News: National Education Leaders Report That Early Social Efforts Will Change Outcomes

Washington, D.C.—Chief state school officers understand that a high-quality education in the early years can give students a leg-up for life.

State chiefs are leading efforts to increase investments, expand access, and improve early childhood programs and workforce quality. Building on these efforts, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has released Equity Starts Early: How Chiefs Will Build High-Quality Early Education. This report outlines five steps that, coupled with high-quality K-12 education, will contribute to strengthening student outcomes through college and careers:

1. Engage families and communities in early learning,
2. Connect early childhood programs and elementary schools,
3. Accelerate improvement and innovation in early childhood programs,
4. Build a high-performing early childhood workforce,
5. Increase investment to provide quality, voluntary early childhood education for all children.

This report reinforces the efforts in Georgia to incorporate social learning across curricula in preschools and in the early grades. “It is equally important that K-3 grade teacher build on best practices from their early childhood colleagues, such as intentional strategies to promote children’s social competence and executive functioning skills,” the report states. “Early childhood, K-3 grade teachers and administrators need to work together to ensure that classrooms reflect developmentally appropriate expectations and engaging, standards-based learning opportunities across all domains of development.”

“For the nation to realize a vision of graduating every student ready for college, careers and life, we must provide access to voluntary, high-quality learning opportunities for all kids from the earliest days of their educational career,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “State chiefs are committed to raising academic achievement, starting with our youngest learners.”

Chiefs are committed to working with the early childhood and public education communities to implement these recommendations. They understand that strengthening early learning opportunities and outcomes is a key element in a renewed effort to promote equal educational opportunity and eliminate achievement gaps and shortfalls.

“Early education through our Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Program (4K) is an essential piece in our efforts to close achievement gaps,” said CCSSO Board President and Wisconsin Superintendent Tony Evers. “Kids who have a strong start in 4K will be more likely to graduate ready for college and careers.”

“Learning begins long before a child sets foot into a classroom,” said Illinois Superintendent Tony Smith. “It’s a journey that begins at birth and continues in the home, school, and community…. when families, schools, and communities partner to promote learning and healthy development for all children, schools thrive and student outcomes improve.”

For more information, download the full report.