Over the CPEL project’s three-year period, 34 Eastern students conducted over 3,600 early childhood literacy assessments at Eastern's Child and Family Development Resource Center and Windham Public School's Early Childhood Center. The students all received professional-level training from Dr. Maureen Ruby and Dr. Ann Anderberg in administering standardized early childhood literacy assessment tools. The students were majors in Eastern's Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, English, Communication, Psychology, Visual Arts, Sociology, and Spanish programs, and included ten students with bilingual (English and Spanish) skills. These bilingual students were critical to assessing those preschool children who are English Language Learners. During the CPEL project the students spent over 2,100 hours conducting early literacy assessments.
The assessment services provided by these students produced critical information that enabled Willimantic preschool teachers to plan instruction to best meet their children's learning needs, thereby better preparing them for kindergarten. The information is also being used to evaluate the effectiveness of the CPEL project.
Working as early literacy assessors has had an impact on these Eastern students. The students have shared many comments about the experience of working as assessors with early childhood educators and preschool children:
- "It's been an insightful experience that has helped me not only further my understanding of young children, but it has also helped me to understand myself in relation to children. Additionally, through working with ... teachers within both school systems I have been able to construct, so to speak, an idea of the kind of teacher I would like to become. All in all, it was simply a rewarding experience that has taught me many things about children, teachers, and myself."
- "It was definitely an experience I'll never forget, and I definitely learned about how kids develop and how they learn. Since I grew up in an English speaking school it was especially interesting to see how the kids learn in Spanish."
- "It gave me more experience working with children and seeing how developed a child's language is at certain ages."
- "The experience working with children and trying to help them in their academic understanding, was a meaningful task because I wasn't just teaching myself something."
- Assessing the children gave me "a lot more insight into language development."
- Working with the Spanish-speaking children "helped me get back in touch with my culture."
- Assessing has "enhanced my understanding of language and literacy development" and the experience would benefit Eastern's education students by helping them understand the world of assessing and teaching.
- One student has been telling her classmates that the experience "opens doors for you."
- A student who is interviewing for education jobs has said, "My work for CPEL has definitely elevated my qualifications and provided me with a unique distinction in the field of education. In my interviews I have cited the ability to build a rapport with students of varying personalities and backgrounds as a strength I possess. Working for CPEL allowed me to refine this strength on a daily basis by assessing children throughout multiple classrooms in two early childhood centers. Currently, assessment is a big movement in education [and] it is used to determine how to drive instruction. Being trained in assessments [is] significant to the administrators who have taken the time to interview me."
CPEL is proud to be able to provide meaningful work and community experience that enhances students' overall educational experience and prepares them for post-college employment.
Read more about the Center for Early Childhood Education's efforts to provide Eastern students with meaningful work experience by visiting our Student Engagement page.