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Appendix C Development of State Standards for Early Childhood Education M aking generalizations across the statesâ early learning standards is difficult. They differ on many dimensions, including diverse structures for naming the elements of the documents, diverse structures for organizing the content, varied intent for their use, multiple methods for defining and creatÂing alignment with the statesâ K-12 standards, and a wide range of resources available to put them into practice. One characteristic of the state documents that comes closer to congruency, especially in the development/revision of the stan- dards following the launching of the federal Good Start, Grow Smart initiative is: Who was involved in the development of state early learning standards? Examination of the front material in the state documents reveals that the stakeholder groups that came For consistency the term âearly learning standardsâ is used throughout this appendix to refer to child outcomes, guidelines, and other references to written sets of expectations for young children. This use of the term is consistent with the definition in the Glossary developed by the Early Childhood Education Assessment Consortium of the Council of Chief State School Officers in collaboration with several early childhood organizations. The definition of early learning standards is: statements that describe expectations for the learning and development of young children across the domains of health and physical well-being, social and emotional well-being, approaches to learning, language development and symbol systems, and general knowledge about the world around them (Council of Chief State School Officers and Early Childhood Education Assessment Consortium, 2007). 437
438 EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSESSMENT 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 edu- cation were typically the lead agencies since those early stan- dards were developed primarily to guide the development of the statesâ 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 preÂkindergarten; 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, Â kindergarten/primary; specialists in content areas; specialists in special needs; social services, mental health, medi- cal Âprofessionals, 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. early learning standards documents Differences among the state documents on this dimension are legion. The lack of consensus makes it difficult to make compari- sons 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 revi- sion 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
APPENDIX C 439 and Roskos, 2005; Scott-Little, Kagan, and Frelow, 2005). The scholars do not use consistent terminology or frameworks in analyzing the content of sets of standards. The National Institute for Early Education Research (2003) recommend a three-stage framework of content statements âcategorized within a hierarchi- cal structure of domains, standards, and benchmarksâ: 1. Domains are the seven general subject areas which state- ments may belong to. 2. Standards are familiar categories within a domain and help organize a collection of closely related benchmarks. 3. Benchmarks describe either student knowledge or skill; they do not describe student performance, student activities, or goals of the curriculum (Introduction to the State Standards Database at http://nieer.org/standards/). Neuman and Roskos (2005) analyzed current naming and organizational structures in early learning standards documents. They argue for parsimony and clarity based on research and rec- ommend a hierarchy organized by content domain, skill area, and indicators (exemplars). By itself this disagreement about terminology is not harmful as long as the developers understand the hierarchy that they have chosen and can use it to communicate important ideas to practi- tioners and to families. The most serious problem is the confusion in many of the documents about the difference between content and performance standards. Use of more consistent schema may become more widespread as the state documents are revised to reflect what has been learned from their initial use and because of their increasing use as the basis for the development of state assessment systems. content A more recent and complete compilation of information about the content of early learning standards and their use across the states is found in annual web-based surveys conducted by the members of the Early Childhood Education Assessment (ECEA) Consortium of the Council of Chief State School Officers
440 EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSESSMENT (CCSSO). The results of the 2005 survey are reported in an article, âEarly Learning Standards: Results from a National Survey to Document Trends in State-Level Policies and Practicesâ in the online peer-reviewed journal Early Childhood Research and Practice (Scott-Little et al., 2007, pp. 1-22). A total of 49 states (96 percent of 51, including the District of Columbia) provided information about the development and use of their early learning standards. All indicated that the standards were intended as a resource to improve instruction and strengthen curriculum. Of the 49 states, 36 (73 percent) said that improving professional development was an important intent and 32 (65 percent) said that educating par- ents about childrenâs development and learning was important. With 49 of 51 states now having developed early learning standards (North Dakota standards continue to be in draft form), the following generalizations may be observed: â¢ All 49 have standards in the areas of Language and Early Literacy. â¢ 37 have standards in Mathematics; of the 12 which do not, mathematical concepts are included in standards on Cogni- tion and General Knowledge. â¢ 42 states have standards in Physical/Motor Development and Health; the 7 that do not are that states with standards only in Language and Early Literacy and Mathematics (CO, MD, OH, PA, SC, VA) and in Language and Early Literacy only (NY). â 5 of the 42 states address content in a general section 1 on Cognition and General Knowledge. The remainder divides content areas into Mathematics, Science, Arts, and Social Studies. â early half (21) have standards addressing Approaches N to Learning. Appendix Table C-1 provides these data for all the states.
