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For Immediate Release:
November 6, 2003
Early Education Experts Issue Guidelines for Assessment and Curriculum
(Chicago) - The nation's two leading early childhood education organizations have issued new guidelines for assessment and curriculum in programs for young children, as well as for evaluation of those programs.
The position statement approved this week by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE), builds on information from the leading early childhood experts and the latest research in child development and learning. The position statement is designed to be a guide for teachers and programs for children from birth through 8 years - including child care, preschool, kindergarten and elementary school - as well as for policymakers, school administrators, and the public.
"Effective and appropriate assessment is a crucial step to improving early childhood education, but there are a lot of misconceptions about how assessment should work," said NAEYC President Jane Wiechel. "With all the calls for assessment of young children and early education programs, it's important to ensure that assessments are designed and applied properly. We need appropriate assessments and program evaluations to get information that will help us raise the quality of early education programs and improve early learning experiences for young children."
The new guidelines update a position statement issued by the two organizations in 1991 and respond to a variety of changes that have occurred in early childhood education since then, including:
- Greater knowledge of the benefits of well-planned systems of curriculum and assessment;
- More focus on subject matter content in curriculum for children below kindergarten age;
- More children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and more children with disabilities; and
- State mandates for programs to select curricula or curriculum models with specific characteristics, and to use assessments of young children as part of accountability systems.
"There is much greater recognition today that the early years are learning years, and that means higher expectations, among parents, policymakers and others," said NAECS/SDE President Lindy Buch. "These guidelines are designed to help decision-makers develop appropriate curriculum for young children, and to connect curriculum to effective assessments and program evaluations."
The joint position statement is not a prescription of a specific curriculum or strategy for assessment. Instead, it provides a series of recommendations and indicators of effectiveness in areas including curriculum, child assessment, screening, and program evaluation/accountability. The recommendations include:
- All assessment must lead to benefits for children, families and programs;
- Assessment instruments must meet accepted professional standards of validity and reliability;
- Assessment must respond to culturally and linguistically diverse communities and to the special needs of children with disabilities;
- Content and implementation of early childhood curriculum should be based on sound research and organizing principles about young children's learning and development;
- Curriculum goals should address both developmental and academic content; and
- Curriculum should be regularly reassessed regarding its effects on classroom practices and desired results for children.
The National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education is a national organization for state education agency staff members with major responsibilities in the field of early childhood education. The Association promotes quality services to young children and their families through improvement of instruction, curriculum, and administration of programs.
Founded in 1926, the National Association for the Education of Young Children has nearly 90,000 members worldwide. The association is the largest and most influential advocate for early care and education in the
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Founded in 1926, the National Association for the Education of Young Children is the largest and most influential advocate for high-quality early care and education in the United States.