The early elementary years are when children best acquire the academic and non-academic skills on which long-lasting educational success depends. As a result, experts argue that meaningful improvements in student academic outcomes depend on improving the kindergarten through third-grade (K-3) continuum.

This new special report from Education Commission of the States, K-3 Policymakers’ Guide to Action: Making the early years count, summarizes the top policy components 12 of the nation’s top content experts convened by Education Commission of the States prioritized for a high-quality K-3 system.

“State education policymakers are recognizing the immense impact a high-quality P-3 experience has on a student’s college and career trajectory,” said Bruce Atchison, director of Early Learning at Education Commission of the States. “This report offers a tool to help policymakers improve the K-3 component of the P-3 continuum.”

Some key takeaways from this report:

  • The recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides education leaders with unprecedented freedom and flexibility to re-craft state plans that emphasize K-3 quality.
  • If a child attends a high-quality pre-K program and then attends a low-quality K-3 program, they are more likely to experience fade out.
  • Principal leadership, with well trained teachers in child development, are key to a high-quality K-3 system.

For questions, contact Education Commission of the States Communications Director Amy Skinner at or (303) 299.3609.

Tweet this ECS report!

  • New from @edcommission K-3 Policymakers’ Guide to Action: Making the early years count #earlyed #ece #edpolicy
  • Top policy components to build a high-quality state K-3 system from #earlyed experts @edcommission #edpolicy
  • Preschool-third grade foundational in a child’s journey towards lifelong learning. More from @edcommission #earlyed

Related ECS resources that you will find useful:

Full-Day Kindergarten: A look across the states
This 50-State Review explores the different methods that states use to fund both full-day and half-day kindergarten and examines the spectrum of full-day kindergarten program requirements across the country.

50 State Comparison: K-3 Quality
Education Commission of the States has researched K-3 Quality policies in all states to provide this comprehensive resource.

State Pre-K Funding for 2015-16 Fiscal Year: National trends in state preschool funding
This report highlights an increase in early learning programs for the fourth-straight year. The report includes several state examples and an overview of the pre-K programs they have in place.

Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade
This report serves as a reference guide for policymakers, members of the media and others on the most commonly requested topics to Education Commission of the States Information Clearinghouse on early learning.

 PUBLISHED: November 29, 2016

 AUTHOR(S): Unspecified



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