50 State Comparison: K-3 Quality


In recent years, quality prek education has received more policy attention—an important step toward providing quality programs at this critical time in early childhood development. But what happens when children enter K-3 programs that don’t have the same level of academic rigor?

The Education Commission of the States recently released a report that provided a 50 State-Comparison on K-3 Education Quality. This report examined:

  • Basic Requirements
  • School Readiness and Transitions
  • Assessment, Intervention and Retention
  • Instructional Quality
  • Family Engagement
  • Social-Emotional Learning

“Providing a seamless, high-quality early education system from birth through age eight is crucial for children’s overall academic success,” said Bruce Atchison, director of the Early Learning Institute at Education Commission of the States. “This new K-3 resource includes 20 data points – for all 50 states – and we anticipate it will be a tremendous resource for policymakers choosing to work on improving the quality of kindergarten through third grade.”

Some key takeaways from the report include:

  • Eighteen states plus D.C. provide guidance for the preK to kindergarten transition process. This guidance often includes written transition plans, family engagement, teacher/provider meetings and assessment data linkages.
  • Twenty-one states plus D.C. require some level of parental involvement in the promotion/retention process.
  • Thirty-six states plus D.C. emphasize social-emotional learning in grades K-3 in statute, rules or regulations. Usually, social-emotional learning is emphasized in kindergarten entrance assessments, school readiness definitions, and/or teacher training requirements.

Children are at risk of losing the gains made in high-quality preK programs if the academic rigor and developmental practice does not continue during the K-3 years. Improving quality not just in preK, but also in the K-3 years can help to ensure that children meet key benchmarks and increase the likelihood of long-term student success.


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