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​The Illinois State Board of Education believes that a high-quality, intentionally aligned education system from birth to third grade is essential for the success of the State’s highest-need children and is committed to ensure a high-quality, comprehensive system of teaching, learning, and support for children from birth through third grade. In order to more effectively serve Illinois children and families, the State worked to align and transform state and local systems to assure collective impact across service sectors.

In 2015, the federal Preschool Development Grant – Expansion (PDG-E) funding allowed the State to partner with Illinois State University (ISU) to establish and implement a comprehensive system of supports for the birth-to-third grade alignment, the Birth-to-Third Grade (B-3) Continuity Project. The B-3 Continuity Project launched with seven communities that received broad supports from ISU supported by this funding. In the subsequent years, the project grew to provide access to varying levels of support through annual conferences, webinars, and technical assistance to over seventy communities throughout Illinois.

The mission of B-3 state support was to strengthen Preschool Expansion communities' ability to develop a high quality, intentionally aligned education system from birth-to-third grade. This is accomplished through one or more B-3 approaches led by a team of community stakeholders. To see how your community aligns with B-3 strategies communities can use the B-3 Self-Assessment and Action Planning Guide​PDF Document.

 Areas that Comprise an Aligned B-3 Continuum

Community Partnerships​PDF Document

To strengthen education, supports and services for children and families from early childhood programs into early elementary settings.

Comprehensive ServicesPDF Document

Including assistance in obtaining health, mental health and dental services, nutrition services and education, and linkages to other community services.

Family EngagementPDF Document

Schools and engaged families partner in children’s formal education such as school-parent communication about school programs and students’ progress, involving parents in school decision-making and school-community collaborations.

Supported TransitionsPDF Document

Increased access to early childhood programs and smooth transitions that focus on the continuum provided to each child and sustain gains into the early grades.

Joint Professional DevelopmentPDF Document

To ensure highly-effective teaching staff whose professional development is aligned from birth through third grade and is grounded in child development and effective instructional practices.

Aligned Curriculum and InstructionPDF Document

To represent a coherent system with shared expectations for student growth and a focus on both academic and social-emotional skills, support a wide range of development, and are reflective of children’s families and cultures.

Aligned AssessmentsPDF Document

Sharing assessment practices and data across the full early childhood continuum with particular focus on the implementation of the KIDS.

Data-driven ImprovementsPDF Document

Using meaningful child-based assessments and program data to drive instruction, identify achievement gaps, allocate resources, and determine areas for professional development.

Other General B-3 Resources

​​​B-3 Archived Trainings & Events​

 2019 Illinois Birth-to-Third Grade (B3) Continuity Conference

​Conference Background

The B-3 Continuity Conference welcomes school districts and community leaders working towards birth-to-third grade alignment strategies in their community. The conference provides an opportunity for community teams to come together to learn and explore best practices for birth-to-third grade alignment strategies. General sessions focus on systems alignment work and particular focus on strengthening preschool programs. Multiple breakout sessions will be provided to target key strategies for those serving children across the zero-to-age-eight continuum (check out the forthcoming agenda to see sessions geared toward different stakeholders). Additionally, communities are given structured time to connect within their local teams to think critically about work happening locally.

The conference provides a great opportunity to connect with others across the state also focused on the birth-to-third grade continuum. Communities that have participated in the past can testify that the conference has created a community of B-3 practice that supports their everyday work.

Conference Goals

Sustained and aligned early childhood programs, birth through third grade (B-3), have the potential to be an educational game-changer. To support this work, the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (OECD), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and the Center for the Study of Education Policy (CSEP), is pleased to announce an opportunity for community and school leaders to participate in the Illinois Birth Through Third Grade (B-3) Continuity Conference.

The Illinois Birth-to-Third (B-3) Continuity Project is hosting its fifth and final conference. The B-3 Conference is open to school districts and community leaders working towards birth-to-third grade alignment strategies in their community. Communities are encouraged to come as teams with representatives from early childhood, K-12 schools, and the broader community. Entities holding Preschool Expansion Grants and Preschool for All Expansion Grants should be included within applying communities.

Conference Themes: This conference is collaboratively planned by CSEP, ISBE and OECD to build the capacity of early childhood and elementary education staff to provide informed leadership about research-based practices to develop an effective system of supports and services for children birth-through-third grade.

  1. Expand knowledge of developmentally appropriate educational practices across the birth through third grade continuum with a focus on sustainable and cost-effective implementation that involves leveraging resources among schools and the community to build a continuum of high-quality early learning environments.
  2. Enhance their understanding of the structures, practices and supports needed to increase alignment within and across communities and school districts to best support children and families, including family engagement that continues into the early grades, supported transitions, data-driven improvement, joint professional development, curriculum and instruction, assessments, comprehensive services and community partnerships.
  3. Identify technical assistance needs and resources to enhance their community’s capacity and to prepare and support children and families from birth through third grade.
  4. Learn from experts and colleagues in an inclusive and dynamic forum to network, share information and build skills.

