High-Quality Prekindergarten Program

For questions regarding Rider 78, please see the FAQ page.

For questions regarding High-Quality Prekindergarten, please contact Tamala Olsby at tamala.olsby@tea.texas.gov or Howard Morrison at howard.morrison@tea.texas.gov.

The General Appropriations Act, Article III, Rider 78, was passed by the 85th Texas Legislature, 2017, and signed by Governor Abbott on June 12, 2017. Rider 78 ensures that state-funded prekindergarten programs implement high-quality prekindergarten consistent with the High-Quality Prekindergarten program requirements in Texas Education Code (TEC) §29.167 – 29.171 and consistent with the provisions of TEC Chapters 41 and 42. These requirements include use of a curriculum aligned with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines, increased prekindergarten teacher training and/or qualifications, implementation of student progress monitoring, program evaluation and development of a family engagement plan. For program implementation, please refer to the rider, statute, resources and guidance listed below.

Article III, Rider 78, FSP Formula Funding for High-Quality Prekindergarten Programs:

Included in the amount appropriated above in Strategy A.1.1, FSP - Equalized Operations, is an estimated $1,580 million in the 2018-19 biennium for formula funding entitlement for prekindergarten programs. Of this amount, the Commissioner shall ensure that school districts and charter schools receiving these funds shall use not less than 15 percent of their entitlement, an estimated $236 million statewide, to implement prekindergarten consistent with the requirements of a High-Quality Prekindergarten program, as established in Education Code, §§29.167 - 29.171, and consistent with the provisions of Education Code, Chapters 41 and 42.

High-Quality Prekindergarten Program 15% Minimum Quality Allocation

Rider 78 ensures that school districts expend 15% of the districts’ prekindergarten foundation school program (FSP) funding on High-Quality Prekindergarten programs over the period of the biennium.

The TEA Office of Early Childhood Education will provide guidance and technical assistance regarding implementation of the following High-Quality Prekindergarten programs as specified in statute:

TEC §29.167, Curriculum, Progress Monitoring and Teacher Requirements 

  1. A school district shall select and implement a curriculum for a prekindergarten grant program under this subchapter that:
    1. includes the prekindergarten guidelines established by the agency;
    2. measures the progress of students in meeting the recommended learning outcomes; and
    3. does not use national curriculum standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
  2. Each teacher for a prekindergarten program class must:
    1. be certified under Subchapter B, Chapter 21; and
    2. have one of the following additional qualifications:
      1. a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or another early childhood education credential approved by the agency;
      2. certification offered through a training center accredited by Association Montessori Internationale or through the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education;
      3. at least eight years' experience of teaching in a nationally accredited child care program;
      4. be employed as a prekindergarten teacher in a school district that has received approval from the commissioner for the district's prekindergarten-specific instructional training plan that the teacher uses in the teacher's prekindergarten classroom; or
      5. an equivalent qualification.
  3. A school district may allow a teacher employed by the district to receive the training required to be awarded a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential from a regional education service center that offers the training in accordance with Section 8.058. Training may not include national curriculum standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
  4. A school district must attempt to maintain an average ratio in any prekindergarten program class of not less than one certified teacher or teacher’s aide for each 11 students.


TEC §29.168, Family Engagement Plan

  1. A school district shall develop and implement a family engagement plan to assist the district in achieving and maintaining high levels of family involvement and positive family attitudes toward education. The family engagement plan must be based on family engagement strategies established under Subsection (b).
  2. The agency shall collaborate with other state agencies, including the Health and Human Services Commission, that provide services for children from birth through five years of age to establish prioritized family engagement strategies to be included in a school district's family engagement plan. A parent-teacher organization, community group, or faith-based institution may submit to the agency recommendations regarding the establishment of family engagement strategies, and the agency, in establishing the family engagement strategies, shall consider any received recommendations. The engagement strategies must be:
    1. based on empirical research; and
    2. proven to demonstrate significant positive short-term and long-term outcomes for early childhood education.


TEC §29.169, Program Evaluation 

  1. A school district shall:
    1. select and implement appropriate methods for evaluating the district's program classes by measuring student progress; and
    2. make data from the results of program evaluations available to parents.
  2. A school district may administer diagnostic assessments to students in a program class to evaluate student progress as required by Subsection (a) but may not administer a state standardized assessment instrument.
  3. An assessment instrument administered to a prekindergarten program class must be selected from a list of appropriate prekindergarten assessment instruments identified by the commissioner.


TEC §29.170, Program Funding Evaluation

  1. The commissioner shall evaluate the use and effectiveness of funding provided under this subchapter in improving student learning. The commissioner shall identify effective instruction strategies implemented by school districts under this subchapter.
  2. Beginning in 2018, not later than December 1 of each even-numbered year, the commissioner shall deliver a report to the legislature containing the results of the evaluation.
  3. This section expires December 31, 2024.


