Courtland Milloy rightly noted that few ninth-grade students can recover from deficits that began in elementary school [“Progress for D.C.’s ninth-graders raises the question: Why wait so late?” Metro, July 10]. Why not begin to help children when research shows it matters most — from birth to age 5, when the extraordinary burst of learning and brain development form the foundation for subsequent social and cognitive competency? Reams of evidence show that high-quality early learning experiences create better outcomes for individual children and, hence, for society. It’s high time we act on what we know.

Margaret E. Williams, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Family Network.