Extensive evidence demonstrates that high-quality, well-implemented early childhood education (ECE) positively impacts the learning trajectories of children, especially those from vulnerable populations. Yet many early childhood programs across the nation struggle to implement high-quality programming and, consequently, fail to sufficientlyadvance children's early learning. A growing body of research on school improvement demonstrates that strong organizational conditions will be necessary to lift stagnant levels of quality in early childhood settings. But this begs the question: What do strong organizational conditions look like in ECE settings?
The Ounce of Prevention Fund, in partnership with UChicago Consortium, developed and validated the Early EducationEssentials™ surveys to provide the field with reliable and valid measurement of organizational conditions. As part of ourmeasurement work, we spent time observing and talking with leaders, teachers and families in ECE programs whosesurvey responses indicated that their essential supports were either very strong or very weak. Differences in their organizational climate and conditions were stark and unmistakable. Simply put, strongly organized programs created contexts far more supportive of teaching, learning and family engagement than the contexts created by weakly organized programs. In this paper, we describe those strong organizational contexts and how they empowered leaders, teachers and families to aspire to and realize higher-quality practices and better outcomes for young children.