2018 Essential Elements

Jim Minervino’s “15 Essential Elements” study provides a lens for investigating the quality of state or local preschool program policies and practices, considering policies in place as well as implementation and  the enabling environment in which preschool operates, specifically political leadership and compelling vision.

Implementing 15 Essential Elements for High-Quality Pre-K: An Updated Scan of State Policies evaluates the extent to which 59 state-funded preschool programs across 44 states plus the District of Columbia satisfy 15 “essential elements” characterizing high-quality public preschool programs. For each element, NIEER determined whether criteria were fully met, partially met, or not met based primarily on the 2017-18 academic year. This report updates NIEER’s 2016 Essential Elements state and local policy scan.

Overall, state programs met an average of 6 out of 15 Essential Elements. Most states have early learning standards in place to guide quality pre-k programs, and most meet  the goal of having two adults in each pre-K classroom, according to our 2018 state policy scan. However, few states could report on classroom quality and even fewer have strategies in place to support young dual language learners. Political will for high-quality pre-K appears to be growing, along  with more states providing pre-K teachers pay parity with K-12 faculty. Highlights include:

  • Eight state programs (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey’s Abbott program, Rhode Island, Washington, and West Virginia) fully met at least 10 of the 15 essential elements
  • Fourteen states had at least one program that fully met both elements within the Enabling Environment section
  • Only New Jersey’s Abbott Program fully met all eight of the Rigorous Articulated Early Learning Policies; Alabama fully met seven of these policies
  • The most challenging element for programs to meet was dosage. Almost 60% of pre-k programs offer only a part-day program
  • Another challenge for programs was supporting DLLs. Fewer than half of the programs offered some support, and only 25% had a well-developed strategy for educating DLLs
  • Only Alabama fully met all five of the Strong Program Practices elements. However, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington fully met four out of the five practices
  • Ratings Chart

Evaluation Details

States that do not fund state pre-k are not listed. US Territories were not reviewed.

Alabama

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Alaska

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Arizona

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Arkansas

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California

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Colorado

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Connecticut

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Delaware

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District of Columbia

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Florida

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Georgia

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Hawaii

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Illinois

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Indiana

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Iowa

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Kansas

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Kentucky

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Louisiana

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Maine

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Maryland

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Massachusetts

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Michigan

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Minnesota

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Mississippi

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Missouri

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Nebraska

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Nevada

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New Jersey

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New Mexico

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New York

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North Carolina

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Ohio

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Oklahoma

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Oregon

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Pennsylvania

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Rhode Island

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South Carolina

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Tennessee

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Texas

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Vermont

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Virginia

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Washington

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West Virginia

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Wisconsin

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Suggested Citation:

Weisenfeld, G.G., Frede, E., & Barnett, W.S. (2018). Implementing 15 essential elements for high quality pre-k: an updated scan of state policies. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.