The U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance focused on how the nation’s new education law supports young children including those with disabilities. President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law in December to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and replace key requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. For the first time, the ESSA includes provisions to promote coordination in early learning among local communities; align preschool with early elementary school; and build the capacity of teachers, leaders and others serving young children including those with disabilities to provide the highest-quality early learning opportunities. Early learning is woven throughout the ESSA, as a means of addressing educational equity, supporting students’ school success, and bringing greater alignment along the entire education continuum.
This guidance is intended to ensure that state and local decision-makers realize the importance of investing in early learning highlighting the opportunities available under the new law to strengthen early education, and providing examples of how states and local communities can support young children’s success in school.