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NASBE’s Standard Explores 30 Years of Early Childhood Education Policymaking and Next Steps

For Immediate Release: January 10, 2018

Contact: Renee Rybak Lang,, 703-740-4841

NASBE’s Standard Explores 30 Years of Early Childhood Education Policymaking and Next Steps

Alexandria, VA – The impact of early childhood education is undeniable. Recent studies indicate that programs for children under five can significantly decrease special education placement and grade retention, close achievement gaps, and increase high school graduation rates. States see this value too: Forty-three states and the District of Columbia provide state-funded preschool, serving nearly 1.5 million children. Yet access to high-quality early education across the country remains uneven, and many children still enter elementary school unprepared. The new issue of NASBE’s award-winning journal, The State Education Standard, explores ways state policymakers can ensure all children have a strong start.

Thirty years ago, NASBE convened a task force to explore opportunities for state investment in early childhood education. Lori Connors-Tadros at the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes and Learning Policy Institute’s Madelyn Gardner place Right from the Start within the context of today’s early learning discussions. They argue that while state policymakers still have plenty of work to do to strengthen early childhood programs, the task force’s recommendations remain relevant.

Foundation for Child Development’s Sara Vecchiotti argues that it is time to focus on improving early education workforce preparation, qualifications, and compensation. She outlines the role state boards of education can—and have the authority to—play.

Steven Barnett and Richard Kasmin of the National Institute of Early Education Research show that the 11 states that sought to expand access to state-funded pre-K by incorporating it into school funding formulas experienced more stable funding over the past 10 years and better real funding per pupil than other states.

New America’s Aaron Loewenberg examines how states can ease the transition for youngsters from preschool settings to kindergarten and touts West Virginia, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington as examples. Luisiana Meléndez and Patricia Chamberlain of the Erikson Institute paint a picture of efforts in Illinois to help its growing population of dual language learners get a good start in preschool, with ongoing support.

Turning to the use of data in early childhood education, University of Pennsylvania’s Philip Sirinides and Missy Coffey of the AEM Corporation argue that despite significant state investment in early childhood data systems, evidence-based decision making—an organization’s ability to learn from data—has not taken hold.

Finally, in the NASBE interview, early learning expert Aisha Ray engages in a rich conversation about increasing the cultural and linguistic competence of early childhood educators. 

Read the full January 2018 issue of The State Education Standard. Individual articles can be downloaded here.

NASBE is the only national organization giving voice and adding value to the nation’s state boards of education. A nonprofit organization founded in 1958, NASBE works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and ensure continued citizen support for public education. Learn more at


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