NC ESSA Draft Plan Includes Birth-to-Eight Strategies


UPATE: On July 26, 2017, the NC Department of Public Instruction released the third draft of the plan. The birth-t0-eight provisions previously included have been either removed or scaled back. Once included as part of the state’s vision, birth-to-eight alignment is no longer mentioned as a strategy for achieving the plan’s goals.


North Carolina’s draft plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act includes a focus on birth-to-eight alignment. ESSA strengthens federal support for early learning and provides new opportunities for birth-through-third grade alignment, accountability and funding. States are required to develop their own ESSA plan to comply with the federal law, which replaces No Child Left Behind.

The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation partnered with the Office of Early Learning (OEL) at the Department of Public Instruction to convene a group of state leaders to develop the birth-to-eight strategies that are included in NC’s draft ESSA plan.  The Department of Public Instruction is currently holding public comment sessions on the draft.

By incorporating birth-to-eight policies into North Carolina’s state plan, the state can:
  • Advance the North Carolina General Assembly’s mandate to develop a comprehensive approach to early childhood education birth through third grade. (See 2016 Special Provisions.)
  • Invest in policies that have widespread, bipartisan public support. (See 2016 Bipartisan Poll.)
  • Promote evidence-based approaches that support children to read at grade-level by the end of third grade. (See Pathways research base.)
The group’s recommendations include the following areas of focus:
  • Develop a birth-to-eight professional development system that ensures teachers and administrators have the skills and knowledge to support young children’s learning
  • Ensure that children learn in environments and through practices that are developmentally appropriate and support their success
  • Implement accountability measures that reflect the importance of children’s early years.
  • Support smooth transitions for children as they begin school and through the early grades.
  • Share the recommendations with policymakers – members of the State Board of Education, the Department of Public Instruction, the State Superintendent, members of the House and Senate Education Committees and the Governor’s Office.
  • Share the recommendations with your network and ask them to also share with policymakers.
  • Attend a public comment session. Dates and locations are available here.
 For background on early learning and ESSA, see: