On March 26, 2004, the New Jersey Department of Education and a consortium of university researchers released findings from an assessment of Abbott preschool program quality. Although the report highlights progress made since the program was launched in 1999, the report also underscores the need to address the facilities in which many preschool programs are currently housed.

The study shows that Abbott preschools score in the average range on overall program quality, with significant improvement in the quality of classroom instruction since 1999. The overall quality ratings, however, are depressed by the inadequate condition of space and furnishings, and the overall condition of preschool facilities.

The study provides further support for ELC’s call for NJDOE to require Abbott districts to assess all preschool facilities – including all community providers’ buildings – as part of their 2005-2010 long-range facilities planning process next year. Districts must also be required to engage local preschool providers in the upcoming assessment and planning process.

Finally, the study underscores the need for the NJDOE and the NJ School Construction Corporation to make capital funding and financing available for Abbott districts to ensure that all Abbott preschool facilities are upgraded to meet the standards of preschool educational adequacy, including those operated by community providers and Head Start agencies.

The full report, entitled, Inch by Inch, Row by Row, Gonna Make This Garden Grow, written by Cynthia Lamy, EdD, Ellen Frede, PhD, et al. is available on the web. For ELC’s detailed assessment of the preschool facilities regulations, see NJ Department of Education Proposed Facilities Regulations: Analysis of Preschool Issues.

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Sharon Krengel
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