1) Review: Introduction, Description, Objectives, and Key Concepts of lesson
2) Read: Material in Your Essential Library
4) Complete: Activity 1: Identifying PreK-3 Leadership Competencies
In this lesson, the principles of the learning continuum presented in Strand One will be examined more concretely through a close study of the Birth-3rd Grade (B-3) continuum. It is important to note that this early learning continuum is defined and discussed using different language and age bands, but the concepts, principles, and practices underlying them are very similar. Different entities refer to this continuum as the PreK-3 (or, alternately, PK-3 or just P-3) continuum, which denotes a focus on children once they have entered Pre-Kindergarten. The B-3 continuum integrates children into their framework prior to formal schooling and beginning at birth, as signified by its label. While the differences between B-3 and PreK-3 frameworks are not merely nominal, these approaches are aligned and essentially indistinguishable once children reach Pre-Kindergarten. The important distinguishing feature is the focus on children from Birth to Age 3 in the B-3 continuum. For the purposes of the LINC Curriculum Module, this continuum will be referred to as B-3, with the understanding that it will include PreK-3 resources, articles, and tools, as well.
In this lesson 2.1, the B-3 framework and specific B-3 models will be studied as a way to understand both the uniqueness of different B-3 approaches, as well as the underlying similarities in and among them. B-3 approaches can be as diverse and unique as the schools and communities they serve. They require tremendous collaboration and input from school and community stakeholders; and they have a profound influence on creating outstanding, integrated, and highly effective learning during the crucial developmental period that makes up the early childhood years (ages 0-8). This lesson will provide an overview and orientation to the B-3 approach, share some strategies employed by successful B-3 models, and examine the importance of effective leadership to cultivate comprehensive B-3 approaches.
After completing this lesson, participants should be able to:
The many different regulatory bodies that govern education from Birth through Grade 12 create an often disjointed educational experience for children, especially within the B-3 span.
The earliest educative experiences of children are governed by a myriad of different and often unaligned entities. These include federal and state departments of education, local education agencies, federal and state departments of human and family services, health care systems, not-for-profit organizations, and for-profit organizations, among others. This can contribute to a disjointed and interrupted educational experience, with important negative consequences as children transition from PreK to K-12 systems.
Better aligned B-3 models assist in creating integrated, continuous, and effective educational experiences for children.
Research has shown that children who have access to well-aligned and integrated programs are more likely to achieve academic proficiency and sustain growth over time; and such overall alignment starts with a commitment to creating aligned systems, standards, and policies at the B-3 level. Efforts at the federal-, state-, and local levels to create better aligned standards have contributed to a more effective learning continuum by ameliorating some of the incongruence between the different systems. Now, schools and communities must invest in local capacity to build successful B-3 models.
Successful models of B-3 (and PreK-3) education are undergirded by the same framework.
Kauerz and Coffman’s Framework for Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating PreK-3rd Grade Approaches identifies key elements of creating continuous and well-aligned B/PreK-3 programs. Chief among them are effective instruction, instructional coherence, and meaningful learning opportunities. To achieve these key elements requires school and community stakeholders to work collaboratively and bridge systems and services on-the-ground.
School leaders play a crucial role at the school level in creating well-aligned B-3 programming.
Beyond the high-level work of bridging systems through policies and standards, leaders play a pivotal role in creating well-aligned and integrated approaches within and between schools. They wield considerable influence in helping to build expertise among teaching staff by creating better aligned instructional, curricular, assessment, and professional development opportunities; creating collaborative staff working relationships between and among grade levels, special programming, schools, and early learning providers.
LINC has identified the following resources as the most essential current resources on this topic. You should peruse each of these resources prior to teaching this lesson. There are also optional resources in the Additional Resources for Further Study under assessment, instruction, and data-based decision making section.
To synthesize the material completed thus far in this lesson, consider the following through either small group discussion or individual writing response:
Activity 1: Identifying PreK-3 Leadership Competencies
The post-lesson activity is designed to help participants grow their knowledge of B-3/PreK-3 models of education by applying their knowledge to real-world models.