State officials spelled out details ongoing overhaul of its early childhood education system

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Two top state officials have spelled out details of Louisiana's ongoing overhaul of its often criticized early childhood education system.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1tWym7N ) the changes stem from a 2012 state law, and the new setup is supposed to be effective statewide in the fall of 2015.

Suzy Sonnier, secretary for the state Department of Children and Family Services and state Superintendent of Education John White described the new rules, including the development of report cards to measure teaching, care and education.

They also talked Monday about how teachers will be supported, improved coordination among parishes to inform families of available seats and financial assistance.

The plan is called the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Act.

Critics say it is designed to answer complaints that the current system is riddled with uneven quality and standards.

White often says that nearly half of students enter kindergarten without adequate literacy skills.

Under the new setup, childhood networks are being created.

The state will establish early learning performance guidelines for children from infants to age 3 and academic standards for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Last year 13 early childhood community network pilot projects were launched.

Another 16 are scheduled for this year.

"Our mission is to take a fragmented system of early childhood, with different expectations from one place to the next, and to unify that system so no child falls through the cracks," White said in a prepared statement.

Sonnier said, "Louisiana's unified approach with common expectations, simplified enrollment for families and shared supports for teachers has tremendous potential to change outcomes for our children."


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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