Any effort to use standards to ensure quality must therefore be a dynamic one that involves continual evaluation, and that allows for revision when the outcomes are counterproductive.


The more we emphasize instructional assessment, the more necessary it becomes to confront the issue of the standards against which children’s learning should be assessed. Standards consist of the values, expectations, and outcomes of education. Various national curricular organizations (e.g., the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Council for Teachers of English, the International Reading Association) and nearly all states have proposed standards of achievement. However, very few of the content area standards apply meaningfully to very young children. Instructional or performance assessments that relate to children ages 2 to 5 articulate standards that are consistent with developmentally appropriate practice, child development research, and Head Start performance standards, but specific standards of learning for the early childhood years are not well developed in all curriculum areas. Table 8–1 presents the standards for mathematics developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and those for reading and writing developed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the International Reading Association.

It is important to deal with the issue of standards in early childhood, because standards provide a baseline of expectations to which pedagogy and assessment can be aimed. Standards also help us understand and define the goals of early childhood pedagogy.

Currently, more than 30 states sponsor some type of prekindergarten program for at least some of the children in their boundaries (only Georgia has a universal pre-K program). Most of these states have published standards for what should be taught and what should be learned. Table 8–2 summarizes these standards as of 1996.

A national survey of state-funded preschool initiatives was conducted in 1997–1998 (Ripple et al., 1999). Data collected for

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