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Student and Family Support (SFS)

Office of Student and Family Support (SFS)

Early Learning

The delivery of high-quality early learning opportunities that create a continuum of learning from birth through grade three can help close proficiency gaps and build a foundation for future success. SFS's Early Learning team provides guidance and coordination around policies and issues that relate to pre-kindergarten to grade three alignment initiatives.

There are a number of collaborative initiatives within and between the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Department of Early Care and Education, schools, community providers, and other partners to support all children in their development and learning. Related resources that can support a pre-kindergarten to grade three framework include the following:

  • Fostering Learning in the Early Years: Elements of High Quality Kindergarten is a resource that was jointly developed by staff from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department), the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), and Early Childhood Coordinators from public school districts across the Commonwealth. While aligned with EEC's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for preschool programs, this document provides a framework for thinking about how to support kindergarten students (primarily 5 and 6-year olds) in meeting high standards through the provision of developmentally appropriate classroom practices. There is a companion Self-Assessment tool that was created to assist districts in reflecting and assessing on the extent to which district, school and classroom kindergarten practices are aligned with the indicators outlined in Fostering Learning in the Early Years: Elements of High Quality Kindergarten.

  • Resources and information about Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) are available on the Office of Special Education Planning and Policy's website. ECSE services are designed for young children (aged 3-5) with disabilities who need specially designed instruction or related services and whose disability(ies) causes the children to be unable to participate in developmentally appropriate typical preschool activities. ECSE programs ensure that children with disabilities have a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) that is designed to meet their unique needs and enable them to make progress in acquiring knowledge and skills, including social emotional skills, within the general education program.

  • A Framework for Planning, Implementing and Evaluating PreK-3rd Grade Approaches is a self assessment tool for communities and/or districts to use in determining their progress and success in PreK-3 efforts (developed by Kauerz and Coffman from the University of Washington). The Framework helps to address key questions facing those who are developing PreK-3rd grade approaches in their school, district, or community.

Last Updated: December 21, 2022

Contact Information

For more information on SFS or related programs contact:

Rachelle Engler Bennett, Associate Commissioner

Kristen McKinnon, Assistant Director

Student and Family Support (SFS)
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street Malden, MA 02148
Phone: 781-338-3010/ Fax: 781-338-3090

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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