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No Child Left Behind and Early Education: Prospects for 2008

Congressional leaders recently announced that they will not finish reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act -- the major federal law authorizing elementary and secondary education programs -- this year, but will continue working on reauthorization in 2008. This gives Congress a chance to revisit an issue that was largely ignored in this year's debate over NCLB reauthorization: early education for pre-school and early elementary aged youngsters. Evidence shows that the foundations of children's future academic success or failure are largely in place by the end of third grade, and as much as half of the achievement gap between white and African American students exists before children enter first grade. Yet public debate on NCLB has focused little attention on the preschool and early elementary years. A new issue brief from the New America Foundation, 10 New Ideas for Early Education in the NCLB Reauthorization, explains why Congress must not ignore early education in NCLB reauthorization, and offers recommendations for how the law could better support children's learning in these critical years. How can NCLB better support state and local efforts to improve preschool quality and access, as well as early elementary learning? What are the prospects for early education reforms, and No Child Left Behind reauthorization generally, when Congress takes these issues up again in 2008?
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