This week in the Early Ed Forum we wrote about a new report from the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). The NAESP Foundation's Task Force for Early Learning recommends 10 actions steps for policymakers and stakeholders to take as they work to build the necessary infrastructure to ensure the strong early learning experiences that young children need.
On the Forum, you can find a list of the action steps and a link to the full report on the Forum's resources page. Lisa Guernsey, director of New America's Early Education Initiative and editor of this blog, was part of the task force and provided input on drafts of the report.
Let us know what you think about the actions steps. Do you think there is anything missing? Kristie Kauerz of the Harvard Graduate School of Education has already pointed out, for example, that the recommendation for developing state and local longitudinal data systems includes pre-k but doesn't mention kindergarten. Data on how whether children are in half-day or full-day kindergarten programs can be just as important as pre-k data in determining whether districts are truly meeting the needs of all the children in their localities.
Do you have any lessons learned about how NAESP's recommended steps or similar ones can be accomplished?
One strategy that needs more attention is about staffing. In our report, "Getting in Sync: Revamping Licensing and Preparation for Teachers in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and the Early Grades," we recommended that school districts provide professional development for principals on early childhood education specifically to inform their hiring decisions in the early grades. Teachers in the early grades (K,1,2 or 3) may have either a K-5 ducation license or a PreK-3rd education license. Often the K-5 license means teachers are more prepared in subject area content and strategies to teach the older grades of elementary school and have less understanding of how to engage young learners or teach beginning readers. We've heard anecdotes about principals moving weak teachers from a fifth grade to a first grade classroom, for example, because first grade isn't a "tested" grade and doesn't count for school accountability.
We hope you'll weigh in and share your thoughts in the Forum's discussion area. While you're there, check out the resources page and past posts on topics such as leveraging funding, supporting families and using early childhood data.
Last week, the InvestiGator Club held a webinar on this topic titled: "Seamless Preschool to Elementary Transitions: The Role of Elementary Principals in Creating Prek through Grade 3 Alignment." For more information click here.