• Regulated child care (birth through age five and before- and afterschool care)
  • Preschool and Head Start (age three through age five)
  • Kindergarten through third grade (age five through age eight)

High-quality child care, Head Start and preschool programs (birth through age five) help prepare children for school and life success. Children in high quality programs tend to have:

  • More advanced language and pre-math skills
  • More advanced social skills
  • Warmer relationships with their teachers1
  • Fewer behavioral challenges2
  • Easier adjustment to kindergarten3

Children from low-income families and those at risk for academic challenges show the biggest gains from high quality early care and education. Those are also the child populations who, on average, start kindergarten behind their peers in literacy and language skills.4 

High-quality education in the early grades (kindergarten through third grade) helps children maintain developmental and learning gains,5 while lack of academic progress in the early elementary school years can be predictive of later academic challenges.

  • Children who are not reading proficiently at the end of the third grade are four times more likely not to graduate, and for children of color that rate doubles6
  • Chronic absences in elementary school predict future academic challenges7
  • Reading problems among third to fifth grade students correlate with later learning, life and economic challenges, including lower adult literacy, youth delinquency and later incarcerations, and lifelong economic challenges.8
  • Reading challenges in the early elementary school years also impact students’ ability to succeed in middle- and high-school math.9

Show 9 footnotes

  1. U.S. Department of Education. (2015).  A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/documents/early-learning/matter-equity-preschool-america.pdf
  2.  Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy. (2012). Quality: What it Is and Why it Matters in Early Childhood Education. Retrieved from https://www.scaany.org/documents/quality_earlyed_scaapolicybrief_sept2012.pdf
  3.  The Research Base for a Birth through Eight State Policy Framework. (2013) .Child Trends. Retrieved from  http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/2013-42AllianceBirthto81.pdf
  4.  U.S. Department of Education. (2015). A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America, op cit.
  5.  Education Commission of the States. (2016). Companion Report: 50-State Comparison: K-3 Quality. Retrieved form http://www.ecs.org/ec-content/uploads/50-State-Comparison-K-3-Quality_Updated-1.pdf and Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Teacher quality and student achievement: A review of state policy evidence. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 8(1). Retrieved from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v8n1/
  6.  Annie E. Casey Foundation (2013). Early Warning Confirmed. Retrieved from http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-EarlyWarningConfirmedExecSummary-2013.pdf
  7. Education Commission of the States. (2010). Chronic Early Absence. Retrieved from http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/84/20/8420.pdf 
  8.  Simonton, S. (2016, July 18). Reading Difficulty in Young Children Linked to Later Trouble with the Law. Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. Retrieved from http://jjie.org/2016/07/18/reading-difficulty-in-young-children-linked-to-later-trouble-with-the-law/
  9. Fite, G. (2002). Reading and Math: What’s the Connection. Retrieved from https://www.emporia.edu/dotAsset/9acbacde-104d-4b37-b13a-ffc1ec7885cb.pdf

Read More About This Issue

40
percent of NC children under age six living in households where the sole parent or both parents were working who are enrolled in licensed child care
(Source:

Child Care Services Association of North Carolina. June 2017. Young Children and their Families in North Carolina.

)
20
percent of elementary school principals nationally with Pre-K classrooms in their schools elt they were well-trained in “instructional methods and developmentally-appropriate perspectives for early education
(Source:

Education Week, New Principals: A Data Snapshot, 2015

)
76
percent of of K-3 educators are in favor of creating a unified and aligned system of early childhood education birth through 8
(Source:

National Association for the Education of Young Children, K-3 Market Research, 2018.

)
71
percent of parents say it's important that quality learning programs nurture their children’s unique personalities and independence
(Source:

Trust for Learning, Parents as Consumers Research Findings, 2017

)

What Can We Do About It?

What supports high quality early care and education?

  • A comprehensive, aligned, equitable birth through third grade education system that includes educator and school leader professional development opportunities
  • A focus on social-emotional learning
  • Increasing affordability of and access to high quality birth-through-age-five early care and education

Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Design Teams are building an agenda for change in North Carolina in three areas that directly impact third grade reading proficiency:

  • Social-emotional health
  • High quality birth through age eight care and education
  • Regular school attendance

Their recommendations will be finalized in fall 2018 and will be added here.

Research-based based policies, practices and programs that providers, communities and North Carolina can take to ensure high quality early care and education.

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