October 5, 2012

October 01, 2012

WASHINGTON—To increase student achievement, more states are pursuing reforms in both early care and education (ECE) programs and K-12, according to Governor’s Role in Aligning Early Education and K-12 Reforms: Challenges, Opportunities, and Benefits for Children, a new white paper released today by the National Governors Association.

Many states are implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to promote all students’ readiness for college and careers while also engaging in reforms prompted by the Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge grant competition to expand children’s access to high-quality, early learning programs. Ideally, these initiatives should support and reinforce their goals—especially from birth-to-grade 3, when research shows children acquire critical skills for academic success.

Unfortunately, aligning reforms in the early learning and K–12 systems is challenging, but governors are uniquely situated to bring state agencies together and develop a coordinated strategy to better serve all children, beginning at birth.

“Investing in quality early childhood education has the greatest potential for ensuring the future success of our young people,” said Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy. “But when we combine that investment with a strategy to improve education at every grade level, it can have a multiplier effect. The education reform legislation we passed earlier this year in Connecticut does both of these things, and will help us a great deal in our effort to close the nation’s largest achievement gap. We can’t fix these problems overnight, but when you craft policy for the long term, you can create positive change – one that will benefit all of our state’s young people.”

States engaging in reforms should consider six key issues and the related challenges and opportunities:

  • Leadership and Governance—Redesign or create new governance structures to align ECE and early elementary policies and practices;
  • Learning Standards—Ensure early learning standards and early elementary standards are aligned;
  • Child Assessments—Develop assessments that help monitor children’s progress toward the academic and developmental goals that are reflected in states’ early learning standards and the CCSS;
  • Accountability—Incorporate promising practices from early learning into accountability policies that apply to the early elementary grades;
  • Teacher/Leader Preparation and Professional Development—Ensure ECE and K-12 educators and leaders have the capacity to prepare children for CCSS and are aligned in their approaches; and
  • Resource Allocation and Reallocation—Ensure resources support access to high-quality ECE programs.

To learn more, please visit http://www.nga.org/cms/center/edu.