B-3 Interagency Council Releases Recommendations, Highlights Pathways Initiative

The B-3rd Grade Interagency Council, co-led by the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Instruction, released recommendations to the NC General Assembly last week in a progress report. The Council drew on the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success and Action Frameworks to make their recommendations.

A few highlights of the recommendations include:

  • Learning more about the current sources of early childhood data in North Carolina and what data system(s) would best support educators, policy-makers and stakeholders to “understand and be able to track shared whole child accountability and outcome measures, such as indicators and goals set forth in the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success Framework and the NC Early Childhood Action Plan.”
  • Adjustments to the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, memoranda of understanding (MOUs), NC State Board of Education policies, NC Pre-K policies, and child care rules and/or the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to create more shared responsibility for cross-programmatic planning for transitioning children into kindergarten.
  • A data system to facilitate sharing of information among early learning programs to create smoother transitions to kindergarten.
  • Changes to the teacher licensure system to align across the birth-through-third grade continuum, using research from and aligning with several resources, including the Pathways Action Framework.
  • Raising Pre-K reimbursement rates.

B-3 Council Next Steps

There are four B-3 Council meetings scheduled for 2019, during which Council members will prioritize which recommendations they would like to take action on and determine appropriate sets of next steps in order to move forward on those recommendations. The meeting schedule and more detail on the Council’s 2018 activities and recommendations are available in the Birth-Third Grade Interagency Council Progress Report.

B-3 Council Background

The B-3 Council was created to establish a vision and accountability for a birth-through-third grade system of early education for North Carolina. The Council’s powers and duties include:

  • Facilitating the development and implementation of an interagency plan for a coordinated system of early care, education, and child development services to meet the developmental and educational needs of all children from birth to eight years of age.
  • Implementing a statewide longitudinal evaluation of the educational progress of children from prekindergarten programs through grade 12.
  • Collaborating among early learning partners to achieve the goal of a coordinated system of early care, education, and child development services for children from birth to eight years of age.

The legislative authorizing language of the B-3 Council required that the Council create 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.”

The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) presented to the Council in May of 2018 about the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success Framework, early learning programs in the state, how they are funded, who is served by them, and who is eligible but not receiving services. After hearing from NCECF and other early learning experts, the Council prioritized three areas to focus on during 2018:

  • Transitions and continuity
  • Data-driven improvement and outcomes
  • Teacher and administrator preparation and effectiveness

Workgroups were formed to focus on each of the three areas. NCECF served as a member of the Council and participated in the three workgroups. The Council met five times in 2018.