Ensuring Qualified Early Childhood Teachers:
New Jersey’s Struggle to Collect the Data to
Support that End
A Foundation for Child Development Report
By Cynthia Rice
The Association for Children of New Jersey
In a world where measuring outcomes to ensure accountability has become the
rule, the collection of accurate data has never been more important. Reliable data is
critical for evaluating the responsiveness and effectiveness of programs, promoting
decision making based on evidence rather than anecdote, providing justification for
existing programs or identifying need for new programs, influencing legislative policies
and regulations and allocating state/agency resources more effectively.
The need for accurate data in New Jersey’s education arena is no exception. One
of the driving forces behind this has been the New Jersey Supreme Court’s attempt in two
of its Abbott v. Burke decisions to level the educational playing ground for three and four
year old children by requiring quality early childhood programs in the state’s poorest
The Court determined that one component of a quality early childhood program
would include a well-educated teacher in every Abbott preschool class. When the Court
required this in 2000, the need to collect data became critical to assess the status of
Abbott teachers returning to school in order to meet the Court imposed educational
standard. Three years later, the need for relevant data in this area is as important today as
it was then.
Data collection will play an integral role in assessing and measuring whether New
Jersey has adequately prepared and hired enough qualified preschool teachers. It will
also be key in ensuring the existence of a competent, qualified workforce. Both
components are critical for the Supreme Court’s mandate to become a reality.
In May 1998, the Supreme Court of New Jersey attempted to ensure that the
children in the state’s 30 poorest school districts would be able to take full advantage of
an enhanced regular education, by requiring the implementation of high quality, intensive
early childhood programs for their three and four year old children in these districts. For
over thirty years, this case, known as Abbott v. Burke, has been the catalyst for bringing
educational parity through equitable funding to children from kindergarten to 12th grade
in the “special needs” districts, now known as “Abbott” districts.
It was this specific decision, known as Abbott V, which recognized the critical
link between a quality early education and the development of language skills and the
discipline necessary for children to succeed in school.1
“This Court is convinced that pre-school for three- and four-year olds will have a
significant and substantial positive impact on academic achievement in both early
and later school years…Also, the evidence strongly supports the conclusion that
in the poor urban school districts, the earlier children start pre-school, the better
prepared they are to face the challenges of kindergarten and first grade. ” 2
The rationale of the Court’s decisions has been clearly supported by research
indicating that well-designed educational services in early childhood can have positive
lasting effects for disadvantaged children, both in improving their long-term school
success and by sharply cutting delinquency.3
The Court in Abbott V acknowledged that implementing the preschool programs
would be a huge undertaking, fraught with many barriers. This was particularly true
since it required the programs to be implemented by September 1999, just 15 months
after the decision was published.4 For this reason, the Court stated that “cooperation
with or the use of existing early childhood and day-care programs in the community”
were necessary and appropriate for implementing the preschool programs.5
The problem with this decision, however, was that the Court never defined what
“high quality, intensive” preschool should include. That job was left to the State
Department of Education (DOE). In the two years that followed the 1998 decision, the
DOE never provided school districts responsible for implementing these programs with
In the absence of DOE assistance, a group of early childhood stakeholders came
together to identify the key components necessary for a quality early childhood program.
The group, known as the Early Care and Education Coalition, and chaired by the
Association for Children of New Jersey, developed a position statement to provide
policymakers and individuals responsible for implementing preschool programs with
those components.6 During this period, the DOE did not adopt the recommendations of
the Coalition nor develop its own set of guidelines. With each Abbott district
implementing its program as they best saw fit, the quality of those programs varied
between and within districts.
A return to Court was inevitable and in 2000 the Justices provided the definition
in its Abbott VI decision.7 Using the Early Care and Education Coalition’s position
statement as a framework for its decision, the Court identified those program pieces
necessary for high quality class rooms. Besides requiring substantive standards for
educational content and a class size of 15 children per class, the Court stated that high
quality early childhood programs necessitated well-trained teachers. The Court required
that all Abbott early childhood teachers obtain their Bachelors’ degrees and an
appropriate early childhood certification.8
This particular mandate has been supported by an extensive body of research,
linking the education levels of preschool teachers and specialized training in early
childhood education with a high quality preschool education that directly impacts young
children’s learning and development.9
While the link between qualified teachers and improved student performance was
clear, the road to ensuring that all teachers in Abbott preschool programs were
“qualified” was more difficult.
