Early Care and Education: On the Radar of State Boards of Education

By Winona Hao

In the first quarter of 2017, state boards of education in 11 states discussed topics related to early care and education (ECE). The ECE workforce and early literacy were most frequently on their agendas.

For example, Mississippi’s board discussed recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Teacher Preparation for Early Literacy Instruction Report, focusing on areas where they are charged to develop and amend policies: professional development and teacher preparation programs.

In its recent meeting, Iowa’s board discussed a policy brief that reported increased proficiency on the state’s early literacy screenings. Members wanted to know whether these reported outcomes marked actual change or differences in how the data were measured and tracked, and they discussed the importance of aligning educator preparation programs. North Carolina’s state board also heard an early literacy presentation from the deputy superintendent and several teachers.

Other states focused on financing to professionalize the early learning workforce. Louisiana’s board approved several ECE allocations. It decided to support the development of Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate Programs to help teachers in early learning centers gain professional credentials. This program is part of a broader effort to unify workforce requirements in the state’s early learning system. It also approved allocating $74 million in state funds for high-quality childhood educational experiences for four-year-olds deemed “at risk,” $6.6 million in state funds for collaboration with nonpublic schools and child care centers on programming for at-risk four-year-olds, and $10 million in Preschool Development Grant funds for improving preschool programs in select communities through comprehensive services and teacher coaching in the classroom.

Montana is also committed to providing financial assistance to teachers working toward their preK-3 endorsements. Montana’s state board approved a request by Montana State University to add a preK-3 endorsement option to its undergraduate degree program for early childhood education and child services. The endorsement will be required for teachers in public preschool programs by July 1, 2018. The university also proposed for board consideration a new curriculum for its ECE and child services undergraduate program to better align it with the state’s teacher standards.

Other states focused on kindergarten readiness and assessments. Rhode Island’s Council on Elementary and Secondary Education approved funds for a comprehensive kindergarten entry assessment system, Mississippi approved a contract to support its K-3 assessment system, and Maryland reviewed the state’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Data. New Hampshire’s board supported a bill to fund full-day kindergarten.

Winona Hao manages NASBE’s early childhood education work. She can be contacted at winona.hao@nasbe.org.