The first eight years, from birth through third grade, build the critical foundation of cognitive, social, and emotional skills on which all future learning rests. Children who do not have a firm foundation by the end of third grade are at high risk for later educational failure and negative life outcomes. High-quality early education can narrow opportunity and achievement gaps while improving outcomes for all students.
Yet high-quality early education remains more the exception than the rule. Early care and education is delivered through a patchwork, non-system of providers, many of dubious quality. The children who most need high-quality early learning opportunities—those from disadvantaged families—are the least likely to get them. In addition, many children who do have access to high-quality early education programs lose these benefits when they continue into poor-quality elementary schools. We need a new system of public education institutions and policies capable of delivering coherent, aligned, and high-quality early education to all children from pre-K through third grade, preceded by high-quality programs for infants and toddlers and better support for families.
Our team aims to help realize this new system by conducting policy research and analysis, putting forth innovative policy recommendations, and disseminating new ideas to a variety of audiences, including federal and state policymakers. Much of our work focuses on birth through third grade educators, teachers and leaders.