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Cross, Catherine C.
A historical perspective of the development of prekindergarten and the evolution of quality elements
h [electronic resource] /
by Catherine C. Cross.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 41 pages.
Thesis (Ed.S.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: This is a historical study of preschool nationally and partly internationally with a focus on elucidating the development of quality elements. The study will trace the beginnings of perkindergaten and how the programs have evolved to their current state. The study contains a look at the current state of prekindergarten programs within the United States and how the differing states are measuring their programs. The use of the word quality is examined as it relates to how programs are designed and implemented. The study will also examine several different states that have been acknowledged as the front runners in prekindergarten education services. The international perspective includes at look at several different countries and how they have implemented their early childhood programs. This is section looks at some of their standards for their programs and the requirements for their teachers. The final part of the study draws conclusions as to how to best proceed when making polices for prekindergarten programs in the United States taking into account the many perspectives.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
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Advisor: Susan Homan, Ph.D.
Standards for preschool
Effective teaching practices
x Reading Education
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
A Historical Perspective o f t he Development o f Prekindergarten a nd t he Evolution o f Quality Elements by Catherine C. Cross A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Education Speci alist Department of Childhood Education and Literacy Studies College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Susan Homan Ph.D. Arthur Shapiro, Ph.D. Susanne Quinn, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 31, 2008 Keywords: preschool programs, early education, standards for preschool early development, effective teaching practices Copyright 2008, Catherine Cross
i Table of Contents ...ii CHAPTER 2: LIT Current State of Pre .14 Universal Pre Considerations for Universal Pre CHAPTER 3: CONCLUSI
ii A Historical Perspective o f t he Development o f Prekindergarten a nd t he Evolution o f Quality Elements Catherine C. Cross ABSTRACT This is a historical study of pres chool nationally and partly internationally with a focus on elucidating the development of quality elements. The study trace d the beginnings of prekindergaten and how the programs have evolved to their current state. The study contains a look at the curr ent state of prekindergarten programs within the United States and how the differing states measure their programs. The use of the The study also examine d several stat es that have been acknowledged as the front runners in prekindergarten education services. The international perspective include d a look at France and how they have implemented their early childhood program. This section look ed at some of their standards for their program and the requirements for their teachers. The final part of the study dr ew conclusions as to how best to proceed when making polices for prekindergarten programs in the United States, taking into account the many perspectives.
Catherine Cross 1 CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION Achievement Gap There is a significant achievement gap in elementary schools in the United States between children of differing socio economic classes. This gap is evident as children enter kindergarten and widens as they advance throug h elementary school, thus threatening to permanently disadvantage those students who start behind the others. According to Laosa universal access to both elementary and secondary schools is a reality but does not necessarily include equal quality among sch ools (2005). This is persistent association of educational achievement to socioeconomic status (SES) and Pre kindergart en may be part of the solution to this quality dilemma, because an earlier start may help children achieve more when the y reach elementary school. programs have potential for improving the school readines s of low income and minority children as well as those from higher income and non 1). T he concept is to see that all children are more equa lly prepared by having access not only to school programs, but to quality program s as well. preschool would help close what she refers to as the preparation gap. In her article entitled "Open the Preschool Door, Close the Preparation Gap," (2004) she discus ses how
Catherine Cross 2 preschool has helped students improve not only their academic skills, but their social skills as well. Mead notes in her article that this trend is particularly noticeable in disadvantaged children. These children are the least likely to attend a p reschool program entering kindergarten in the fall 1988, less than one half from the most disadvantaged families 47 percent had ever attended preschool, including Head Start or daycare increased awareness of policymakers to enhance the experience t hat all children should receive from pre kindergarten. Purpose of Study D etermin ing the elements that distinguish a successful program from one that is less successful is important in establishing a pre kindergarten program that meets the objective o f better preparing children for elementary school. This paper look ed at pre kindergarten from a historical perspective and examine d how the concept of quality is developing and where future goals may lead. Research about the history to include how prekin dergarten has come into being and how it has adapted to current needs in our society. Quality will be looked at through the different views and how these views ultimately come to the same conclusions for promoting good quality preschool programs.
