September 11, 2015

Child Safety update; Keep Common Core away from your little kid

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post - More than 500 early childhood professionals -- including educators, pediatricians, developmental psychologists, and researchers -- signed the 2010 Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative. The statement says in part:
We have grave concerns about the core standards for young children…. The proposed standards conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades....
It also said:

1. The K-3 standards will lead to long hours of direct instruction in literacy and math. This kind of “drill and grill” teaching has already pushed active, play-based learning out of many kindergartens.

2. The standards will intensify the push for more standardized testing, which is highly unreliable for children under age eight.

3. Didactic instruction and testing will crowd out other crucial areas of young children’s learning: active, hands-on exploration, and developing social, emotional, problem-solving, and self-regulation skills—all of which are difficult to standardize or measure but are the essential building blocks for academic and social accomplishment and responsible citizenship.

4. There is little evidence that standards for young children lead to later success. The research is inconclusive; many countries with top-performing high-school students provide rich play-based, nonacademic experiences—not standardized instruction—until age six or seven.

Since then, many teachers of young children have complained that they are being forced to test children too much and that structured play -- which many experts believe is how youngsters learn best -- has been crowded out of the school day by academic work.

A number of reports have come out questioning the effectiveness of some of the Core standards for young children, including one earlier this year published by two organizations that advocate for early childhood education -- Defending the Early Years and Alliance for Childhood -- that says there is no evidence to support a widespread belief in the United States that children must read in prekindergarten or kindergarten, as the Common Core standards require, to become strong readers and achieve academic success. The authors found that:
Many children are not developmentally ready to read in kindergarten, yet the Common Core State Standards require them to do just that. This is leading to inappropriate classroom practices.

No research documents long-term gains from learning to read in kindergarten.

Research shows greater gains from play-based programs than from preschools and kindergartens with a more academic focus.

Children learn through playful, hands-on experiences with materials, the natural world, and engaging, caring adults.

Active, play-based experiences in language-rich environments help children develop their ideas about symbols, oral language and the printed word -- all vital components of reading.

We are setting unrealistic reading goals and frequently using inappropriate methods to accomplish them.

In play-based kindergartens and preschools, teachers intentionally design language and literacy experiences which help prepare children to become fluent readers.

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards falsely implies that having children achieve these standards will overcome the impact of poverty on development and learning, and will create equal educational opportunity for all children.


greg gerritt said...

I did not learn to read until first grade,. Somehow I do not think that hurt my abiltiy to read and write at all.

Peter F. said...

I’d like to ask a dumb linguist question.

I was struck by the following wording in the Valerie Strauss post about Common Core.

“Many children are not developmentally ready to read in kindergarten,…”

What evidence is there that kindergarten children (who are typically well along in the development of their language abilities and thereby demonstrate that they ARE able to learn and use for their own purposes a complex semiotic system), are not developmentally ready to read?

In asking this I want to distinguish between being developmentally ready to READ vs. being developmentally being able to be TAUGHT to read—-particularly in a context in which reading is envisioned as a complex set of separate skills which must be mastered separately. It seems to me that work on early reading by Harste and many others shows that very young children can and do begin to learn to read, beginning very early in life—depending on the sort of exposure to written language and the function written language plays in their everyday lives.

I assume that there is work / evidence I don't know about.

Peter F