Aligned Curriculum and Collaborative Leadership are Key to School Reform

Sustaining early learning gains requires a comprehensive and effective system of services from preschool through the school-age years. Findings from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress show the urgent need to improve achievement, as only 37% of U. S. 4th graders are proficient readers.i  One year of preschool will not solve this problem. Reflecting the dual importance of high-quality preschool and effective K-3 services, Child-Parent Center (CPC) P-3 is a school reform model designed to create a strong and sustainable culture of learning through 3rd grade. The six core elements are collaborative leadership, aligned curriculum, effective learning experiences, parent involvement, professional development, and continuity and stability. This Brief focuses on data from the Midwest CPC Expansion Project – a scale-up of CPC P-3 implemented across four school districts in Illinois and Minnesota from 2012 to 2017. In addition to data on student outcomes, the project yielded documentation related to program structure and implementation. In this Brief, we draw on this documentation to develop measurable indicators of two key CPC program elements – Aligned Curriculum and Collaborative Leadership. Using these indicators, we examine how the two program elements were implemented in CPC sites, and whether their implementation predicted students’ school readiness skills.