Catherine Cross 3 Brie f History The importance of pre daycare for young children whose mothers worked in factories. Because it was essential that children be kept safe, and off the streets, many working class neighborhoods fo unded daycares. The idea of having a safe haven for our youngest members of society grew during World War II when many women went to work in the factories while the men were away at war. Daycares were set up to provide children with a secure environment an d to t national program which was under the Day Care Section of the U.S. Office of Defense Health and Welfare Services to co ordinate and integrates the child care programs of the se veral federal agencies co funds for child care facilities for children of working mothers rather than mothers on h nursery schools open (Future of Children, 2004; Marks, 1943). When World War II ended, many people felt that federal funding for daycare programs was an important need tha thought they (the centers) were purely a war emergency measure. A few of us had inkling that perhaps they were a need which was constantly with us, but one that we had of Children, 2004). The daycare concept continued to evolve, and some developed naturally into preschools. The idea of preschool was
Catherine Cross 4 distinctive from daycare because it provided children not only with basic care, but also gave them a chance to learn some b asic academic skills. This concept was expensive, in part because many of the federal grants providing the funding were not renewed after the war ended (Phillips & Zigler, 1987). A lso percentage of women worked outsi de the home and required a place for their children than is the case today (Phillips & Zigler, 1987). prepared to enter elementary school. The program was developed during a time when the United Sates was fighting a war on poverty, and a Congressional Committee determined one battlefront was to help children in poverty receive a head start on their schooling. field (Zigler 2000). Now, as we enter a new millennium, we as a nation are beginning to discover the significance of a quality preschool education for all students (Neuman 2003, Barnett & Hustedt 2003). In 2001, a new set of educational reforms were s igned into law. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was proposed to deal with many of the new issues that the United States was facing concerning the quality of education for primary focus of this new legislation was to address the youngest of school members, and to improve their abilities to achieve in elementary school. Several assumptions underlie the logic of the NCLB. The law makes a bold and important statement that all children are able to learn what the schools have to t each. It acknowledges how the importance of highly of research based methods effectively teach reading and math skills (Neuman, 2003, p. 287)
Catherine Cross 5 The basic concept is to attempt to narrow the achievement gap that currently exists between socio economic groups. Ground zero for closing the achievement gap has been designated as pre kindergarten programs. Neuman notes, [a] lthough in all li kelihood the gap will not be erased entirely, it can be reduced substantially through high quality pre kindergarten programs that acknowledge that many children do not enter school ( 2003, p. 288) This initiative of adequately prepa ring children can be seen with the Head Start program that was specifically designed to ensure that the poorest of our children would have a safe environment in which to grow and learn (Zigler & Styfco, 2000). Head Start now serves more than 800,000 child The idea has continued with various pre kindergarten programs funded both by local and cy emerges from need. It is a response to a problem. The value and appropriateness of a policy depend on the underlying assumptions and intent of those (Rust, 2003, p. 154) Th e call for quality in the pre kindergarten program is a way for us to ensure that our children receiv e a program that is appropriate and address es the ir needs effectively. Currently in the United States approximately three fourths of all four year olds at tend some type of daycare or preschool program the highest percentage of attendance ever. With more families where both parents must work to support themselves, the percentage will steadily increase (Barnett & Hustedt 2003 p. 54). The new dilemma for th ese parents is the amount of money necessary to send their children to one of these
Catherine Cross 6 programs, and the quality of education the child receives there. While there are many programs in place to help those with lower incomes and while parents of higher socioe many in the middle class are still unable to attain preschool for their children. Here NCLB attempts to help by proposing the nation prepare all children by instituting the idea of affordable pre kindergarten for all. Universal pre kindergarten is an attractive way to ensure that all families have equal access to the preparation for elementary school. Universal pre kindergarten has the not insignificant challenge of merging both public and pri vate resources to provide a develop ing these programs, and are in the early stages of evaluating the effects the programs hav e on elementary school success. Florida is now join ing the list of states that have universal pre kindergarten in place. In F all 2005, the people of the state of Florida passed a constitutional amendment that reads, Every four year old shall be offered a high quality pre kindergarten opportunity by the st ate no later than the 2005 school year. This voluntary early childhood development and education program shall be established according to high quality standards It is crucial for Florida to decide its definition of a quality program. The simple facts a re universal pre kindergarten programs must be made up of both private and public resources to make the program viable. This combination of resources must provide an affordable preschool experience while ensuring a high level of quality and achievement is in the program. The goal of this paper was to look at pre kindergarten from a historical
Catherine Cross 7 perspective and examine how the concept of quality is developing and where future goals may lead.
Catherine Cross 8 CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW Current State of Pre Kindergart en that is public, accountable for high standards, sufficiently funded to include all children who need it, and comparable to the early childhood education systems of high ach ieving (AFT 200 2, p. 3) Thus begins the call for the advent of universal pre kindergartens for the United States, a call that has come into fruition in the No Child Left Behind Act signed into law in 2001 and has roots that date b ack into the day nurseries of strong support system for teachers and has now broached the subject of early childhood education to build a strong foundation for the youngest members of our society. The problem currently facing our nation is that of the eight million children who participate in some form of preschool, most attend programs that either are missing basic elements of quality or simply do not address them at all (AFT 200 2, p 3) (AFT 200 2, p. 3) The problem for most current programs is to meet the new demands of promot ing school readiness, with what ha s been deemed as a quality program. Many children from disadvantaged backgrounds or from families without the means to send the m to preschool are going to be left to daycare
Catherine Cross 9 ch ildren start public kindergarten with major delays in language and basic academic (Ramey & Ramey 2004 p. 472) The AFT addresses this problem by calling on states to introduce universal pre kindergartens to cover the current gaps in preschool pro grams. The AFT notes that there are signs of progress among the states in creating high quality programs and striv ing states offer some type of preschool program for children under age five although few p (AFT 200 2, p. 6) This commitment to early childhood education shows that the public believes that the place to start is with our youngest citizens. F our states so far have st arted universal pre kindergarten programs that show real promise in fulfill ing the needs of students. Florida has recently joined the list and is currently working on its definition of a sound universal pre kindergarten program. In 2006 the National Ins titute for Early Education Research (NIEER) published its report on the current state of pre enrollment in state funded pre k rose to 942,766 children in 2005 2006, including 805,807 at age 4 translating into th e biggest numbers seen as yet for pre kindergarten enrollment. This means that state preschool education serves 20 percent of the 4 year old of the quality of the programs of the 38 states that currently have some form of state funded pre kindergarten. The study is based around ten quality standards believed to be most important to helping children succeed during and after pre kindergarten. These standards are
Catherine Cross 10 1. early learning standards 2. teacher degree 3. teacher specialized training 4. assistant teacher degree 5. teacher in service 6. maximum class size 7. staff child ratio 8. required screening/referral and support services 9. meals 10. required monitoring (NIEER, 2006) NIEER found that Alabama and North Carolina met all 10 the quality components and that Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Tennessee, the Nonpublic Schools program met nine of these s tandards (NIEER, 2006). NIEER points out that as their analysis of pre kindergarten programs has continued, they find more states are beginning to develop polices to help them meet even mber of state initiatives level policy, states can require that programs provide children with a high quality educati In the NIEER Preschool Matters from December/January 2006, the journal looked back at their four years of studies of the quality of preschools in the country. The Pew Charitable Trust has made it its mission to advance the idea of presc hool as a way to
Catherine Cross 11 help close the school readiness gap. The focus for their program is on education, but has broadened to include items such as health and social and emotional development. The Pew Trust believes that progress has been made, every year there are more than 3,000 news stories on major preschool policy and practice issues, as tracked by daily clipping service offered by Pre K Now. In 2004, 15 states increased funding for preschool, by just over $200 million. In 2005, 26 states did so, raising th eir early education investments by more than $600 million. This is truly becoming a movement (Urahn & Watson, 2006). A French Perspective name of this school system, a vailable and free to all young children in France, suggest its underlying philosophy & Neuman, 1999, p. ix). Cooper and Neuman discuss in their summary for their book Ready to Learn the rea sons for looking to France for ways to improve our prekindergarten experiences here in the United States. The authors point to the many ways in which the social trends in America are changing and are becoming increasingly comparable to the French way of l ife. The authors refer to the quiet revolution that has begun in the United States preschool programs and the need to look at other countries that mirror our own for ways to build a strong prekindergarten program. A study by Cooper and Neuman (1999) foun d that the French have discovered a way to make pre kindergarten a meaningful place for learning and a way to better prepare children for their next years of school. The school provides education to 2.5 million children and is where everything starts, acco rding to the Minister of Education. The idea is to provide well rounded care that combines both education and care under one roof for
