How do we measure our work on behalf of young children in the District? More important, how do we spur civic change to ensure a stronger future for children and families? Through its investment in the Early Development Instrument (EDI), an internationally recognized assessment tool, the District of Columbia has gained a valuable population-level snapshot of young children’s health, development and school readiness, as well as an important look at the way various environmental factors affect children’s outcomes.
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) collected the EDI data in 2016 from pre-kindergarten teachers with 4-year-old students (pre-K 4) in DC Public Schools, public charter schools and community-based organizations across the city. Now, OSSE is partnering with Raise DC to generate action on the data through a citywide engagement effort — Our Children, Our Community, Our Change.
The EDI measures children’s development across five domains: physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development, and communications skills and general knowledge. (Learn more about the EDI and how it measures children’s developmental progress: D.C.’s New EDI Data Gives Detailed Look at School Readiness.) The District’s results show key strengths but also deep inequities by neighborhood, as well as sharp variations across the subdomains of each domain (as reflected in the slideshow below).
Our Children, Our Community, Our Change has a bold vision: to create stronger, more equitable environments for young children and families. The initiative is built upon the belief that all community members have a stake in creating community conditions that support children’s healthy development within a place-based, neighborhood context. We can use the EDI outcomes to guide and inform citywide and neighborhood-level decisions on the resources, programs and policies that will equip all children to learn and thrive in both school and life.
We have developed a comprehensive toolkit of downloadable resources (including maps, action guides, meeting invitations, meeting agendas and presentations) to help community members initiate conversations and generate ideas for using the EDI outcomes to change community conditions. Our goal is to empower all community members to use these materials for their audiences in their own context, which may include neighborhood and community groups, church groups, policymakers, educators, parents, employers, nonprofit boards or the early childhood education community.
Miriam Calderon, Senior Director of Early Learning for the Bainum Family Foundation, applauds the engagement effort: “At the Foundation, we plan to use these tools internally and with our partners to actively work on policy and practice solutions for building a strong early childhood system for the District’s infants and toddlers. We are integrating the EDI into our work — from Parent Café trainings to board meeting conversations as a pulse on how the system for babies and families is working over time. The EDI can focus work on improving the early grades, for example, or helping us develop new partnerships and champions toward improving children’s learning and development.”
Along with OSSE, we at Raise DC are excited about our city’s opportunity to act in light of citywide and community-level data about our children. We look forward to hearing about the concrete actions community members and organizations take with the data from Our Children, Our Community, Our Change along with the personal experiences, stories and expertise that result from those actions. Together, we can identify barriers, establish citywide priorities and create stronger systems to support children and families.