The NC House of Representatives proposes a Birth to Third Grade (B-3) Interagency Council tasked with establishing a vision and accountability for a birth to third grade system of early education, including consideration of:
- standards and assessment,
- data-driven improvement and outcomes,
- teacher and administrator preparation and effectiveness,
- instruction and environment,
- transitions and continuity,
- family engagement, and
- governance and funding.
The proposal cites the NC Pathways to Grade Level Reading measures of success as a possible foundation for the an early childhood accountability plan.
The Council would include leaders from the Departments of Public Instruction (DPI) and Health and Human Services, Representatives, Senators, and representatives from organizations that focus on early childhood education and development. The proposal was included in the Education Appropriations committee provisions of the budget, portions of which were released on Thursday. The full House budget is due to be released on Tuesday, May 30.
The B-3 Interagency Council would be given three main powers and duties:
- Developing and implementing an interagency plan for a coordinated system of early care, education, and child development services to meet the needs of all children from birth to eight years of age, including:
- Organizational changes within DPI and/or DHHS needed to be more responsive and supportive of the birth-to–third-grade early learning continuum
- An integrated early childhood information system that makes data sharing easier among providers and agencies
- An early childhood accountability plan that includes identification of appropriate population indicators and program and system performance measures of early success of children such as the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading.
- Implementing a statewide longitudinal evaluation of the educational progress of children from prekindergarten programs through third grade.
- Collaborating with state agencies, the North Carolina Partnership for Children, and other relevant early childhood stakeholders to ensure a coordinated system of early care, education, and child development services for children from birth to eight years of age.
The Council, a joint endeavor between DPI and DHHS, would be co-chaired by a newly created Associate Superintendent of Early Education and the Deputy Secretary of Human Services. In addition to the co-chairs, the Council would include the following members:
- The Superintendent of Public Instruction or the Superintendent’s designee
- The Secretary of Health and Human Services or the Secretary’s designee
- Four public members appointed by the House and four appointed by the Senate who represent organizations that focus on early childhood education and development such as Smart Start and First School.
- Two members of the House and two members of the Senate, to serve as non-voting advisory members.
The Council co-chairs would report on a quarterly basis to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
As its first task, the Council is asked to review recommendations developed by DPI and DHHS based on a provision from the 2016 budget and suggest modifications, as needed. The 2016 budget provision instructed the departments to develop a statewide vision for early childhood education and a program for transitioning children from preschool to kindergarten. The Council is also invited to consider the consolidation and restructuring of DHHS and/or DPI divisions into a centralized agency or office.
In their review of the DPI/DHHS recommendations, the Council is asked to consider:
- The delivery of educational services to young children and their families to ensure optimal learning for each young child.
- The collaboration and sharing of data elements necessary to perform quality assessments and longitudinal analysis across early childhood education and development services.
- The coordination of a comprehensive statewide system of professional development for providers and staff of early care and education and child development programs and services.
- Areas of duplication in regulating and monitoring of early care and education and child development programs and services.
- The coordination and support of public and private partnerships to aid early childhood initiatives.
The Council should submit a report to the Legislature on their initial review by April 15, 2018. A second report, due by February 15, 2019, should include the final results of the review, recommendations, proposed legislation, and progress on the development and implementation of a plan for a coordinated system of early care, education and child development services.