Create a Birth-through-3rd Grade Vision & Strategy

Birth-through-3rd grade alignment requires vision, bold leadership, and strong commitment from a variety of stakeholders. Its success depends on implementing a coordinated system of policies and practices.

The links below will help you develop a birth-through-3rd grade vision and strategy—and provide resources for implementing and sustaining this system.

Cultivating leadership & making the case for alignment

An Early Learning User’s Guide for Illinois School Boards

This guide helps school board members make informed and effective decisions about how to support children before they enter kindergarten and ensure a seamless transition into the early elementary years—from the Ounce of Prevention Fund

Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education

This brief shows the effects of preschool programs on school readiness and life outcomes, the importance of program quality, and the benefits of preschool for children with diverse backgrounds and characteristics—from Society for Research in Child Development and Foundation for Child Development

Double Jeopardy: How Third Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation

This seminal study found that children who are not reading proficiently by the end of 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school (and living in poverty increases this rate even further)—from the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Developing a vision, strategy and priorities

Birth to College Collaborative Toolkit

The Ounce worked with the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute to create a birth-to-college education model, and these alignment guides, action plans and case studies are a result of that partnership—from the Ounce of Prevention Fund

Birth to Third Grade Case Studies

These brief case studies tell the stories of four Illinois communities’ efforts to align children’s experiences in early childhood and the early elementary years as part of the National Governor’s Association Birth-Third Grade Policy Academy—from the Ounce of Prevention Fund

Case Studies of Schools Implementing Early Elementary Strategies: Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction

An in-depth look at five promising P-3 alignment strategies, highlighting Boston Public Schools, Chicago Child-Parent Centers, Early Works, FirstSchool, and the SEAL (Sobrato Early Academic Language) program—from the US Department of Education

For a short overview of the results from Case Studies of Schools Implementing Early Elementary Strategies, check out the Results in Brief.

A Different Way of Doing Business: Examples of Pre-K to Third Grade Alignment in Practice

Based on interviews with several states and districts that are implementing alignment strategies, this brief describes common strategies and steps taken by those implementers to get alignment efforts off the ground and create a new approach to education in the early years and grades—from The Center for American Progress

Framework for Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating PreK–3rd Grade Approaches

This tool can be used to inform planning, implementation and evaluation of birth-through-3rd grade alignment efforts, with a focus on quality and creating systemic change—from Kristi Kauerz (University of Washington) and Julia Coffman (Center for Evaluation Innovation)

Non-Regulatory Guidance: Early Learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act

This guide highlights opportunities in ESSA for districts to expand access to early learning, improve alignment between local early childhood education programs and K–12 schools, and support teachers and leaders—from the US Department of Education

The Primary Years Agenda: Strategies to Guide District Action

This brief highlights three key alignment strategies: improving early elementary school teaching and learning; improving early childhood education through public/private collaboration; and providing support services through community partnerships—from David Jacobson

Identifying and allocating resources

PreK–3rd: What is the Price Tag?

This brief focuses on four key principles: voluntary, full-day preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds and mandatory full-day kindergarten; supports across grades; aligned educational strategies and resources within and across grades; and consistent personnel policies—from the Foundation for Child Development

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