Dear Secretary Duncan:
Thank you for your invitation to comment on the Department’s proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for awarding the Investing in Innovation funds.
For your convenience, we provide the following summary of our comments, which in general, reflect our belief that early learning should be integrated across all four Absolute Priorities. This leads us to make the following recommendations:
- Under Proposed Absolute Priority 4, define PreK-3rd Learning Academies as an Absolute Priority for failing elementary schools.
- Under Proposed Absolute Priority 1, include PreKindergarten teachers, elementary principals, and superintendents among those who are essential to raising educational performance among low-income students, and specifically focus on the need to insure that teachers and leaders recognize and fulfill their responsibility to insure that every American student reads proficiently by Third Grade.
- Under Proposed Absolute Priority 2, include PreKindergarten data among the kinds of data to be evaluated and analyzed by educators.
- Under Proposed Absolute Priority 3, support strategies that increase the reading and mathematics literacy of primary grade students by emphasizing high-quality PreKindergarten and intensive early language, literacy, and math instruction.
- Under Proposed Absolute Priority 4, specify that aligning and integrating high quality PreKindergarten with intensive early language and literacy instruction in the primary grades qualifies as a targeted approach to reforming persistently low-performing schools.