Effective Systems

When Worlds Collide: Universal PreK Brings New Challenges for Public Elementary Schools


In a November/December 2008 Harvard Education Letter article, David McKay Wilson looks at Universal PreK and the challenges its implementation brings to public elementary schools.

PreK is the fastest-growing sector in public education, with many elementary schools adding PreK classes or developing early childhood centers for young children. According to Wilson, adding another grade to a school isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when those being taught are three or four years old.

One emerging option offered is the PreK-3rd School. As described by Ellen Frede, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, creating a PreK-3rd School allows school leaders to focus on the younger students while also integrating PreK classrooms into the entire school. Professional development at a PreK-3rd School can also be effectively focused on early childhood development for all grades.