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Start Early and ACSES Partner to Address Inequity in Early Childhood

Announcing Start Early’s exclusive partnership with ACSES, a research-based approach to equitable classrooms.

June 21, 2024
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Announcing Start Early’s Exclusive Partnership with ACSES

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Start early is pleased to announce our new partnership with ACSES, a research-based approach to equitable classrooms developed by Stephanie Curenton, Ph.D. The Assessing Classroom Sociocultural Equity Scale (ACSES) is a valid and reliable observation tool and framework for measuring and supporting equitable sociocultural interactions in early childhood classrooms.

Now more than ever, we see the challenges facing our early education system and workforce. Black children are more likely to be suspended and expelled compared to their peers from other racial groups1. There is also a tendency to quickly label a child’s behavior as “challenging” without taking into consideration children’s emotions, strengths, or developmental needs. This unfair discipline and mischaracterization can isolate racially, culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Meanwhile, teachers may experience burnout from managing their classrooms without sufficient resources. Without adequate support, it is challenging for teachers to center the experiences of diverse learners in their classroom and to provide intentional and positive learning environments for all students.

The Start Early and ACSES partnership will support early childhood educators at all levels with tools and strategies to address these challenges and build more equitable classrooms and education systems. Through professional learning, coaching, collaboration across peer groups, and measurement, we will prepare teachers and leaders to:

  • Adopt the ACSES approach and integrate culturally relevant and anti-bias behaviors into their practice
  • Facilitate equitable interactions with children to improve outcomes and peer relationships
  • Develop skills to provide equitable discipline, individualized instruction and culturally sustaining social emotional learning opportunities

”I believe in the capacity of our workforce to learn and grow in their knowledge and commitment to equity,” says Dr. Curenton. “ACSES is not simply about creating a classroom environment that is more welcoming of social and cultural differences, but also about creating an education system that values and supports early educators to be the best they can be. ACSES is about investing in our workforce.”

As the exclusive professional learning partner for ACSES, Start Early will collaborate with Dr. Curenton to develop and deliver comprehensive professional learning for early childhood educators and program leaders. We will co-design PL opportunities with ECE teachers and leaders to make sure they are relevant and match the daily realities of working in an ECE classroom and program.

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Barbara Cooper, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Professional Learning will lead Start Early’s partnership with ACSES, drawing from her wealth of experience and expertise leading large systems and sectors in early childhood education.

“The workforce, and the children and families we serve, are from diverse backgrounds,” said Dr. Cooper. “We cannot serve them effectively when we employ strategies that force us to ignore the complexities of race, culture and ethnicity. In this era of ‘culture wars’, we are hopeful that this partnership will shine a bright light on the importance of deeply understanding and appreciating diversity in our classrooms.”

Start Early will launch the first opportunity for professional learning in August 2024. Through a series of accessible webinars, teachers, program leaders, and other ECE practitioners will gain a foundational understanding of sociocultural equity and relevant practices they can immediately put to use when working with children and families. This virtual series will include CEUs and be offered in English and Spanish.

Sign up to receive updates about early bird pricing, group discounts and key dates.

1Suspension: Curenton. 2022 SRCD Child Development Volume 93

About Start Early

Start Early (formerly known as the Ounce of Prevention) is a nonprofit public-private partnership advancing quality early learning and care for families with children, before birth through their earliest years, to help close the opportunity gap. For nearly 40 years, Start Early has delivered best-in-class doula, home visiting, and Early Head Start and Head Start programs. Bringing expertise in program delivery, research and evaluation, professional development, and policy and advocacy, Start Early works in partnership with communities and other experts to drive systemic change so millions more children, families and educators can thrive.


ACSES is a technical assistance framework rooted in equity and designed to provide an evidence-based multiple sources of data about how equitable, culturally responsive classrooms and programs along with a suite of research-based equity centered professional supports to teachers and leaders. Through Early Learning Access, training for data collectors, researchers, and program monitors is available.

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