A major stumbling block for ensuring quality programs was that subcontracting
Abbott providers were not required to employ certified teachers. Abbott V did not
address this issue. Teachers in district-run preschool programs were held to a higher
standard (i.e., a bachelor’s degree and an appropriate teaching certificate) than those in
community programs, resulting in a two-tiered system of quality.10
The Court’s remedy for this dilemma was to require that all teachers in Abbott
preschool programs become “qualified.” The Court, stating that “reasonable but limited
time frames are consistent with the goal of providing qualified teachers as soon as
practicable,” set forth the following timelines for meeting this mandate:11
Existing teachers in community based programs who did not have
college degrees would have until September 2004 to obtain those degrees
and their Preschool-third grade (P-3) endorsements; and
New hires in community-based programs must have their bachelors’
degrees and complete the requirements for their P-3 endorsements by
Due to its short timeframe, the 2004 deadline surprised many in the early
childhood community. Immediately after the decision, the Center for Early Education
Research at Rutgers University determined from a sample of Abbott teachers that 35% of
those teachers in community programs already had their bachelors’ degrees. The
remaining 65% on the non-degreed child care teachers needed to enroll in some type of
higher education program to meet the 2004 deadline. The impact of both the Court’s
mandate and the number of teachers in Abbott providers who were “unqualified” by the
Court’s definition had staggering implications. If the 65% of the teachers in Abbott
subcontracting programs did not meet the definition of “qualified,” by September 2004,
they would lose their jobs. While the Court recognized that Abbott preschool teachers
needed time to obtain their bachelor’s degrees, the Court stated that “without qualified
teachers, the children will lose the opportunity that well-run, substantive preschool
programs offer.”13 The Court made it clear that by September 2004, qualified teachers
would be teaching in all Abbott preschool classrooms.
From the beginning, the need for the State to collect data on the status of the
Abbott teachers in community programs was critical. With over 800 preschool teachers
with varying levels of education returning to school, the State needed to monitor each
teacher’s level of education upon entrance to school and how quickly that teacher was
progressing towards the end goal. This was particularly true because of the limited pool
of “qualified” early childhood teachers in New Jersey. At the time of the Abbott VI
decision in 2000, although proposed by the DOE, a preschool certificate did not exist.14
The need for every able teacher to meet the Court’s 2004 deadline was crucial to ensure
an adequate number of qualified teachers. Data was necessary to monitor that progress.
The collection of data was also important for addressing broader policy issues.
Without it, informed policy and funding decisions could not be made. Essential
questions around staffing, planning processes, higher education problems experienced by
teachers and tuition reimbursement issues could only be answered through information
collected by a reliable data system. Monitoring teacher progress alone was inadequate
because of the specific barriers that these non-traditional students experienced while
attempting to attain their education.
On its face, the importance of collecting this information seemed clear and
straight-forward. Yet, for nearly two years after the Abbott VI decision, no state agency
had developed a reliable system and collected accurate data on the educational status of
Abbott teachers in community based programs. Since the 2000 decision, the changing
state political climate has had a direct impact on which agency collected this data and the
reason why it was being collected.
The Whitman Administration
There has never been a fundamental disagreement between the Abbott plaintiffs
and the State on the importance of quality early childhood education. As was noted in
the majority opinion of Abbott V, during earlier hearings by Superior Court Judge
Michael Patrick King on supplemental programs, the former Commissioner of Education,
Leo Klagholz, had stated in the State’s report that, “Well-planned, high quality half-day
preschool programs…help close the gap between the home and school environments and
the educational expectations that lead to academic success.”15 The parties’
disagreement, however, has not been about the need for quality preschool education, but
on “the program components that constitute quality preschool education.”16 This
“disagreement” not only impacted the way in which the programs have been
implemented, but also played a role in determining which agency was responsible for
At the time of both the Abbott V and Abbott VI decisions, Christine Todd
Whitman was Governor of New Jersey. After the Abbott V decision authorized
“cooperation with or the use of existing early childhood and day-care programs in the
community,”17 the administration viewed the overseeing of the Abbott community based
programs as the responsibility of the Department of Human Services (DHS). Although
the Court required that all preschool mandates be implemented through the DOE, during
this time period, DHS became the “de-facto” lead-agency for Abbott implementation of
community-based programs. The State’s rationale in shifting the responsibility was
because the community-based programs were required to be licensed by DHS.18 In the
absence of any early childhood educational program standards, a two-tiered system of
quality developed and a return to Court became inevitable.
Even after the Abbott VI decision requiring both the development of standards for
ensuring quality programs in all Abbott classrooms and the requirement that all teachers
become “qualified” by 2004, DHS’ responsibility did not change. Since it was DHS that
continued to work closely with their licensed Abbott centers, DHS, rather than DOE,
began collecting information statewide on the status of the educational progress of the
Abbott teachers. The problem however, was that although DHS took a leadership role in
collecting the data, no state level discussions took place to determine the specific types of
data needed to ensure compliance with the Court’s 2004 deadline. The result was a void
in any measurable data on this subject for nearly two years.
During the first three years of Abbott implementation beginning in the 1999-2000
school year, DHS collected information on the educational status of each Abbott teacher
in a community-based program as part of their site visit process. If a DHS staff member
visiting a center determined that a teacher was not progressing adequately towards his/her
bachelor’s degree, it was included in the center’s site-visit report along with all other
non-compliance issues. The agency was then required to develop a Corrective Action
Plan within 30 days of receipt of the report, correcting this, or any other “deficiency.”
DHS would then provide follow-up to ensure that the Corrective Action Plans were being
implemented. In this way, DHS did collect data to ensure that individual staff members
were proceeding towards the 2004 deadline.
Although there was a DHS process for collecting the information, its chosen
approach clearly focused on the “individual” progress of the teachers, rather than an
analysis of the data as a whole. Because of the individual focus, information was
collected on hand-written forms and was largely anecdotal. During this time period,
DHS did not have the resources to develop a database to compile the information for
While DHS had collected a wealth of information, it was never compiled in a
“user friendly” form for providing critical data on the status of Abbott teachers statewide
or for supporting changes in broader policy issues.
In the fall of 2001, nearly 1½ years since the Supreme Court set the 2004
deadline, no statewide data existed on the educational status of those teachers. Staff at
DHS concluded that the information obtained from site reports did not provide the
information necessary to measure how teachers were progressing towards the 2004
deadline. In September 2001, the Commission on Higher Education agreed to develop a
database for DHS, to measure the progress Abbott child-care teachers were making in
meeting the Preschool-3rd grade requirement. DHS provided the Commission with a
grant of $15,000 to hire a consultant to develop the database and begin collecting the
information. Although DHS did not provide assistance in developing the database, it
supported the Commission’s work by identifying the various providers housing Abbott
children. The Commission’s approach to this data collection was top down. A consultant
and one individual from the Commission on Higher Education were responsible for
collecting this information.
The agreement plan between the Commission and DHS was for the Commission
to develop the database for DHS, collect the first-round of information on the teachers’
status and then transfer both their findings and the database over to DHS. Although the
Commission had collected a great deal of data on the teachers’ educational status, it was
never completed. A final report was never written. The database that was to be
transferred to DHS never took place.
The McGreevey Administration
Within a month of becoming governor, Jim McGreevey made true on one of his
campaign promises by advising the Supreme Court that the State would now comply with
all facets of the Abbott decisions, including preschool.19 As a candidate, McGreevey had
campaigned on the importance of quality early childhood programs, and to demonstrate
this commitment upon taking office, made major changes in Abbott preschool
The biggest transformation was the role in which the DOE would now play in
implementing these programs. In compliance with the Court Order, Governor
McGreevey made changes to ensure that the DOE became the lead agency for preschool
implementation, which included the hiring of an early childhood expert to be Assistant to
the Commissioner for Early Childhood Education.
However, DOE was not the only state agency affected by this critical policy
change. This shift minimized DHS’ de-facto overseeing authority of the Abbott
community-based programs. The major power change focused around the way in which
the preschool day and year would be defined. Although the “full day, full year” early
childhood program was implemented during the previous administration, for Abbott
preschoolers, a “full-day, full year” would mean a six-hour per day educational
component that would meet DOE requirements. The remaining four hours per day would
be considered “wrap-around” services meeting DHS requirements.20 DHS is currently
responsible for the “child-care” piece of the Abbott preschool day.
