Getting the alignment between preschool and early elementary education right is vital if our children and communities are to receive all the benefits of high quality early care and education (ECE). Recent research following on from the originally disappointing studies of Tennessee’s preschool program have demonstrated that the benefits of the program persist through third grade if they are exposed to high-quality school and highly-effective teachers after preschool (https://tinyurl.com/wtc2owj). These findings reinforce that high quality preschool provides a foundation for later school success, not a vaccination against the effects of ongoing opportunity gaps.
Last month, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, with partners including the SCCOE, convened ECE and public education leaders from across the Bay Area to learn from national leaders and each other about policies, partnerships and practices to advance early school success. The conference began with a discussion of state level policy and future directions and then moved to a panel on local efforts featuring Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, and her San Mateo counterpart, Nancy Magee. Subsequent presenters highlighted promising practices from around the Bay Area and the country – demonstrating the importance of careful design and communication between the fields, policies that support alignment, and the need for comprehensive and accessible student-level data. All the attendees left with a great array of information, a renewed sense of purpose, and a determination to build on our communities’ strong start on P-3 alignment.