ACES “PreK-3rd Grade” refers to a school reform model that aims to maximize the children reaching grade level expectations by grade three as a necessary foundation for continued school success. It extends the definition of Early Childhood Education to include preschool through third grade as a unit of schooling. Its success rests on a comprehensive effort of teachers, principals, state policy leaders and parents to combine resources and energy to thoughtfully align programs, improve transitions, focus on agreed upon standards, utilize scientific research based instruction grounded in developmental science, and most importantly to design programs that attend to the whole child and their full complement of developmental needs. 

The origins of this approach come from the fields of developmental science, neuroscience and economics. Developmental science has identified the years from birth through age 8 as a critical period during which educational pathways are set. Neuroscience validates that it is more difficult and more expensive to close achievement gaps in older children. Economics has proven the cost-benefit argument, that investment in early education equals savings for society in later years. The PreK-3 model rests on the combined research from these three fields. 

PreK - 3rd Grade Overview Downloadable PDF

The following 8-minute video describes the PreK-3rd Grade program at South Shore School in Seattle. It includes the philosophy, research rationale, and components of the PreK-3rd Grade model from the perspectives of students, teachers, administrators, research partners and parents.


 What is the Prek-3rd Grade Model?

  • Intentional teaching that balances cognitive, social and emotional development, is child friendly and instructionally rich, and is based on the tenets of developmental science
  • Alignment of standards, curriculum and assessments across the preschool through third grades, enabling teachers to share data and information
  • High quality programs for 3 and 4 year olds both in the community and in the public schools
  • Primary grades that continue to provide meaningful instruction and emotional support and encourage families to be connected and involved in their child’s education
  • Intentionally aligned programming resulting in smooth transitions as they move from grades PreK-3rd with no jarring disconnects in instructional practice

Our Services Include:

Staff Development, Roundtables, Embedded Coaching, Coalition Development, Symposia, Curriculum & Instructional Support

We Address the Following Program Needs:

Professional Development

Program Assessment & Evaluation

Educational Leadership

Curriculum Alignment

Data Driven School Improvement Strategies

Our Areas of Expertise:

Dual Language Learners

Response to Intervention

Early Learning and Development 

Standards (ELDS)


Early Numeracy

Technology Integration


Our Evaluation Tools:

Classroom Assessment Scoring System

Early Language and Literacy 

Classroom Observation

Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale


Math Classroom Observation

How does ACES support PreK-3rd implementation?

We are in the process of developing professional development support for elementary principals, school leaders, coaches, special education staff including teachers, guidance counselors, school social workers, school psychologist and administrators. We began with a one day symposium on June 26, 2014, at SCSU, followed by a series of Round Tables for administrators. Our continued professional development has focused in the areas of dual language learners, mathematics in early grades, and use of attachment theory in school settings. Our Dual Language Learner workshops use the framework for planning, implementing and evaluating prek-3rd grade approaches (Kaurez & Coffman, 2013) along with, the CT Early Learning and Development Standards (2015). Our focus in mathematics provide hands-on experience that will expand implementation of the CT ELDS and CCS mathematics standards and practices, including assessment procedures. Our Using a New Lens workshops focus on building knowledge of the basic tenets of attachment theory, its connection to neurological development, and its impact on child’s approach to learning and relationships. Our long term goal is to develop further printed and experiential resources to support PreK-3rd Grade 


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