See below for information on the following early learning related resources:
Elements of High Quality Kindergarten
Elements of High Quality Elementary ClassroomsThese resources were jointly developed by staff from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department), and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), as well as Early Childhood Coordinators from public school districts across the Commonwealth. While aligned with EEC's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for preschool programs, these documents provide a framework for thinking about how to support elementary students (Kindergarten through Grade 3) in meeting high standards through the provision of developmentally appropriate classroom practices. The documents also provide a melding of evidence-based practices in the early grades by pulling from a number of current resources.
Self Assessment (Kindergarten)
Self Assessment (Elementary Classrooms)These self-assessment documents are companion tools developed for use with Fostering Learning in the Early Years: Elements of High Quality Kindergarten and Elements of High Quality Elementary Classrooms (see above). Specifically, these tools were created to assist districts in reflecting and assessing on the extent to which district, school and classroom practices are aligned with the indicators outlined in the aforementioned documents.
Approaches to Intentional and Playful Learning in Preschool through Grade 3 (PK–3) Classrooms: A Joint Position Statement of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts School Administrators Association (MSAA)DESE and MSAA are pleased to release a joint position statement on play as an instructional strategy in the early grades. Entitled Approaches to Intentional and Playful Learning in Preschool through Grade 3 (PK–3) Classrooms: A Joint Position Statement of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts School Administrators Association (MSAA), this statement calls attention to the importance of deepening the learning and engagement of our youngest students through intentionally planned playful learning opportunities that are tied to our state's learning standards.
The importance of this statement has been heightened with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and our planning for recovery and beyond. Now, more than ever, the engagement and learning of our students, particularly their social-emotional health and well-being, is at the center of instructional planning. For our youngest students, preschool to 3rd grade, well-planned play opportunities not only help to build social-emotional competencies and language skills, but they also provide students with the opportunity to practice, strengthen and build upon their understanding of concepts taught through literacy, math, science and social studies in ways that are engaging and hands-on.
We encourage district and school administrators, classroom educators, community organizations and families to engage with this position statement, create opportunities to talk about what playful learning looks like in school-day classrooms and out-of-school time programs and how families and organizations can extend playful learning into the community and beyond.
The following early childhood briefs were created as companion documents for the Elements of High Quality Kindergarten, Elements of High Quality Elementary Classrooms and the joint position statement on play as an instructional strategy. While the topics of these briefs are relevant to all grades, Preschool to 12th Grade, they are written with a particular focus on our youngest students, Preschool to 3rd grade. The briefs are 1–2 pages and contain a summary of the topic along with strategies and approaches that reflect high quality early childhood practices. Each brief is followed by a list of related resources and references that were used to develop the brief.
Brief 1: Collaboration with Community-Based Partners
Brief 2: Culturally Responsive Family Engagement
Brief 3: Supporting Social-Emotional Learning and Well-Being in Culturally Responsive Ways
Brief 4: Creating Antiracist Environments for Young Children
Brief 5: Planning for Developmentally Appropriate Practices
Brief 6: Early Childhood Vision Health
Brief 7: Kindergarten Screening
MA Preschool and Kindergarten Social and Emotional Learning and Approaches to Play and Learning StandardsThe Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers Standards for Preschool and Kindergarten in the Domains of Social and Emotional Learning, and Approaches to Play and Learning, for voluntary use by districts and schools. These Standards were developed as a collaborative initiative with the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the University of Massachusetts/Boston with funding from the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant. The standards bring attention to critical areas of development and learning that positively impact student outcomes and can be used to guide efforts to strengthen curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development and family engagement.
The Social and Emotional Learning Standards focus on the following five areas: Self-Knowledge, Self-Management, Social Knowledge, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making. The Approaches to Play and Learning Standards focus on the following eight areas: Initiative, Curiosity, Engagement/Persistence, Creativity, Cooperative Play and Learning, Problem Solving, Organizational Skills, and Memory.
The Standards give the field a framework for supporting the development of these important competencies and should be considered in the context of the larger developmental continuum for these two domains.
The standards are also available in multiple languages:
SEL/APL Standards — Chinese
SEL/APL Standards — Haitian Creole
SEL/APL Standards — Portuguese
SEL/APL Standards — Spanish
Building Supportive EnvironmentsSupporting children's social and emotional learning and approaches to play and learning should be embedded across all developmental domains and all curriculum areas. "Building Supportive Environments" is a companion document to the Massachusetts' Standards for Preschool and Kindergarten Social and Emotional Learning and Approaches to Play and Learning that provides guidance on creating the conditions for effective use of the Standards.
The Guidelines for Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Experiences (GPKLE) provides guidance for planning, aligning, and implementing curriculum that addresses the Pre-K and Kindergarten learning standards outlined in the Curriculum Frameworks of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). It has been developed to include and expand on previous publications including the Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences (2003) and the Kindergarten Learning Experiences (2008). It is intended to guide educators as they plan and provide diverse learning opportunities that help children develop a solid foundation for more advanced learning and for life.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources — 1st through 3rd Grade provide evidenced based and developmentally appropriate performance indicators for 1st through 3rd grade students.
Science Technology/Engineering Prek-2 Instructional Guidelines provide guidance for planning, aligning, and implementing curriculum that addresses the Pre-K through grade 2 learning standards.
The screening and assessment statements below were jointly developed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Early Learning Team and Early Learning Program Quality Workgroup (PQW) along with staff from the Department of Early Education and Care and the Department of Higher Education. These position statements are designed to be guidance documents only.
The October 1 SIMS data collection now includes the data element: Early Childhood Education Experience (DOE050). The purpose of including this new data element is to gather information on the number of children who enter kindergarten with an early childhood experience as well as the nature of those experiences. It is expected that these data will be used to inform school districts and the state about the types of experiences with which children in each district enter kindergarten, and to provide greater support for alignment of educational experiences across the birth to grade 3 learning continuum.
SIMS Early Childhood Experience Data Element Training Materials Download Word Document
Informational Webinars, presented September 2019 and some content updated February 2021 — Presentation Slides , Slide notes , and Questions & Answers
Arabic Family Survey
Cape Verdean Portuguese Family Survey
Chinese Family Survey
English Family Survey
Haitian Creole Family Survey
Portuguese Family Survey
Spanish Family Survey
Arabic Data Coding
Chinese Data Coding
English Data Coding
Haitian Creole Data Coding
Khmer Data Coding
Portuguese Data Coding
Spanish Data Coding
Kindergarten Enrollment Report — This report includes the kindergarten enrollment for students in public schools and charter schools in the state, including part-time, full-time, and tuitioned enrollment.
Use this form to sign up for Prek-3rd Grade Learning Updates.
For copies of previous newsletters, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Kindergarten Entry Dates, by Massachusetts District
Quality Standards for Public School Operated School-Age Child Care Programs
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.
The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care
Education Commission of the States has information on kindergarten and other elementary school issues including a recent report entitled "K-3 Policymakers' Guide to Action: Making the early years count".
The National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education has several position papers available on assessment, standards, and curriculum.
National Association for the Education of Young Children has information about Accreditation and other early education issues.
The Foundation for Child Development has a program initiative focused on PK-3: A New Beginning for Publicly Supported Education.
The National Institute for Early Education Research has online reports that focus on early education research topics, including a report titled "Making the Most of Kindergarten: Present Trends and Future Issues in the Provision of Full-day Programs."
Please note: DESE is providing this information as a service to educators, schools, and districts and may revise or supplement it from time to time. The publication of this information does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by DESE of any resource, product, curriculum, or system. DESE welcomes comments, additional information, and suggestions; please contact email@example.com .
Last Updated: September 18, 2023
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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