Supporting P-3 Instructional Alignment
P-3 alignment means providing children with a continuous educational experience in which each grade builds on what was learned in the previous grade to maximize and sustain the gains made in preschool and to achieve better developmental and learning outcomes overall. While the interactions between teachers and students within the classroom are what matter most, these are affected by myriad school and district policies and practices. I describe a framework for examining the elements of the system surrounding classrooms that affects the quality and alignment of classroom instruction. The elements include: 1) the instructional framework, 2) instructional materials and pedagogical approaches, 3) student assessments, 4) teacher learning, 5) school leader learning, and 6) instructional oversight. The framework does not provide a manual for improving continuity between preschool and the elementary grades. Instead, it suggests issues that school and district administrators who want to invest in preschool and ensure its long-term benefits need to address in order to meet their goals.
Deborah J. Stipek is the Judy Koch Emeritus Professor of Education and the former Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Her scholarship concerns instructional effects on children’s achievement motivation and early childhood education. In addition to her scholarship, she served for five years on the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the National Academy of Sciences and is a member of the National Academy of Education. She also chaired the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Increasing High School Students’ Engagement & Motivation to Learn and the MacArthur Foundation Network on Teaching and Learning. She currently chairs the Heising-Simons Development and Research on Early Math Education Network and serves as a senior consultant to California Education Partners, working with districts to improve P-3 alignment. Dr. Stipek served 10 of her 23 years at UCLA as Director of the Corinne Seeds University Elementary School and the Urban Education Studies Center. She joined the Stanford Graduate School of Education as Dean and Professor of Education in January 2001.