The early years of child development offer a still-untapped lever for states to address achievement gaps before they start to grow, and to accelerate school improvement efforts with evidence-based interventions. While there are political, fiscal, and technical challenges to doing so, there are a variety of steps states can take today, aided by the flexibility and opportunities presented by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Over the past four months, New America and CEELO have published a series of blogs on a wide range of topics by authors with diverse perspectives on early learning and education issues. Posts focused on how states could incorporate early learning into their ESSA plans and offered examples from state plans submitted in April. Below are some highlights and key takeaways, along with a discussion of what’s next.
There is much excitement in the early learning community about the opportunities for support provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). New America and the BUILD Initiative and the First Five Years Fund were among those amplifying the U. S. Department of Education’s 2016 nonregulatory guidance on integrating early learning into ESSA. In our earlier work we likewise identified specific opportunities for states to consider when preparing their plan. However, there are many more possibilities than requirements.
While the importance of strong academics is well-known, research now indicates early social-emotional learning (SEL) skills are important elements of school readiness and healthy child development, which are critical for long-term school and life success.
Across the country, states are adopting a number of different strategies to improve outcomes for students: third grade reading requirements, literacy initiatives, new assessment and accountability systems, plus an increased focus on data-driven decision-making are changing how districts approach teaching and learning for all students.
The early childhood provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) enable districts to improve early learning for all children, including young children with disabilities. ESSA allows (but does not require) use of Title I funding for early childhood, birth through third grade education.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) allows states to customize policies to best meet the needs of their learners—much like teachers who design and implement plans for each child to ensure s/he is appropriately challenged and supported to reach personal goals. Now is the time for states to use this opportunity to enhance classroom instruction in meaningful ways for the growing numbers of young dual language learners.
State education agencies looking to improve long-term student outcomes, accelerate educational progress, and close achievement gaps cannot afford to start their efforts at third grade, when most state tests begin. Without consideration of the developmentally critical early years, a school accountability system reflects a limited view of educational quality.
High-quality early learning requires a high-quality workforce with specialized knowledge and skills. To better support this under-resourced and complex workforce, state education agencies (SEAs) and state boards of education can use their policy levers to investigate and influence workforce quality in four areas: qualifications and licensure, preparation programs, professional development, and compensation.
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives states the flexibility to invest in early learning to ensure that all children begin school on the path to success. On March 21, 2017, CEELO partnered with the Regional Education Laboratory-Southwest to sponsor a webinar, Leading the Way: How States Are Addressing Early Learning Under ESSA.
Relationships and interactions between teachers and students make a big difference in the classroom. Teacher-child interactions form the cornerstone of children’s academic and social emotional development, especially in early learning classrooms. As states look for ways to measure and improve educational quality beyond test scores, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act provides an opportunity to consider data on teacher-child interactions.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) offers an opportunity for states to take a new look at state accountability and school improvement. This policy area has been a focal point of ESSA implementation in many states, and for good reason: it’s one of the areas where states have the most influence on (and leverage over) local decisions. It’s also an area where states have significant new flexibility.