Acelero Learning’s Public Comments on the New Head Start Performance Standards

Shine Early Learning is pleased to present Acelero Learning’s public remarks on the latest Head Start Performance Standards. We did not address all standards, but chose to focus on key proposed changes that we support and, in contrast, changes that we believe will not drive outcomes based on our expertise and experience. You can view the full, public document here

  • Training and Professional Development: We strongly support §1302.92(4), which requires that programs implement “a coordinated coaching strategy,” aligned with relevant aspects of their ECE approach. At Acelero Learning, we know that high-dosage, structured coaching is one element of our educational approach that has led directly to higher child outcome gains.
  • Curriculum: We also support §1302.32(a)(1)(iii), which emphasizes the need programs to implement a content-rich curriculum with an organized development scope and sequence. Based on external research and evidence in our own programs, we know that a curriculum that is scientifically valid and has an organized scope and sequence has a direct impact on closing the Achievement Gap.
    • With that in mind, we also have requested that OHS specify that the requirements with regard to scope and sequence do not apply to Early Head Start, where the expectations of sequential development are not always appropriate.
  • Teaching and the Learning Environment: §1302.31(b)(1)(iii) requires that program ensure that teaching practices integrate child assessment data into individual and group planning. We support this requirement. At Acelero Learning, teachers regularly analyze formative assessment data to make informed decisions about individual and small-group instruction. We have found great benefit in implementing the direct and embedded assessments in our Ready to Shine Head Start curriculum, as well as the Assessment Work Groups and Curriculum Collaboration Meetings to help promote this practice.
  • Family Partnership Services: Acelero Learning firmly supports OHS’s clear focus on fostering parent efficacy and skills to promote children’s learning and development, outlined in §1302.52 – particularly the emphasis placed on parenting curricula that integrate modeling and practice.
    • We also support the changes with respect to individualized family partnership services, which states that individualized family partnership services should take into consideration the urgency and intensity of identified family needs and goals.
    • We would request that OHS remove the “laundry list” of required family assessment areas in §1302.52(b) – reducing the likelihood of programs focusing on creating yet another “checklist” and allows programs to determine how best ot assess their families’ status in each of the PFCE Framework domains.
  • Center-Based Option: “Full Day” Head Start: Acelero Learning supports the emphasis the Office of Head Start has placed on full-day, full-year services, as outlined in §1302.21. The proposed Standards explicitly acknowledge that dosage matters and gives programs permission to reevaluate program options, even if it results in lower funded enrollment – while still allowing waivers for programs that experience high demand for half-day programming or alternative program options.

Click here to read more about items we have requested that OHS remove or clarify (including excessive paperwork on previously purchased facilities, and requirement on one-hour outreach on attendance), and a list of our proposed additional changes related to program administration, ERSEA, state-level coordination on education and child development, health administration and coordination CCDBG administration at the state level.

Did your program respond to the NPRM? What were your highlights? Email us with comments, questions or thoughts at!


Who's at Risk? Funding Forecast Now Out for DRS Round IV

- Katherine Molina-Powell, VP, Shine Assist

HHS recently updated the funding forecast to reflect anticipated posting dates for 90 new Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant/Seasonal HS/EHS grants, largely related to DRS Round IV. The forecast list now shows a handful of holdovers from 2014 rounds of competition and, at present, only two grants currently operated by CDI. Funding Opportunity Announcements are expected to be released on July 15th and are due approximately two months later on September 14th.

At Shine Early Learning, we've spent several years cultivating an understanding of the true competitive hurdles that existing grantees and potential challengers might face. Last year, we developed a ranking system to gauge how “at risk” any given grantee might be in a round of competition. We have worked with incumbent and challenger programs alike through the DRS program and have learned that each competition is different from the next—and each competition brings a fresh set of competitive criteria and trends. With that in mind, we have updated our tiered ranking system, the DRS Risk Assessment, to analyze this year’s group of competitive Head Start / Early Head Start grants.

Our DRS Risk Assessment rankings are calculated based on the number (and severity) of immediate deficiencies and the number of CLASS indicators scored in the bottom 10% of programs reviewed, and are then weighted by amount of funding available, since many of the grants that have been lost or divided in the previous two rounds of competitions have skewed larger than average.

What do these “Risk Assessment” rankings mean?

The DRS Risk Assessment allows us to understand where grantee transition and potentially active competition is likely to crop up. More specifically, a combination of the public records presently available on grantee performance and our lessons from the previous three rounds of DRS results allows us to focus in on where the most competitive action is likely to happen in 2015.

Below are the top five states that had the most programs “at risk” based on our analysis:

*Estimated Number of Children Affected and DRS Risk Assessment do not count programs currently operating under CDI.

Is your organization affected by DRS or considering applying for a grant? Do you want to know your risk assessment score, or talk more about the competitive landscape in your service area?

Call or email us to set up a free strategy review session to best understand your agency’s strengths and weaknesses heading into DRS Round IV.