Creating Space for Local Collaboration around ESSA Supports Early Learning Partners

Title I Preschool and the NC Head Start State Collaboration Office (Office of Early Learning, NC Department of Public Instruction), the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, and EducationCounsel have partnered since December 2017 to support school districts and early childhood community leaders in collaborating to develop the early learning components of the districts’ Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) district plans.

Local Coordination and Collaboration through ESSA: A Multi-Year Evaluation outlines the impact of two years of ESSA work (2017-2019), lessons learned, and recommendations for future work. The evaluation found that early learning partners often were not working together on the early learning aspects of the district ESSA plans and that the time and space for local collaboration created through regional meetings and virtual options are useful for advancing local coordination of plans and early learning activities. The evaluation also found that more work needs to be done to continue providing local early partners with opportunities and resources for collaboration.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law in December 2015, bolsters federal support for early learning and provides opportunities to strengthen the birth-through-third grade continuum—a critical strategy to improve third grade reading proficiency. Collaborative activities undertaken by the DPI Office of Early Learning, NCECF, EducationCounsel and, more recently, the NC Partnership for Children, are documented on NCECF’s Every Student Succeeds Act webpage.