State Boards of Education across the United States are responsible for the oversight of many elements of early childhood education and early learning, including program standards, curriculum, assessments, instructional materials, accountability, and the workforce. To build a strong early learning program, it is critical that educators and administrators be provided with adequate resources to ensure that they are best equipped in the field.

Early learning remains an important issue in the minds of many Americans. A recent national poll conducted by the First Five Years Fund found that support for high-quality early learning in the United States transcends party divides. With an improved workforce and greater access to early education, today’s children will be better prepared for a successful tomorrow.

High-quality early learning requires a high-quality workforce with specialized knowledge and skills. To better support this under-resourced and complex workforce, state education agencies (SEAs) and state boards of education can use their policy levers to investigate and influence workforce quality in four areas: qualifications and licensure, preparation programs, professional development, and compensation. In addition, they can leverage provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to advance changes in their states. To take the next step in facilitating the development of a robust, well-developed assembly of educators and administrators, four states—Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, and New York—have been awarded NASBE grants to investigate and improve early childhood education workforce conditions in their respective states from 2016-2018. Funded through a grant from the Foundation for Child Development, this project reignites NASBE’s early learning work and establishes a state network tasked with developing, revising, and adopting early childhood education policies that other state boards can replicate.

NASBE has been working on Early Childhood Education for two decades. From the report  “Right From the Start” to the most recent “Promoting Quality In PreK-Grade 3 Classrooms,”  NASBE works closely with state board of education members, state education and other agencies charged with administering early childhood education programs to help states create an infrastructure to support the delivery of quality services to children and their families.