Early Childhood

K-3 Quality Matters Too, Says New Policy Report

By Lillian Mongeau — July 22, 2016 1 min read

As important as preschool is, the quality of the early elementary years is also critical and shouldn’t be ignored, says a new report by the Education Commission of the States, a education policy think tank.

Detailed findings of each state’s policies are available to search and a “Companion Report” summarizes the findings. Here are some that stood out to me:


  • Kindergarten is required to be “full day” in 14 states. The actual length of a kindergarten day can vary from two to seven hours.
  • Nineteen states, plus the District of Columbia, require schools to have a plan for transitioning children from preschool to kindergarten.
  • Eighteen states and D.C. require holding kids back in third grade if they are deemed not ready for fourth grade.
  • Thirty-six states and D.C. emphasize social-emotional learning in grades K-3. Five states and D.C., include social-emotional learning in their definition of school readiness.

Experts in early education often make the point that the impact preschool has on students is directly tied to the quality of their early elementary experiences, but this is the first systemic policy scan I’ve seen in the time I’ve been covering the topic. Many of the items they gathered data on are areas widely held to be important for early learning.


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A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.