ERIC Number: EJ998251
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Sep-26
Reference Count: N/A
Educators Decry Academic Focus of Fla. Pre-K Test
Maxwell, Lesli A.
Education Week, v32 n5 p1, 18 Sep 2012
Teachers at Orlando Day Nursery in Florida have always evaluated how well their 4-year-old prekindergartners--most of them poor and African-American--could recognize letters, isolate sounds in words, understand stories read to them, and show other hallmarks of early literacy. Just as important, though, have been the teachers' formal observations of social and emotional development: Could children follow instructions, for example, and make friends and cooperate in a group? But under a new standardized assessment required by the state to measure how the nearly 184,000 4-year-olds in Florida's voluntary prekindergarten program are doing in early literacy, numeracy, and language development, some early-education providers say those key social skills will be discounted as evidence of how well they are preparing pupils for kindergarten. Voicing concerns that resonate around the country, early-childhood advocates fear that the state's pre-K providers--under pressure to demonstrate children's progress on academic indicators--will focus only on developing those skills. The issues in Florida reflect an ongoing national debate over how best to evaluate the school-readiness skills of young children, especially as a growing number of states provide publicly funded preschool programs for low-income families and want to ensure that the money is spent well. Roughly half the states now use some form of a kindergarten-entry or -readiness assessment, but there are huge variations in which skills and knowledge are measured and how states use the results to make policy and instructional decisions. And while momentum around using assessments to measure and improve quality has picked up even more since the U.S. Department of Education announced its Race to the Top Early-Learning Challenge grants for states last year, establishing broad agreement among early-childhood educators and K-12 practitioners on what constitutes school readiness and measuring that accurately is a work in progress everywhere.
Descriptors: Preschool Education, Emergent Literacy, State Government, Standardized Tests, Language Acquisition, Reading Readiness, Criteria, School Readiness, Emotional Development, Interpersonal Competence, Social Development, Young Children, Politics of Education, Kindergarten
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Preschool Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida; United States
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Race to the Top