Education Leaders Report
Volume 4, No. 1
Start Strong: Supporting Early Childhood Education through Policy
State boards of education can use their authority to ensure that the nation’s youngest children have access to high-quality early childhood education (ECE), but many do not. State boards miss opportunities to include ECE on their agendas or create policy through an ECE lens.
One obstacle to greater state board engagement on ECE is often members’ lack of knowledge of how to address quality of instruction and care for children birth to age 5 and how to build a strong bridge between students’ early years and the K-12 system. For this reason, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) in 2019 convened a workgroup of state board members to study the issues and learn how state boards can support students’ early success.
During the ECE Workgroup meetings, 23 state board members from 17 states and territories laid out top ECE priorities including access and equity, family engagement, integrated data systems, an equitable and diverse workforce, funding streams and tax revenue, governance, and communication and stakeholder engagement. Following this, the workgroup members agreed upon five recommendations for strengthening ECE at the state level:
- Expand high-quality ECE programs for children birth to age 5 and promote equitable access to underserved children and families;
- Create a shared vision with state agencies and together develop and strengthen Early Childhood Integrated Data Systems in order to get the information needed to inform policies;
- Develop, revise, and adopt policies that support a high-quality, diverse, and well-compensated teaching and leading workforce to serve children from birth
to age 8;
- Work with state legislature and other budgetary entities and business and community leaders on a better state funding strategy. Leverage different funding streams and seek innovative solutions to serve the most vulnerable children and make long-term plans to expand access and quality for all children; and
- Review existing agencies’ responsibilities and strategize how to best form synergy across the system and avoid duplication. Establish a governance body or a cross-agency coalition to oversee state ECE programs and hold the governance model accountable. …