Early Learning Goal

Every Child Enters Kindergarten Ready to Read, Ready to Learn, and Ready to Succeed

Early Learning Objectives

  • To strengthen and improve the quality of early care and learning programs, utilizing the Guiding Stars of Duval’s (GSOD) Quality Rating and Improvement System
  • To support early literacy development for all children, birth to five years-old
  • To improve the content knowledge and instructional strategies of early childhood teachers/directors and by providing coaching and professional development
Numerous childcare centers are working with the Early Learning Team of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, to provide high quality education for the children and families they serve. Each center director and their staff are being coached and are committed to striving for the highest GSOD star rating they can achieve. These star ratings represent a measure of quality and are widely recognized by parents and providers who want the best for our youngest learners. Click here for a complete listing of participating childcare centers. 
Each stage of development for a child is important, beginning in the infant classroom and moving all the way up to the Voluntary Pre Kindergarten (VPK) room. The Early Learning Team works with each teacher to offer appropriate instruction, so each child can reach their full potential. Some of the strategies and tools that are modeled by the early learning specialists/coaches are listed below.  

Childcare Center Quality

Quality childcare is an important part of early learning. But how do you know which child care center to use? The Guiding Stars of Duval Program provides information about child care center in Duval County. Centers participating in the rating system display their star ratings to indicate their commitment to quality. Quality Star Rated centers are:

  • Dedicated to offering the best quality child care,
  • Involved in ongoing evaluation of their program, and
  • Committed to training their teachers in the best early childhood education practices.

Each center is rated on a five-star system that represents an increasing level of quality. More stars mean higher quality, and the system helps you make the best choice for your child.  


Early Learning Coalition of Duval, Inc. (904) 208-2044


The Guiding Stars of Duval Program can help you identify quality child care programs in Duval County. Centers participating in the rating system display their star ratings to indicate their commitment to quality. Each center is rated on a five-star scale that represents an increasing level of quality. More stars mean higher quality. To obtain a listing of star-rated centers, contact Early Learning Coalition of Duval.

Foundations for Success LogoFoundations for Success Infant/Toddler Model

Relationships form the foundation through which every child experiences his or her world. What children experience within these relationships, helps to shape their overall development.   Supported by current research, and combined with direct experience in childcare settings, the Foundations for Success Infant/Toddler Model is a dynamic model for coaches, teachers and directors to work together to help raise the quality of infant and toddler programs. The Foundations Model provides a support structure to implement appropriate learning experiences for infants and toddlers in childcare classrooms. These experiences will enhance the development of children and their ability to learn in the early years of life. The relationships that are established in quality childcare classrooms between the teachers and the children, along with experiences in Movement, Senses & Perception, and Language, provide the essential foundation necessary for children to progress developmentally, to enter school ready to learn, and to become successful life-long learners. 

For more information on appropriate practices for infants and toddlers, the following websites are recommended:

VPK Assessment

The Florida Department of Education (DOE) and the Office of Early Learning (OEL) have developed the Florida VPK Assessment to assess and track a child's progress in attaining the skills outlied within the VPK Education Standards. Teachers are able to use this information to guide the instruction of each individual child making sure they are ready to enter kindergarten. 

The VPK Assessment consists of four measures: 

  1. Print Knowledge- Measures the child’s ability to recognize letters or words and both upper and lower case letter names and the sounds they make.
  2. Phonological Awareness- Measures whether the child is able to recognize and manipulate the different sounds in a word. This includes blending smaller sounds (syllables), blending compound words and recognizing the remaining word when part of the word is taken away.
  3. Mathematics- Measures the early numeracy skills including counting, numerical relations and arithmetic reasoning.
  4. Oral Language and Vocabulary- Measures the child’s expressive and receptive language. It also targets the child’s knowledge of adjectives, verbs, verb tenses, prepositions and nouns. 
The DOE and OEL have websites that provide the childcare center teacher and directors online information and tools to support the instruction of each individual child including lesson plan ideas and activities supporting each measure. There are also parent resources and activities.

Teaching Strategies GOLD®

The Early Learning Specialists are providing coaching services in the classrooms of 45 centers. The Specialists work with teachers on using a systematic process to assess learning and development of their children and equip teachers with strategies for responding to their needs with targeted lesson planning. Teaching Strategies GOLD® is the assessment system being used in this coaching process because it is individualized, focuses on a child’s progress and identifies their strengths. One benefit of the system is how it is designed – it follows the child from birth through age five, allowing each teacher a child has to add information and assessment data to create a continuous record. The system can be used with any classroom curriculum and is appropriate to use with children who have special needs. Many tools and resources are included in the Teaching Strategies GOLD® system to make observing children easier and encourage teachers to do it in a planned and organized way. 

Classroom Assessment and Scoring System (CLASS)

The CLASS is an observation tool that focuses on the effectiveness of classroom interactions between teachers and children. These teacher-child interactions promote each child’s social and cognitive development. Children do best when the classroom environment is nurturing and well-managed. It is important for the teacher to provide many engaging opportunities for children to learn. The CLASS has three domains: Emotional Support, Classroom Organization and Instructional Support. The Early Learning Coalition of Duval assesses each VPK classroom served in order to help each teacher learn how she/he can improve in each domain. For more information about CLASS, click here.

Career Advising Services and Professional Development Opportunities at the Jacksonville Children’s Commission (JCC)

In the Early Learning department, a Career Advisor is available to guide and support any childcare center teacher wanting to take the next step toward achieving their career goals. Often, the next step is to complete classes or a degree program to meet the higher education requirements to be a lead teacher, director or owner. The Career Advisor is available daily by appointment, phone or email to respond to requests for guidance in locating GED programs, CDA technical certification classes and college credit courses for an Early Childhood Education degree program. She will provide teachers seeking scholarship funding the contact information for a variety of sources.
The Career Advisor is also the instructor for the Commission's own CDA PLUS classes. The CDA is a post-high school certification process that teachers complete to have a nationally recognized early childhood education credential. The PLUS designation refers to general education and technology instruction that is added to the early childhood content of this course. This national credential is an important first step in career advancement. It is recognized in Florida as the lowest acceptable certification to teach VPK, or to be a center director. Every year CDA PLUS classes are taught each Fall and Spring semester, where teachers begin the multi-step CDA credential process. The Career Advisor provides ongoing support after the class ends to help teachers complete the formal observation and testing steps in the credential process. With the support of the Career Advisor, 50 teachers on average complete the national CDA credential annually. 
To learn more about Florida’s credential requirements for early learning center staff, click here: www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/childcare.
To request Career Advising services, contact Delphine Brock by email at DBrock@coj.net, or, to register for a CDA PLUS or to see current class listings, click here.