention of area school districts who's faculty said they are excited to utilize the data.

"The subtests I think are wonderful like the social and emotional aspects, too, because sometimes we don't test on that," Dimmitt ISD Instructional Coach Jessica Braddock said. "That's also a good thing to know they have the social and emotional skills."

For districts like Dimmitt ISD, having the resource is not only beneficial being free but putting districts across the state small and large on an even level.

"A lot of assessment programs cost a lot of money and for a smaller school district sometimes we can't get those assessment pieces because they are really expensive," Braddock said.

"Having it available on a platform like this, it's a digital delivery but you can print out these strategies and activities," Allen said. "Somebody way up in the Panhandle, they can have this and have that same equitability, have that same rich supports for their classroom as somebody in more urban Amarillo. It really brings equitability across the state."

The Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment launches around September, according to CLI. The other resources are already online by clicking HERE.

New, free early childhood education resources available for Texas Panhandle teachers