PreK-12 Market Headlines

Early Childhood Educators Seek Consensus on School Readiness

Source for Learning Survey Sets Stage for Summit

Reston VA -  Rigorous expectations for young children often push inappropriate academic content into early education programs. That is one of the results of a new survey on perceptions of school readiness prepared by The Source for Learning (SFL, sourceforlearning.org) and the National Head Start Association (NHSA, nhsa.org).

Educators also agree that these programs need to prepare children for later school success. The overwhelming majority of survey respondents are teachers or administrators, in either early childhood or K-12. They're highly experienced: about half have worked in education for 20 years or more.

The survey was conducted in preparation for a School Readiness Goals Summit to be held at the 39th annual NHSA Head Start conference in Nashville on April 16, 2012. The survey and the Summit are part of a larger project to bring key stakeholders together to help craft a unified definition of school readiness.

Some highlights of the survey results:

  • 71.1% of respondents say that "higher, more rigorous expectations for children in early childhood" will not better prepare children for success in school and life. And 71.3% say that "rigorous expectations for 3- and 4-year old children push inappropriate academic content and unreasonable expectations down into the early years."
  • 76.9% said they do not feel that current assessment instruments that focus on specific early reading and math abilities can determine whether a child is ready to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.
  • 90% believe that the best way to prepare a child for kindergarten is to focus on developmentally appropriate school readiness goals, emphasizing progress across five domains (language and literacy, cognition and general knowledge, approaches towards learning, physical well-being and motor development, and social and emotional development).
  • 65.3% believe that "states should work together to develop one set of school readiness goals to use nation-wide."
  • 69.3% feel that their states' current pre-K standards are appropriate and reasonable.

On April 16, the complete survey results will be presented to the Summit participants, and will be available online at sourceforlearning.org.

Cradle to Career
Currently, school readiness definitions and expectations vary from state to state. Yasmina Vinci, Executive Director of the NHSA, commented, "There is much anxiety in our community about achieving school readiness in ways that support both the early childhood programs and the elementary schools. The goal of this project is to recommend a general definition of school readiness and a set of competency goals that align early education into the 'cradle-to-career' continuum using recognized research in child development and the Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten." The Common Core, adopted in 46 states, provides standards that inform educators what children should know and be able to do after completing kindergarten.

A distinguished panel will begin the April 16 Summit, presenting their expertise and perspectives about key issues in school readiness. Panelists include:
- Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, Director of the Office of Head Start, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Jacqueline Jones, Senior Advisor on Early Learning to the Secretary of Education, US Department of Education 
- Thomas Schultz, Project Director for Early Childhood Initiatives, Council of Chief State School Officers
The session will be moderated by Mari Blaustein, The Source for Learning's Director of Early Childhood Initiatives; Kamna Seth, SFL's Senior Manager of Educational Services; and Jane Adams, NHSA's Membership Development and Services Director.

Steve Gorski, SFL's President and CEO, said, "The Source for Learning is committed to helping children and their teachers-from early childhood through their K-12 careers. We hope this Summit will help provide a common understanding of the important issues children and families face as they move through early childhood education into kindergarten and the primary grades."

The Source for Learning, Inc. (sourceforlearning.org) is a not-for-profit corporation supporting enhanced learning through technology. Among the services created by SFL are teachersfirst.com, preschoolfirst.com, teachersandfamilies.com, growuplearning.com, and sflmedia.com, which provides educational video clips with links to related resources from TeachersFirst.

Contact: Mari Blaustein, The Source for Learning, 703-860-9200, mblaustein@sflinc.org