Aligning Early Learning and K-12 Reforms

Many states are pursuing policy changes that affect early learning and K-12 education simultaneously. Those two streams of activities will tackle a similar set of issues (for example, learning standards, child assessments, educator training and professional development, accountability systems) and ideally should complement one another. Policy reforms in early care and education (ECE) should put children on a better trajectory to success in kindergarten and beyond. K-12 reforms should reinforce the benefits that children reap from high-quality early learning experiences to extend their growth and development as they advance in the public education system.

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) is helping governors and their advisors better align ECE and K-12 reform efforts, especially during the years between infancy and third grade, when children need to develop a strong foundation for future success. Specifically, the NGA Center is providing support to governors’ offices as they work to:

  • Develop and implement comprehensive state strategies for improving third-grade reading and math outcomes that align relevant ECE and K-12 policies and approaches;
  • Develop policies that promote social and intellectual habits (for example, social-emotional skills, effective approaches to learning, executive function) from early childhood through third grade (EC-3) as a foundation for academic and lifelong success; and
  • Improve EC-3 teacher and leader preparation, professional development, and evaluation policies, including developing elementary school leadership that supports effective instructional practices in the early grades.