Data Development Included in Early Childhood Initiatives

The NC Early Childhood Data Advisory Council met on February 27 in Raleigh. All meeting materials are available here. Members received updates on relevant early childhood data and policy initiatives, including:

Preschool Development Grant (PDG): This $40 million federal grant to improve early education systems over the next three years will support early childhood data improvements, including:

  • Enhancing and expanding the NC Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS) to include data from Head Start, home visiting, and K-3 public education. (see p. 38-42 of the PDG) Specific planned improvements include:
    • Continued modernization of ECIDS data infrastructure (reporting tools, research request tools, and website)
    • Continuation/expansion of project to integrate data from home visiting and Head Start into ECIDS
    • New project to integrate data from the Early Hearing Detection Intervention program into ECIDS
  • Expanding NCCARE360 to every county. NCCARE360 is a shared technology platform that allows providers to electronically connect those with identified needs to community resources, creates a “no wrong door” approach, closes the loop on every referral made, reports on the outcomes of each connection, and allows for screening of unmet needs. (see p. 42-43)
  • Creating a data platform to support transitions from preschool to kindergarten through Teaching Strategies GOLD®, a system for assessing children’s knowledge, skills and behaviors from birth through third grade. Data will be shared across Pre-K and kindergarten programs and teachers will receive professional development on using the system. (see p. 44-45)
  • Supporting data-informed local strategic planning, through providing technical assistance to local cross-sector Human Services leadership teams to train communities about best practices for using and interpreting quality data, as well as to support 30 communities to develop strategic plans based on data. (see p. 45)
  • Convening an NC Early Childhood Data Advisory Council to provide state-level strategic direction to improve the quality and scope of early childhood data collection and support analysis and use of early childhood data by policymakers and other decision-makers. The Data Advisory Council is facilitated by NCECF, in partnership with the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). (see p. 45-46)

Read more about what is included in NC’s $40 million PDG.

Education Longitudinal Data System:

  • NC is taking steps towards building an Education Longitudinal Data System, from early childhood through workforce.
  • To be included in the longitudinal data system are:
    • The Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS)
    • NC School Works (mostly community college and university data)
    • The Common Follow-Up System (workforce and education data)
  • MOUs are being put into place, and many departments will be involved, including DHHS, DPI, Community Colleges, etc.

Early Childhood Action Plan:

Census 2020:

  • Young children are the most undercounted group in the census.
  • Census numbers impact:
    • Federal funding for important programs: Head Start, National School Lunch Program, WIC, etc.
    • Local resource allocation
    • Accuracy of data that is widely used for program and policy decision-making
  • Actions you can take include:
    • Share information about the 2020 Census within your networks and its importance for young children and families
    • Join a complete count committee in your community – many municipalities, churches, local non-profits, and advocacy groups have their own or are part of one.
    • Paste the “Make NC Count” logo into your email signature
    • Share the logo/website link on websites you help manage
    • Follow @nccensus on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and share posts on your social media (tag DHHS and use the #MakeNCCount hashtag)
    • Visit for information and tools – outreach “how to” guides, posters, fliers, speech drops, talking points, data visualizations, and many other resources.
    • Sign up to the North Carolina 2020 Census listserv at to receive important updates
    • Fill out your census questionnaire – April 1, 2020 is Census Day!


  • DHHS invited feedback on a draft of recommendations to the Governor’s office on the data items included in the Leandro WestEd report.

Read more about what is in the WestEd report around early childhood and the recent consent order.

Discussion Item:

The Council then heard recommendations from the Child Development at Kindergarten Entry Data Workgroup and an update on changes to the Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) from the Office of Early Learning at the Department of Public Instruction.

The Child Development at Kindergarten Entry data workgroup is recommending a measure or set of measures to capture children’s development at kindergarten entry at the population level. The recommendation will be used to inform the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success Framework, and the NC Early Childhood Action Plan. Council members received a high-level overview of the recommendations, which will be released in March/April.

Dan Tetreault with the Office of Early Learning at DPI shared some upcoming changes to the Kindergarten Entry Assessment. During the 2020-21 school year, DPI will begin using the TS Gold platform, replacing the NC Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) with the Early Learning Inventory (ELI). According to the Office of Early Learning, this shift will provide advantages over the current KEA, including:

  • Closer alignment with Pre-K, many of which programs use TS Gold as their assessment system
  • More support for social-emotional learning, since there is an SEL module in TS Gold
  • New aggregate reporting and data export features
  • A way to measure inter-rater reliability, which the KEA lacks
  • Embedded online professional development that can earn CEUs
  • A separate training and practice environment
  • More online resources for teachers, administrators and families
  • Ability to group students and build lesson plans
  • Intentional teaching experiences aligned to the progressions
  • Broader range of skills, including birth through third grade
  • Intermediate steps in the progressions
  • Developmental ranges are visible in the tool
  • Mobile documentation app

Next Steps

At the next Early Childhood Data Advisory Council meeting in April, Council members will prioritize two or three items from the data development strategy the Council created in 2019 to act on first.

The Early Childhood Data Advisory Council meets quarterly and aims to:

  • Improve quality and scope of early childhood data
  • Advocate for agencies and organizations to align their work around the Pathways and ECAP measures
  • Advocate for and facilitate better data sharing
  • Provide guidance, feedback, and support to ground the state’s early childhood work in data and research
  • Build partnerships with other existing data groups
  • Serve as ambassadors for the ECAP, ECIDs, and the Pathways initiative