Feb 14 -
President Obama’s call to Congress to improve early childhood education received a rapid response as Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) today introduced the bipartisan Continuum of Learning Act to help young children transition from pre-K to elementary school. Decades of research show that quality early learning opportunities can greatly improve children’s school performance and ability to achieve in life.
“Quality pre-K can be the difference between a student who learns and performs well in school and a dropout who will likely struggle to remain in the workforce,” said Polis. “By helping teachers work together to see that students transition successfully from pre-K to elementary school, we’re building a foundation for a lifetime of learning for each child, strengthen our workforce and economy, and saving billions that would otherwise be spent fixing social problems related to students who fail to achieve even a high school diploma.”
“I am proud to cosponsor the Continuum of Learning Act this Congress and will fight to pass this bipartisan, no-nonsense bill,” said Congressman Young. “This legislation will dramatically improve kids' educational experience as they transition from pre-K learning to elementary school. As a former teacher, I know that students benefit greatly when educators collaborate and coordinate so that the stages of their development are linked. Kids in Alaska, and the Nation at large, deserve these smart policy changes.”
The Continuum of Learning Act aligns childhood learning standards, connects programs to prepare early childhood teachers, and ensures comprehensive data collection to improve performance—without creating any new federal program or requiring any new spending.
Specifically, the Continuum of Learning Act would:
- Help states improve early leaning guidelines for preschool-age children and early learning standards for children in kindergarten through third grade;
- Ensure that early learning guidelines and standards are developmentally appropriate and to cover all domains of child development and learning;
- Encourages local educational agencies (LEAs) and elementary schools to use school improvement funds to offer early childhood education programs from birth to school entry, as well as to assist schools, teachers and program coordinators to prepare them for early childhood education; and,
- Promotes professional development activities to include training in early child development and learning and provide joint training for elementary school staff and early childhood education program staff.
“This legislation uses the lens of child development to improve state standards, teacher and principal professional development, collaboration with community programs, and to use child assessments in appropriate ways,” said Jerlean Daniel, Executive Director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which was deeply involved in the development of the legislation. “We are thrilled that the bill incorporates our recommendations for the reauthorization and focuses attention on the unique continuum of early childhood through the early grades of school.”
“It is an unsettling reality of our education system that the early childhood and K-12 sectors are often separated,” added Gail Connelly, Executive Director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. “Elementary and middle-level principals enthusiastically endorse the Continuum of Learning Act, which seeks to weave together disjointed systems, and help teachers and principals provide the necessary supports so that every child can grow, develop, and learn.”
The Continuum of Learning Act was developed with input from several organizations, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This bill is endorsed by the National Head Start Association, the National Women’s Law Center, the Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP), the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the First Five Years Fund, ZERO TO THREE, Early Care & Education Consortium, Learning Disabilities Association of America, and Easter Seals. Senator Robert Casey (D-Penn.) is expected to introduce companion legislation.