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State Standards for Children’s Learning

by Catherine Scott-Little, Sharon Lynn Kagan, and Victoria Stebbins Frelow
March/April 2006
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/state-standards-for-childrens-learning/5016827/

Have you ever heard teachers or parents ask, “What should children learn before they start kindergarten”? It’s not uncommon for teachers and parents alike to wonder what young children should learn so they can have a successful start in kindergarten. Many states have recently addressed this question by developing documents known as early learning standards. These documents outline standards for what children should know and be able to do before kindergarten.

While we are accustomed to program standards to specify expectations for programs (like child:staff ratios and group sizes), the idea of specifying expectations for children is relatively new. You may have heard about early learning standards in your own state and wonder what they are and what they might mean for your program. We recently completed a national study of early learning standards and want to share what we learned, along with recommendations for how directors can help their programs and children benefit from these new standards.

What are early learning standards?

Early learning standards are documents that outline expectations for preschool-age children’s learning and development. Although states vary in what they call their standards (including terms such as “early learning guidelines,” “benchmarks,” “indicators of progress,” and “foundations”), the documents all describe knowledge, ...

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