The U.S. Department of Education recently released non-regulatory guidelines about early learning and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
According to the department, the guidance is intended to remind state and local decision-makers about the importance of investing in early learning, highlight the opportunities available under the new law to strengthen early education, and provide examples of how states and local communities can support young children’s success in school.
We all know early childhood is a critical period of learning and development. In fact, research has proven that high-quality early learning from birth to third grade can:
• Promote healthy social-emotional development
• Assist with English language acquisition
• Build a strong academic foundation
• Narrow achievement gaps
While early childhood education can have a huge impact on learning and development, it’s important to note that PreK programs need to be of high quality. Plus, these programs need to attract and retain high quality early childhood educators, which we know is a significant issue in the United States due to a troubling pay gap.
ESSA includes some key differences from previous national education law in regards to early learning, including: “provisions to promote coordination in early learning among local communities; align preschool with early elementary school; and build the capacity of teachers, leaders and others serving young children to provide the highest-quality early learning opportunities.” ESSA, also for the first time, authorizes Preschool Development Grants, building upon the existing Preschool Development Grant program.
To read the U.S. Department of Education’s Non-Regulatory Guidance and learn more, click here.