Policy Brief/Analysis

PHL- PreK Benchmarking the Program's Design

In our research, we found higher-quality preschool programs yield larger, more persistent benefits for children's learning and development, primarily through positive and stimulating interactions. Structural features like group size, teacher qualifications, and staff-to-child ratios create conditions for quality but don't guarantee success. Continuous improvement systems using feedback can raise and maintain quality over time.

PHLpreK incorporates essential features such as early learning standards, specialized training, and appropriate class sizes and ratios. However, challenges back in 2018 included inconsistent curriculum choices and misaligned child assessments, curriculum, professional development, and evaluation. Encouraging the use of fewer curricula and improving alignment was recommended to enhance support for continuous improvement.

The Authors

Dr. Milagros Nores is the Co-Director for Research and Associate Research Professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). With a profound expertise in early childhood evaluation, informing data-driven policy and programming, cost and benefits of early interventions, evaluation design, equity, and English language learners, she has established herself as a leading researcher in the field of early care and education.

W. Steven (Steve) Barnett is a Board of Governors Professor and the founder and Senior Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. Dr. Barnett’s work primarily focuses on public policies regarding early childhood education, child care, and child development.


The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, conducts and disseminates independent research and analysis to inform early childhood education policy.