together to develop standards in the states have themselves been highly diverse. This diversity is a common element.

Prior to Good Start, Grow Smart, the departments of education were typically the lead agencies since those early standards were developed primarily to guide the development of the states’ prekindergarten programs. After Good Start, Grow Smart spurred the development of early learning standards by additional states, leadership was often a joint enterprise of the state social services agencies having oversight of the child care program and the departments of education. In several cases, the Head Start State Collaboration Offices were also included in the leadership team. Stakeholder participants typically included representatives from a wide array of early childhood program sectors and support services (e.g., family- and center-based child care; state prekindergarten; Head Start and Early Head Start; associate- and bachelor-level higher education; resource and referral agencies; specialists in age levels, such as infant/toddler, preschool, kindergarten/primary; specialists in content areas; specialists in special needs; social services, mental health, medical professionals, nutritionists, parents). Participation by such a broad base of interested parties reflects a commitment on the part of state leaders to the creation of standards suitable for use across the field and reflective of reasonable expectations for the wide range of child characteristics during this developmental period.


Differences among the state documents on this dimension are legion. The lack of consensus makes it difficult to make comparisons of actual content. The early learning standards documents represent a consensus process reflective of the often different emphases of the states. It is unlikely that states will move toward a common set of national standards, although the successive revision processes and the easy access that the Internet provides to the work of other states may tend to bring about a form of consensus over time.

Various scholars who have analyzed the documents recently have described or recommended structures and naming schemes (National Institute for Early Education Research, 2003; Neuman

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