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The State of New Mexico PreK Initiative

New Mexico PreK is a voluntary preschool program created by the Pre-Kindergarten Act of 2005. The PreK program is jointly administered by the Public Education Department and the Children, Youth, and Families Department.
Children who have reached their 4th birthday by September 1st are eligible to attend a PreK program. The purpose of PreK is to ensure every child in New Mexico has the opportunity to attend a high quality early childhood education program before kindergarten.

The Purpose of New Mexico PreK

  • Increase access to voluntary high-quality pre-kindergarten programs
  • Provide developmentally appropriate activities for New Mexico children
  • Expand early childhood community capacity
  • Support linguistically and culturally appropriate curriculum
  • Focus on school readiness through the use of the early learning guidelines and FOCUS programs will include the following developmental learning areas:
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  • Listening, language, reading and writing
  • Science
  • Counting, shapes, sorting and measuring
  • Coordination, hygiene, health and well-being
  • Art, music and movement
  • Independence, problem-solving, thinking and perseverance
  • Appropriate behavior, social skills and being a part of a group.
You won't see children sitting quietly at desks in a PreK classroom. PreK children are active - busy - working.

The Public Education Department’s FOCUS Initiative


Click to access Secretary Designate Ruszkowski's FOCUS Initiative Memo
New Mexico is committed to creating and sustaining an early learning system that focuses on building high quality, comprehensive, programs that form a continuum of integrated services. The PED FOCUS: Essential Elements of Quality, New Mexico’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), provides all public school early childhood program personnel with the criteria, tools, and resources they need to improve and sustain the quality of their program. These quality improvements focus on children’s growth, development, and learning, so that each child has an equitable opportunity to be successful when they enter school. Together, the New Mexico Early Learning Guidelines: Birth through Kindergarten and the FOCUS: Essential Elements of Quality provide:

  • Common Early Learning Standards, the New Mexico Early Learning Guidelines, the standardized criteria for a common, authentic, observation, documentation, curriculum-planning process
  • Common Early Learning Program Standards, FOCUS, a standardized process for continuous quality improvement using standardized criteria for a common quality rating and improvement system
  • Just as the NM Early Learning Guidelines provide a framework of criteria regarding children’s growth, development, and learning that educators rely on to plan curriculum, the FOCUS: Essential Elements of Quality provides a framework of criteria that program personnel can use to plan quality improvements to their program. All public education preschool programs (PreK, Special Education 619, and Title I) are required to participate in FOCUS to provide children in New Mexico the opportunity to attend a high quality early childhood education program before going to kindergarten.