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Early Learning standards study released

POSTED: August 15, 2011 1:55 p.m.

ATLANTA—Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, a leader in the field of early childhood education, has released the results of a new study: Georgia’s Early Learning Standards Alignment Study. The study was commissioned by the state agency to garner empirical data that could be used to improve its early learning standards. Drs. Sharon Lynn Kagan (Teachers College, Columbia University) and Catherine Scott-Little (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) led the year-long study.

“Georgia is to be congratulated for its excellent work on early learning standards,” stated Dr. Kagan. “The state stands as a pioneer in developing aligned early learning standards that will help ready young children for school.”

The study focused on the following questions:

• What content has been addressed in the Georgia Early Learning Standards (GELS) for infants and toddlers, the Pre-Kindergarten Content Standards, and the Pre-Kindergarten Content Standards and the Kindergarten through Third Grade Performance Standards?

• To what extent are the GELS aligned across the age levels from birth through three years (vertical alignment)?

• To what extent are the three-year-old GELS, the Pre-Kindergarten Content Standards and the Kindergarten Performance Standards aligned (vertical alignment)?

• To what extent are Georgia’s Pre-Kindergarten Content Standards aligned with the Work Sampling System (WSS) assessment (horizontal alignment)?

• To what extent are Georgia’s Pre-Kindergarten Content Standards aligned with the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework (horizontal alignment)?

• To what extent are Georgia’s Kindergarten through Third Grade Performance Standards aligned across the grade levels (vertical alignment)?

Overall, the alignment study found that the state’s standards are well developed, clear, embracing critical elements of early learning.

The following recommendations were made:

• Consider aligning developmental and disciplinary orientations more closely.

• Consider developing common domains across the standards.

• Consider adding a domain that addresses approaches toward learning in the Pre-K standards.

• Consider the HSCDELF (Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework) and the WSS and the degree to which revised standards should comport with them.

• Consider adding standards and indicators to address English language development and cognitive processes across the GELS and Pre-K standards.

• Consider the Common Core Standards and the degree to which revised Georgia standards should comport with them.

• Focus on alignment across the ages, so that all indicators build on those that have preceded them and build toward those that follow.

“Our analysis of the Georgia early learning standards indicates a strong degree of alignment as well as some areas for improvement,” Dr. Kagan stated. “The Georgia Team is revising their standards and will surely produce a state-of the art document that builds upon the state’s already strong and comprehensive early learning standards work, as well as the results of our analysis.”

A downloadable copy of the Executive Summary as well as the full report is available by visiting Bright from the Start’s Web site at www.decal.ga.gov.

Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia’s children and their families. It administers the nationally recognized Georgia’s Pre-K Program, licenses child care centers and home-based child care, administers federal nutrition programs, and manages voluntary quality enhancement programs.

The department also houses the Head Start State Collaboration Office, distributes federal funding to enhance the quality and availability of child care, and works collaboratively with Georgia child care resource and referral agencies and organizations throughout the state to enhance early care and education.

For more information, go to www.decal.ga.gov.

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