Common Core Standards pose dilemmas for early childhood

Samuel J. Meisels, Ed.D.

Samuel J. Meisels, Ed.D.

Samuel J Meisels, president of Erikson Institute, a graduate school in child development located in Chicago, wrote this post for the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog.

After a decade of concerns and criticisms about the lack of rigorous national standards in the No Child Left Behind Act, we now have a set of ambitious standards for use nationwide — the Common Core State Standards. Since their formulation two years ago, these standards have been adopted by 45 states, were made a precondition for funding in the Race to the Top competition, and have begun to influence the development of new curricula and assessments. But early childhood education — concerned with children from birth to the end of third grade — seems nearly an afterthought in the standards. Not only do they end (or begin) at kindergarten, ignoring more than half of the early childhood age range, they simply don’t fit what we know about young children’s learning and development.

No one, including early educators, can afford to overlook standards. They’re critical for setting pedagogical goals and helping us know where we’re going instructionally and what we can hope to accomplish once we get there. They’re essential for establishing reasonable expectations or benchmarks for teaching and for deciding which curriculum to follow.And they’re fundamental to conducting meaningful assessments.

In some ways, you could say that we can’t live — or at least teach effectively — without standards.

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