Biden-Harris Administration Releases Resources to Support Preschool Expansion and Early School Success

Biden-Harris Administration Releases Resources to Support Preschool Expansion and Early School Success

February 26, 2024

Guidance Advances President Biden’s Work to Invest in Early Learning

Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) released guidance for how states, local educational agencies (LEAs), and schools can use Title I funds to expand access to high-quality preschool for three- and four-year olds in a range of quality settings including schools, Head Start, and community-based organizations. This guidance will help ensure more children can experience early school success, and it encourages more schools across the nation to better set up kindergarten to be a sturdy bridge between the early years and the early grades. The Biden-Harris Administration has secured historic educational investments, including an additional $1.9 billion in annual funding for the Title I program since 2021. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will highlight this announcement today during a visit to an early childhood center in New Jersey.

“High-quality, early learning opportunities are proven bridges to later academic success—and every child deserves access,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “With the resources we’re releasing today, the Biden-Harris Administration is helping states, LEAs, schools, and communities to reach more historically underserved children with high-quality preschool programs, strengthen community partnerships, and find strategies and tools to best support educators and staff. I’m proud that the Department is a partner in raising the bar on quality and access so that more children can benefit from expanded early learning opportunities and lay the path for early school success.” 

Given the clear link between high-quality preschool and student achievement, the Department has revised its Non-Regulatory Guidance on Serving Preschool Children Through Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)to help states, local educational agencies (LEAs), and schools leverage these critical resources to expand access to preschool and enhance program quality. The last time this guidance was revised was in 2012, prior to the most recent reauthorization of the ESEA in 2015. The release of this guidance also follows the release of the President’s Executive Order to Increase Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers, which directed the Department of Education to update its guidance on how schools and local educational agencies could expand access to high-quality preschool. The Department is coordinating these efforts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ensure quality preschool is available through a variety of settings to meet the needs of all families.

The guidance includes information on how local and state education agencies can partner with local preschool programs, Head Start, and other community-based organizations to expand access to preschool opportunities through layering and braiding federal, state, and local funds. The revised guidance further describes how Title I funds can be used to support the professional development and growth of early educators. The revised guidance also highlights ways to meet the developmental and linguistic needs of preschool students, especially children with disabilities and English learners, which is essential to achieving educational equity.  

Expanding access to high-quality preschool has been a core priority for the Biden-Harris Administration since Day One. High-quality preschool is an effective strategy to improve academic and other outcomes for every student and prepare children for elementary school, and beyond. Research shows that when students from low-income backgrounds receive two years of high-quality preschool, followed by high-quality, instructionally aligned, full-day kindergarten, achievement gaps close and students are more likely to succeed in school and graduate from high school. The revised guidance will help schools expand high-quality preschool for more students by providing actionable information on how LEAs can utilize Title I, as well as other federal funds like Title III and IDEA Part B, to reach more children. The skills and knowledge that children acquire in their early years are the building blocks for life. By expanding access to high-quality preschool, coordinating transitions to kindergarten, and supporting teachers who educate our youngest learners, more students can have the opportunity to experience early school success, resulting in more students reaching third grade benchmarks that are crucial for high school graduation and future success. 

The Non-Regulatory Guidance on Serving Preschool Children Through Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as Amended and accompanying Early School Success Dear Colleague Letter provide more details about how states and local leaders can ensure opportunities for all young learners.