​Conference Materials​

Wednesday, June 12
​Thursday, June 13

 February 26, 2019 | B-3 Continuity Community of Practice

​Preschool Expansion and Preschool For All Expansion (PFAE) programs are invited to gather on Tuesday, February 26, 2019, for a Birth-to-Third Grade networking event. The Birth-to-Third Grade (B-3) Continuity Project is hosting this event in Normal. Preschool administrators and program’s family support specialist are encouraged to attend this event together.

The event will deliver insight to birth-to-third grade alignment strategies, provide expansion updates, and include an opportunity to network with others across the state working on a birth-to-third grade continuum. Participants will be some of the first to see the release of the upcoming report, Birth-to-Third Grade Continuity Project: Looking Back Moving Forward, Reflecting on the First Four Years. Communities that have been a part of the Preschool Development Grant – Preschool Expansion will share lessons learned in B-3 alignment and specifically in family engagement.

B-3 networking event​

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

9 a.m.–3:15 p.m.
Radisson Hotel & Conference Center Bloomington-Normal
8 Traders Circle, Normal, IL 61761

Target audience: Preschool Administrators and Family Support Specialists
  • 8:30–9:00 a.m. Registration
  • 9:00–9:20 a.m.Connecting with those like you: Who’s here and B-3 goalsPDF Document
  • 9:20-10:15 a.m.General Session: B-3 report findings and panel discussionPDF Document
  • 10:15–11:30 a.m.General Session: Supporting intersections between families and the classroomPDF Document
    • Pat Chamberlain and Julie Kallenbach will share about culturally responsive classroom practices and engaging families in the classroom.
  • 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Lunch on your own
  • 12:30–1:30 p.m.Family Engagement PanelPDF Document
    • Three communities from across the state will share about establishing their family support specialists and building partnerships within their communities.
  • 1:30–1:45 p.m. Break
  • 1:45–3:15 p.m. Breakout sessions: Hot topics and networking
    • Administrators PDF Documentwill hear state updates, get information about the recently released KIDS Crosswalks, review family engagement frameworks, and have time to network around B-3 Strategies. Come prepared with questions about some of the challenges you are encountering around implementation of B-3 alignment work.
    • ​Family Support SpecialistsPDF Document: Strengthening Partnerships with Families
      • Dr. Tweety Yates will lead a time of learning and networking. Addressing questions about how are we truly engaging families? We don’t want our families to feel like “guests” in our programs – we want them to feel like true partners. Using the Pyramid Model as an example, information and resources will be shared for strengthening partnerships with families as we work together to promote children’s social emotional development.  Get ready to network and share your ideas to strengthen our partnerships with families!
  • 3:15 p.m.Closing​PDF Document
Presenter Information:
  • Pat Chamberlain
    Pat Chamberlain works as a consultant with school districts and agencies on issues related to optimizing the educational opportunities for young culturally and linguistically diverse children and their families. She has worked in a variety of capacities including as a bilingual teacher, a professional development specialist, a bilingual special education supervisor, a director of Early Learners program, and in Higher Education. One of her most recent project has been working with the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood as the Director of the Award for Excellence Project for Linguistically and Culturally Responsive practices.
  • Julie Kallenbach
    Julie Kallenbach, Ed.D, facilitates projects in Early Childhood (Birth to Third Grade).  Focus and research interests are developmentally appropriate practice, play-based learning, authentic assessment, birth to third grade continuity, and project management to support positive outcomes for children and teachers.  Her work roles have included presenter for NAEYC, the Center for the Study of Education Policy at ISU, Birth to Third Continuity Project, Implementation Consultant and Coach for ISBE on the KIDS project, Director of Early Learning Initiatives in Elgin School District U-46, principal, special education supervisor, diagnostician and teacher.  
  • Dr. Tweety Yates
    Tweety Yates, Ph.D., is retired from the University of Illinois, but continues to work on grant projects at U of I and Vanderbilt University. Her work has primarily focused on social emotional development, early literacy and parent-child interaction. Tweety has provided professional development on topics related to infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families for over thirty years. Her past work experience was as a teacher, home visitor and parent-child group facilitator. She is a Past-President of the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), a member of the Pyramid Consortium Model Faculty and part of the Leadership team for the Illinois Pyramid Initiative. ​

 Developmentally Appropriate Practices Training Series

 Understanding and Using KIDS Data to Improve Collaboration and Student Outcomes

Learning Objectives:

  • Build an understanding of KIDS data
  • Unpacking the data at a local level
  • Using the data to improve your community’s early learning system
  • Peoria Heights, IL shared about how they are taking action

Webinar Materials:


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