Catherine Cross 12 eight hours a day (Cooper & Neuman, 1999, p. xii). The preschool programs are a highly structured national system that is supported by a national curriculum. The curriculum is further broken down to serve different age groups and to provide focus on socialization, were impressed by the Fre Neumann 1999, p.xii). The researchers found five key areas from the French system that can be applied to the Un ited States. They were as follows: 1. Promote preschool for every child 2. Clarify national, state, and local roles and responsibilities 3. Train and adequately pay teachers of young children 4. Develop core principals for early childhood programs 5. Respond to the needs of children and families The adequate pay for teachers is part of what helps to make this system so successful. Teachers in the 'Ecole Maternell' make less than what the average American counterpart makes at the beginning of their career. This is offset however by the excellent benefits that accompany the job such as health and retirement. These teachers at the end of their careers often make more than they would if in America. The last item listed about responding to the needs of children and families could be described as one of the core principals. The system that is place in France is designed to encompass the family as a education. So increasingly, wraparound services are available and heavily subsidized.
Catherine Cross 13 longer than the school day and for those who come from backgrounds in which French is not the language used at home (Kamerma n 1999 p.30). As you will see, many of these ideas have been used to help influence the universal pre kindergarten programs currently being formed in the United States. State Programs Several states have become leaders in the universal pre kindergarten p rograms. These states have had programs in place long enough to have started longitudinal studies to evaluate the programs' success in preparing their students for kindergarten. These states are discussed below to illustrate some of the best that the Unit ed States has to offer among the universal prekindergarten programs. Georgia K program, a model that offers a free preschool education to all 4 year old children regardless of family (Barnett & Hustedt 2003 p. 54) Soon after Georgia began its pre kindergarten program, New York and Oklahoma followed, all with the same plan to offer a free public tha t preschool education is a sound investment academically, socially, and (Barnett & Hustedt 2003 p. 55) The research base has come from the Head Start, High/Scope Perry preschool program and the Title I Chicago Child Parent Centers that hav e been in operation for many years. These programs have been involved in numerous
Catherine Cross 14 longitudinal studies which show their potential to have a long lasting effect on children and their families. The purpose of a universal pre a wider net than that of Head Start, which began as a weapon in the War on Poverty and (Maeroff 2003 p. 6) This Universal Pre kindergarten Program would include all families, not just t hose of low income or those viewed as having a specialized need for preschool, such as children with learning delays. North Carolina North Carolina has implemented a program called Smart Start, although not labeled exclusively as a universal pre kinderg arten; the idea seems to be working. Smart Start started with the mission of making sure all children start school healthy and ready to be successful. The local community is responsible for planning on how to best meet their own communities need, improve a nd expand existing programs for children and families and design and implement new programs. The program was established in 1993 as a partnership between the state, local governments and service providers to better serve the community (Bryant, Maxwell, Ta ylor, Poe, Peisner Feinberg, & Bernier 2003 ) The program started on a small scale that included twelve partnerships. In recent years it has evolved to encompass the whole state. There have been three studies conducted by the State of North Carolina to ev aluate the quality of the program, the last published in 2003. All studies asked the questions: 1. Has the quality of child care improved over time? 2. Does center participation in Smart Start funded activities predict quality?
