Go to Top

Early Learning and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)


NEW! The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) is proud to partner with New America on a blog series highlighting early learning opportunities and challenges under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Check out our first blog post What’s the Right Thing to do for Every Child to Succeed?  on our ESSA and Early Learning Blog.

WEBINAR (March 21, 2017 | 3:00-4:30 pm EDT)Leading the Way: How States Are Addressing Early Learning Under ESSA. Cohosted by REL Southwest and the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), this webinar will provide participants with resources, examples, and strategies for including early learning in their ESSA state plans. The intended audience includes state administrators responsible for ESSA state plans and state and district early childhood administrators. State leaders from Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Washington will describe their strategies for integrating the following key policy areas that research shows help reduce achievement gaps for young children:

  • Increasing access to high-quality preschool
  • Aligning and coordinating early learning programs from birth to grade
  • Preparing and supporting highly effective teachers and leaders

NEWLY UPDATED  (February 2017) Every Student Succeeds Act and Opportunities to Prioritize Early Learning Policy: State Scan. CEELO is conducting ongoing reviews of all 50 states’ department of education websites to identify the following: state pages devoted to ESSA information; state timelines for the development of state plans; strategies to gather public input and communicate and engage stakeholders; and, specific examples of ways that early childhood stakeholders are involved in state plan development. This information is based on a scan of public information and has not been vetted with state leaders. The purpose of this document is to assist the field in identifying opportunities and best practices to support effective engagement of a broad representative of early childhood stakeholders in ESSA planning and implementation at the state and local level. We expect this information to be continually updated, please check back frequently.

NEW! CEELO’s new ESSA resource,  A Supplemental Tool for Structuring Your Plan for Preschool to Third Grade, was developed to complement CCSSO’s tool for chiefs, as state and local leaders develop their plans.  The tool provides a number of questions to ensure that preschool to third grade is elevated as a priority.  Two critical decisions are:

  • Will your state plan have a theory of change, vision or principles that prioritizes the importance preschool to Grade 3 to achieve the goals outlined in the plan?
  • Will your state establish a specific section in the state plan for early learning and/or address evidence-based strategies for preschool to Grade 3 throughout the plan?

WEBINAR RECORDING – Recorded on Oct. 31 and hosted by CEELO and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE), the webinar included information from the USED Office of Early Learning  on the guidance (see below)and views from three states – North Carolina, Colorado and Arizona – on their efforts to strengthen early learning in their ESSA planning.

Non-Regulatory Guidance – Early Learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act: Expanding Opportunities to Support Our Youngest Learners - The U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance to help ensure young children from birth through third-grade get the strong start they need to achieve success in school and in life. This is the Department’s first comprehensive look at how the nation’s new education law supports our youngest learners.


ESSA and Early Childhood Education: Opportunities for State Leadership - On December 10, 2015, the president signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. As state education agencies develop plans to implement the ESSA, this brief from CEELO partner CCSSO, highlights opportunities to strengthen the contribution of high quality early childhood education in school reform and improvement efforts. It summarizes key ESSA provisions related to early childhood funding, policy opportunities and mandates, and suggests key questions for state ESSA planners.

And from our partners at the Council of Chief State School Officers

Title 1: Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged – Title I state report cards to include the number and percentage of students enrolled in preschool programs.

Title 1: Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged – Title I PreK, School districts that receive Title I funding must coordinate with early childhood programs. Districts must, regardless if they elect to use Title I resources to support early learning initiatives, undertake activities that increase coordination with early learning programs. Title I schools operating as “School Wide” programs are encouraged to address the transition to kindergarten in their comprehensive plans .

Title 1: Improving the Academic Achievement of the DisadvantagedFamily Engagement  – Funds may be used for joint professional development inclusive of early childhood educators.

Title II: Professional Development – Professional development funds may be used for early learning capacity building.



BUILD Initiative

First Five Years Fund

Learning Forward

Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center (MACC@WestEd)

National Association of Elementary School Principals

National Association of State Boards of Education

National Conference of State Legislatures

New America Foundation | BUILD Initiative

Ounce of Prevention Fund