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A systems focus to improve school readiness


The pandemic has brought significant attention to the importance of early care and education (ECE), as well as the importance of engaging families in new ways. For the majority of the country, it has brought to light what advocates and researchers have pushed for decades — that systemic reform is needed in states’ ECE systems to ensure more equitable opportunities and outcomes. To begin to address this systemic issue, state education leaders have been developing, and requiring their states to employ, definitions of school readiness. These definitions help agencies set goals and benchmarks that are tied to early learning and development standards. Traditional definitions of school readiness have focused primarily on the skills, knowledge and abilities children need for educational success. However, these definitions have evolved in recent years to encompass a multidimensional view, adding physical and mental health, social and emotional skills, executive functioning and self-regulation, and broader family and community supports. While 16 states plus the District of Columbia currently have statutory definitions of school readiness, these vary considerably in terms of comprehensiveness. This Special Report looks at the malleable and transformative components of educational and health considerations (and their intersections) as they impact school readiness. It provides examples of innovative state programs and policies, highlights new federal financial supports and closes with state-level policy takeaways. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
United States
State(s)/Territories/Tribal Nation(s):
Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Illinois; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Mississippi; New Mexico; Oregon; South Carolina; South Dakota; Utah; Vermont; Washington; West Virginia; Wyoming

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