Research has shown that success in K-12 education starts well before students enter the traditional K-12 classroom. Children from low-income families who attend year round, full-day pre-kindergarten programs are half as likely to need special education services in later grades. They are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, and the odds of juvenile crime, delinquency, and teenage pregnancy are greatly reduced.

Many elementary school principals are actively engaged in early childhood learning by leading programs in their schools and communities that are showing improvements in academic achievement and the social and emotional well-being of children. Unfortunately, many principal preparation programs and school systems lack sufficient training and professional learning opportunities to help principals design and lead quality early childhood programs.

New policies in the ESEA reauthorization must strengthen professional development for principals and include standards for program strategies to create comprehensive early childhood programs. The standards should provide guidance to principals on effective pre-kindergarten through grade three alignment, which entails working with families directly to bridge the transition to the primary grades.

Read NAESP’s policy recommendations for professional development in early childhood development programs here.