At last week’s meeting in Worcester, the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care was updated on an ongoing 18-month study of the alignment of five sets of early childhood standards, my colleagues Amy O’Leary and Emily Levine report. The study looks at Massachusetts infant-toddler standards, preschool standards, kindergarten standards, the early childhood portions of state English and math standards that incorporate the Common Core State Standards, and the Head Start Child Development Early Learning Framework. For a sense of the complexity of the issue, consider one “dilemma” the presenters noted – that the national Common Core standards and Head Start framework are not themselves well-aligned. (PowerPoint: Early Childhood Standards Alignment)
Sharon Lynn Kagan and Jeanne L. Reid of Teachers College Columbia University and Catherine Scott-Little of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro are analyzing the alignment of various standards and the alignment of standards with the three assessment tools being used in Massachusetts. At the board meeting, Kagan and Reid presented an analysis of the content of infant-toddler, preschool and kindergarten standards and an analysis of the alignment of older toddler, preschool and kindergarten standards with Head Start’s preschool standards. They presented findings on balance, coverage and depth, and difficulty. Here is their summary:
- Massachusetts standards contain “many examples of good alignment across the age levels,” but fewer between the Head Start framework and preschool standards.
- “The progression of difficulty between the preschool and kindergarten standards was somewhat inconsistent.”
- Areas that were “under-addressed” in preschool and kindergarten standards include “social and emotional development, approaches toward play and learning, English language acquisition and the cognitive processes.”
Kagan and Reid recommended “creating a robust set of standards that does not ignore either of the national documents, but aligns with them as appropriate within the context of Massachusetts.” They also recommended adding indicators in the under-addressed areas and “tweaking” indicators to make the progression of difficulty more consistent.
“Standards stand as a guide to move us in a general direction toward comparatively high expectations,” Kagan told the board.
A panel — Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE); Donna Traynham, head of learning support services for ESE; Linda Granville, director of children’s services for the YWCA of Central Massachusetts; Superintendent Melinda Boone of the Worcester Public Schools; and Patricia Padilla, principal of Woodland Academy in Worcester — responded to the presentation.
In other news:
- The board voted to procure $3.17 million for fiscal year 2014 Educator/Provider Support (EPS) grants, established in FY11 to provide comprehensive system of professional development opportunities and services. EPS grants have focused on three core areas: educator and provider planning, coaching and mentoring, and competency development. (PowerPoint FY14 Grants: Educator/Provider Support)
- The board voted board voted to procure FY14 Coordinated Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) grants, anticipated to be funded at the FY13 level of $13.7 million, plus an additional $837,000 from federal State Advisory Council Community Support and Early Learning Challenge grants. The primary goals of the CFCE grants include community outreach, early and family literacy, and access to comprehensive services. (PowerPoint FY14 CFCE Grant).
- The board heard a presentation on the Quality Performance Report to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF),which states that receive federal Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) money are required to submit. Thomas Weierman, EEC’s assistant general counsel, told the board that ACF is expected to release national data on CCDF quality activities in February 2013. EEC, he said, EEC will continue to use data from the QPR to help develop its goals for the upcoming FFY13-14 CCDF Plan, which is due June 30, 2013.
The next meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care will be held Tuesday, January 8, from 1-4 p.m. at EEC, 51 Sleeper Street in Boston.