On May 1–2, 2019, NASBE welcomed 12 state board of education members from 11 states to Alexandria, Virginia, for the inaugural meeting of its Early Childhood Education (ECE) Work Group, which seeks to deepen state board of education members’ knowledge of early learning and identify concrete actions they can take to promote effective policymaking.

“The connection between the first five years of a child’s life and K-12 education is not always clear for district and state leadership,” said Kenneth Mason, state board member from Georgia and work group co-chair. “As school board members, we have a responsibility to promote practices and policies that support young children in preparing them for later school success. This workgroup gives me the knowledge and tools to take concrete next steps in my state.”

During the meeting, work group participants explored evidence-based research, ECE best practices, and ways to better align the early childhood and K-12 systems in their states. A highlight of the meeting was a site visit to the Drew Model Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia, where the work group observed high-quality preschool classrooms for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, and engaged school leaders and teachers in a discussion about how to ensure public schools are offering a high-quality ECE program.

Participants also heard from national experts about the components of high-quality programming, including the latest research around equity, high-quality preschool programs across states, the well-being of the ECE workforce, and new research around infant and toddler programs.

I’m inspired by the information we received and the discussion,” said Valentina Flores, state board member from Colorado and ECE Workgroup co-chair. “I look forward to future meetings, learning from other board members across the country, and sharing what I learned at this meeting back to my colleagues in Colorado.” 

“Early learning is a key component for NASBE to deliver on our core principles of equity and excellence for each child,” said Robert Hull, NASBE president and CEO. “We are thrilled to offer this professional learning opportunity to our members who want to learn more about early childhood and look forward to working with our network states to promote high-quality learning opportunities for all children.”

The ECE work group is made possible through generous support of the Kellogg Foundation, the Foundation for Child Development, and the Trust for Learning. If you would like to learn more about NASBE’s ECE initiatives, please contact the Director of Early Learning, Winona Hao at winona.hao@nasbe.org.