cliThe Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) have launched a new, innovative online platform known as CLI Engage. This online platform is now available at no cost to all Texas public school districts, charter schools, and Head Start programs.

School districts and Head Start programs that register for CLI Engage will be able to access Texas School Ready! child progress monitoring assessments that reliably identify children at risk for school failure. Based on the results of these assessments, participating prekindergarten and Head Start teachers will be directed to supplementary lessons that target improvement of children’s least developed skill areas.

In addition, the platform houses professional development courses that feature expert commentary and video demonstrations filmed in real classrooms, as well as classroom observation tools to measure teacher interactions and the classroom environment. All of these resources are aimed at enhancing young children’s learning environment.

“The task of closing the achievement gap among our students begins early, but educators must have the tools in hand to accomplish that goal” said Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. “TEA is proud to partner with the Children’s Learning Institute to offer these valuable resources to early education teachers across our state.”

Funded by TEA, a pilot version of CLI Engage was launched in three major Texas independent school districts (Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston) in October 2014. The pilot program has a total enrollment of more than 2,450 teachers and 48,000 children and is currently assessing students in important developmental milestones, such as language and literacy, mathematics, and social and emotional development. The first sets of assessments, administered in both English and Spanish, were completed in November. The results of these assessments are now being used to help shape specialized instruction and to improve student skills.

“We know that the best thing we can do for at-risk children is to provide quality early learning experiences that target their least-developed skills areas,” said Dr. Susan Landry, founder and director of the Children’s Learning Institute at UTHealth. “CLI Engage provides the tools for teachers to incorporate these instructional strategies in their classrooms. Our goal is to disseminate these resources in a way that is cost effective for the state and for local districts.”

Since 2003, CLI has implemented the Texas School Ready! Project (TSR) in local communities across Texas. Through its partnership with TEA, the research-based resources developed to improve preschool instruction in TSR classrooms will soon be available for free to all preschool teachers at Texas public schools, charter schools and Head Start programs on the CLI Engage platform. 

Texas school districts, charter schools and Head Start programs can begin registering for these free, validated, research-based resources. Teachers can receive access to the resources beginning in March 2015, including the online professional development and child progress monitoring tools.

To sign up, schools and programs can visit www.cliengage.org and click on the button that says “Sign Up for Access.” Following the launch of the CLI Engage platform in public schools and Head Start programs, licensed child care programs participating in the Texas Rising Star program will gain access to these Texas School Ready! resources.

For more information on CLI Engage, visit http://cliengage.org or email cliengage@uth.tmc.edu.

-Andy Heger, Office of Public Affairs