High-quality early learning requires a high-quality workforce with specialized knowledge and skills. State boards of education play a distinct role in developing a well-qualified early learning workforce as they set requirements for core early learning standards, advance workforce credentialing and preparation, and improve professional development opportunities.
State education agencies (SEAs) and state boards of education can use their policy levers to investigate and influence early education 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—were awarded NASBE grants to investigate and improve early childhood education workforce conditions in their respective states from 2016-2018. Mississippi and Washington later joined the network. In 2019, 12 state board of education members from 11 states participated in a workgroup to deepen their knowledge of early learning and identify concrete actions they can take to promote effective policymaking.
This project is funded through grants from the Foundation for Child Development, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Trust for Learning. It 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.