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Section One - Purpose of ECATT Project


Purpose of the ECATT Project

Project ECATT:  

Early Childhood Assessment and Teacher Training 

The body of scientific inquiry and research related to early childhood development continues to expand rapidly.  Early childhood education (defined as education for children age birth through eight years by the National Association for the Education of Young Children) is as dynamic and rapidly changing as any other field in human studies.  It is increasingly difficult to stay abreast of new information because technological and ideological change is happening so rapidly.  Recent attention has been given to early childhood education as a result of new investigations into the importance of pre-school experiences, child welfare, and educational structures to support growth and learning.  Knowledge regarding the brain has exploded.  In 1989 President Bush declared the 1990's as the decade of the brain; we have learned more about the brain in the past five years than in the past 100 (Wolfe and Brandt, 1999).  Educators, psychologists, and scientists are continually investigating and validating ways to apply this information in home and group environments for children in the early years of life.  There are long-term studies that document the lasting effects of high quality early childhood school experiences for children versus poor quality programs (Bredekamp, 1997).   There is also substantial research supporting the reality that high-quality early childhood programs are not the norm (Bredekamp, 1997). In the past decade numerous studies have shown that quality education and care during the early years of a persons' life can help prevent drug abuse, teen pregnancy, as well as teenage crime and violence (Initiatives for Children, 1997).  The bottom line is that effective and appropriate early childhood programs can have lasting effects. The resulting implications for early childhood practices are profound.  Therefore, it is especially significant that early childhood practitioners incorporate new information in teaching activities as quickly as possible.


To address this rapid expansion and focus on the early education years, the ECATT project was funded to develop an assessment of the current early childhood education activities and render assistance to teachers and support personnel within the CEESA region.  The data was used to develop and provide teacher-training materials, activities, and strategies for change based on current best practices in early childhood education.  Assessment activities included the use of an electronic, online survey completed by various teachers representing schools in the region. On-site interviews and observations of early childhood personnel from selected CEESA schools were also done.  The assessment and interviews provided the basis for making available specific resources, support materials, and activities for early childhood teacher training for representatives from CEESA schools.

The three specific components addressed by this project were:

1)     the collection of data about knowledge and practices of teachers of young children in the CEESA region and their current needs for information and assistance;

2)     the development of resources and activities for teacher enhancementin early childhood, reflecting the data from the needs assessment; and

3)     support of individual teacher activities that increase the knowledge base and change of practices within the classroom. 


Under the direction of Mr. David Cobb, CEESA worked with two early childhood consultants in completing the activities for this proposed project:

Ms. Ellen Marshall ( is an Associate Professor in the Child Development Department at San Antonio College and is working on her Ph.D. through Texas A&M University.  She has been involved with overseas schools since 1990 by teaching intensive college-credit courses in Central America, Brazil, Italy, and Jordan.  She has been teaching in the fields of early childhood education and special education for 23 years.   

Ms. Cathy Castillo ( is a Professor and Chairperson of the Child Development Department at San Antonio College and is also working on her Ph.D. through Texas A&M University.  She is co-author of the book, "Let the Kids Do It!"   Her M.A. is in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies for Early Childhood and she has been teaching in the field of early childhood for 25 years.

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