This 2019 PACE study found the depth and strength of California districts’ preK–3 alignment efforts to vary considerably. As preK–3 alignment is not an explicit state priority, districts do not feel obligated to focus on it in the face of many other demands. Divergent beliefs among districts about the role and purpose of preschool can enhance or inhibit alignment efforts, as can the formal roles of district preK directors and elementary principals who have preKs on their campuses. Different licensing requirements for preK and elementary teachers as well as the complicated web of regulations associated with different funding streams influence the strength of alignment efforts. Even within these constraints, however, there are many steps districts can take to improve preK–3 alignment.
County offices of education (COEs) are expected to provide ongoing support to districts and other local education agencies to drive continuous improvement within California’s education system. Fulfilling this role has required COEs to carry out their historical role as compliance monitors while simultaneously developing the necessary mindsets, skills, and structures and process to build the capacity for continuous improvement within their own offices and the districts they serve.