Studies show that educational achievement gaps already exist at Kindergarten entry.  Children from low-income families are more likely to start school with limited language skills, health problems and social and emotional problems that interfere with learning.  The larger the gap at school entry, the harder it is to close.

Language proficiency is a key predictor of school success. Early literacy skills (size of vocabulary, recognizing letters, understanding letter and sound relationships) at kindergarten entry are good predictors of children's reading abilities throughout their educational careers. Language and literacy skills enable children to develop cognitive skills and knowledge and to interact effectively with peers and adults.



Highlights of the State
* The New Jersey Supreme Court, in Abbott vs. Burke, mandated the availability of free, high quality preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds in the state's 30 poorest school districts, known as Abbott districts. 
* Legislation passed to provide the next tier of school districts in poverty, known as Early Childhood Program Aid (ECPA) districts, with full day kindergarten and 1/2 day programs for 4 year olds.
* Set standards for quality in early education programs for 3 and 4 year-olds that far exceed licensing standards for child care, adopted by New Jersey Supreme Court as standard.
* About $330 million in funding for preschool programs.

Policy Issues
* Implementation has been an issue for the Abbott and ECPA programs, including adequate facilities, adequate funding, collaboration between community providers and school districts, and teacher preparation. 
* Although the Abbott decision provides a spring board to universal preschool, and ultimately could redefine early care education for children ages 0-5, to date it has eclipsed services for children ages 0-3.
* Improving preschool teacher preparation by considering revisions to preschool certification and working with higher education to improve access and relevance of preschool teacher preparation
* Providing appropriate and sufficient number of preschool facilities
* Creating infrastructures for partnerships on the state and local level

Statutory Children's Cabinet
New Jersey has no statutory children's group.

New Jersey School Readiness Report
Access Building the Future; Readying Our Youngest Citizens for School Success by clicking on the following link:


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The School Readiness Indicators Initiative is supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
The 17-state initiative is managed by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT