States’ Early Learning Initiatives in 2023 Seed 2024 Plans
Alexandria, VA — In 2023, several states made significant strides toward universal pre-K, increased funding and support for early educators, and improved literacy and math instruction. A new NASBE Policy Update examines state actions in these areas, highlighting promising approaches and opportunities for states to build on progress made to date.
“Leading states have recognized the impact of high-quality early learning education on a child’s later college and career readiness and success in life,” writes NASBE Director of Early Learning Winona Hao. But disparities in program access, quality, and resource allocation persist. She notes the actions of several states to address such issues:
- Universal Pre-K. At least 12 state boards of education prioritized expanding universal pre-K, with Maryland elevating ECE as the first of five pillars of its newly adopted strategic plan.
- Early Childhood Education Funding and Workforce Support. Vermont, Illinois, Missouri, and others have passed legislation expanding pre-K access, including childcare subsidies for providers serving low-income families and funding for teacher recruitment and support.
- Early Literacy and Math. By the end of 2023, 32 states had adopted comprehensive early literacy policies, while California and Delaware updated K-12 Mathematics Frameworks. Some states, like Colorado and Mississippi, used pandemic relief funds on curriculum and instructional supports to address math achievement gaps.
Hao anticipates 2024 will involve state board rulemaking related to 2023’s initiatives and suggests states look for opportunities to expand program access and improve equity and program quality. “The particular needs of young multilingual learners merits added attention,” Hao writes.