Overview of PreK-3

What is PreK to Grade 3?

“If we are to prevent the achievement gap and develop a cradle-to-career educational pipeline, early learning programs are going to have to be better integrated with the K-12 system.”
- Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

Reynolds, Magnuson & Ou (2010) define PreK-3 programs as "planned interventions that begin during any year of a child's life before kindergarten and which continue up to third grade" (p. 1122). This definition is broad because of the uniqueness of PreK-3 programs. While there is not a prescribed approach or PreK-3 model, there are essential elements that should comprise every PreK-3 approach. Kristie Kauerz, University of Washington, and Julia Coffman, Center for Evaluation Innovation, have developed a framework that consists of eight essential elements. These are listed under the PreK-3 Framework Elements link.

Why PreK to Grade 3?

“Gaps in test scores classified by social and economic status of the family emerge at early ages, before schooling starts, and they persist.”
- James Heckman

While we have decades of research documenting the importance of early childhood programs, the school readiness movement brought a concerted effort to find the most effective educational programs for young children.

Preschool-to-Third Grade Programs and Practices: A Review of the Research Click Here

Principles of PreK to Grade 3

Key principles of effectiveness are discussed in research by Reynolds, Magnuson, and Ou (2010):

* Length of service matters, especially if the transition to kindergarten and the primary grades is supported,
* Organizational factors such as reduced class sizes, curriculum coordination across ages, integration of program elements within sites, and the provision of adequate staff resources, and
* family services can be an important context for developing comprehensive PK-3 programs (p. 1129).

To successfully address the learning needs of children, programs must be comprehensive, cover multiple years, and focus on key transitions (e.g. home to school, preschool to kindergarten, etc).

PreK to Grade 3 Practices

Reynolds, Magnuson & Ou define PK-3 practices as "specific elements or components of extended early childhood programs that are hypothesized to be associated with children's outcomes" (p. 1122).

* Preschool or prekindergarten
* Full-school-day Kindergarten
* Reduced class sizes
* Parent involvement activities
* Teaching practices
* Standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment aligned within and across grades from PreK to 3rd grade
* Curriculum integrates academic and social skills