Municipalities across the country are taking the lead on innovation to ensure that more children are succeeding by the end of third grade. Their approach — the alignment of early care and education programs with K-12 education systems.
A new report by the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families, Educational Alignment for Young Children: Profiles of Local Innovation, provides in-depth case studies for the innovative work happening in Boston, Hartford, San Antonio, San Jose and Seattle. It identifies 10 common elements for a well aligned system.
- Formal partnerships or governance structures to develop common definitions and goals and take joint action to implement a high-quality, aligned system
- Access to quality early education in a variety of settings to ensure that young children enter school prepared to succeed.
- School quality and organization to improve access to full-day kindergarten , support developmentally appropriate room designs and teaching practices and promote communication and collaboration across the early grades.
- Communication and data sharing to provide parents, early educators, teachers and service providers with access to common information that will improve how each supports the learning and development of the children in their care.
- Qualified teachers and administrators in both early childhood and elementary school settings.
- Alignment of standards, curricula, teaching practices and assessments, with a focus on both social competence and academic skills, to build on what children have learned and how they have learned it from one level to the next.
- Parent engagement and family supports to ensure that parents are empowered to be their child’s first teacher and most important advocate, and to connect families with the diverse supports that they need for a safe, healthy and economically secure household.
- Programs to facilitate smooth transitions to school by helping families understand school registration processes and making children and parents feel comfortable and welcome in the new school environment.
- Public awareness of the importance of early education to increase the value that is placed on the first segment of the educational pipeline and demonstrate how the success of young children is integral to the long-term success of the city.
- Creative funding strategies to allow communities to provide a more comprehensive and collaborative system of support for children and families.