The change also had a dramatic impact on which agency would be responsible for
collecting data on the status of Abbott teachers.
In the early months of the McGreevey administration, DOE formally took over
the responsibility of collecting data on the Abbott preschool teachers. It was determined
that the teachers’ educational status directly affected the quality of the programs. Thus,
monitoring their progress would become the responsibility of DOE.
Staff at DHS, who had previously attempted to collect such data, would no longer
bear that responsibility. Their duty towards Abbott preschool programs would now be
confined to the wrap-around portion of the program. Similarly, staff from the
Commission on Higher Education met with the new administration. DOE became
responsible for its incomplete database that also had begun to track Abbott teachers’
educational status. The data results were completed by DOE.
Immediately, DOE’s approach to data collection was markedly different than that
of DHS. While DHS data collection was state initiated, (through DHS workers making
site visits to DHS licensed providers and obtaining information during the visit), DOE
shifted that responsibility to the individual Abbott districts. Each district became
responsible for “self-surveying” the status of each of their Abbott preschool teachers,
including in-district programs, self-contained preschool disabled programs, contracted
Head Start programs and other contracted private provider programs.21 The State then
obtained the collected data from each of the 30 Abbott districts and compiled state
Since DOE took over the responsibility of this data collection, the types of
information being collected provides analysts with more information than merely the
educational status of the teachers. DOE is now annually collecting data in the following
Dates of Hire (mm/dd/yy)
Preschool Teaching Experience (in years)
Highest Level of Education Attained
Early Childhood Education Credentials and Certification
Coursework (Uncertified teachers only)
-Credits Remaining for P-3
-Credits Remaining for BA
-Not Pursuing BA or P-3
-Foreign Language Proficiency22
Last year, as a result of this data collection, DOE was able to report that over 80%
of Abbott preschool teachers in community-based programs possessed their bachelors’
degrees or higher. This was the first state reported statistic on the educational status of
Abbott teachers since the Court set the 2004 deadline.
Although this statistic and other related information currently being collected by
DOE is significant, the state’s use of the data for educational policy planning has not
been as effective.
For example, although the DOE data demonstrates that a high percentage of
Abbott preschool teachers will meet the Court’s standard for teacher qualifications, there
has been little planning by the agency to address the percentage of teachers who may not
meet the 2004 deadline. Currently, DOE has no formal plan or process for districts to
follow when teachers are not enrolled in schools or may not complete their education
before the 2004 deadline. Instead, DOE is informally advising districts to encourage
teachers to go back to school or suggest to directors to provide these teachers with time
flexibility in order to complete their education. The result is that Abbott districts have
addressed this issue very differently. Clearly the information currently collected by DOE
provides the support needed to effectively address this and other preschool policy
Data Collection by other Entities
Since the 2000 decision, other agencies throughout the State have collected
similar information on teachers in Abbott districts. The following lists the agencies and
the types of information they collected:
For over 20 years Head Start agencies in every state, including New Jersey, have
used the “Head Start Information Report” to collect data on children and families
participating in this federal program. The Head Start performance indicators have
focused on medical and dental issues, immunizations and classroom issues.23
This report has historically collected the following data on Head Start teachers:
Classroom teachers with CDA credential;
Classroom staff with early childhood education related degree, CDA or
State Certificate; and
Staff without early childhood education or related degree in CDA
While this data is collected on Abbott and non-Abbott Head Start agencies
throughout the State, it was never used to monitor the educational status of Head Start
teachers in Abbott classrooms. The Head Start statistics could only provide a piece of the
larger data picture, but in the absence of any data, this information may have been helpful
to both districts and the State.
The New Jersey Professional Development Center for Early Care and Education
The New Jersey Professional Development Center for Early Care and Education
(NJPDC) was established in March 1998, through funding from DHS, to develop steps
for implementing a system to enhance the preparation and continuing education of early
childhood staff members and out-of-school practitioners.25 Part of the organization’s
mission is to provide financial assistance to practitioners who are continuing their
education. Since the summer of 1998, one of those programs has included scholarships
for any individual employed by an Abbott subcontracting community-based program.