TEC §29.171, Eligible Private Providers 

  1. A school district participating in the grant program under this subchapter may enter into a contract with an eligible private provider to provide services or equipment for the program.
  2. To be eligible to contract with a school district to provide a program or part of a program, a private provider must be licensed by and in good standing with the Department of Family and Protective Services. For purposes of this section, a private provider is in good standing with the Department of Family and Protective Services if the department has not taken an action against the provider's license under Section 42.071, 42.072, or 42.078, Human Resources Code, during the 24-month period preceding the date of a contract with a school district. The private provider must also:
    1. be accredited by a research-based, nationally recognized, and universally accessible accreditation system approved by the commissioner;
    2. be a Texas Rising Star Program provider with a three-star certification or higher;
    3. be a Texas School Ready! participant;
    4. have an existing partnership with a school district to provide a prekindergarten program not provided under this subchapter; or
    5. be accredited by an organization that is recognized by the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission.
    6. A prekindergarten program provided by a private provider under this section is subject to the requirements of this subchapter.


For purposes of program implementation, please refer to the resources and guidance below:

High-Quality Pre-k Programs


Resources and Support


TEC §29.167, Curriculum


TEC §29.167, Prekindergarten Progress Monitoring


TEC §29.167, Teacher Qualifications


TEC §29.168, Family Engagement Plan


TEC §29.169, Program Evaluation



Data Collection

The High-Quality Prekindergarten program data collection process will continue without change via the Texas Student Data System.

Data to be Reported to TEA By High-Quality Prekindergarten Programs

High-Quality Prekindergarten program data to be submitted:

  • Demographic data
  • Enrollment in half-day and/or full-day prekindergarten
  • Sources of funding for prekindergarten classrooms
  • Class size
  • Instructional staff-to-student ratio
  • Type of curriculum
  • Student progress monitoring tool and results
  • Kindergarten readiness data


Prekindergarten Guidelines

In fall 2015, TEA established a 13-member review committee consisting of classroom teachers and administrators from early childhood programs in public schools and higher education faculty and researchers from across the state to participate in the revision of the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.

The Texas Education Agency has posted the new Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (updated 2015). The updated guidelines will be implemented beginning with 2016-2017 school year.

Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (updated 2015) (PDF, 1821KB)


Instructional Materials for Prekindergarten

Please see the Currently Adopted Instructional Materials (Curriculum) for PreK Learning Systems adopted by the State Board of Education (SBOE). The SBOE sets policies and standards for Texas public schools. The primary responsibilities of the SBOE include:

  • Setting curriculum standards
  • Reviewing and adopting instructional materials
  • Establishing graduation requirements
  • Overseeing the Texas Permanent School Fund
  • Appointing board members to military reservation and special school districts
  • Providing final review of rules proposed by the State Board for Educator Certification
  • Reviewing the commissioner's proposed award of new charter schools, with authority to veto a recommended applicant  


2017-2021 Commissioner’s List of Approved Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Assessment Instruments 

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has posted a new list of Commissioner Approved Prekindergarten (accessible version) and Kindergarten (accessible version) (Updated 7/12/17) Assessment Instruments for use during the 2017-2021 school years in accordance with Texas Education Code (TEC), §29.169 and §28.006.

The Commissioner’s Lists of Approved Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Assessment Instruments are comprehensive and ensure school districts and charter schools select instruments that are based on valid and reliable scientific research, thoroughly measure each domain of development, and are user friendly. The following five primary domains of development may be assessed using the instruments on the lists: 

  1. Emergent literacy - Reading
  2. Emergent literacy - Writing
  3. Language and Communication
  4. Health and Wellness
  5. Mathematics.

Prekindergarten: In accordance with Rider 78, school districts and charter schools are strongly encouraged to adopt a multidimensional prekindergarten student progress monitoring instrument from the Commissioner’s List of Approved Prekindergarten Assessment Instruments and administer it for all 4 year-old students in prekindergarten.

Kindergarten:  School districts and charter schools are required to administer a Kindergarten assessment instrument for all students enrolled in Kindergarten. A district may meet this requirement with use of a reading or multidimensional assessment included on the 2017-2021 Commissioner’s Approved List of Kindergarten Assessment Instruments. (§28.006 (c)). The district shall administer the reading instrument in accordance with the commissioner's recommendations. Use of an assessment instrument from the Commissioner’s list is highly recommended.


Family Engagement

In 2016 TEA, in partnership with DFPS and other organizations, developed guidelines for effective family engagement.   The Family Engagement working group identified components and strategies for school districts and charter schools to implement as part of their family engagement plans. 

Family Engagement Plan, §102.1003. High-Quality Prekindergarten Grant Program., Section f.


Prekindergarten Eligibility and Attendance

Visit our Prekindergarten Eligibility and Attendance page for more frequently asked questions regarding pre-k.