Research consistently shows smart investments in high-quality early childhood education produce economic and social dividends for children, families, and society. However, how we get there is often lacking.

Today, The Learning Policy Institute, in partnership with Council for a Strong America and First Five Years Fund, hosted a forum in Washington, D.C. to discuss the Learning Policy Institute’s latest report, The Road to High-Quality Early Education: Lessons from the States. The Learning Policy Institute’s new report provides us with new wisdom and knowledge into what states can do to increase the quality of their programs, and so much more.

Recognizing the potential for high-quality early education to change the arc of children’s lives, this report presents in-depth accounts of four states — Michigan, North Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia — that have devised a set of strategies for delivering quality programs at scale.

Specifically, the report highlights five key lessons learned:

  • Prioritize quality and continuous improvement. Recognizing the critical role of program quality in achieving positive child outcomes, each state has invested in strategies to improve its’ early education programs.
  • Invest in training and coaching for teachers. These four states place heavy emphasis on boosting the quality of preschool teachers, focusing both on their credentials and their interactions with students.
  • Coordinate the administration of birth-through-grade-3 programs. Pre-k historically has been administered separately from k-12. These four states are seeking to create a seamless educational experience for youngsters, aligning what is taught and how it is taught from preschool through elementary school and beyond.
  • Strategically combine multiple funding sources to increase access and improve quality. Adequate resources are essential to assuring high-quality early education. While these four states depend primarily on state dollars as the main revenue source for early education, they also take advantage of federal and local funding.
  • Create broad-based coalitions and support. Launching a high-quality early education initiative—or building a bigger and better program—is hard work. These four states relied on broad–based support to advance their efforts.

As states and communities lead the way on early childhood across the country, the Learning Policy Institute’s latest report provides valuable insight into how states can convert their goals of increased access to quality early learning into a reality for children who need it most.

To read more about the lessons learned from Michigan, North Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia, you can download and read Learning Policy Institute’s report here.