As the definition of education has expanded to include the years before kindergarten, so too has the role of state boards of education. Boards now play an expanded and essential role in supporting the early childhood system. That role can vary substantially across states and evolve within states, making it important for board members to stay informed about developments in the early childhood system. And state board members should be ready for their role to shift dramatically if their state decides to change how it governs early childhood.

The early years matter a great deal to the overall education system. If a cohort of children is more than a year behind at the end of second grade, only 15  percent of school districts in the country can get that cohort caught up by the end of high school. Partly for this reason, states have increasingly emphasized the value of publicly funded early education and care.

Early education and care comes in many forms, and in most states different government agencies oversee key pieces of it. There are good reasons the system was built that way—and there are good reasons states are remaking it. In the years ahead, state boards’ role will continue to evolve, and state boards can take important steps to make that evolution a success.

State Boards and the Governance of Early Childhood Education

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Effective State Education Governance

By Arnold F. Shober

No one model is clearly superior, but relationships, talent, and shared loyalty are marks of governance systems that get things done.

Roadmap to Excellence: Strategic Planning for State Boards

By Abigail Potts and Paolo DeMaria

Savvy boards can increase the odds their plans will live, breathe, and have measurable impact.

State Takeovers: No Silver Bullet for School District Improvement

By Beth Schueler

On average, takeover fails to improve achievement measures, but how it is done matters a lot.

Harnessing the Power of Evidence-Based Policymaking

By Heather Boughton and Sara Kerr

State boards should lean into education data and work to overcome challenges to doing so.

State Boards and the Governance of Early Childhood Education

By Elliot Regenstein

As states seek to bring coherence to the disparate systems that have a hand in early education and care, state boards have key roles to play.

African-American teacher reading to school children. Image credit: iStock

The Role of Teachers Unions in School Governance during COVID-19

By Lesley Lavery and Sara Dahill-Brown

While relationships with school leaders were contentious in places, many districts benefited from collaborative ones.

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