Minnesota Association for Family and Early Education (MNAFEE) & the Minnesota Department of Education present:

Building and Improving Your PreK-3rd Grade Systems

Workshop Materials/Resources:

Click Here for MNAFEE Website

Minnesota Office of Early Learning and the National Governors Association


September 4, 2013, at the Minnesota Department of Education


MESPA Institute 2013 - Learning for All: Whatever it takes

February 6-8, DoubleTree by Hilton Bloomington Minneapolis South

One of the 3 aims of MESPA Institute 2013 is early education and preK-grade 3 alignment. Ruby Takanishi is one of the keynote speakers.

Making it Work: Implementing a Comprehensive PreK-3rd Grade Approach

May 9-12, 2012, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Minnesota was very fortunate to have two teams (out of just 12 selected nationwide) selected to attend this institute. The Minnesota team was comprised of individuals from Bloomington School District, Brooklyn Center School District, MN Department of Education, MN Reading Corps, St. Paul School District and United Way. The Minneapolis team consisted of the chief academic officer, the early childhood director, principals, and teachers from the Minneapolis School District. The executive director of Way to Grow was also a member of this team. Needless to say, the state of Minnesota had a strong presence at this institute. Most importantly, Minnesota is being recognized for not only some of our great work around PreK-3 initiatives, but also our potential to make great progress implementing high-quality PreK-3 programs.
During the four day institute, we had the opportunity to learn from some of the top experts in the country.

The "Better Schools for a Better Minnesota" PreK to Grade 3 Systems for Success

June 23, 2011, at the Minnesota Department of Education

In Minnesota, we are confronted with the same educational challenges that other states face in the 21st century. One of our top priorities is closing the achievement gap, which encompasses many factors and issues. Now more than ever, we have to look to systems, elements, and practices that are the most beneficial to our children's learning and development. While we have decades of research that demonstrate the positive effects of early childhood programs, we now have a critical mass of research that extols the value of extending early childhood programs into the primary grades. Integrating high-quality early childhood programs into the K-12 system is one of the most effective things school districts can do impact learning and achievement. The most successful educational programs for our youngest children need to be comprehensive, span multiple years, and focus on important transition points.
The focus of this conference was on how we can effectively create and implement a comprehensive, integrated, and aligned PreK to Grade 3 system. We first heard from one of the top experts in the country, Dr. Kristie Kauerz. Dr. Kauerz is the PreK-3 Education Program Director at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She specializes in early education and elementary school reform. Dr. Kauerz has extensive state-level policy experience, which includes working with more than 40 states on issues related to PreK to Grade 3.
To discuss how to implement a comprehensive system, we heard from another leading expert in the country, Dr. Jerry Weast, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland (now retired). Then, we will learn from a panel of Minnesota school officials how they have incorporated PK-3 practices and programs into their K-12 systems.

“Once we fixed the system, the kids were suddenly okay. Same kids, just a different system.”
- Dr. Jerry Weast, Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools

Last fall, the Pew Center on the States released a report lauding Montgomery County Public Schools PreK-12 strategy as a model for national reform (click here for Pew news release).

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Maryland has 144,064 students and 200 schools. Students represent 164 countries, speaking 184 languages. Demographically, about 37 percent of the students are White, 23 percent African American, 23 percent Hispanic, 16 percent Asian American, and .3 percent American Indian. Since 1998, MCPS has seen a 103 percent increase in the number of ELL students and a 44 percent increase in the number of children receiving Free or Reduced Lunch.

After integrating high-quality early learning across the system

  • Almost 90 percent of kindergartners enter first grade with essential literacy skills
  • Nearly 88 percent of third graders read proficiently
  • Achievement gaps between different racial and ethnic groups across all grade levels declined by double digits
  • About 90 percent of 12th graders graduate from high school
  • About 77 percent of graduating seniors enroll in college

Figure: Maryland School Assessment Reading
Trend – Percentage of Students Scoring Proficient or Advanced by Racial/Ethnic Group