Starting this volume year, the Focus on Ethics column has a revised schedule. You can look for a new ethical dilemma in each March issue and for its analysis the following September. The new schedule will give you more time to respond to published dilemmas and to share new ones. We welcome your contributions and hope this will make it easier for you to become involved.
We have been hearing concerns about growing demands for testing from early childhood educators we meet in our classes and workshops. At this time we are not clear about how widespread the practice of testing in preschool is or what issues it may be generating. For this reason we decided that, instead of addressing a specific ethical dilemma related to testing, we would ask our readers what their experiences are with testing in preschools and what kinds of dilemmas they are facing.
— Stephanie Feeney and
Nancy K. Freeman, Column Editors
We have been aware for some time of the proliferation of standardized tests in kindergarten and primary grade classrooms and their potentially negative impact on children, teachers, and programs. More recently we have been hearing from readers of Young Children and other preschool teachers, administrators, and adult educators who are concerned that standardized tests are increasingly being required in preschool classrooms by a variety of agencies and funding sources. They report that programs use the results of standardized tests as required measures of accountability.
This month, instead of presenting a case we are asking for your input on the issue of testing.
- Is your program required to administer standardized tests to young children? What age group do you serve?
- Who is requiring the tests? How are they being used?
- What are the effects on children, teachers, and your program?
- Do the assessments raise ethical issues for teachers and administrators in your program?
- How have you addressed the implementation of required testing? (Specific examples would be helpful.)
- What do you think teachers and directors in preschool programs, teacher educators, policy specialists, and professional organizations (such as NAEYC) should do in response to the current demand for tests to evaluate children and the programs that serve them?
We think that it is a good time to learn more about the nature of assessment requirements that programs are facing. We would like to hear from the readers of Young Children who can help us better understand these issues, with a focus on ethical issues that they present. Increased understanding may help us consider desirable ethical responses to assessment policies and help us identify things that we, as individuals and as a field, can do.
About the Authors
Stephanie Feeney, PhD, is professor emerita of education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has served on the governing boards of NAEYC and the National Association for Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE). Since the 1980s she has been involved in developing and teaching the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct. firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy K. Freeman, PhD, is an associate professor of early childhood education at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and director of its Yvonne and Schuyler Moore Child Development Research Center. She chairs the Governor’s Committee on the Regulation of Child Care Facilities and is the immediate past-president of NAECTE. email@example.com
An archive of the Focus on Ethics columns is available at www.naeyc.org/yc/columns/focusonethics.
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