Funds are available to individuals working towards a Child Development Associate
(CDA) or a Child Care Professional (CCP) credential, an early childhood education
associate’s or bachelor’s degree and the P-3 Early Childhood Teacher Certificate.26
While many Abbott staff members have taken advantage of the Abbott
scholarships offered through the NJPDC, the organization’s responsibility for tracking
the status of the Abbott teachers was never required. NJPDC was responsible for
reporting to DHS the total amount of dollars being spent on scholarships and the number
of individuals participating in the scholarship program. It also collected information on
individual scholarship recipients, including where the individuals worked and their job
positions. No aggregate data was ever compiled from the information collected.
Although prior to this year, NJPDC was required to report quarterly to DHS on
the information it did collect it is no longer obligated to do this since DHS’ change in its
responsibility over the Abbott community-based programs.
The Commission on Higher Education
In the fall of 2001, the Commission began working with NJ’s community colleges
to provide assistance to Abbott teachers attending these programs. The goal of the
“Individualized Completion Program,” was to help teachers meet the 2004 deadline by
providing the necessary supports for them to complete their studies at the community
colleges and then transfer successfully to a four-year university. Although a secondary
goal, the Commission did collect and is still collecting data on the educational status of
those Abbott teachers attending community colleges. While this information is currently
obsolete, it was never used for tracking purposes or for policy decision-making.
Why So Many Problems?
The Supreme Court’s specific timetable of allowing four years for Abbott
preschool teachers to become “qualified” clearly demonstrated the importance of accurate
statewide data collection. Accurate data was necessary to measure teacher progress, to
identify systems barriers that teachers experienced as they attempted to complete their
qualifications and to develop policy strategies that would remedy those barriers. The
State had a specific task to complete by a certain date, and thus relevant information was
critical to ensure compliance. Even with this time pressure, however, it took over two
years for the State to develop a comprehensive plan to collect this data.
The simplest explanation for the State’s lag in data collection was the enormity of
the various quality mandates required by the Supreme Court. Improving preschool
teacher qualifications was just one of the Court’s requirements. Class size, quality
standards, facilities, enrollment and collaboration are implementation issues that continue
to be problematic for the State. Further, preschool was only one piece of the larger
Abbott problem. Overwhelming difficulties with K-12 program implementation
remained. With so many issues to address, the need for the State to develop ongoing and
sound procedures for data collection appeared to be secondary.27
The broader explanation, however, is far more complex. For two years after
Abbott VI, many of DOE’s responsibilities were not adequately addressed. Data
collection was one of those responsibilities. Because of this void, other agencies,
including DHS and the Commission on Higher Education, attempted to take over this
responsibility. In the case of DHS, the agency tried to incorporate this additional task
into its existing responsibilities to the DHS-licensed centers subcontracting with Abbott
districts. With no additional funding or staff to support the additional work, the attempt
was inadequate. The data collected was never in a form that could be used for
Besides the lack of DOE involvement, collaboration between the various state
agencies was inadequate in 2000. At the time of the Abbott VI decision, there was never
a discussion by the agencies involved in Abbott preschools on the steps necessary to
ensure the development of a data-collection process. Issues such as defining the data
elements that need to be collected, determining the collection methodologies, organizing
the data for use, verifying the accuracy and suitability of the data and using the data
effectively were never addressed.28 This lack of conversation resulted in no singular
purpose for collecting data.
Moreover, without such collaboration, data already being collected, such as
information from Head Start or NJPDC, remained separate from the broader collection
piece. While much of the information collected was on the same set of teachers, the
agencies separately gathered the data with little regard to duplication.
Since the administrative changes in DOE, many of the questions critical to a data
collection plan seem to have been addressed, resulting in accurate state numbers on the
percentage of Abbott preschool teachers that have completed their degrees before the
2004 deadline. (DOE indicates that the number is approximately 83%). While the DOE
has now taken the leadership role in collecting this much needed information, it has been
done with nominal input from the other state agencies invested in Abbott implementation
Lastly, as previously mentioned, DOE has not always used the data collected
effectively as a tool to drive policy change. This has resulted in district-specific
decisions on how to address issues around teacher qualifications.
Data Collection on Teachers’ Educational Status in Other NJ School Districts
As part of the Comprehensive Education Improvement Finance Act of 1996
(CEIFA), the New Jersey State Legislature provided funding for early childhood program
aid (ECPA). The ECPA funds were to be distributed to the 30 Abbott districts, and to all
school districts with high concentrations of low-income pupils. The ECPA dollars were
to be used to provide full-day kindergarten and half-day preschool classes for all four-
year old children in those districts.29 Approximately 100 additional districts meet the
specific eligibility criteria.
