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A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

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What to Take Away from Last Week's National PreK-3rd Presentations

Published:  November 11, 2010

The education reform strategy known as PreK-3rd was featured at three national conferences last week, and the Early Education Initiative was fortunate to be part of each. Our slides for the first two are now online:

Slides from the third meeting -- the National Ed Trust Conference in Arlington, Va. -- will be online soon. (We'll be writing a separate post on that session, which focused on how some New Jersey districts have used better connections between pre-k and elementary school literacy programs to nearly close the achievement gap.)

As many readers of this blog know, the PreK-3rd approach employs strategies that help to create a more cohesive system of early learning for children up through third grade: high-quality pre-k, full-day kindergarten and aligned standards are among them. But the PreK-3rd approach does not, and should not, look exactly the same in every community. Remember*:

1) The PreK-3rd approach does not have to be driven by a school district. Leaders in Head Start and other community-based preschools can play a key role in fostering better connections with the early grades of children's schooling. They can provide advice on engaging parents, demonstrate and spread the word about creative and developmentally appropriate ways to teach young children, help to collect data on children's needs, and offer insights as states and localities develop standards for teaching the "whole child," including social-emotional growth and other domains.

2) The PreK-3rd approach can be supported through local, state and federal policies that promote better alignment between the wide array of programs available for children from birth through third grade. In other words, there's work to be done at the micro level -- in your school and community-- as well as through state legislation, policy changes in departments of education and human services and at the federal level in both the U.S Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Several of other early childhood experts also provided PreK-3rd insights at the meetings. For information on their sessions, see issue #116 of the Foundation for Child's Development's Learning Curve newsletter. And for more information on the annual meetings for NAEYC and NBCDI, held concurrently in Anaheim, California, see the conference pages or search the session catalog.

If you happened to attend any of our sessions, thank you for coming and please don't hesitate to comment below with any feedback. We'd love to know what you thought!

*Many thanks to Kristie Kauerz, program director for PreK-3rd at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, for suggesting these take-aways.

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