As early education continues to fill growing needs and interest, one place that sits at the foundation of future efforts is what’s known as Prenatal-through-Grade-3 — or P-3 — Initiatives.
Now a new research report titled “Building Successful P-3 Initiatives: Foundations and Catalysts for Systems Change” outlines the capabilities and drivers required to make these programs work. The repot was issued by the Center for Improvement of Child & Family Services at Portland State University and The Oregon Community Foundation.
The report notes that Prenatal-through-Grade-3 (P-3) initiatives:
- “Are based on accumulating evidence that stand-alone early childhood and school-based programs are not sufficient to sustain long-term success for children facing early childhood inequities”
- “Take a collective impact approach that brings families, early childhood providers, K-12 staff and other partners together to work toward the shared goal of improving school readiness and success”
- “Build on the strengths of diverse programs and partners, identifying and addressing gaps in the system of supports and working together — rather than in isolation — to foster school readiness and success”
Importantly, the study identifies two sets of key elements for successful P-3 initiatives: Foundations and catalysts. It states that “foundations are the basic functional elements needed to establish a successful P-3 initiative.” while “catalysts are elements that promote and sustain the initiative’s progress toward improving educational systems, programs and outcomes.”
As we noted previously: “The first years of life lay the foundations for a child’s future development and learning. A growing body of research suggests that the magnitude of the benefits for children will depend on the level of quality of early childhood services, with especially strong evidence in the case of disadvantaged children.”
Early Education: 6 Foundations for P-3 Initiatives
Our next post will address the Catalysts. Today we cover the six Foundations, which include:
- Stakeholders with a Strong Understanding of the P-3 Approach: “Clearly defining the P-3 approach is an essential early task for the leadership team. From the outset, successful P-3 initiatives strive to build a shared understanding of the P-3 framework and goals.”
- Dedicated, Willing Leadership: “P-3 work is typically led by a collaborative leadership team and involves a broad array of community partners. Ideally, this team should have at least a few early champions from the K-12 and early learning sectors who are dedicated to bridging these sectors and to investing time and resources in collaboration.”
- Effective Collaborative Teams: “Effective P-3 teams are characterized by strong administrative and relational capacity.”
- A Shared Vision for Long-Term Success: “P-3 work should be guided by a clear vision statement that all cross-sector partners understand and can articulate. Without a shared vision, it will be harder to prioritize needs and make strategic decisions.”
- An Informed Action Plan: “A common pitfall in P-3 work is jumping to implementation without carefully planning and prioritizing resources and activities. To avoid this, an action plan should be organized around the vision statement. It should detail task responsibilities and timelines, as well as necessary resources and how they will be obtained.”
- Meaningful Inclusion of Family and Staff Voice: “An informed action plan incorporates the perspectives of the families, teachers and early learning providers who are most likely to be affected by P-3 work. Implementing strategies without guidance from these stakeholders can have negative consequences, which include low participation by families and staff, as well as implementing strategies that are not valued or that conflict with existing practices or cultural beliefs.