tional $1 billion to expand and improve Head Start. This level of funding should be sustained and expanded, working toward the goal of voluntary, high-quality preschool education, universally available to 3- and 4-year old children from qualifying families.
The federal government, in coordination with states and local school districts, should consider targeted resources to perpetuate gains obtained through Head Start and public pre-K programs once students are enrolled in elementary school; incentives for states to expand the capacity and improve the quality of public pre-K programs; and the increased integration of child care, Head Start, and state pre-K programs to reduce the disparities in early education and school readiness.
The federal Head Start program, in conjunction with the Department of Education and National Science Foundation, should provide dissemination and training on curricular tools for Head Start and public pre-K programs that facilitate the introduction of scientific skills, such as observing nature, formulating questions, and creativity.
We echo the recent recommendation of the College Board (2008a) that “Governors and legislators, working with educators, community groups, and experts on Head Start and early childhood education, should develop funding formulas to help communities establish and create effective preschool programs and standards for their operation.”1
State systems should work with educators and experts to align early childhood programs with public school curriculum and quality standards, including those for mathematics and science, to ensure the successful matriculation of children during the early grades.
Local school districts should offer guidance on how to align preschool curricula with learning expectations in kindergarten.2 Experts suggest aligning preschool curricula with expectations through 3rd grade.
Local school districts should target resources to perpetuate gains obtained through preschool programs once students are enrolled in elementary school by adopting promising practices and proven interventions.