Many states are looking to create efficient and effective preK systems to help children from all backgrounds develop the skills necessary to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Find out how Rhode Island’s state educational agency (SEA) tapped its regional comprehensive center to build capacity to achieve these ends, align disconnected systems, and consider numerous practical needs on the ground.

Rhode Island has adopted an Early Learning framework to ensure that young children around the state are prepared to enter K–12 schools. Between 2022 and 2023, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) worked to modernize its early learning and development standards and develop a standards-aligned curriculum framework. The resulting early learning curriculum framework aims to coherently tie together preK instructional practices and assessments to realize the standards in classrooms across the state. Expanding on prior RIDE K–12 frameworks in math, science, social studies, English language arts, world language, and art, the preK framework also helps support a statewide preK–12 system.

“The framework has been the glue enabling conversations around high-quality Pre-K programming in Rhode Island,” noted Amaal Awadalla, senior state technical assistance specialist for the Region 2 Comprehensive Center (R2CC), which partnered with RIDE in the development and publication of the 2023 framework. “It has given everyone—across various levels and roles—common language around how to understand standards and develop teachers … and made it possible for K–12 systems to understand what is expected in that early learning period, to bridge the gap.”

R2CC supported the state’s Early Learning framework development by providing technical assistance to RIDE staff, administering surveys, facilitating feedback sessions to gather input from the field on the Rhode Island Early Learning Developmental Standards (RIELDS), and analyzing and reporting feedback.

Awadalla described how the early learning framework has enabled programs to function consistently with one another. “Having common terminology regarding what is ‘high-quality’ curriculum, instruction, materials, and assessments makes some consistency possible across prek centers—so important if a student moves from one place to another.”

Top tip for SEAs: Explore professional learning opportunities to help local educational agencies and schools implement these frameworks.

The contents of this post were developed by the Region 2 Comprehensive Center. The Region 2 Comprehensive Center is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, the contents of this post do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.