A recently published issue brief by the Learning Policy Institute examines exactly what it would take to create cooperative early childhood education (ECE) policy change in California. The issue brief presents recommendations to California policymakers on how to improve early childhood education for all children. These recommendations are based on a previous report: Understanding California’s Early Care and Education System.
The premise is that for California to provide all children with access to high quality ECE, the state needs to turn their “current uncoordinated set of underfunded programs into a true system of supports for children, families, and providers.” For this to happen, four proposed action goals need to be met:
While all four goals are critical to the long-term success of positive ECE policy change, we were especially excited that quality improvement was identified as a leading factor. We are even more thrilled that the brief specifically recommended that California expand CLASS® use in their QRIS system. Additionally, the issue brief specifically highlights the importance of supporting high quality adult-child interactions through CLASS implementation. Although CLASS use in California’s QRIS is mandatory, participation in the QRIS itself is voluntary (currently only about 14% of Californian providers participate).
To improve the quality of all ECE programs, the brief recommends that California grow their QRIS by increasing provider access to state quality improvement funds, centralizing training for QRIS assessors, and investing in research to continuously improve the effectiveness of the QRIS. Long-term these changes would raise the quality requirements for lower-achieving programs, ensure all state-supported programs participate in quality-improvement, and promote access to professional development for all ECE providers.
We are honored that the CLASS continues to be recognized by leading ECE researchers as both an effective measure, and a critical pathway to positive change in ECE policy. Although this brief was developed specifically for California, it draws upon previously successful interventions and policy change from states across the nation. It offers the opportunity for states to learn from one another and explore solutions to nationwide problems together. We look forward to seeing the hard work of our state partners and CLASS providers come to fruition!
For those interested in learning more, the full report can be found online.
Building an Early Learning System that Works: Next Steps for California (policy brief) by Hanna Melnick, Beth Meloy, Madelyn Gardner, Marjorie Wechsler, and Anna Maier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
Emma Granowsky is a research and public policy intern at Teachstone this summer. She is a rising senior at Davidson College and is majoring in public health. She is interested in social disparities and the use of education policy as a form of primary health prevention. Last summer she taught reading to 3rd-5th graders through the Freedom School program sponsored by the Children’s Defence Fund.
The violence of the past days has reminded us all that we must be vigilant in denouncing hate and speaking out against it. I encourage everyone who cares about our courageous country and experiment in democracy to get out and vote on November 6th! Paraphrasing from an editorial in the Hartford Courant today, the strength of our united character is being put to the test. We must speak up, and no better way to do so than voting or encouraging others to do so. Truly great educators are those who never give up. I am not ready to give up on our country as a land that holds such great promise of freedom and justice for all, beginning with our youngest ones who cannot vote but will live in the world we are creating with every action or inaction.
Take heart! For too long, one of the least heartening perspectives on the federal government budget came from early childhood education advocates, who, year in and year out, felt left out of the political dialogue during budget talks. They were either ignored or, worse, the recipients of unwanted attention as federal spending on education was slashed or level-funded as costs increased. However, during a time when we see much division in our country, especially coming out of Washington, D.C., it actually is a bit –just a bit – encouraging to look at early childhood education programs which are garnering more and more bipartisan support.
The statistics around exclusionary discipline practices, like suspension or expulsion, are grim. Kids who get kicked out, especially repeatedly, are often already behind academically, become less engaged in school, and are monumentally more likely to drop out of high school. And while exclusionary discipline affects all students, it’s essential to keep in mind that children of color are suspended and expelled at rates disproportionate to their white peers.
Early childhood folks are a special breed. We know how great an impact our work can have (Perry Preschool Program! Abecedarian! Heckman!), and we’re proud of it. At the same time, we’re aware that when children leave our classrooms, we have no control over the rest of their educational experiences. The fadeout effect—when children’s gains from preschool diminish in elementary school—has shown up in several large studies, including the Head Start Impact Study and a randomized control trial in Tennessee.