2013 Legislative Session – P-3 Policies
by Emily Workman, Education Commission of the States, November 2013
ECS conducted a scan of enacted policies from the 2013 legislative sessions to capture the ongoing work that lawmakers across the country are engaging in to strengthen their P-3 systems. The diversity of policies seems to demonstrate state policymakers are increasingly recognizing that the developmental supports a child receives in the earliest years provide lifelong payouts for both child and community.
In the 2013 legislative session, policymakers looked for new and innovative ways to support P-3 in their states by strengthening oversight of their early childhood programs, re-directing funds or creating new grants or scholarship programs, expanding access to high-quality programs, ensuring student preparedness by engaging families, screening children early for reading deficiencies, and more.
This report provides summaries of 38 bills from 25 states that illustrate the breadth and depth of P-3 policies enacted in 2013 legislative sessions.
• Minnesota leaders created a new pre-K scholarship program for low-income families while states like Texas and North Dakota identified creative ways to fund early childhood programs through the re-allocation of K-12 funds or by allowing the use of local taxes as long as it didn’t infringe on support of K-12 programs.
• Hawaii and Mississippi established their first statewide voluntary pre-K programs, thereby raising the number of states to 41 that provide public funds for programs serving 4-year-olds.
• Reading continued to be a topic of interest with Mississippi requiring the intervention and retention of students still struggling to read in grade 3 and Utah, Ohio, and Virginia holding schools increasingly accountable for student results.
The emphasis on expanding or strengthening P-3 programs across states may represent a recognition by policymakers of the need for investing in the country’s youngest learners. As policymakers enter the 2014 legislative session in January, we expect to see ongoing support for investments in early childhood following the second consecutive year where the majority of states have increased their investments in pre-K, based on ECS analyses….
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