Learning is a lifelong endeavor that begins at birth and continues across the life span. Early childhood education programs typically span the birth-to-five-years age range and strongly emphasize social-emotional and language development, while the kindergarten-to-12th-grade school system typically begins at age 5 and focuses primarily on academic skills. This division has resulted in systems that work largely in isolation from one another and therefore do not approach development and learning as a continuum. A birth-to-college approach seeks to bridge this divide by uniting educational organizations under a single premise: We need a line of sight across learning and development from birth to college to create a more cohesive and effective educational experience for all children.
The goal of the Birth-to-College Collaborative is to provide families with access to a high-quality, birth-to-18 education that helps prepare their children for success in school and in life. To achieve this, the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute partnered in 2009 to develop a birth-to-college model of public education. We share our story, lessons learned and recommendations here so others may build on our experience.
“If we can embrace a real birth-to-18 perspective, a lot of the practices that both the birth-5 world and K–12 world have been assiduously cultivating can be shared and can flourish in either setting.”
Diana Mendley Rauner, President, Ounce of Prevention Fund