Although ECPA districts will begin their third year of required preschool
programs, little is known about the teachers in those classrooms.
Current ECPA regulations require that school districts can only subcontract with
community providers whose teachers are already certified.30 Unlike Abbott preschool
teachers, it is currently adequate for teachers in ECPA districts to hold a Nursery-8th
grade endorsement, rather than the P-3 endorsement.31 In late 2002, DOE collected data
on the types of certifications teachers in ECPA districts possessed to determine the
number of teachers possessing elementary, P-3 or special education certifications and
years of preschool teaching experience.32 The data was collected but DOE has not
entered the information into a database because of time constraints and limited staff.
While DOE went to great lengths to collect the information on the ECPA preschool staff,
it currently does not have the capacity to complete the analysis.
Lessons Learned and Recommendations
The need for the State of New Jersey to collect timely and accurate data on the
educational status of Abbott preschool teachers was specifically linked to the Supreme
Court’s deadline of 2004. Unlike most cases in which state data is collected, in this
instance, New Jersey had a definite beginning and end point. This specific time period
should have made the data collection job easier. It did not.
Immediately after the 2000 decision of Abbott VI, the State should have been
collecting data to measure the progress teachers were making in completing their degrees
and to determine whether there would be an adequate supply of “qualified” Abbott
teachers. The findings of this data collection should have been driving state policy to
ensure that the Court’s mandate would be met. This scenario only partially took place
two years after the Abbott VI decision.
New Jersey’s experience clearly provides other states with lessons on the critical
steps required to ensure the collection of timely and accurate data. Through the state’s
actions and omissions, New Jersey’s experience suggests four important steps needed
when collecting data:
Immediately identify which state agency will be responsible for data
collection. Due to the political climate at the time of the Court’s 2000
decision, the DOE, having the ultimate responsibility to ensure that preschool
programs were being implemented, did not initiate the collection of this data.
This leadership void resulted in other state agencies, including DHS and the
Commission on Higher Education, attempting to collect the information with
inadequate resources and staff. During this time period, the state data collected
was neither reliable nor complete. Reliability is ensured when one state
agency, rather than multiple agencies, provides the leadership to collect the
needed information. Similarly, with one agency collecting the data, any policy
stemming from the findings will be framed from that agency.
From the beginning, the designated state agency must determine the
purpose of the data collection. Regardless of which agency was collecting
New Jersey’s data, it appeared that little conversation took place on why the
data was being collected. At first glance, such a determination may not have
seemed necessary. Merely determining the educational status of Abbott
preschool teachers appeared to be the singular goal in the initial data collection
of both DHS and the Commission on Higher Education. The issue, however,
was far more complicated. The information being collected was never linked
to a real purpose. What will the data be used for? Because this question was
never answered, the informal methodologies used by the two agencies were
Determining why information is being collected will lead to additional
questions in the data collection process, such as: What information needs to be
collected? How is this information going to be collected? Who will be
responsible for ensuring that the data is analyzed? How will the information be
disseminated? New Jersey’s initial attempt in collecting information on Abbott
teachers did not address any of these steps. Last year, when major changes
took place at DOE, most of these steps were finally taken, resulting in the
collection of accurate data. Although DOE now appears to have a process in
place in collecting this information, questions remain on whether the data
collected is being used efficiently and effectively. Is the data being used to
shape state policy? Are districts using the data to plan for staff changes or
provide additional support to Abbott teachers? Since 2002, the DOE has taken
great strides in obtaining accurate data on the number of Abbott teachers
completing their degrees. However, the purpose of collecting this information
should have gone far beyond merely obtaining a specific number.
Adequate agency staff and funding is necessary to complete the varied
tasks of data collection. The New Jersey experience clearly indicates that
when adequate planning does not take place, (i.e. the above questions are not
asked and answered), issues involving staffing and funding can become a
problem in the later stages of the data analysis. Since 2000, although a great
deal of data was collected on preschool teachers in both Abbott and ECPA
districts, analysis on much of that information never took place, resulting in
the information becoming old or irrelevant. The reasons given for why the
analysis was never completed stemmed from inadequate staffing to inadequate
dollars. Clearly, time, effort and tax dollars went used in collecting the data.
