California Education Dialogue

A public policy dialogue produced by Information Renaissance
with support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,
IBM Corporation and Intel Corporation



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Report of the Working Group on School Readiness


Summary of Recommendations

Introduction: A Master Plan for School Readiness

Improve School Readiness and Achievement

A Statewide Framework for an Early Care and Education System

A System of Family and Community Supports for Education

Epilogue: In Twenty Years

Appendix A: Proposed Governance Structure

Appendix B: Committees of the School Readiness Working Group


Members of the Working Group



The School Readiness Working Group proposes a coordinated set of programs and services for families and their children, birth to grade three that are sufficiently powerful and accessible to improve school readiness and performance. The long-term goal is to reverse a widespread pattern of underachievement in California schools and close the achievement gap that affects many children across the state.

  1. FOR INFANTS AND TODDLERS: Fund high quality programs for all low-income infants and toddlers and enhance developmental screening in the earliest years of life.

  1. FOR PRESCHOOLERS: For the two years leading up to kindergarten entry, provide universal access to formal preschool programs that offer group experiences, standards-based curricula, and individualized transition plans to kindergarten.

  1. FOR KINDERGARTENERS: Require kindergarten attendance for all children; phase in full-school-day kindergarten; and align preschool and kindergarten standards, curricula, and services.

  1. FOR CHILDREN IN PRIMARY GRADES: Require “Ready Schools” plans to build on the gains that children have made during their early years.

  1. FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES AND OTHER SPECIAL NEEDS: Establish accountability and mandate professional development to ensure effective placements of children in inclusive and appropriate early childhood education programs with suitable child-adult ratios for children with disabilities and other special needs.


Strengthening services is a vital but insufficient step toward school readiness. The following recommendations aim at creating the framework needed to deliver those services, raise quality, ensure equity, and create accountability.

  1. CHILD OUTCOMES AND PROGRAM PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: Require the use of child learning and development goals supported by individualized learning plans and uniform program standards for all publicly funded licensed and license-exempt programs.

  1. STAFFING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Enact Omnibus Early Childhood Development legislation that raises standards for early childhood educators and funds a professional development system that prepares, supports, and guides the compensation of all adults who care for and educate children.

  1. ACCOUNTABILITY: Enact legislation to create an accountability system (including program evaluation) that ensures that public investments in early care and education result in improved school readiness and, over time, improved achievement.

  1. GOVERNANCE: Combine all existing state and federal child care and development programs into one early education system under the California Department of Education. Devolve decision-making regarding planning and resource allocation to county superintendents of schools.

  1. FINANCE: Develop and fund a per-child allocation model of financing early care and education sufficient to meet the new system's quality standards and organizational infrastructure requirements.

  1. FACILITIES: Improve the availability, quality, and maintenance of early education facilities.


The Working Group recognizes the primacy of families in children’s lives and the impact of neighborhoods on family life. It recommends a system of services that promotes family responsibility and involvement in children’s educational success and also addresses school readiness in all of its dimensions. Finally, the group emphasizes building community capacity to promote children’s school readiness, achievement, and well-being.

  1. SCHOOL READINESS CENTERS: Enact legislation that will allocate resources to establish a network of neighborhood-based School Readiness Centers that gives all families access to essential services to meet children’s developmental needs.

  1. HEALTH CARE RESOURCES: Provide stable and continuous health care for children and pregnant women, develop a statewide system for issuing health and development “passports,” and expand insurance coverage.

  1. WORK AND FAMILY ENGAGEMENT: Provide incentives for paid family leave and employer/workplace family-friendly practices.

Table of Contents
Summary Introduction Improvements Early Care
Family Support Epilogue Appendices Members