Children who fall behind early in their education are unlikely to ever catch up. Research shows that if a child does not attain a solid educational foundation in reading by the end of Third Grade, he or she will struggle for the rest of their lives. Many will drop out of school; some will end up in prison; and most will not be able to lay claim to the American Dream.
By the Fourth Grade, about two-thirds of children in the United States cannot read at or above grade level. For Latino, Black, and American Indian children, less than 20 percent achieve grade-level proficiency by the end of Third Grade.
What is PreK–3rd?
PreK–3rd is a national initiative to transform how children ages three to eight learn in schools. Research shows that the cornerstone of a successful education is the learning that takes place from PreK through Third Grade. Currently, there is little instructional coordination from year to year, even within the same school, much less across a school district or a state. This means the gains a child makes one year may disappear the next.
The initiative focuses on building strong connections between learning experiences across these critical years. PreK-3rd approaches require that educational standards, curricula, assessment and professional development are strongly aligned across high-quality PreK, Kindergarten, First, Second and Third Grades.
The PreK–3rd approach consists of:
- Public funding for Full-Day education starting at age three, including:
- Voluntary, Full-Day PreK for three- and four-year-olds
- Required, Full-Day Kindergarten
- Aligned educational strategies within and across grades, including:
- Aligned standards, sequenced curriculum, instruction, and assessments
- Well-rounded curriculum, including literacy, math, arts, physical education, social and emotional learning and science
- Regular joint planning and shared professional development among all PreK, Kindergarten, and 1st–3rd grade teachers and staff
- Principal leadership to support joint professional development and teacher collaboration around PreK-3rd curriculum and instruction
- Family engagement focused on supporting what children learn in school and on promoting a Dual-Generation strategy