Policies and Regulations for Early Childhood Education

Maryland Department of Education Early Childhood Development

http://earlychildhood.marylandpublicschools.org/prek-grade-2

Maryland’s Department of Education Early Childhood Development Program focuses on young children’s academic development from Pre-K to Grade 2.  The framework includes Maryland’s Early Learning Standards, Family Engagement and Ready 4 Kindergarten (R4K) policies.  The Maryland Early Learning Standards targets three areas critical to the success: healthy beginnings; domains of development and learning and college and career ready standards. R4K takes the foundation laid in the early learning standards to determine the Kindergarten Ready Assessments (KRA) and the Early Learning Assessments (ELA) geared to ages 36-72 months. Just last year Maryland added a third assessment to R4K identified as Developmental Screening. “To move every student forward, a deeper understanding of what promotes and impedes progress is necessary”, (Maryland State Department of Education, 2015).

Maryland requires early childhood programs to develop lesson and assessments for seven domain areas during the pre-K development years. They include social, physical, language and literacy, mathematics, science, social studies and art. Social development includes emotional, self-regulation and ability to learn. Physical development observes the use and advancement of motor skills as they relate to communication, coordination and movement. The remaining domains tie directly into Common Core standards and Maryland’s own College and Career Ready Standards. Mastery of language and literacy, the ability to read, write and understand language, plays into a child’s ability to apply these skills into learning mathematics, science, about one’s self identity and how that factors in the society and world they engage with; and lastly, the arts builds an understanding of dance, music and theater which represents different cultures. Each of these components, along with the tools and resources identified to instruct flexible lesson plans developed to acquire such knowledge and skillsets, comprise the assessments (KRA and ELA) identified by the state of Maryland.

Maryland educators incorporate the following tools, resources and ideologies as part of their complete assessments. Developmental screening gauges growth of social and physical skills often providing opportunities for intervention resources when applicable. Assessments, both formal and informal, are ongoing processes of gathering information which records the progress of each child. For Maryland, the Early Childhood Comprehensive Assessment System (EC-CAS) is the formal system that links all of the monitoring, screening and measurement requirements utilized for the formative assessment and KRA. The KRA specifically looks at a child’s developments through the 60-66 month period. KRA assessments are based on performance tasks and observations of children in play, group and/or individual instructions for each skillset and domain identified. As children transition closer to kindergarten (ages 3-5) the inclusion of ELA becomes more prominent. Formative assessments, conducted within a child’s natural learning environment over a period of time, determines the child’s strengths and challenges faced as they learn a multitude of skillsets over the combined domains. The goal of Maryland educators is to ensure each child is provided the rights tools and instruction to reach their full potential. To continue providing quality programs, ongoing evaluations of assessments based on teacher development, instruction, and curriculum have been established to assist in the regular assessment of children’s development and academic progress.

These measurements must comply with federal mandated policies, guidelines and regulations. Maryland looks to the US Department of Education, NAEYC and NBPTS for guidance in the development of their guidelines and regulations. The ideology of the national organizations supporting children and their educational development is that every child is afforded the opportunity of academic growth in every state, with common guidelines and practices in unison without having to start over or be left behind. As NAEYC (2003) states education is a shared responsibility that should provide “effective early learning standards and program standards, and a set of core principles and values”, (p 2). Curriculums and their assessments should be reliable, accountable as well as developmentally age appropriate and current to trends and issues facing our society today. In reviewing the guidelines of NAEYC and Maryland’s early childhood programs, Maryland’s policies align closely in using coordinated systems, building a framework in which educators and support staff works closely with families on individualized learning goals and objectives. The state of Maryland recognizes the need for ongoing assessments and developmental screening early to provide the necessary resources that children need to thrive.

Teaching standards vary by each state. The assessment of how children develop and acquire knowledge should standard based on the following criteria’s: assessments should be based on a multitude of data collected from observations, portfolios, formal and information instruction, curriculums and testing. The process should be evidence-based, reliable, equitable, unbiased and accountable. The assessments should encompass all areas of childhood development; meaning assessments should be age appropriate. In accordance to these standards and guidelines reported by NBPTS, Maryland mandates each directive in their early childhood program assessments in the instruction of their preschool students to prepare them for kindergarten and beyond. Review of state and national guidelines support literature in which experts (Pyle & DeLuca, 2013) agree that teachers beliefs and evidence plays a tremendous role in how they approach the collection and deliverance of their assessments. Pyle and DeLuca (2013) assert that “there is a need to provide empirical support for kindergarten teachers’ assessment integration and to explore how teachers’ practices align with their curricular orientations”, (p 373).

