The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

John Eller

Second Advisor

James Johnson

Third Advisor

Beth Mann

Fourth Advisor

Kathleen Ofstedal

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

preschool, early childhood, alignment, elementary, systems, PreK-3rd grade


Schools are not widely structured to systematically align curriculum and elements of instruction in early childhood through third grade (Ewen & Herzfeldt-Kamprath, 2016). Ewen and Herzfeldt-Kamprath (2016) report that the quality measurement of pre-k programs and early elementary classrooms differ greatly. Children bring a multitude of social, academic, and life experiences with them when they enter the school system.

In 2018, Minnesota’s Department of Education created a PreK-Grade 3 Initiative to educate instructional leaders on the importance of implementing a high-quality early learning pathway in schools. Although Minnesota’s Department of Education incorporated Kauerz and Coffman’s (2013) “Framework for Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating PreK-3rd Grade Approaches” in statewide trainings for schools, few studies regarding the understanding and use of the eight key components and their relationship in the transfer pathway to establishing a successful and comprehensive preschool–grade 3 continuum (in Minnesota) have been found.

A case study, utilizing a qualitative program evaluation model, was used to gather information on a PreK-3rd grade approach in a school district in central Minnesota. This case study obtained detailed descriptions from administrator, teacher, and parent interviews and focus groups. The interview and focus group questions were created by the researcher after referencing Kauerz and Coffman’s (2019) framework. The following research questions guided the case study evaluation:

  1. Of the eight components of Kauerz and Coffman’s (2019) Framework for Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating P-3 Approaches, what factors led the district/schools to choose the components they are implementing?
  2. What factors do PreK-grade 3 administrators, teachers, and parents/guardians report either promote or inhibit the implementation of Kauerz and Coffman’s (2019) eight practices?
  3. What benefits have PreK-grade 3 administrators, teachers, and parents/guardians reported they have observed in students since implementing practices of Kauerz and Coffman’s (2019) P-3 approach?
  4. What recommendations do PreK-grade 3 administrators, teachers, and parents/guardians provide for schools interested in implementing Kauerz and Coffman’s (2019) framework in their P-3 programs?

In summary, the data collected through this qualitative case study revealed a significant level of alignment between the components implemented in the school district and the components of Kauerz and Coffman’s (2019) “Framework for Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating P-3 Approaches.” The factors promoting and inhibiting implementation were also determined to be relevant and are detailed in the research. Although this study is not generalizable, the findings support the benefits and recommendations outlined in the framework.


Thank you to my committee members and cohort colleagues who provided me with the motivation, knowledge, and guidance to complete this meaningful work. Dr. John Eller, Dr. Jim Johnson, Dr. Beth Mann, and Dr. Kathleen Ofstedal, I am most grateful to each of you for leading me through this experience.

To Kathy, who has been my educational inspiration since I began my path in education in her undergraduate education courses. Thank you for instilling in me a passion for teaching and achieving educational excellence. To have my mentor by my side through this experience has been a great gift.

To my husband, Phil, and our children, Lily and Kellan. Thank you for your patience, love, and encouragement during every step of this process. I am the luckiest wife and mom to have each of you on my team.

To my parents who have been my educational cheerleaders throughout my life. Both of you provided me with a model of hard work and perseverance. I am so grateful for your advocacy of and belief in my abilities to achieve whatever I put my mind to. I have succeeded because of your commitment to my education.

The journey to completing a doctoral degree has been rewarding, joyous, and at times, overwhelming. To suddenly lose my dad only two weeks into the start of the program made the feat seem insurmountable. My commitment to remaining in the program during this most challenging time waivered only momentarily due to the continued guidance and support of my mom, husband, children, extended family, and close friends. I am confident this achievement is what would make my dad the most proud.



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