Aligning early learning settings with the public schools is one goal of the Massachusetts Early Learning Plan, the state’s blueprint for the four-year $50 million federal Early Learning Challenge grant awarded in December 2011. The Department of Early Education and Care recently announced the five grantees that will share $1 million in grants designed “to strengthen and advance their PreK-3rd Grade partnerships and coordination,” according to a news release.
The communities and lead agencies are: Square One (Springfield), Somerville Public Schools, Boston Public Schools, Berkshire United Way (Pittsfield), and Thrive in 5/United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (Boston). The grants will be disbursed over two years.
“EEC awarded grants to communities with an existing infrastructure for PreK-3rd grade systems that will serve as the foundation for enhanced coordination and alignment of programs and services,” the news release states. “Components of this more effective and aligned system include: cooperative governance structures, educator collaboration and shared professional development, aligned curricula and assessment systems, streamlined data collection, joint parent and family engagement efforts, and access to extended learning opportunities.”
The grants are designed to improve partnerships between private, community-based early education and care programs and the public schools pre-kindergarten and primary grade programs. Grantees will work to share professional development, promote family engagement and align standards and assessments.
“Building stronger early education systems that provide an aligned experience and smooth transition for children and families is critical to improved child and family outcomes by third grade,” EEC Commissioner Sherri Killins said in the news release. “Partnerships that bring together both systems and key collaborators with a common focus and shared goals will help us achieve the goal of establishing a cradle-to-career education pipeline in Massachusetts that prepares our citizens for lifelong success’”