Using Data-Driven Indicators to Improve Outcomes for Young Learners

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).

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Takeaways from New America and CEELO Blog Series on Early Learning and 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.

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Leveraging Local Needs Assessments and Plan Development to Support Early Learning in ESSA

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.

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Making ESSA Work in Early Childhood Classrooms for Dual Language Learners

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.

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Tips for Building ECE into ESSA School Improvement Plans

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.

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States Detail Strategies to Invest in the Early Childhood Workforce in Their ESSA Plans

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.

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Relationships Matter: How States Can Include Teacher-Child Interactions in ECE and ESSA Plans

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.

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School Improvement Starts Before School: Under ESSA, States Can Start Re-Orienting Districts Towards the Early Years

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.

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