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President Todd Recognizes Work of Rous, McCormick and Townley

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The Kentucky Early Childhood Data System (KEDS), a cooperative venture between UK and three funding sources in the state of Kentucky, was recently designated a Commonwealth Collaborative by UK President Lee T. Todd, Jr.

Projects earning the Commonwealth Collaborative standing are programs that Dr. Todd feels are aimed at improving health, education, economic development, the environment and exposure to cultural events. By earning this distinction, KEDS will receive $10,000 from Dr. Todd’s discretionary funds in addition to the funding already awarded by other sources. These sources include the Kentucky Department of Education, Division of Early Childhood Development; the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CFHS), Department of Public Health First Steps Program; and the CFHS Division of Child Care.

“As with any new initiative, getting the word out about the program and benefits of the program is central to ensuring success,” said Dr. Beth Rous, associate professor in the UK College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and director of Early Childhood at the Human Development Institute (HDI). “The distinction of being a Commonwealth Collaborative will help set the scene for informing both programs and providers of the current mandates, as well as the supports that are provided in implementing the system.”

Dr. Rous is heading up the project along with co-principal investigator Caroline Gooden, HDI, and consultants Dr. Katherine McCormick and Dr. Kim Townley, both associate professors in the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling. Support is provided by Megan Cox, director of Early Childhood Research at HDI.

The overall goal of KEDS is to provide reliable and valid data on child outcomes to support policy decisions, program improvement and investments in early care, intervention and education programs across Kentucky. The KEDS staff has developed a Web-based collection system to provide data that is analyzed to determine the degree to which Kentucky’s children are meeting the major child outcomes and learning standards required by the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education and the state early childhood standards.

“The Kentucky Early Childhood Data System is an exciting initiative that represents the culmination of eight years of work in the field of early childhood in Kentucky,” Dr. Rous said. “The past decade has seen a significant focus on student achievement and the need for a high-quality educational system that can impact our country’s ability to remain a leading power in the global economy.”

Rous said that by providing aggregate data on child progress for children who participate in early care, intervention and education programs in Kentucky, KEDS and the partner agencies strive to:

  • Provide program directors/administrators with support to identify appropriate assessment tools and implement assessment systems in their programs;
  • Provide program teachers and providers with information and skills needed to conduct high-quality assessments on children in their classrooms or on their caseloads;
  • Support families in being active participants in the care and education of their children and in having access to information about their child’s strengths and needs; and
  • Provide state agencies with reliable and valid data from local programs to support reporting requirements at the state and/or federal level.

“In the state of Kentucky, significant investments have been made in quality early care and education services through the state early childhood initiative known as KIDS NOW,” Rous said. “At the same time, the federal No Child Left Behind Act and Good Start, Grow Smart initiative required states to set rigorous learning standards and to measure the degree to which children are meeting those standards, including research on factors that impact children’s ability to achieve success. The KEDS project has designed a system that meets the requirements for more specific outcome data, while supporting local providers in gathering and using the data immediately to support improved instruction for children.”