Early learning standards and the K-12 continuum

3 Jan

Preschool is a portal to the continuum of life long learning. A good preschool stimulates the learning process and prompts the child into asking questions about their world and environment. Baby Center offers advice about how to find a good preschool and general advice to expectant parents. At the core of why education is important is the goal of equipping every child with the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR dream, whatever that dream is. Christine Armario and Dorie Turner are reporting in the AP article, AP News Break: Nearly 1 in 4 Fails Military Exam which appeared in the Seattle Times:

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit.

eSchool News.Com reports that the Pre-K Coalition, which includes the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association has released the report, “The Importance of Aligning Pre-K through 3rd Grade.”

Gains made in high-quality preschool programs must be sustained and built upon throughout the K-3 years, according to the report. Robust P-3 initiatives align comprehensive early learning standards with state K-3 content standards in an effort to promote children’s healthy development, social and emotional skills, and learning. Those standards should be connected and build upon one another so that pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and primary grade educators can develop and select effective curricula, teaching strategies, and assessment systems. Teaching teams should engage in joint professional development….
The Common Core State Standards hold promise in helping schools connect early learning to later grades, but many state K-12 systems might not connect to early childhood education systems within the same state….
In particular, it suggests that federal policy makers:
Encourage the development of P-3 teaching credentials.
Support joint planning and professional development between early childhood providers and P-3 teachers.
Reduce parallel sets of regulations and reporting requirements across federal funding streams.
Allow blending of federal and state early childhood education and care funding to strengthen systems building efforts….

States have also begun to adopt a more aligned P-3 approach. For example:
In Washington, the State Department of Early Learning Starting and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction host a two-day conference for teachers, early childhood educators, principals, superintendents, parents, and policy makers, which aims to create a shared understanding of the research and key elements of pre-kindergarten through grade 3 models.
New Jersey has created a P-3 teaching credential, which recognizes the unique aspects of early childhood teaching—including child development, early childhood curriculum, developmentally appropriate practice, and philosophical and theoretical foundations of early childhood education. The certification is required of all lead teachers in preschool settings in Abbott school districts, and is a valid certificate for teaching in preschool through third grade in non-Abbott districts.
In Virginia, the State Board of Education collaborated with the governor’s office and many key agencies to focus on improving the state’s early education workforce. The effort has aligned P-3 teacher competencies with foundational documents and devised a Curriculum Review Rubric and Planning Tool for early educators, which is being piloted in several preschools.
Georgia has developed and implemented the Georgia Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (GKIDS), a performance-based assessment intended to provide teachers with information about the level of instructional support needed for students entering kindergarten and first grade. This strategy has promoted the internalization of standards, curriculum, and instruction by P-3 teachers, as well as joint professional development opportunities to advance vertical teaming and transition children from pre-kindergarten into kindergarten and first grade. http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/12/22/report-sets-forth-early-learning-recommendations/

Moi is using “preschool” to mean the same thing as “nursery school,” the schooling for children around three and four years of age. Professionals sometimes use the term “early childhood education” to mean the same thing.

There is an important distinction, however, between preschool and child care. Child care refers to the day-to-day, routine care of children from birth to three years, and to those parts of an older child’s day in which the primary focus is not on education. Preschool, on the other hand, refers to the portion of the day in which the main goal is developmentally appropriate education. (This isn’t to say that there isn’t some overlap, of course. A lot of what goes on in a preschool classroom involves taking care of a child’s physical and emotional needs, and a lot of what goes on in a good child-care setting is, in fact, educational.)

Kayla Webley has written an excellent report in Time magazine about Pew Charitable Trusts’ findings on a studies of preschool. In Rethinking Pre-K:5 Ways to Fix Preschool Webley reports:

Against this backdrop, Pew is exiting the pre-K stage with several hard-boiled recommendations. TIME got an early look at the report, Transforming Public Education: Pathway to a Pre-K-12 Future. Here are the highlights, plus a handicapper’s guide to the chances of implementing these directives:

1. Stop thinking K to 12, and start thinking pre-K to 12

States are required to provide education for students in grades 1 to 12, which means that even in tough economic times, they can reduce funding only on a per-child basis. The same is not true for preschool. Only a handful of states are required to provide pre-K; all the others can choose to cap enrollment for low-income children or stop funding these programs altogether. “One of the reasons that it’s easy in some states to cut back pre-K investments when times are tough is this idea that it’s just a program for some kids, not something for all kids…”

Reality check: Shifting the vernacular from K to 12 to pre-K to 12 shouldn’t be too hard. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that K to 12 became a common household phrase. But families won’t start thinking about preschool as a crucial part of the educational continuum until their elected officials do….

As state legislatures and Congress convene January to what may look to some like an empty cash drawer, this is a plea to fully fund basic education at all levels. We need more educated people, not just people who sat in chairs, either passively or unwillingly, until they in their own mind received their parole as evidenced by a meaningless diploma. We need more people who have the critical facilities and independence of mind to not be swayed by the wackos at either end of the political spectrum. People who do not simply spout meaningless platitudes based upon their own empty thoughts, which are unchallenged by either facts or reflection, but people who pragmatically consider the available options. Finally, the nasty trend that we do not live in community with others but live at the expense of others must be challenged. Education and learning should start early.

Our goals should be: A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

Think small, Not small minded ©

Money spent on early childhood programs is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.

Resources:

Why Preschool Matters?

Why Preschool is Important?

The Benefits of Preschool

Will Preschool Education Make a Child Ready for Kindergarten

Preschool, Why it is the Most Important Grade

National Conference of State Legislatures Resources on Kindergarten

Education Commission of the States, Full Day Kindergarten: A Study of State Policies in the United States

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

4 Responses to “Early learning standards and the K-12 continuum”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Coalition says federal policy is bad for early childhood education « drwilda - May 25, 2012

    […] Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/early-learning-standards-and-the-k-12-contiuum/ […]

  2. ACT to assess college readiness for 3rd-10th Grades « drwilda - July 4, 2012

    […] Early learning standards and the K-12 continuum https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/early-learning-standards-and-the-k-12-contiuum/ […]

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  4. Oregon State University study: Ability to pay attention in preschool may predict college success « drwilda - August 8, 2012

    […] Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/early-learning-standards-and-the-k-12-contiuum/ […]

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