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ERIC Number: ED504896
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Oct
Pages: 26
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 7
The Abbott Preschool Program: Fifth Year Report on Enrollment and Budget
Applewhite, Erain; Hirsch, Lesley
Education Law Center
The New Jersey Supreme Court's 1998 ruling in Abbott v. Burke represents the first judicial directive in the nation that public education must include a high-quality, well-planned preschool program starting at age three. This decision applies to 30 urban school districts, known as the Abbott districts, that serve approximately 25 percent of the State's public school students. This report gauges progress made in achieving the Abbott universal preschool mandate by evaluating source data supplied by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) Office of Early Childhood Programs and provided to NJDOE by the districts. Analysis examines approved and actual enrollment and budget data, defined as: (1) State-approved enrollment: the number of seats allotted for students in the coming school year; (2) Actual enrollment figures: the actual number of students served as measured in each district's Application for State School Aid; (3) State-approved budgets: prospective estimates made by the districts that are reviewed and approved by the NJDOE; and (4) Actual budget figures: actual district preschool expenditures, measured retrospectively. Abbott preschool enrollment is also analyzed by provider type: community-based, Head Start, and in-district. NJDOE data on the placements of preschoolers with disabilities is also analyzed. Aggregate and district-by-district findings are organized by: (1) overall Abbott preschool enrollment and budget; (2) enrollment and budget by provider type; (3) placement of children with disabilities; and (4) Head Start enrollment. The report concludes with discussion of the findings and tables containing enrollment and budget data for all 30 Abbott districts. Key findings reported include: (1) Considerable progress has been made towards achieving universal enrollment in the Abbott districts since 1999; (2) There remains a shrinking, but still substantial number of children that need to be enrolled in preschool; (3) Abbott districts have fallen short of utilizing all allotted preschool slots; (4) A substantial number of federally funded Head Start preschools have been upgraded to conform to Abbott preschool standards although many remain to be upgraded; (5) A majority of Abbott preschool children with disabilities are in segregated, self-contained programs; and (6) Although the percentage of the overall Abbott preschool budget allocated between in-district and private provider programs appears proportionate to their respective shares of enrollment, it is unclear how district-level costs are allocated to support these programs. Recommendations include: (1) NJDOE and Abbott districts should assess current barriers to achieving universal enrollment, especially insufficient classroom facilities and recruitment of hard-to-reach populations in the districts; (2) NJDOE and Abbott districts should assess causes for segregated placements of preschool children with disabilities, including the need for support services and professional development in both in-district and community provider programs to develop corrective action plans; and (3) NJDOE needs to provide a more detailed accounting of the Abbott districts' preschool budgets that specifies the amounts allocated to providers, central office administration, and district-wide services and programs. (Contains 14 figures and 3 tables
Education Law Center. 60 Park Place Suite 300, Newark, NJ 07102. Tel: 973-624-1815; Fax: 973-624-7339; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Education Law Center
Identifiers - Location: New Jersey
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Abbott v Burke