NAESP on Leading Early Childhood Learning Communities

By Kelly D. Pollitt
Communicator
December 2013, Volume 37, Issue 4

Communities, policymakers, and educators are united in their support of robust early childhood learning opportunities for all children, especially those from disadvantaged households. In fact, three out of four Americans believe preschool programs for children from low-income households would help these same children perform better in school in their teenage years, according to “Which way do we go?” The 45th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. The poll also reports that almost two out of three Americans are willing to support these programs with taxes.

Now, more than ever, principals understand the importance of providing every child a high-quality early childhood educational experience, due to the profound and lasting effect of developing an academic pathway that leads to college and career-readiness. The opportunity for high-quality early learning and student success relies on systems and schools providing a seamless continuum of learning for children from age three to grade three, ensuring effective alignment of appropriate curricula and instructional leadership practices.

In 2005, NAESP developed Leading Early Childhood Learning Communities: What Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do, a resource to guide instructional leaders in supporting the youngest learners. The standards-based publication has helped principals rethink the connection between early childhood centers and elementary schools, and understand the importance of creating appropriate early learning experiences where there are gaps in local systems. The publication continues to provide principals with sound practical knowledge through six indicators of effective strategies for instructional leadership practice in the prekindergarten and early elementary years. However, as the research and knowledge on child development and early childhood education has advanced,  effective practices for instructional leaders related to early learning and the academic, social, emotional, and physical development of young children has evolved.

In response to these developments, NAESP has launched a comprehensive effort to revise and update its base of knowledge on effective instructional leadership practices in early childhood education. As a part of this effort, NAESP has partnered with VINCI Education, home of award-winning VINCI Blended Learning curriculum and Class VINCI, to address and promote effective leadership and improve instruction and learning practice in early childhood education. This partnership will produce resources supporting effective P-3 leadership practice, including integrating blending learning and technology in the early years and creating professional development to build the capacity of principals.

NAESP and VINCI Education recognize the importance of high-quality early learning opportunities for all children, and will work together to help build the capacity of principals in P-3 education to close and ultimately prevent achievement gaps between students from disadvantaged households and their more affluent peers. NAESP and VINCI are committed to establishing evidence and best practices to help teachers and principals successfully incorporate blended learning and technology into their classrooms.

Over the next several months, NAESP will convene an advisory group of early childhood experts as well as a working group of principals to examine the critical questions. The research will provide the foundation for the revised standards and practical guidance for principals. The materials and final body of knowledge will be released at NAESP’s 2014 annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, which takes place July 11-13. For more information, please contact me at kpollitt@naesp.org.

Kelly D. Pollitt is Associate Executive Director for Policy, Public Affairs, and Special Projects at NAESP.

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