Think Nationally, Act Locally: Early Childhood Education’s Role in Closing the Achievement Gap
In traditional measures of school success, there is extensive documentation of Black and Latino children, as well as children from lower-income families, trailing White and Asian children and children from wealthier families. These measures are not perfect; they miss many of our children’s strengths. Still, despite their faults, they are strong indicators of future employment prospects. Hence, NAEYC’s 2009 position statement on developmentally appropriate practice highlights the need for early childhood education to be a major force for reducing the achievement gap.
The Black Caucus, an NAEYC Interest Forum, for nearly 50 years has provided a community of support and mentoring for Black members of the larger association as they strive to improve learning environments of Black children and other children of color. The Caucus is pleased to partner with NAEYC on this special issue of Young Children. Decades of research have firmly established that the achievement gap takes hold at birth, persists throughout development, and has lifelong negative consequences—unless it is addressed early. This last finding is of the utmost importance; the achievement gap results from the inequitable opportunities provided to our children, families, and communities. As a nation, we could— and should—do far more to equalize opportunities to learn.