McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership Publications

From Policy to Practice: Learning from Center Directors in New Jersey's Mixed-Delivery Abbott Program

McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership


In an effort to close the achievement gap, the Supreme Court of New Jersey mandated in 1998 that all disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds in the state would be offered high-quality preschool education. Since then, New Jersey's Abbott Preschool Program has demonstrated that privately run preschool classrooms participating in the program have improved in quality and have become comparable to classrooms run by school districts. Further, children in both types of Abbott classrooms demonstrated gains through kindergarten in their school readiness skills. After nearly a decade of implementation, the Abbott Preschool Program is held as a national model from which other states can learn about the promises and challenges of a mixed preschool delivery system. Since the majority of children (63%) are served in the classrooms located in private child care and Head Start centers, center directors are largely responsible for turning New Jersey's innovative policy into practice. A recent study has examined how the directors view the Abbott Preschool Program.