Entering this profession with limited teaching experience, I have more questions than thoughts on improvement to assessments. Based on my research and personal experience I do raise these three questions. Do we invest enough resources to professional development of early childhood educators in identifying early warning indicators for children that need individualized education plans (e.g. speech therapy, behavioral issues)? Some experts argue about how much worth we place on prekindergarten and kindergarten assessments as we redefine Common Core standards and testing. The District of Columbia recently voted and changed certifications requiring all preschool educators to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Do you feel other states should follow thereby giving more credibility and accountability to making assessments required for children to start their primary education on sound footing? A recent surveyed by Goldstein, McCoach & HuiHui (2017) warns lack of preservice and professional development can be detrimental to early childhood assessment ratings. A recent finding published by Education Week (2016) reported that more than forty percent of the nation’s public schools used individualized instruction (class assignments) as part of their assessment decision to delay kindergarten entry based on the entry assessments performed at the beginning of the school year. Should administrators and teachers be allowed to also factor in spring assessments, along with a child’s social and behavioral development in determining if a child is kindergarten ready?

 

Reference

 

 

C.A.S., (2016). How Kindergarten Entry Assessments Are Used in Public Schools and How They Correlate with Spring Assessments. Education Wek, 36(10), 5.

Electronic Learning Community (ELC) (2011). Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA). John Hopkins University School of Education. Retrieved from https://pd.kready.org/105956

Electronic Learning Community (ELC) (2011). R4K: Maryland’s Early Childhood Comprehensive Assessment System. John Hopkins University School of Education. Retrieved from https://pd.kready.org/105953

Goldstein, J. j;, McCoach, D.B., & HuiHui, Y. (2017). The predictive validity of kindergarten readiness judgments: Lessons from one state. Journal of Educational Research, 110(1), 50-60.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). (2003). Early childhood curriculum, assessment, and program evaluation. Retrieved from https://naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/CAPEexpabd.pdf

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). (2012). Early childhood generalist standards (3rd ed.). Retrieved from http://boardcertifiedteachers.org/sites/default/files-EC-GEN.pdf

Pyle, A., a., & DeLuca, C. (2013). Assessment in the Kindergarten Classroom: An Empirical Study of Teachers’ Assessment Approaches. Early Childhood Education Journal, 41(5), 373-380.

Supporting Every Learner: Maryland’s Guide to Early Childhood Pedagogy Birth to Age 8. Maryland State Department of Education (2015). Retrieved from http://earlychildhood.marylandpublicschools.org/system/files/filedepot/3/pedagogyguide-learningstandards_042015_1.pdf

 

