The State of Preschool 2017 Released by National Institute for Early Education Research

(April 18, 2018, New Brunswick, NJ) More than 20 percent of all preschool-aged children in the United States speak a language other than English at home, yet most state prekindergarten (preK) programs do not collect data on children’s home language, making it nearly impossible to design effective supports for young English learners*, according to a new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The State of Preschool 2017 annual report, based on 2016-17 academic year data, is the only national report on state-funded preschool programs. This year’s report includes a special section on policies affecting dual language learners (DLLs, called ELs in some states).

Nationwide, more than 1.5 million children are enrolled in 60 state-funded preschools in a variety of settings. But instead of supporting quality early learning with adequate resources, most state programs invest too little to help children catch up with their more advantaged peers by kindergarten.

We are continually striving to close achievement gaps, including those between children who speak a language other than English at home and children who speak only English,” said Ellen Frede, NIEER senior co-director. “We know the earlier we start with high-quality education programs the better.”

Six states with a high proportion of English learners in their populations also have high EL enrollment in state preschool: California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and Texas. These states also have policies supporting dual language learners in preschool.

However, several states with high populations of English learners – including  Arizona, Florida and New York – cannot even report the home language of children enrolled in their state-funded preschool programs.

Research shows qualified teachers are key to providing the high-quality early learning experiences that can help prepare young children for kindergarten. Yet California, Illinois, and Texas are the only programs to require teachers to have bilingual certification.

“Due to the numbers of young DLLs, their learning outcomes have consequences for our future,” said Allison Friedman-Krauss, co-author of The State of Preschool 2017. “Our report shows few states have policies supporting the quality early learning experiences these children need to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.”

The State of Preschool 2017 yearbook was supported with funding provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation. Data used in the report come from a general survey funded by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The supplemental survey of state policies related to dual language learners and report was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions in this report are solely those of the authors. For more information and detailed state-by-state profiles on quality access, and funding, please visit

The National Institute for Early Education Research ( at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy and practice through independent, objective research. For more information, contact: Michelle Ruess 848-932-4350.

* Note: NIEER uses the term “Dual language learners” for children who speak a language other than English at home.

IDRA Model Frames Early Childhood Classrooms of Excellence 

Grounded in IDRA’s research, we developed a “Classroom of Excellence” model for early childhood classrooms. The model has tree components: dynamically-enriched environment and instruction; a professional development model that embraces culturally-relevant pedagogy; and building strong teacher, child and family relationships.The model showed dramatic school readiness results among participating children as they developed their oral language, phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge and print awareness. Teachers encouraged communication and language exploration through discussions in both Spanish and English as a basis for learning English.

Semillitas de Aprendizaje™ Tools for Classrooms

Supplemental Early Childhood Curriculum & Training

IDRA’s research also informed Semillitas de Aprendizaje™ – a unique bilingual (Spanish/English) supplemental curriculum that is helping teachers foster literacy, numeracy and social-emotional development, while valuing and capitalizing on children’s home language and culture.

The curriculum reflects elements of Ellen Galinsky’s seven essential life skills every child needs to thrive as life-long learners and to take on life’s challenges. These skills give children the ability to focus on goals, expand their intellectual capacity, cultivate strong, positive self-esteem and stimulate intellectual curiosity. Using culturally appropriate and robust language encourages children to learn easily and communicate what they have learned.

Semillitas de Aprendizaje also incorporates the Head Start Early Childhood competency indicators through literacy center activities that focus on listening and understanding, speaking and communicating, phonological awareness, comprehension, book knowledge and use, and print knowledge and emergent writing.

Through this early childhood set of materials, IDRA gives you a process for redesigning and re-energizing your early childhood education program that is more responsive to the characteristics of diverse learners in your school or district. IDRA provides customized technical assistance and training that can include: classroom demonstrations and observations, coaching for success, nurturing of innovations, and building on existing strengths.

The materials include a 10-unit teacher guide with STEM integration, 10 big books and 10 unabridged storybooks, 15 books for math and socio-emotion skills, a set of 20 letters (10 English, 10 Spanish) for teachers to send home for parents, and a DVD with storytelling & storyreading videos. A Readers Theatre tool is coming soon!

See a sample lesson