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Continuous Improvement through Cooperation

by Emmalie Dropkin
November/December 2015
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Article Link: http://exchangepress.com/article/continuous-improvement-through-cooperation/5022666/

At a time when accountability is the buzzword in nearly every field, early childhood programs have a responsibility not only to funding sources and the schools young children will enter, but to children and families themselves. Beyond assurances that children are in safe learning environments and are making progress, what should that accountability look like?

In Head Start, there has been a long history of tracking children's individual progress and looking at the patterns of children's development between classrooms and across demographic groups; however, having the staff and technological capacity to fully interpret and use data can be a barrier for many organizations. Fortunately, many of those challenges can be overcome through collaboration and sharing resources — and two Head Start state associations are among the leaders in developing these types of cooperative systems.

In 2006, through the leadership of the Minnesota Head Start Association (MHSA), Head Start programs in Minnesota came together to share practices and collaborate in their interpretation and application of data. Their work looked both at outputs (e.g. number of children enrolled or days attended) and outcomes (e.g. how children progressed in various domains of development). Even while programs were still working primarily with their own data, this cross-agency ...

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