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How States Plan to Use ESSA Funds for Early Learning

An early-childhood education advocacy group has released a new report on how states are using the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, to leverage federal support for early learning.

Childcare-Preschool-GETTY-blog-2.jpgThe report is the latest component of what the First Five Years Fund calls an ESSA resource toolkit. Entitled, "Early Learning In State ESSA Plans - Implementation Snapshot: How States Are Using the Law," it breaks down how each state plans to either launch new early-childhood initiatives or increase their current offerings.

When ESSA was enacted in 2015, it authorized the first early-childhood education dedicated funding stream through the new Preschool Development Grants program, and states seem to be embracing it. The report stressed that these plans show how seriously state leaders are taking the issue since "few early-learning related provisions of ESSA are mandated."

The fund supports federal investment in early-childhood education for disadvantaged children. And, the report notes, 13 states plan to make early-learning initiatives a part of their state accountability systems under Title I, while 15 states and the District of Columbia list early learning as a strategy for school improvement within Title I.

In addition to listing the state's plans for early-childhood education to help the disadvantaged students who attend Title I schools, the report also provides examples of how various states plan to use these funds. It mentions that the Illinois Board of Education plans to evaluate P-2 as part of its accountability system. 

The report also notes that even more states are considering early-learning initiatives when it comes to funding for professional development and academic enrichment.

A majority (31) plan to use their Title II professional development funds to help school leaders support educators working with children age 8 and under, and 38 states included early learning as part of their Well-Rounded Education Initiatives as part of the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants under Title IV of ESSA. 

Stock photo of a preschool classroom by Getty.

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