We’re rethinking education. And we want you to join us.
Early learning is becoming a key aspect in our national conversation about how we can improve our education system. The Ounce is publishing some innovative ideas about how we can bridge the early education and K–12 systems, improving the quality and outcomes of both. But we’d like to hear your ideas, too.
Do you work in early childhood policy, or a related field like education or health policy? If so, are you working on helping your state to develop a unified early childhood data system–or states generally, if you work at the federal level? If you answered yes to the first questions but no to the second, then you may be missing out on one of the most significant opportunities to improve early childhood policy. This Unofficial Guide may be just the thing you need to get engaged in work that has great potential to fundamentally change state policy on early childhood.
As early learning programs expand, states and schools are increasingly using kindergarten readiness assessments (KRAs) to measure the developmental progress of children as they enter kindergarten. These assessments can provide valuable information to educators and policy makers, but the results of these assessments have sometimes been used inappropriately.
The early years matter to a child’s success in real life, but they have not mattered in state education accountability systems. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act gives states a new opportunity to hold districts and schools accountable for the quality of their work with students prior to 3rd grade.
The goal of school turnaround strategies are to put schools on a trajectory to long-term success, but current metrics effectively eliminate the viability of early learning as a potential long-term improvement strategy. The federal government and states should rethink their metrics for turnaround success in order to encourage earlier investment.
A Framework for Rethinking State Education Accountability and Support from Birth through High School
For an accountability system to succeed, it must set the right goals and provide the right supports for achieving those goals. States can build on the best ideas in both early childhood and K–12 accountability systems to create a single state education accountability system—one that sets the right goals and identifies the supports needed to help achieve them.
The Common Core State Standards were based on the idea that there are potential benefits to states of working together to develop high-quality standards for K–12: improved quality, increased efficiency, and higher likelihood of implementation. It’s time for political leaders and the early learning community to have a conversation about their own.
In the No Child Left Behind era, K–12 systems were judged by the number of students achieving “proficiency” on state tests—with each state left to define “proficiency” for themselves. With national definitions now in effect, and proficiency numbers plummeting, some states should look to early childhood education as a solution.