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Taking a Stand on Standards of Experience

by Lilian G. Katz
January/February 2013
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/taking-a-stand-on-standards-of-experience/5020908/

The adoption of state and national education standards has been steadily increasing in recent years. Sometimes they are referred to as ‘standards of achievement,’ sometimes as ‘standards of performance,’ and often as ‘education outcomes.’ Most recently, national “Common Core Standards” have been introduced to encourage all educators to improve their efforts to meet standards and to produce outcomes of educational programs around the country.

This increasing reference to performance standards and outcomes has become part of the new clichés in the field. Clichés are usually defined as broad, stereotyped, and over-used expressions that are sufficiently vague that large numbers of people can readily agree with them. They also have a kind of ‘common sense’ quality to them. But, the increasing efforts to adopt standards for the wide variety of early childhood provisions we have raises some troubling questions about their appropriateness, and perhaps also their potentially damaging effects.

By way of example, the state of Illinois issued a manual entitled “Illinois Early Learning Standards for Children 3-5” in 2004 that refers to ‘benchmarks’ for all children within that age group. Seven guiding principles are listed, such as: “Early learning and development are multidimensional,” “Young children are capable and competent,” “Children ...

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