Where are we now with preschool expansion in NJ


In 2015:

  • number1 The Senate Education Committee held a hearing in Trenton to focus solely on early childhood education with over 20 individuals testifying in favor of expanding New Jersey’s pre-K program.
  • number2 Senate Democrats named early childhood education as one of the six key policy areas in a newly announced economic investment strategy.
  • number3 A bipartisan group of legislators visited a Freehold Borough school to specifically address the demand for high quality pre-K.
  • number4 Senate President Sweeney and Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Teresa Ruiz penned an op-ed advocating for quality preschool expansion.

“The end goal is [age] zero to 3.”

—Senate President Stephen Sweeney

“Our preschoolers’ learning potential is too important to squander.”

—Senator Stephen Sweeney & Senator M. Teresa Ruiz

The players:

The number of NJ community-focused and statewide organizations coming together in support of bringing NJ’s existing high-quality pre-K for 3- and 4-year olds to more communities:

“What is Pre-K Our Way?” Pre-K Our Way, accessed December 7, 2015.
(and growing)

What they’re saying:


in education cost savings

According to Dr. Steve Barnett, Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), high quality Abbott pre-K for all children below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level in NJ would decrease costs associated with grade repetition and special education services—a savings of around $850 million per year in education costs alone. See 2015 New Jersey Senate Education Committee Testimony, Steve Barnett, National Institute for Early Education Research, accessed December 7, 2015.
A mixed delivery system

NJ law supports private, community-based and public school district preschool providers. The mixed-delivery system is implemented through public school districts and utilizes private and community preschools and child care centers to best suit local needs.



The fifth Abbott v. Burke decision issued by the NJ Supreme Court in 1998 (153 N.J. 480) allowed Abbott districts to contract with private childcare and public Head Start programs under the authority of the Commissioner of Education.

Quality is key

NJ’s preschool program incorporates:
  • number1

    High standards, including well-prepared teachers and small class sizes

    NJAC 6A:13A, accessed December 7, 2015.
  • number2

    A continuous improvement system

    “Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards,” New Jersey State Department of Education (2014), accessed December 7, 2015
  • number3

    Collaboration among school districts, Head Start and community-based childcare

  • number4

    Both three- and four-year olds

It works.

Research conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) shows that NJ’s high-quality pre-K program creates long-term, sustained learning gains for students.


reduction in in-grade retention among 4th- and 5th-graders.


reduction in special education placement among 4th- and 5th-graders.

In fact, children who experienced 1 or 2 years of high-quality preschool in NJ showed greater proficiency in language arts and math in the 5th grade compared to children who did not attend this program.

This study refers specifically to students who attended New Jersey’s Abbott pre-K program, compared to similar peers who did not attend Abbott pre-K. See W. Steven Barnett, Kwanghee Jung, Min-Jong Youn and Ellen C. Frede, “Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-Up,” National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey (March 20, 2013), accessed December 7, 2015.

We think so too.

Work by kindergarten children
who have not attended preschool:

Work by kindergarten children
who have attended preschool:



See 2015 New Jersey Senate Education Committee Testimony, submitted by Randee Mandelbaum, Freehold Borough School District, accessed December 7, 2015.


31 school districts currently identified as Abbott districts:

  • Asbury Park Public Schools (Asbury Park)
  • Bridgeton Public Schools (Bridgeton)
  • City of Burlington Public School District (Burlington City)
  • Camden City Public Schools (Camden)
  • East Orange School District (East Orange)
  • Elizabeth Public Schools (Elizabeth)
  • Garfield Public Schools (Garfield)
  • Gloucester City Public Schools (Gloucester City)
  • Harrison Public Schools (Harrison)
  • Hoboken Public Schools (Hoboken)
  • Irvington Public Schools (Irvington)
  • Jersey City Public Schools (Jersey City)
  • Keansburg School District (Keansburg)
  • Long Branch Public Schools (Long Branch)
  • Millville Public Schools (Millville)
  • Neptune Township Schools (Neptune Township)
  • New Brunswick Public Schools (New Brunswick)
  • Newark Public Schools (Newark)
  • Orange Board of Education (Orange)
  • Passaic City School District (Passaic)
  • Paterson Public Schools (Paterson)
  • Pemberton Township School District (Pemberton Township)
  • Perth Amboy Public Schools (Perth Amboy)
  • Phillipsburg School District (K-12 from Phillipsburg, 9-12 from Alpha, Bloomsbury (in Hunterdon County), Greenwich Township, Lopatcong Township and Pohatcong Township)
  • Plainfield Public School District (Plainfield)
  • Pleasantville Public Schools (K-12 from Pleasantville, 9-12 from Absecon)
  • Salem City School District (Salem, New Jersey)
  • Trenton Public Schools (Trenton)
  • Union City School District (Union City)
  • Vineland Public Schools (Vineland)
  • West New York School District (West New York)
“DOE Archives: Abbott District Web Sites,” State of New Jersey Department of Education, accessed December 7, 2015.

94 districts across 19 counties who would be included in 2008 School Funding Reform Act pre-K expansion:

  • Atlantic (12): Atlantic City, Buena, Egg Harbor City, Egg Harbor Township, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, Hammonton, Brigantine, Mullica, Somers Point, Ventnor, Weymouth Township
  • Bergen (7): Cliffside Park, Fairview, Hackensack City, Lodi, Moonachie, Palisades Park, Wallington
  • Burlington (6): Beverly City, Delanco Township, Mount Holly Township, New Hanover, Riverside Township, Washington Township
  • Camden (12): Bellmawr, Berlin Township, Magnolia, Brooklawn, Clementon, Lawnside, Lindenwold, Pennsauken Township, Pine Hill Boro, Runnemede, Somerdale, Winslow Township
  • Cape May (5): Lower Township, Middle Township, North Wildwood, Wildwood City, Wildwood Crest Borough
  • Cumberland (6): Commercial Township, Deerfield Township, Downe Township, Lawrence Township, Maurice River Township, Upper Deerfield Township
  • Essex (1): Belleville
  • Gloucester (8): Clayton, Deptford Township, Elk Township, Glassboro, National Park Boro, Paulsboro, Westville Boro, Woodbury
  • Hudson (6): Bayonne, East Newark, Guttenberg, Kearney, North Bergen, Weehawken
  • Middlesex (3): Carteret, South Amboy, South River
  • Monmouth (5): Bradley Beach, Freehold Borough, Highlands Elementary, Keyport, Neptune City
  • Morris (1): Dover
  • Ocean (7): Berkeley Township, Eagleswood Township, Lakehurst, Lakewood Township, Manchester Township, Ocean Gate, Seaside Heights
  • Passaic (3): Clifton, Haledon, Prospect Park
  • Salem (2): Penns Grove-Carneys Point, Quinton Township
  • Somerset (3): Bound Brook, Manville, South Bound Brook
  • Sussex (1): Montague Township
  • Union (5): Hillside, Linden City, Rahway, Roselle, Winfield Township
  • Warren (1): Alpha Boro
Obtained via correspondence with the State of New Jersey Department of Education.