Transforming Education Across the Pre-K to Grade Three Years

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National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)

In the fall of 2010, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) convened a task force to examine strategies for building an aligned system for early learning programs.

Research shows that high-quality early learning can significantly increase the likelihood of academic success, NAESP said in a report that describes its proposed alignment. Children who attend high quality pre-kindergarten programs are “less likely to be held back a grade, less likely to need special education and more likely to graduate high school.”

This report describes a vision to align early childhood education with elementary school education. In order to achieve this vision, the Task Force recommended 10 action steps for policymakers and other crucial stakeholders.

Alignment starts, the report says, with a coordination of federal policy and funding that enable states and communities to build a more coherent system of early learning from Pre-K through third grade. There is also a need to expand funding for pre-kindergarten through third grade learning to ensure that all children have access to high-quality, full-day learning experiences.

Next, it is on the state and local governments to help school districts connect programs for young children to the elementary schools. The report holds out Montgomery County, Md. – which used some of its federal Title I and Head Start funds to establish pre-kindergarten programs – as a shining example.  

Other action steps the report lays out include assuring that funding is directed towards high-quality programs; leveraging and integrating private funds with public resources; developing research-based, age-appropriate standards by which early learning programs can be measured; and developing a highly skilled and well-compensated early childhood education workforce.

For the full, free 10-page report click here.