Several new projects and papers have emerged lately that emphasize the need for building continuous systems of high-quality education from pre-k through the third grade. Because PreK-3rd reform ideas are so comprehensive and multi-faceted, they can be challenging to grasp at first; it’s not always easy to know where to begin. So we’re glad to see a host of different organizations pulling resources together to help.
Here are some of the latest:
- Reducing Achievement Gaps by 4th Grade: The PreK-3rd Grade Approach in Action is a seven-part webinar series to be held throughout 2012. Each webinar will address a critical component of the PreK-3rd approach, whether it’s the importance of principals and parents or the difficult issues involved in standards and sustainability. The first webinar – Progress and Possibilities: the PreK-3rd Approach -- will be held on February 29. It will provide an overview of the rationale for the PreK-3rd approach and how its core elements address the pressing problems of achievement gaps and low quality educational opportunities.
- The webinars are presented by a new collaborative effort of national organizations called The PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group. The Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation is part of this group, which includes leaders, researchers and policy analysts at nine organizations working on national projects that center on reforms across the pre-K, kindergarten, first, second, and third grades. For more see the group’s website.
- The Education Commission of the States recently presented 12 for 2012: Issues to Move Education Forward in 2012.One of the 12 issues in the report is “Pre-K: Expanding the Focus to P-3.”The report describes a “paradigm shift” still underway among policymakers and the public in recognizing that pre-k is a fundamental part of schooling. It highlights the need for greater understanding of the power of an aligned system up through the early grades.
- The Pre-K Coalition, a group raising awareness of early childhood issues but made up of organizations that are traditionally seen as K-12-focused, has released a new policy brief, The Importance of Aligning Pre-K through 3rd Grade. The report pulls together common threads from some of the major PreK-3rd initiatives of the past several years, with examples from states (Washington, New Jersey, Georgia, Virginia) and localities such as Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland and Nooksack Valley in Washington. It also calls on the federal government to “make P-3 alignment a policy and funding priority across all U.S. Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Education Programs for children age 3-8.”
- The Foundation for Child Development is continuing to fill out its map showing states where school districts, councils and state agencies are sharing resources and aligning programs.(Full disclosure: FCD is one of our funders.) The foundation recently added Connecticut, which now has an “Age 3 to Grade 3 Stakeholders Group.”
Did we miss any recent developments? Let us know. And don’t forget about the resources in our Early Ed Forum and the learning opportunities available through the annual PreK-3rd Institute, a joint project of the University of Washington and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.