Three Lessons: How States Can Support P-3 Efforts

This post is a cross-posting from Preschool Matters Today, the blog of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Thanks to Michelle Ruess at NIEER for her support. 

In western Oregon, a regional early learning hub supports 30 partnerships of elementary schools, neighboring family childcare providers and community-based preschools focused on professional learning and family engagement.

In Lowell, MA, elementary schools, preschool centers, and family childcare providers working in the same neighborhoods participate in “communities of practice” to improve teaching and family engagement. In addition, the city’s P-3 Leadership Alignment Team developed a school readiness definition and strategy that is informing city health, social services, and education programs.

A  Community Innovation Zone in Harrisburg, PA recognized that a paucity of pre-kindergarten opportunities resulted in too many children entering kindergarten with no preschool experience. It responded by providing a summer bridge program offering not only activities and starter libraries for children, but also workshops for parents.

Such partnerships are not accidental. Each resulted from deliberate efforts by state education agencies (SEAs) to support quality improvement and alignment throughout the prenatal through third grade (P-3) continuum. This support includes grant programs funding local P-3 efforts and state policy work to align standards, develop formative assessments, and organize leadership and workforce development opportunities.

My recently published report, Building State P-3 Systems: Learning from Leading States, examines the P-3 work underway in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, states that are part of a broader movement focused on improving quality and continuity across the P-3 continuum. Three overarching lessons for future state P-3 initiatives stand out.

Continue reading “Three Lessons: How States Can Support P-3 Efforts”

“P-3 Reform in Vision and Practice” by Kate Tarrant

The Build Initiative has published a report on the impact of the US DOE’s Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge (ELC) in states around the country. The report, “P-3 Reform in Vision and Practice,” was written by Kate Tarrant and is a chapter in the Build Initiative’s E-Book, Rising to the Challenge: Building Effective Systems for Young Children and Families. (Italics denote quotations.)

A few highlights:

  • Over the course of three rounds of ELC competitions, the encouragement states received to address connections between early childhood and early elementary education became increasingly significant.
  • According to Rolf Grafwallner, Maryland Assistant State Superintendent, Leadership Academies for early and elementary educators are “getting us to shift from birth-to-five to birth-to-eight and not only in vision but in practice.”
  • Recognizing that communities have unique cultures, resources, schools, programs, children and families, and priorities, states devolved P-3 planning and implementation to communities and encouraged experimentation at the local level.
  • The concurrent development or expansion of early childhood comprehensive assessments and kindergarten entry assessments (KEA) has created an opportunity to link expectations between early childhood and the elementary school years.
  • ELC states are documenting lessons learned for P-3.

  • ELC state leaders are thinking … about the coherence among policy initiatives. New Jersey’s Vincent Costanza put it this way: “With so much happening in the three-eight space, we need to be intentional about how the pieces fit together. There is a missed opportunity if we don’t help educators see the connections between initiatives like teacher evaluation, Common Core, and KEA.” … When the systems are not aligned, multiple initiatives can create complex and burdensome demands for teachers and school administrators and undermine their support of the P-3 work.