Without analysis, however, this information became irrelevant. New Jersey’s
example demonstrates the need to determine who will be responsible for the
data analysis during the planning process, not after the data has been collected.
Determine the role of other state agencies in data collection. While it is
imperative that one agency provide the leadership role in collecting specific
data, other state agencies must play a part in the data collection. The New
Jersey experience demonstrated that multiple state agencies were collecting
similar information on the same individuals at the same time. The various
agencies never attempted to identify where similar information was being
collected by more than one agency and whether such information could be
collected in a more efficient manner. This independent approach to data
collection resulted in a poor use of staff time and tax dollars, with no tangible
The reality that programs will be funded through multiple sources underscores
the importance of agencies working together to collect and analyze relevant
data. In order to ensure efficiencies of staff time and dollars, collaborations
between stakeholder agencies must identify which agency will provide the
leadership and then determine the specific tasks of all participants. This
process will provide the best opportunity to ensure accuracy and avoid
Abbott v. Burke, 153 N.J. 480 (1998) (Abbott V).
Abbott V, Ibid., 506.
Linda Jacobson (2001). “Preschool Study Finds Positive Effects for Poor Children,”
Education Week (May 16, 2001) Available on the Internet at
Abbott V, at 508.
Abbott V, Ibid., 508.
Cecilia Zalkind, “Position Statement, Early Care and Education Coalition,” (Newark,
NJ, Association for Children of New Jersey, 1998).
Abbott v. Burke, 163 N.J. 95 (2000) (Abbott VI).
Abbott VI, Ibid., 111.
W. Steven Barnett, (2003a). Better teachers, better preschools: Student achievement
linked to teacher qualifications. Preschool Policy Matters (Issue 2). New Brunswick, NJ:
National Institute for Early Education Research.
Abbott VI at 111.
Abbott VI, Ibid., 111.
Abbott VI, Ibid., 112.
Abbott VI, Ibid., 111.
Abbott VI, Ibid., 109.
Abbott V, at 503.
Abbott VI, at 105.
Abbott V, at 508.
N.J.A.C. 10:122, DHS Manual of Requirements for Child Care Centers.
State of New Jersey, “Governor McGreevey Creates Council to Ensure Quality
Education in Urban Schools” (February 19, 2002): Press Release. Retrieved from the
Internet at www.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/governor/njnewsline/view_article.pl?id=636.
DOE form: Tables 3 and 4: Teacher Education, Credentials and Experience
Head Start Program Information Report for the 2001-2002 Year, Performance
Indicators-State Level Summary, New Jersey Region 02, February 5, 2003.
New Jersey Professional Development Center for Early Care and Education, “About
Us” Available on the Internet at www.njpdc.org/pages/aboutus/html.
New Jersey Professional Development Center for Early Care and Education,
“Scholarships” Available on the Internet at www.njpdc.org/pages/scholarships/html.
Horizon Services Group, “The Importance of Data Collection to the Transportation
Network.” Available on the Internet at
Non-Abbott ECPA Teachers: Table 3, Teacher Education, Credentials, and Experience
This report is based on research conducted from February-August 2003. Two methods
were used for data collection: 1.) Literature and document review; and 2.) Extensive
interviews with individuals representing New Jersey’s early childhood community,
including the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey Department of
Human Services, the Commission of Higher Education, the New Jersey Professional
Development Center for Early Care and Education, the National Institute for Early
Education Research, the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and the New Jersey
Association for the Education of Young Children.
The author gratefully acknowledges the participation of the following individuals
in interviews for, and the advisement of this report:
Debi Ackerman, Rutgers Graduate School of Education
W. Steven Barnett, National Institute for Early Education Research
Lorraine Cooke, New Jersey Association for the Education of Young Children
Yasmine Daniel, New Jersey Department of Human Services
Cindy Esposito-Lamy, National Institute for Early Education Research
Ellen Frede, New Jersey Department of Education
George Kobil, New Jersey Department of Human Services
David Nash, New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association
Florence Nelson, NJ Professional Development Center for Early Care & Education
Jeanne Oswald, Commission on Higher Education
Kathleen Priestley, New Jersey Department of Education
Sharon Ryan, Rutgers Graduate School of Education
Diane Shoener, New Jersey Department of Education
Wei-min Wang, New Jersey Department of Education