TABLE C-1â Domain/Content Areas Headings Included in National and State Pre-K Early Learning Standards Documents Physical/ Approaches Language/ Cognition/ Motor/ Social/ Toward Comm- General Art/ Social Health Emotional Learning unication Literacy Knowledge Math Science Aesthetics Studies Other National Head Start COF x x x x x x x x Carnegie/ x x x x x x x x x World McGraw-Hill Languages States AL x x x x x x x x Technology Environmental Education AK x x x x x x x World Languages AZ x x x x x x x Safety AR x x x x CA x x Safety CO x x x CT x x x x DE x x x x x x x FL x x x x x GA x x x x x x HI x x x x x x ID x x x x x x Humanities 441 continued
TABLE C-1â Continued 442 Physical/ Approaches Language/ Cognition/ Motor/ Social/ Toward Comm- General Art/ Social Health Emotional Learning unication Literacy Knowledge Math Science Aesthetics Studies Other IL x x x x x x x Foreign Language IN x x x x x x x IA x x x x x x x x KS x x x x x x x x x KY x x x x x x x LA x x x x x x x x x ME LR: Career Learning x x x x x x x Preparation, Results Modern Early x x x x and Classic Learning Languages, Results Technology MD x x x x x MA x x x x x x Technology, Engineering MI x x x x x x x x x Nutrition, Self- Help MN x x x x x x x x x MS x x x x x MO x x x x x MT x x x x x x x x NE x x x x x x x x
NV McGraw-Hill NH NJ x x x x x x x x World Languages NM x x x x x NY x x NC x x x x x ND OH x x x x x OK x x x x x x x x x OR PA x x x RI x x x x x x x x SC x x x SD x x x x x x x x x TN x x x x x x x x TX x x x x x x x x x Technology UT x x x x x x x x VT x x x x x x x x x Technology VA x x x WA x x x x Self-Help x x WV x x x x x x x WI x x x x x 443 continued
TABLE C-1â Continued 444 Physical/ Approaches Language/ Cognition/ Motor/ Social/ Toward Comm- General Art/ Social Health Emotional Learning unication Literacy Knowledge Math Science Aesthetics Studies Other WY x x x x x x x x NOTE: This table has been adapted with permission from a 2005 report by Scott-Little, Kagan, and Frelov, Inside the Content: The Breadth and Depth of Early Learning Standards. The table has been updated to include states that published their early learning standards document after this report was completed. Data were collected by simply reviewing the table of contents of each early learning standards document and noting the developmental domain areas and academic subject areas included in the table of contents. Results from analyses conducted by Scott-Little, Kagan, and Frelov (2005) on the content of the actual early learning standards included in the documents indicate that the table of contents is not always an accurate reflection of the content of the standards themselves. While the table of contents may reflect the intentions or overall mind set of the persons who developed the early learning standards, they do not necessarily give a complete or accurate indication of the areas of learning and development that have been addressed in the standards themselves.
APPENDIX C 445 alignMENT WITH the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework At the time the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework (HSCOF) was released in 2000, only 10 states had published early learning standards. It was at that time the only set of nationally recognized standards that could lay claim to a research base. In November 2007, the state early childhood specialists, all of whom had participated in the development of early learning standards in their respective states, were queried about the degree to which the HSCOF was consulted in the development of their early learning standards. Of the specialists who responded, all indicated that the HSCOF had been used in the formulation of their early learning standards. The depth of the use varied; however, it was clear that all of them had considered the organization and the content of the HSCOF in deciding how to create their own sets of standards. In reexamining Appendix Table C-1, it appears that the m Â ajority of the states that have gone beyond Language, Early Literacy, and Mathematics have included all the domain and content areas included in the framework, with the exception of Approaches to Learning. Only about two-fifths of the states have that named category. A more thorough analysis of the entire corpus of standards might reveal that Approaches to Learning indicators are embedded in other areas, such as Social/Emotional Development and Cognition. Furthermore, the emphasis on this area in the 21st Century Learning Skills (Partnership for 21st Cen- tury Skills, 2007) suggests that Approaches to Learning might gain greater visibility in subsequent revisions. alignment with learning standards in the K-12 system While the major purpose of the 2005 CCSSO survey was to determine the extent to which standards were being implemented in the states, respondents also provided information about issues in their development. Chief among these was how states addressed the issue of alignment. How early learning standards are aligned to standards for children in the K-12 system is both important and of great interest. The ECEA CCSSO group, in their
