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ERIC Number: ED498588
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Mar
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 3
Inside the Content: The Breadth and Depth of Early Learning Standards. Executive Summary
Scott-Little, Catherine; Kagan, Sharon Lynn; Frelow, Victoria Stebbins
SERVE Center for Continuous Improvement at UNCG
This executive summary describes a study that analyzes the content of early learning standards, operationally defined as documents that articulate expectations for children's development and learning during the preschool period (ages three to five years). Standards from 36 states were collected and analyzed to address the following research questions: (1) To what extent have various dimensions of development and learning been addressed in early learning standards? What is the relative degree of emphasis within the standards on each of the dimensions of development and learning?; and (2) To what extent have specific indicators of children's learning and development within each of the dimensions been addressed in early learning standards? What is the relative degree of emphasis placed on the indicators within the five dimensions? A search process was utilized to locate early learning standards documents published as of November 2003 using personal contacts with Early Childhood State Specialists in State Departments of Education and other key informants within states, and a search of the World Wide Web. Due to wide differences in format, content and length of data from 36 represented states, the research team developed an independent coding scheme based on the National Education Goals Panel description of dimensions of school readiness, the standards documents themselves, and the research literature related to children's early development and learning. Five dimensions of learning and development (physical well-being/motor development; social/emotional development; approaches toward learning; language/communication; cognition/general knowledge) were defined and indicators that further articulated specific skills and knowledge developed for each dimension. The research team coded each individual standard within a standards document according to the indicator that best fit the content of the standard. Each standard was coded based only on the content of the standards and was coded for only one indicator. To gain an understanding of the degree to which each of the dimensions was emphasized within the standards, the research team examined the percentage of standards that were coded within each of the five dimensions. Cognition/General Knowledge and Language/Communication were found to be significantly more highly emphasized than other dimensions of learning. The percentage of standards items coded for individual indicators within each dimension was calculated in order to provide data related to which of the individual indicators was most emphasized within each dimension. Standards were most likely to address each of the indicators within the Cognition/General Knowledge dimension. States were least likely to address all indicators within the Social/Emotional and the Physical Well-Being/Motor dimensions. Findings from the analysis revealed that standards vary tremendously across states and that states vary in the degree to which they have addressed individual elements of children's learning and development within the standards. To comprehensively support quality early learning programs and to facilitate children's readiness for success in school, researchers recommend that standards be both broad and deep in their content. In order to maximize the potential of early learning standards to promote effective preschool programming, two recommendations are made: (1) Completion of a formal content analysis on early learning standards documents; and (2) Further research to better understand the content of standards: to determine the optimal balance of standards across different areas of children's learning and development; to investigate the horizontal alignment between the standards, curricula, and assessments being used within early care and education programs; to examine the vertical alignment between early learning standards and K-12 standards; and to study the implementation and utilization of standards within the field. (Contains 1 figure and 1 table.) [For the complete report, see ED498586.]
SERVE Center at UNCG. University of North Carolina - Greensboro, P.O. Box 5367, Greensboro, NC 27435. Tel: 800-755-3277; Tel: 336-315-7400; Fax: 336-315-7457; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: SERVE: SouthEastern Regional Vision for Education, Greensboro, NC.