Pulling preK1 into a K-12 orbit: the evolution of preK in the age of standards

M. Elizabeth Graue, Sharon Ryan, Amato Nocera, Kaitlin Northey, Bethany Wilinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We might call this decade the era of early childhood. In the US, federal and state governments invest in the creation of public pre-kindergarten (preK) programs and create standards that articulate goals for practice and benchmarks that can be used to evaluate success. How have these trends provided a context for the evolution of preK curriculum? In this paper, we analyze the enactment of preK policy in New Jersey, a highly regulated preK program and Wisconsin, a local control state. We argue that standards-based practice is evolving into accountability in public preK programs, where outcomes set parameters for planning and teachers and children are increasingly regulated. As preK is more closely affiliated with the K-12 sector (elementary and secondary), preK programs are subject to the logic of alignment, benchmarks and assessments. Even when early learning standards support child-centered approaches to curriculum they are overruled by accountability discourse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-122
Number of pages15
JournalEarly Years
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


  • Early childhood
  • developmentally appropriate practice
  • public preK
  • standards


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