What Should Smarter Testing Look Like in the Early Grades?


The proper role of testing in our nation’s schools has been a hot topic of conversation this week. It all started last Saturday when the Council of the Great City Schools released a study of 66 urban school districts that found students take about 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-K and 12th grade. That averages out to about eight tests per year and consumes about 2.3 percent of students’ total class time. The study found a great deal of redundancy and overlap among the tests that students take each year. Perhaps most importantly, the study pointed out that there is no correlation between the amount of mandated testing time and student test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly known as “The Nation’s Report Card.”

Prompted in part by the release of the Council’s study on Saturday, the Department of Education released a Testing Action Plan on the same day, while President Obama emphasized the need for smarter testing in schools. Most notably, the Testing Action Plan calls for a two percent cap to be placed on the amount of classroom instructional time that is dedicated to test-taking. However, this cap doesn’t address the large amounts of time schools spend on test preparation prior to students actually taking the tests. The plan advocates for fewer and smarter assessments by ensuring that any tests administered be high-quality, time-limited, and properly aligned to the content and skills students are currently learning. The Department wisely points out that a well-designed test is not used only to assess what students know at one point in time, but is part of a broader strategy to inform and guide additional teaching. The Department has promised to issue clear guidance by January 2016 on best practices for using testing as a learning tool.

Source: EdCentral

Available at: http://www.edcentral.org/testing/

Is the Common Core Developmentally Appropriate?


Teachers in early education, those with students between birth through age 8, use to the term “developmentally appropriate” to describe teaching approaches and content that align with proven research in child psychology, pediatrics, developmental psychology and neuroscience. The Common Core experienced attack from early educators, because teachers of early education find Common Core standards for young learners to be developmentally inappropriate. The Washington Post stated that the reason lies in the fact that the development of the Common Core did not include teacher participation.

Recent critiques of the Common Core Standards by Marion Brady and John T. Spencer have noted that the process for creating the new K-12 standards involved too little research, public dialogue, or input from educators. Nowhere was this more startlingly true than in the case of the early childhood standards—those imposed on kindergarten through grade 3. We reviewed the makeup of the committees that wrote and reviewed the Common Core Standards. In all, there were 135 people on those panels. Not a single one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.

One item that received much denouncement from early education experts is the standard for Fluency in English Language Arts in kindergarten: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RFK.4 – Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.

One interpretation of reading “with purpose and understanding” leads educators to think that the writers of the Common Core expect kindergarteners to read like 8 year old children. Research places reading development into stages, and educators find that specific Common Core standard goes against research of kindergarteners’ development.

Source: Education Roundtable

Available at: http://educationroundtable.org/2014/03/16/is-the-common-core-developmentally-appropriate/

Better Child Care: eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care Activities Database

Looking for fun, hands-on activities to include in your child care curriculum? You can find lots of learning activities for young children here.

Click the View List tab and you will get a listing of all activities in alphabetic order.

Click the View Single tab and you will get more details on a specific activity.

Click the Search tab and you will be able to look for specific activities by child age, topic, skills learned, and season.

Source: eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care Activities Database

Available at: http://campus.extension.org/mod/data/view.php?id=5265

News You Can Use


Linda is new to working with young children. She sits at a training, hoping to learn more about babies. The presenter frequently says, “developmentally appropriate practice” to explain why one might do certain things in group care or on a home visit. Although she is not sure what that means, Linda does not want to raise her hand to ask for an explanation.

Developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) is a term that you often hear when talking about young children. In the field of early childhood education, it is something that educators, presenters, and administrators use. It’s an important term to understand, but what does it mean? How would you explain developmentally appropriate practice to the parents in your program?

Source: Early Head Start National Resource Center

Available at: http://www.ehsnrc.org/Publications/newsyoucanuse.htm?utm_source=EHS+NRC+NYCU+%26+Alerts&utm_campaign=ee3261ad82-News_You_Can_Use_DAP9_9_2011&utm_medium=email