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Early Childhood Education

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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Improving young children’s early learning experiences is an essential complement to K-12 reforms. Research shows that early years form the crucial foundation for children’s later learning, but that disadvantaged youngsters have less access to the types of experiences that foster learning and development, resulting in large achievement gaps even before children enter kindergarten. High-quality early childhood programs can help prevent or narrow these gaps, however, allowing children from all backgrounds to enter school prepared to succeed.

Bellwether’s work in early childhood seeks to make publicly funded programs more effective; develop innovative strategies to expand access to high-quality early learning; improve the preparation, training, and compensation of early childhood educators; and scale the work of high-performing early childhood providers. We also work to bridge the divide between K-12 and early childhood policies to help create aligned, birth-to-eight learning systems.

We advise foundations and advocacy organizations working to improve early learning outcomes and produce research, policy analysis, and ideas for the field as a whole. Although our approach is grounded in a deep knowledge of childhood development, how young children learn, and the early childhood provider and policy landscape, we also draw on relevant lessons from our K-12 work.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:

Publications

August 27, 2020
Kelly Robson, Juliet Squire, Indira Dammu
Over the last 25 years, the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) has invested nearly $5.3 billion into the charter school sector, directing funds...
May 14, 2020
Tresha Francis Ward, Stephanie Spangler
In April, we released a four-phase strategic planning tool to support the COVID-19 education response, providing a framework for leaders responding...
April 7, 2020
Tresha Ward, Stephanie Spangler, Katie Rouse, Eleisha Nelson-Reed
The past few weeks have been uniquely challenging for education and nonprofit leaders across the country as they navigate the unfolding coronavirus...
March 5, 2019
Ashley LiBetti
Leading by Exemplar: Instructional Models in Head Start Programs provides in-depth information about the instructional models of five high-performing...
March 5, 2019
Ashley LiBetti
Leading by Exemplar: Lessons from Head Start Programs is a synthesis of findings drawn from an in-depth analysis of five high-performing Head Start...

Op-Eds

March 19, 2020
Why do Sanders and some of his primary rivals think it’s good for government to fund community-based, nonprofit organizations to educate 2-year-olds...
July 31, 2019
The North Carolina General Assembly should revisit pre-K funding as it rewrites the recently vetoed state budget bill. The state could and should...
January 12, 2018
Should preschool teachers be required to have college degrees? It's a more complex question than you think.

Issue Experts

Blog Posts

July 30, 2020
Sara Mead
This is my last week at Bellwether. Next week, I’ll be joining D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education as Assistant...
July 23, 2020
Alyssa Schwenk
Longtime Bellwether Partner and noted early-childhood education expert Sara Mead will leave the organization at the end of this month to...
April 28, 2020
Sara Mead
COVID-19 highlights the foundational weaknesses in our nation’s approach to early care and education. Unlike K-12 public schools, which are...