Local Alignment across Early Learning Sectors Supported by State Partners

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives school districts and early learning leaders throughout the state the opportunity to collaborate across systems to improve outcomes for North Carolina’s children. Local teams are aligning their strategic vision and planning, supported by the NC Department of Public Instruction, the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation and EducationCounsel.

In mid-February, more than 360 local, cross-sector early learning and K-12 leaders representing 80 school districts participated in four regional meetings across the state. The meetings focused on three priorities: family engagement, aligned professional development and transition to kindergarten. Attending teams identified a problem of practice to address, began developing an action plan, and will receive ongoing support as they develop their plans throughout 2019.

Attendees included superintendents and staff, Title I, Head Start, and Smart Start local partnerships representatives, preschool coordinators, principals, teachers, state agency representatives, and more. Evaluations indicated that about half had been involved in an ESSA and Early Learning regional meeting in 2018 and half were new partners in the work.

Participants shared that the meetings gave them valuable guided collaboration time with their colleagues from across sectors, and that hearing how other districts and communities are approaching the work was helpful. Teams will work together back in their communities over the next few months to continue building their aligned strategic plans. Their work will be supported with planning resources such as templates and collaboration agendas, and through virtual “office hours” with state-level experts.