446 EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSESSMENT web-based glossary of assessment terms, The Words We Use: A Glossary of Terms for Early Childhood Education Standards and Assess- ment (2007), defines alignment as: The horizontal (coordination within an age/grade level), vertical (what came before and what will follow), and temporal (across the calendar year) relationships among early learning standards, curriculum, teaching practices, and assessment. Alignment at the early childhood level (birth through age 8) forms the basis for the formulation of standards and assessment for older students. Since the Good Start, Grow Smart initiative (White House, 2002) called on states to address vertical alignment, it is not surprising that all the states reporting in the 2005 ECEA CCSSO survey indicated that their early learning standards were aligned in some way with the statesâ K-12 standards. The nature of that reported alignment is diverse and difficult to understand, given the way the question was framed. In the CCSSO ECEA survey, 27 states (66 percent) reported some form of vertical alignment using the statesâ kindergarten standards as a guide. The open- ended survey responses provided more understanding of this downward-mapping process, with states reporting greater or lesser direct connection between the early learning standards and the statesâ kindergarten standards. Some states duplicated the content areas in the kindergarten standards, and others included domains typically associated with descriptions of childrenâs early development (e.g., social emotional, approaches to learning). Clearly, connecting the work accomplished in the creation of standards and assessments at the pre-K level with that which exists in K-12 should be a priority at both state and local levels. Having now created standards for pre-K, many states are now looking more critically at the alignment between pre-K and kinderÂ garten and are moving toward addressing that alignment in spite of the challenges involved. The learning and development of young people are complex at all levels. In the early stages, how professionals decide to orga- nize indicators of expected development and learning is informed both by what science tells us and by what seems to be a reasonable framework. Use of the developmental domains helps to accentu- ate the importance of areas such as social/emotional develop-
APPENDIX C 447 ment and approaches to learning to childrenâs development in the language and cognitive areas. In the K-12 system, attention to these areas occurs outside of the learning standards, if at all. Pre-K practitioners have given greater attention to content areas over the past decade, owing greatly to earlier NRC publications (National Research Council, 2001). A parallel effort to raise the attention of practitioners in the K-12 arena to the importance of social/emo- tional development and approaches to learning not only would improve the learning environment for elementary children, it would create a better environment to address alignment issues. Ohio and Massachusetts are among states with initiatives under- way to harmonize pre-K and K-3 education systems. In its infant toddler guidelines, the state of Michigan uses the image of a tree to explain how development and learning progress in the early years: . . . childrenâs development is not a straight line; one discrete skill or milestone does not lead directly to another in a single chain of developments. For the very youngest, it is difficult to differentiate between developmental domains such as approaches to learning, social and emotional development, language and cognition. . . . One action falls in many domainsâand that skill will later lead to a number of other skills in a variety of domains. . . . Perhaps the image is of a tree, where the roots are the strands in this document, and the skills we see later are the branches and leaves. It may not be possible to trace all the connections directly, but the early developments all contribute to the later accomplishments. (Michigan State Board of Education, 2006, pp. 2-3) Building on this analogy, standards reflecting this view of development and learning might be conceived of as beginning with the less differentiated accomplishments, progressing to the domains represented in this document and branching out to include the content domains more commonly found in the early elementary years of schooling. A few promising initiatives are re-emerging, led largely by the Foundation for Child Development. Its recent report, PK-3rd: A New Beginning for American Education (Foundation for Child Development, 2008) outlines a bold agenda for bringing the years that span pre-K through grade 3 into a cohesive unit to sup- port childrenâs early learning and development (http://www. fcd-us.org/initiatives/initiatives_show.htm?doc_id=447080).
448 EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSESSMENT REFERENCES Council of Chief State School Officers and Early Childhood Education Assessment Consortium. (2007). The words we use: A glossary of terms for early childhood education standards and assessment. Available: http://www.ccsso.org/Projects/ scass/projects/early_childhood_education_assessment_consortium/ publications_and_products/2892.cfm [accessed February 2008]. Foundation for Child Development. (2008). PreK-3rd: A new beginning for American education. Available: http://www.fcd-us.org/initiatives/initiatives_show. htm?doc_id=447080 [accessed May 2008]. Michigan State Board of Education. (2006). Early childhood standards of quality for infant and toddler programs. Lansing: Author. National Institute for Early Education Research. (2003). State standards database. New Brunswick, NJ: Author. National Research Council. (2001). Eager to learn: Educating our preschoolers. Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy, B.T. Bowman, M.S. Donovan, and M.S. Burns (Eds.). Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Neuman, S.B., and Roskos, K. (2005). The state of state pre-kindergarten standards. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 20(2), 125-145. Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2007). The intellectual and policy foundations of the 21st century skills framework. Tucson, AZ: Author. Scott-Little, C., Kagan, S.L., and Frelow, V.S. (2005). Inside the content: The depth and breadth of early learning standards. Greensboro: University of North Carolina, SERVE Center for Continuous Improvement. Scott-Little, C., Lesko, J., Martella, J., and Milburn, P. (2007). Early learning standards: Results from a national survey to document trends in state-level policies and practices. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 9(1), 1-22. White House. (2002). Good start, grow smart: The Bush administrationâs early childÂ hood initiative. Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President.