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SERVE Center - The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Early Childhood Education

Why is this topic important?

preK studentsWhat happens – or doesn’t happen – to children during the first few years of their lives is of critical importance, both to their immediate well-being and to their future.  Decades of research have clearly demonstrated that high-quality early care/education can promote positive developmental outcomes, both while children are in childcare and later as they enter school.  Despite the considerable evidence connecting quality early care and education with children’s success in school, many children continue to enter school unprepared.  Policymakers, early childhood educators, and parents need information to understand the programs and practices that are most effective in order to ensure children enter school ready to succeed.    


What resources can we suggest?


 Key Issues in Early Childhood Education   

Website Building a Solid Foundation (Sara Mead)  
This issue brief provides a discussion of why it is important for states and school districts to invest stimulus funds in early childhood education and offers examples of how they might use these funds to enhance early childhood programs.    

PDF Missed Opportunities: The Possibilities and Challenges of Funding High-Quality Preschool Through
      Title I of the NCLB Act
(Center for Law and Social Policy, CLASP)  
This paper examines the availability of Title I funds for preschool programs.  It provides general background on ESEA and the changes that were made to it in the NCLB legislation.  In addition, it provides data on states’ use of Title I funds for preschool and examines the U.S. Department of Education’s statutes, regulations, and guidance on the use of Title I funds for preschool.  Finally, it discusses how the implementation of NCLB affects the availability of Title I funding for preschool programs. 

PDF Using Title I to Finance Early Childhood Programs:  Lessons From States and Districts (Presentation from CLASP)    

State Prekindergarten Programs  

PDF  Evaluations of school readiness initiatives: What are we learning? (2003)  
This is a synthesis of evaluations and research on school readiness programs. In addition to looking at what impact the programs have on student outcomes, the methods used to study these programs and developed recommendations for improving the data collection—as well as improving student outcomes—in school readiness programs were also examined.  
Early Childhood Assessment  

PDF Assessing the State of State Assessments:  Perspectives on Assessing Young Children (2003)  
Wide-scale assessment systems to collect data from children younger than kindergarten age have become increasingly common. Assessment systems are being put into place to provide data on children’s progress, evaluate program effectiveness, and to help teachers plan effective curriculum activities. Although these types of wide-scale assessment systems are increasingly common, they are relatively new and present a number of challenges to produce data that is valid, reliable, and useful. This special report includes six papers, each of which addresses the complex issues associated with wide-scale early childhood assessment systems. Issues related to the design and implementation of such systems, assessment instrumentation, and appropriate utilization of the data are addressed.   

Early Learning Standards

PDF   Standards for Preschool Children's Learning and Development: Who Has Standards, How Were They Developed, and How Are They Used?  (2003)  
As the demand for early learning standards has increased, some states have taken on the task of developing descriptions of what children should learn and characteristics that are important for children to develop prior to kindergarten. This report presents results from a national study conducted to collect data on how states have defined early learning standards and the decision-making process used to develop the standards.  Highlights include: which states have developed early learning standards, what areas of development are typically addressed in the standards, processes states have used to develop standards, and how standards are being used within the early care and education system.     

PDF  Inside The Content: The Breadth and Depth of Early Learning Standards Full Report (2005)  
This report details results from a content analysis conducted on 38 sets of early learning standards available for review in November 2003. The report provides an in-depth look at the areas of children’s learning and development that have and have not been addressed in early learning standards developed by states to define expectations for preschool-age children.  

School Readiness

The transition from pre-kindergarten to kindergarten represents a critical time in children’s development.  Unfortunately, many children do not experience smooth transition or continuity as they enter public school.  In an effort to address the need to improve children’s transition as they enter school, SERVE has developed several products intended to promote positive transition practices and increase collaboration and coordination among those who have a stake in children’s success.   

Website  Terrific Transitions Website.  The site includes information and downloadable fact sheets that provide early care and education teachers, kindergarten teachers, and parents with ideas for smoothing children’s entry into kindergarten.  The website was developed in collaboration with the National Head Start Association. Here is a sample of the information you will find within the website…

The passage from preschool to kindergarten can be a stressful time for young children and their families.  For young children, the transition to school means learning new rules, adjusting to a new peer group, and getting to know new teachers.  For parents and family members, it may mean learning a new set of policies and procedures. On these parent and family pages are ideas for how to ease your child’s transition into kindergarten, tips for helping you communicate with your child’s teacher, and ways to become involved in your child’s education.      

Preschool teachers face their own set of challenges. Each year they face a new set of eager young faces knowing that they soon must be sending them to “Big School.”  These web pages provide ideas to help pre-K teachers understand how to facilitate good transition practices, how to communicate effectively with families and receiving programs, and how to make the process valuable and fun!

Kindergarten teachers also face their own set of challenges. Each year they must learn the characteristics, skills, and needs of a new group of students. These pages are specifically designed to help kindergarten teachers by providing ideas on how to help children have a smooth transition during the kindergarten year. Click on the buttons to find creative transition activities and ideas, downloadable material to provide for parents, activities to promote family involvement, ideas on how to make connections with the sending programs, and much more.   

training Planning for Terrific Transitions: Training for Transition to School Teams. 
The primary purpose of this training curriculum is to help prepare school transition teams to design and implement transition plans.  This curriculum guide is designed to be a stand-alone, seven-hour training course complete with trainer’s guide, participants’ guide, overheads, and handouts.   To receive a copy of these training materials, please contact Lynn Amwake at (800) 755-3277.   

Presentation   Terrific Transitions: Supporting Children’s Transition to Kindergarten  
Access this presentation that provides information on the importance of continuity and smooth transitions, strategies for improving children’s transitions, and policy issues related to transitions will be included.  It is designed to be used by local, district, and state educators to inform their communities about the importance of smooth transitions. 

PDF  Terrific Transitions:  Ensuring Continuity of Services for Young Children and Their Families
This document includes a variety of transition strategies that can be tailored to the individual needs of children and their families.  Additionally, the Appendix contains sample forms, letters, and examples of transition activities. 

Website  Stepping Stones to Literacy Website
Stepping Stones to Literacy is a resource developed by SERVE Center early childhood professionals and others who are interested in literacy development in the early childhood years. It contains information designed to help users understand how literacy develops during the years from birth to kindergarten entry and how caregivers and others can support optimal development. Stepping Stones is comprised of a series of brief articles on topics related to early literacy and child development, practical ideas on how to apply the information in the classroom, and additional resources that interested users can access for more in-depth information.    

  • About Child Development -  This section of Stepping Stones offers users an overview of how children grow during their first five years and what adults can do to support the best possible development. The articles in this section focus on key factors in physical, emotional, and cognitive development and what impacts growth in these areas and offer practical suggestions for how adults who care for children can best support this growth.  
  • About Literacy and Learning -  This portion of the Stepping Stones website contains information about experiences in the child’s life that impact early literacy development, how these experiences relate to literacy, and what adults can do to make sure children have experiences that will support learning.

SERVE Center web page The Effectiveness of a Program to Accelerate Vocabulary Development in Kindergarten (K-PAVE)

Issues & Answers 004A Review of Methods and Instruments Used in State and Local School Readiness Evaluations

When selecting reading across the curriculum interventions, educators should consider the extent of the evidence base on intervention effectiveness and the fit with the school or district context, whether they are purchasing a product from vendors or developing it internally. This report provides guidance in the decisionmaking.

PDF  Access the full report

 Issues & Answers 004 video

10-min college View the 10-Minute College