WASHINGTON—To improve learning outcomes from early childhood through third grade, the National Governors Association (NGA) today announced six states—Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada and Pennsylvania—to participate in a joint effort to improve early learning outcomes.

To effectively prepare students for college or career training, practitioners, policymakers and researchers increasingly recognize that all children need a clear progression of high-quality learning experiences starting early in life. A growing body of research shows that mastery of foundational cognitive and social-emotional skills through third grade is important for students’ long-term academic success.

Governors can play a unique and important role in developing a coordinated plan to promote clear learning expectations and effective support for states that choose to do so. To lay the groundwork for greater coordination, many governors in recent years have supported efforts to align state early-learning academic objectives.

The goal of this policy academy is to help participating states build awareness and commitment among parents, educators and board of education officials to support a continuum of high-quality opportunities for early learning, as well as develop and begin to carry out a state-specific plan to implement learning objectives. NGA will work with the selected states to improve policies and practices related to educator effectiveness and the use of appropriate assessment systems.

“To ensure the nation’s workforce is competitive in the global market, we need to raise the bar for student success,” said Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. “Too many students are falling short. We must do all we can to ensure that every child is getting the strong start to their education that they need and deserve.”

A policy academy is a highly interactive, team-based, multi-state process for helping a select number of states develop and implement an action plan to address a complex public policy issue. Participating states receive guidance and technical assistance from NGA staff and faculty experts, as well as consultants from the private sector, research organizations and academia.

Funding for the policy academy is provided by the Alliance for Early Success, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Heising-Simons Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

To learn more about NGA’s education division, please visit www.nga.org/cms/center/edu.