4 thoughts on “Policies and Regulations for Early Childhood Education

  1. Hey Girl!. It’s so good to still you see hanging in there with me. You may finish before me but the point is to finish! I had a few setbacks health wise and family wise. But if we endure to the end we will win.
    A)Do we invest enough resources to professional development of early childhood educators in identifying early warning indicators for children that need individualized education plans (e.g. speech therapy, behavioral issues)? Some experts argue about how much worth we place on prekindergarten and kindergarten assessments as we redefine Common Core standards and testing.
    Unfortunately, in Tennessee my school district said that most children do not get identified until first grade. Yes we put in the foot and paperwork to help them be identified, but nothing really happens until they are like 6 or 7 years old. Even then we as educators are not allowed to label a child or tell a parent in kindergarten your child may have ADHD or Autism. That is for observations, by physicians involved in the child’s life and parents to make decisions. As educators, we can only offer our objective hard facts observations of what we see and how it affects if at all the child academically. WE can never give an assumption because we are not the doctors in that field of medicine or evaluation. So we are educated professionally in look-fors in certain issues but we can only observe and write down and urge parents to take a look at our observations and what do they notice at home, and to follow up with doctor so we can get the medical side rolling along with what we are doing at school to help. IEPs and not following 504 plans for exceptional students can cost teachers their jobs and the district would not want to be sued over not meeting the needs of children. So we are well aware of how to fill out referral forms, documentation forms after referral and how to have meetings with all those services for children who need to be under a referral umbrella. Did I learn this in professional development when I was teaching infants/ toddlers, and preschoolers in regular daycare systems? NO I did not. This came when I stepped over into the school district early childhood systems. Yes we are pushing for preschool and early education to take off, but if there are not programs like First Steps, a program to help early prevention of mental, behavioral and health issues, then no most EC programs are concerned with state regulations, passing NAEYC accreditation, and offering “quality childcare program”. Providing may offer some outside resources to parents when teachers or program site directors feel something may be wrong with a child developmentally delayed but most are not diagnosed until later in elementary school. Division of Early Childhood(DEC) and NAEYC recognize that having a common understanding of what inclusion means is fundamentally important for determining what types of practices and supports are necessary to achieve high quality inclusion. A blue print was identified as what should be used by families, practitioners, administrators, policy makers,and others to improve early childhood services (DEC/NAEYC, 2009).
    B) The District of Columbia recently voted and changed certifications requiring all preschool educators to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Do you feel other states should follow thereby giving more credibility and accountability to making assessments required for children to start their primary education on sound footing?
    I have no problem with credibility. The National Council for Professional Recognition recognizes and has a prestigious assessment and test, and portfolio piece Early Childhood Teachers from infant to toddlers and Preschool teachers get called the CDA (Child Development Associate Credential). It was a certification not a degree but most childcare and Early Childhood programs did not require it. They almost said it was equivalent to an Associate’s Degree but to obtain both. Now most Programs require a Bachelor’s Degree. Here’s the problem. Point blank: the pay. I left the childcare system and went into the school system because if I was going to get a BA, I was going to get the pay that came with it. Until recently, where now most districts are including preschool into their system, a BA in education only went from K-6, 6- 12, or K-12 endorsements in the arts. But now since 2009 you can receive a BA in early childhood to include preschool to 3rd grade, and so on. Again there are not a lot of openings in school district’s preschools to receive a BA teacher salary pay so when one becomes available it is a dream to a person coming from an early childcare center. Other wise some good teacher’s in Early Childhood settings bow out and become willing assistants to stay where they at. This usually happens when they are just too old to go back to school so they say and don’t want to study college work. When technically, if they are going to conferences to earn continuing education credits for program requirements they could basically be earning that taking a class towards a BA degree. So, it’s great to have an accountability system, but if you want quality effective teaching then those centers should earn quality teaching pay like salary teachers in a school system. Those teachers are already producing authentic assessments and meeting children needs. They need to be compensated for it also.
    C) A recent surveyed by Goldstein, McCoach & HuiHui (2017) warns lack of preservice and professional development can be detrimental to early childhood assessment ratings. A recent finding published by Education Week (2016) reported that more than forty percent of the nation’s public schools used individualized instruction (class assignments) as part of their assessment decision to delay kindergarten entry based on the entry assessments performed at the beginning of the school year. Should administrators and teachers be allowed to also factor in spring assessments, along with a child’s social and behavioral development in determining if a child is kindergarten ready?
    A program like the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) does just what you are asking. Each year the students Kindergarten through 12 grade take fall, winter, and spring assessments. Then the following year they take the same similar test from their spring assessment in the fall assessment of their new school year. This helps to see if they retained anything over the summer, or what they lost so they can be placed in differentiation groups that now current year. So, the Spring assessment is the new fall assessment for the following year in Math and reading and if the districts buy all the programs, social studies and science also with NWEA. And this falls back to labeling children. Behavioral assessments can be done and follow in the students file but most psychologists in districts will wait, because they want to see if children are developmentally delayed or if they grow out it . So they hesitate to label unless the child was identified prior through doctor’s diagnosis and a team of people evaluations, including a teacher’s paper trail of observations and parents. A child younger than age 3 can receive early intervention services in the home or child care setting through an Individualized Family Service Plan developed specifically for the child by a team that may include therapists, early intervention specialists, teachers, caregivers, and parents. For children with special needs age 3 or older, the local school system develops and administers an Individualized Education Program (Ray, Pewitt-Kinder, & George, 2009)
    Resources
    DEC/NAEYC. (2009). Early childhood inclusion: A joint position statement of the Division
    for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young
    Children (NAEYC). Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, FPG Child
    Development Institute. Retrieved:
    https://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/DEC_NAEYC_EC_updatedKS.pdf
    Ray, J., Pewitt-Kinder, J. & George,S.(2009). Partnering with families of children with
    special needs. Young Children. NAEYC.
    Retrieved:
    http://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/200909/FamiliesOfChildrenWithSpecialNeeds0909.pdf

  2. Do we invest enough resources to professional development of early childhood educators in identifying early warning indicators for children that need individualized education plans (e.g. speech therapy, behavioral issues)?
    –My concerns are less about money and resources, and more about training. Even in my 5th year teaching, with several years of continued education, I still have many questions about the IEP process. I also find that when new teachers come in, they come in with 100 new questions about IEPs, some that I don’ have the answers too. It can be very difficult to separate requirements and information about IEPs, EIPs, 504s, ESOL, RTI, etc. I understand this is something we will. “learn as we go” and in our continued education, but it leaves the teachers and students at a disadvantage not being prepared to support these students.

    Do you feel other states should follow thereby giving more credibility and accountability to making assessments required for children to start their primary education on sound footing?
    –I’m not sure I understand the question. I do believe a “pre-assessment” should be given to see where each student is at, and to set individual goals for the students for the year.

    Should administrators and teachers be allowed to also factor in spring assessments, along with a child’s social and behavioral development in determining if a child is kindergarten ready?
    –I think all assessments and info should be factored in when deciding how developmentally ready these students are for kindergarten. This will allow the teachers to set individual goals for the students. I don’t believe they should be used to determine if a child is ready or not, though. In Georgia, it is not mandatory to attend pre-k, and kindergarten could be the students’ first experience in a school setting at all.

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