In the landmark Abbott v. Burke litigation, ELC secured groundbreaking rulings directing the State of New Jersey to provide a high quality preschool program – including an age-appropriate curriculum linked to State standards, small class sizes and certified teachers – for all 3- and 4-year-olds in the poorest urban communities. (The Abbott court decisions that focus on preschool include Abbott VAbbott VIAbbott VIII and Abbott XII).

For both the most current and archival information on ELC’s preschool work in New Jersey and other states, please visit our News page.

To stay up-to-date on our work, subscribe to our electronic news releases by entering your contact information in the Join Our Network box on the lower right-hand side of this page.

Advocacy & Litigation

Now a national model, the Abbott program serves almost 50,000 children in the 31 former Abbott districts and in four pilot districts. A study by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) found that two years of participation in the Abbott preschool program improved students’ standardized test scores and closed the achievement gap between minority and white students by 20-40% through the fifth grade.   

In 2008, the New Jersey Legislature passed the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), which included expansion of the Abbott preschool program to all low-income children in the state. But until 2017, expansion funding was never included in the state budget.

Advocacy efforts finally resulted in an initial allocation of $25 million for preschool expansion in the 2017-18 state budget. ELC, in partnership with other advocacy organizations, including Advocates for Children of NJ and Pre-K Our Way, continues to work to strengthen and expand the Abbott preschool program.

Because of this successful track record, ELC provides technical assistance to advocates across the country working to expand high quality preschool programs in their states.


ELC maintains a comprehensive, longitudinal database about New Jersey’s preschool program. To access interactive charts and other information, please visit the Preschool Data page on this website. 

To read ELC reports on preschool, visit the Publications page on this website.

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