It is hard to create a truly effective early education system if all the architects are not talking to one another, and that is what’s happening when it comes to data, a new report found.
Nearly all U.S. states do not connect child-level data from the many state, local and federal early childhood education programs, according to the “2013 State of States’ Early Childhood Data Systems” report from the Early Childhood Data Collaborative.
Are young children (birth to age five) on track to succeed when they enter school? How many children have access to high-quality early care and education (ECE) programs? Is the early childhood workforce adequately trained to meet the needs of young children? Most states cannot answer these basic questions because data on young children are housed in multiple, uncoordinated systems, managed by different state and federal agencies.
—“2013 State of States’ Early Childhood Data Systems.” 2/19/14.
As usual, New America Foundation’s crack analysts have a great take on what is happening.
Data are often the red-headed stepchildren of education programs, a less glamorous reform than the others. But data provide critical insights into the way local, state, and federal policies work, and inform the direction of future policies.
—“Report Finds Massive Misalignments in Early Education Data.” Ed Central, 2/19/14. New America Foundation.
The good news is that states are increasingly aware of the need to create connected networks of early learning data.
In Washington state, the Department of Early Learning is connecting data from early learning and K-12 through its state Education Research Data Center.
Washington is also going to provide students in the state preschool program, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), with unique and secure student identifiers that will help track and show student growth from the age of three or four through senior year in high school.
Today’s report gives states more steps to help data efforts along:
- “Strengthen states’ capacity to securely link data on young children across all state and federal programs. Develop more effective strategies to incorporate data from Head Start and subsidized child care data so policymakers and practitioners have a more-comprehensive view of children’s learning and development.”
- “Expand state efforts to collect, link, and use screening and child assessment data, including kindergarten entry assessments, and to use these data to improve program effectiveness, inform parents, and improve teaching and learning.” (It’s important to note here that Washington state has WaKIDS, Washington’s kindergarten entry assessment, that engages students, families, early learning providers and kindergarten teachers and is a mandate for all state-funded full-day kindergarten.)
- “Create and strengthen state ECE data governance entities to enhance the coordination, security, and appropriate use of ECE data. Convene stakeholders (e.g., parents, ECE professionals, program administrators, policymakers) to identify data needed to inform ECE polices, safeguards to ensure privacy, and strategies to build fully coordinated longitudinal ECE data systems.”
A great talk about what PreK-3rd reforms look like — the latest webinar from The PreK-3rd Grade National Working Group — is happening over on Twitter. Check it out under #prek3rd.