New America Brief: The Impact of Strong District Leadership in Early Childhood

October 11, 2023

Ensuring every child has a solid educational start is a mission embraced by educators and leaders across the nation. A recent report by New America, "The Impact of Strong District Leadership in Early Childhood," shares the transformative power district leaders have on early childhood education by highlighting the experiences of three school districts in California—Fresno, Oakland, and East San Jose.

“In May of 2023, the School Superintendents Association (AASA)’s Early Learning Cohort and New America hosted a panel discussion with leaders from each of these three communities on early learning leadership. The findings in this brief are pulled from that discussion, evaluation research on early childhood reform in California, and New America’s past policy analysis and reporting in this area since 2015.”

Superintendents and district-level early childhood directors play a pivotal role in leading pre-K expansion and improvement initiatives. However, for these efforts to thrive and bring about lasting change, it is imperative to establish strong partnerships with communities, teachers and principals.

The report details four lessons learned regarding collaborative and distributed leadership models:

  • District-level leadership is critical to supporting early childhood education reform.
  • Training helps principals become more effective instructional leaders for early childhood classrooms.
  • Teacher leadership models can sustain quality improvement.
  • Community expertise can help school district leaders strengthen mixed-delivery systems.

Read the Full Report

Learn More About the Early Learning Cohort