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ESSA and Early Learning

By Sharon Triolo-Moloney, P-3 Alignment Director, Early Learning and School Readiness
Monday, March 14, 2016 - 12:19pm

ESSA has made clear there will be additional opportunities to support early learning initiatives.  There are various sections throughout ESSA that promote a new focus on programs designed specifically to support early learning. These opportunities can be found in Title I, Title II, Title III and Title IX, Section 9212, which focuses on Preschool Development Grants.  

Districts using Title I funds to support early childhood programs will be required to comply with Head Start performance standards. 

Other highlights include funds and supports for, but not limited to:

  • Professional Development
  • Preparing, training and recruiting qualified staff
  • Supports for administrators, principals, school leaders, teachers and paraprofessionals
  • Language instruction for English learners and immigrant students, which allows support for strategies that promote school readiness and transition plans and activities
  • Preschool development grant: this is a competitive grant aimed at improving existing early childhood programs

CDE is excited to provide and help districts understand these additional supports for our young students! Early childhood education is crucial for students to become confident and active learners.

For additional information on new Early Learning opportunities, please see ( for more details. 


Since HHS regulates guidance for Head Start how will this look for School Districts moving forward integrating the performance standards? Will ED release collaborating guidance for districts that choose to expand their Title 1 supports into Head Start, What about Migrant Head Start, babies and nursing facilities fall under this guidance, do we see schools districts opening this up as well for supports, and if so, is there coming guidance for how this may look within a district? I believe this is a great opportunity for districts to expand their support for ECE, what will happen to the competing forces of current Head Start programs in the state such as Rocky Mountain Service Employment Redevelopment, 3000+ children, approximately 32 sites state wide, 600 plus employees? Would there be a push for further support and integration of private non-profits and school districts? Does CDE have thinking around the changing impacts for current Head Start programs and the possible coming support? Would appreciate any all perspectives on this expanded Title program supports with Head Start programs.

ESSA offers numerous opportunities for school districts to invest in early learning. Decisions about what this will look like will be made primarily at the local level. ESSA encourages coordination and partnership with early learning programs. Requiring districts using Title I funds to comply with Head Start performance standards is not new. Under ESEA, the US Dept. of Education provided a guidance document called “Serving Preschool Children Through Title I.” We are checking to see when an updated version will be available. As resource documents become available CDE will provide links to those documents.

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