Principles & Elements Of PK-3

Not all PK-3 programs with have the same principles and components. Below is a list of some of the more common features.

Key principles of effectiveness were discussed in recent research by Reynolds, Magnuson, and Ou (p. 1129, 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.

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).

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
  • Teachers qualified to teach PK to 3rd grade
  • Comprehensive involvement and accountability - families, schools, community, etc.