The Next No Child Left Behind Act

Expanding Access to Quality Early Education

The upcoming reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) presents an opportunity for the federal government to expand access to high-quality, early education programs. At present, quality standards vary widely among federal, state, local, and private early care and education programs, and relatively few programs align their curricular and teacher standards with early elementary school grades. There is a role for the federal government to play in both expanding access and harmonizing decentralized early education programs horizontally across jurisdictions and vertically across grade levels.

At this New America event, panelists discussed how early education currently fits in NCLB, and where it might fit in the next, reauthorized NCLB. Ruth Friedman will discuss the federal role in early education. Isabel Sawhill discussed the ideas of her and her co-author, Jens Ludwig of Georgetown University, for an expanded federal role in early education as articulated in their recent paper, “Success By Ten: Intervening Early, Often, and Effectively in the Education of Young Children.” Sara Mead presented a plan for developing a targeted, high-quality universal pre-kindergarten system with federal support.

The New America Foundation also released an issue brief on early education, “The Key to NCLB Success: Getting it Right From the Start,” that discusses how the federal government can support the expansion of high-quality, pre-kindergarten through grade three (PK-3) programs that align pre-kindergarten teacher and quality standards with K-3 education. The paper proposes using the NCLB reauthorization to leverage state change to expand and improve pre-kindergarten, specifically through a grant program that would help states phase-in universal PK-3 access.

Video of this event is available at right, and an MP3 audio recording can be downloaded below.


New America Foundation
1630 Connecticut Ave, NW 7th Floor
Washington, DC, 20009
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  • Ruth Friedman
    Early Education advisor to Congressman George Miller (D-CA),
    Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee
  • Isabel Sawhill
    Senior Fellow and Co-Director, Center on Children and Families
    Brookings Institution
  • Sara Mead
    Senior Policy Analyst
    Education Sector
  • Michael Dannenberg (moderator)
    Director, Education Policy Program, New America Foundation