Colorado is Leading the Way in P-3 Alignment

April 19th, 2018 | by SRC

The creation of strong P-3 systems that effectively link early learning and the early grades (preschool through grade 3) is a key strategy to promote positive student outcomes, and foster children’s growth and development throughout the early years. Efforts targeted to building P-3 systems are based on a robust body of research supporting the notion that quality early learning experiences promote long-term student achievement, reduce the need for more costly remediation later in a student’s education, and ultimately provide the foundational academic and social-emotional skills that are critical for lifelong success. As a result, building a continuum of aligned learning experiences that bridges early learning and the early grades has become a major focus of researchers and education leaders alike. Schools and districts across the country are integrating P-3 approaches into their educational planning and programming.

Colorado has made P-3 alignment a high priority. To support districts across the state in building strong P-3 programs, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) has established the Office of P-3 Education. Supported by School Readiness Consulting (SRC) the P-3 Office has implemented a number of initiatives and developed a comprehensive set of tools to support district and school-based P-3 implementation.

To disseminate information and support peer learning, CDE established the P-3 Leadership Cadre, a learning community comprised of leadership teams from elementary schools across the state. The goals of the Cadre were to:

  1. Learn from one another about efforts to create a P-3 system in schools
  2. Learn from state and national experts about effective P-3 models
  3. Work to co-develop a P-3 leadership model for the state
  4. Establish demonstration sites for the state.

SRC worked with CDE to capture the work of the Cadre by creating profiles of each team, gathering information and input on their efforts, and developing a summary report, “Leading the Way: P-3 Education in Colorado,” which compiled lessons learned and provided the following recommendations for sustaining P-3 alignment efforts:

  • Start with a common vision
  • Build principal capacity to serve as P-3 instructional leaders
  • Build teacher capacity through training, PLC’s, and shared planning time
  • Use data to inform practice
  • Support transitions
  • Engage families
  • Build a foundation to sustain P-3
  • Reach out to the community.

In support of efforts to expand and deepen district and school capacity to implement effective P-3 systems, SRC has developed the P-3 Toolkit which includes a P-3 Needs Assessment and Action Planning Process.  The toolkit also includes a guide to conducting a P-3 Learning Tour  for district leadership, to support gathering information and insights that can be used as part of the strategic planning process in a variety of settings. To encourage ongoing peer learning and exchange SRC created an interactive story-telling platform on the CDE Early Learning Web Site. SRC continues to partner with districts and schools across the country to facilitate efforts to strengthen P-3 efforts.

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