The Department's strategy for sustaining the President's 2020 college attainment goal depends on improving learning in the earliest years. The years from birth through age eight are the most critical for brain development, and significant evidence from research and evaluation demonstrate that participation in high-quality early learning programs will lead to both short- and long-term positive outcomes for all children, especially those with high needs, including increased school readiness and success and improved high school graduation and college attendance and completion.
The goal for early learning is improve the health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes for all children from birth through 3rd grade, so that all children, particularly those with high needs, are on track for graduating from high school college- and career-ready. To enhance the quality of programs and services and improve outcomes for children from birth through 3rd grade, including children with disabilities and those who are English Learners, the Department will promote initiatives that increase access to high-quality programs, improve the early learning workforce, build the capacity of states and programs to develop and implement comprehensive early learning assessment systems, and ensure program effectiveness and accountability.
Led by the Deputy Assistant Secretary on Policy and Early Learning, the Office of Early Learning works collaboratively with various program offices to drive the Early Learning Initiative at the U.S. Department of Education.
For more information, please see the Department of Education Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2011-2014 and the Department's FY 2012-13 Priority Performance Goals.
The Department's proposal for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act supports a continuum of learning, beginning at birth, in order to close the achievement gap and ensure that every student graduates from high school ready to succeed in college and a career. Watch and listen to our early learning and ESEA stakeholders' forum on ED.gov Blog.