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Exploring pre-k age 4 learning standards and their role in early childhood education: Research and policy implications

Currently in the United States, 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia have established prekindergarten (pre-K) age 4 learning standards that are intended to outline skills and knowledge that set children on a path to success in kindergarten and upcoming grades. These standards are emphasized as a centralizing force in early childhood education, providing a bridge strengthening ties between preschool and elementary grades.This report presents a national study of pre-K age 4 learning standards based on an online survey completed by early childhood state and territory directors and administrators, geographically diverse focus groups representing a subsample of survey respondents, and one-on-one interviews composed of a sample of both focus group and survey participants. Data were collected from these sources and by direct examination of pre-K age 4 learning standards documents. Responses to survey, focus group, and interview questions advanced current knowledge regarding the purpose, history, and development of pre-K age 4 learning standards, comprehensiveness of standards documents, standards-related supports for teachers, and pre-K to kindergarten alignment. Systematic analysis of pre-K age 4 learning standards documents revealed extensive variation across titles, organization, terminology, and enriching materials, such as teacher strategies and child examples that assist teachers in implementing standards. A surprising finding is the positive view among early childhood leaders in focus groups and interviews toward establishing national pre-K age 4 learning standards. The report concludes with a brief discussion of implications of this study followed by recommendations to informstate and federal early childhood leaders, education-focused philanthropic foundations, and others in the field of early childhood education. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States; Northern Mariana Islands; Guam
West Virginia; Washington; Vermont; Virgin Islands; Virginia; Utah; Texas; Tennessee; South Dakota; South Carolina; Rhode Island; Puerto Rico; Pennsylvania; Oregon; Oklahoma; Ohio; New York; Nevada; New Mexico; New Jersey; New Hampshire; Nebraska; North Dakota; North Carolina; Montana; Mississippi; Missouri; Minnesota; Michigan; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Louisiana; Kentucky; Kansas; Indiana; Illinois; Idaho; Iowa; Hawaii; Georgia; Florida; Delaware; District of Columbia; Connecticut; Colorado; California; Arizona; Arkansas; Alabama; Alaska

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