All parents, teachers, and policymakers want children to reach their maximum potential in school and in life. But a wave of research over the last few decades has shown that college and career readiness begins long before students even enter a classroom. Disparities in children’s abilities appear as early as the first year of life, and targeted interventions during the early childhood years can narrow the “school readiness gap.”
State policymakers throughout the United States are increasingly focused on closing this gap and preparing all students to succeed. To this end, states collect ECE data, but they are uncoordinated, often incomplete, and therefore cannot effectively support continuous improvement efforts. Not only are states unable to answer critical policy questions about their states’ public ECE systems, but policymakers often struggle to obtain answers to basic questions. Coordinated state early care and education (ECE) data systems ensure that data are accessible, and grant stakeholders the capacity to use data appropriately.