early childhood learning network
Engaged communities are at the heart of student success. We are building a community of supporting adults who want to share responsibility in fostering the success of every child.
“It takes more than passion to make quality improvement happen. It takes money and our Early Learning Coalition board has invested in the people who care for our children with support for national certifications, incentives for education and stipends for improvement. They’ve committed to our community’s future because they’re in it for the long haul, and so is the Coalition. We’re planting seeds for trees that we may never sit under.”
— Vicki Pugh
Program Improvement Director, Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County
Chair, 32505 Early Learning Network, Achieve Escambia
Implementing quality improvement in VPK classrooms
We’re lucky to live in a state where all 4-year-olds can attend preschool, regardless of income or other factors. Florida adopted Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) through a constitutional amendment in 2002, and today is one of just nine states with universal preschool.
Access, however, isn’t enough. The past decades have shown that quality counts. For Escambia to truly improve kindergarten readiness, we must take steps to improve the quality of our preschool programs.
The Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County is taking this mission to heart. Over the past few years, the Coalition has overseen a sea change among VPK providers, who collectively are performing better than ever in a system whose primary state funding source remains flat.
The Coalition’s quality improvement movement is working because it’s focused on spreading widely accepted quality benchmarks: free professional development for teachers; intense coaching, expertise and resources; curriculum support; and innovative classroom design.
It’s also working because it’s based on data. The Coalition is looking at the VPK landscape with a more equitable lens, then moving swiftly to plug gaps in child care deserts and introduce novel ways for teachers to individualize instruction.
Partnering for preschoolers at C.A. Weis Community Partnership School
In June 2018, Achieve Escambia entered into a multi-year agreement to house our place-based partnerships in early learning and early child development at C. A. Weis Community Partnership School. A community school has extended services, extended hours and deep relationships. It is a “swinging door” to the community whose success depends on long- term partnerships and innovative approaches to social-emotional learning and enrichment.
Our partnership with C.A. Weis will focus on building a community-based model to improve kindergarten readiness that can be replicated in other struggling neighborhoods. By investing in children through support of the 3-year-old preschool program at C.A. Weis, Achieve Escambia will learn about the factors influencing outcomes in the neighborhood surrounding our community school. High quality early education is the foundation for a strong economy tomorrow. Quality learning environments (whether at home with supportive and nurturing families or in classroom settings) significantly improve kindergarten readiness, 3rd-grade reading, high school graduation, postsecondary education and workforce readiness.