When children are engaged with early childhood services, particularly in well-designed and implemented educational settings such as preschool and kindergarten, their lifelong well-being is positively affected.1
Based on recent early learning and school readiness research, the What Works Clearinghouse released a new Practice Guide, Preparing Young Children for School. The practice guide distills research into practical recommendations, detailing seven evidence-based practices that educators, state and local officials, and parents and caregivers can use to ensure children have the skills they need to be successful in school.
Each of the seven recommendations provides a specific strategy that the Practice Guide’s expert panelists suggest schools or districts implement to address an educational challenge. The recommendations are to:
In the Northwest, the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children assessed the availability of high-quality pre-K services in the state and identified opportunities for collaboration among stakeholders for strengthening the transition between early childhood programs and the K-12 system. Based on its assessment, the association released the 2021 Early Childhood Care and Education Strategic Plan for Idaho, articulating goals around expanded early learning choices for families, evidence-based programming, and school readiness.
REL Northwest is partnering with West Central Mountains Early Learning Advisory Committee, one of 15 early learning collaboratives across the state of Idaho, to enhance the access and quality of early care and education in the region to improve early literacy learning for kindergarten readiness.
A 2020 needs assessment by the West Central Mountains Early Learning Advisory Committee found that the region has a significant shortage of quality early childhood programming, straining families, social systems, and employers. The needs assessment identified a growing gap between the demand for quality early care and education, and the limited supply in the rapidly growing region. Families need support to ensure their children are ready to succeed in school.
REL Northwest is providing technical support around articulating and measuring the committee’s early learning initiative objectives and selecting, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based programming for early literacy. As identified in our partnership logic model, the work will support continuous improvement around implementing evidence-based practices, with the long-term goal of improving kindergarten readiness as measured by the Idaho Reading Indicator.
Initial partnership activities have included capacity building around logic model development to guide the work of the initiative and the drafting of a project evaluation plan to monitor outcomes.
Claire Morgan is a Senior Researcher at WestEd and leads the Idaho Early Childhood Partnership for REL Northwest.
1 Cannon, J.S., Kilburn, M.R., Karoly, L.A., Mattox, T., Muchow, A.N., and Buenaventura, M. (2017). Investing Early: Taking Stock of Outcomes and Economic Returns From Early Childhood Programs. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1993.html.