Catherine Cross 15 T he first two studies found that p articipation in the Smart Start program activities was significantly related to the quality of these programs (Bryant, Maxwell, & Burchinal, 1999; Bryant, et al., 2002). The first two studies were done with the same population that was considered for the t hird study as explained below. The third study was more extensive. In this study Bryant and a team of researchers set out to find if the program answers the following research questions: 1. Has the quality of child care improved over time? 2. Does center parti cipation in Smart Start funded activities predict quality? 3. Do preschool children attending higher quality child care programs have better The latest study was designed to look at both questions of qua lity along with the question of children having better skills. Although the other two stu dies did look at the skills the children had upon entering school they did not directly link them to students being enrolled in a quality program. The study was condu cted with 110 preschool child care programs that were a part of the previous studies of child care quality between 1994 and 1999. The settings for the programs included both rural and urban settings. In all, 512 preschool children were assessed on their la nguage, literacy, numeracy, and social Social Skills Rating System (Gresham & Elliot, 1990) and language and math skills were assessed during one on one activities with c hildren, including the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test III (Dunn & Dunn 1997), the Applied Problems subtest of the Woodcock Johnson (1989), a literacy assessment (Concepts About Print, Zill & Resnick,
Catherine Cross 16 1998) and four tasks that asked children to identify le tters, numbers and colors ( Bryant, Maxwell, & Burchinal, 1999; Bryant, et al., 2002). The results found in this study showed that the children did in fact have better skills when enrolled in centers that participated in the Smart Start program. The r esearchers also evaluated how quality affected outcomes and found that the programs of higher quality made more of a difference in how well the children were prepared when entering school. Universal Pre Kindergarten Defined and Analyzed ational Association for the Education of Young Children (NAYEC) governing board adopted a set of policies, based on the recommendations of the National Commission for Accreditation Reinvention, to guide the next era of NAYEC 84). As a part of these policies NAYEC had a quality substantially comply with NAYEC criteria for high 84). NAYEC went on to say that i ts policies were based on three fundamental beliefs related to the quality concepts in early childhood programs. The three beliefs are as follows from the NAYEC Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Criteria: 1. Quality is a complex attribute of program life that is both shaped and experienced by many people, especially children, families, teaching staff, and administrators. 2. Quality is a dynamic attribute that requires ongoing attention and willingness to change including change through developm ent and learning as program participants (children, families, staff) change. 3. Programs need the capacity to sustain and improve quality over time (2005).
Catherine Cross 17 The accreditation process that NAYEC has designed to address the ability of programs to meet a level of quality is built into the 10 NAYEC Early Childhood Program Standards. This process helps those programs establish and maintain a high level of quality. U niversal pre kindergartens should also be well aware of the issue for child care needs that exten d past the proposed academic time. The idea is to develop a program that illustrates what quality looks like. According to the National Research Council (NRC) high quality must incorporate the whole child and prepar e students to meet the demands of formal schooling (Maeroff 2003 p. 2) This quality should involve looking at the current body of research that provides insights in cognition and has a focus on other developmental needs of young children. One reason for the ongoing discussion about developme ntal consequences of child care is that different child care parameters quantity, quality, and type of setting typically have been in isolation or in only limited (Ramey & Ramey 2004 , p. 134). The National Institute of Child Health and Hu man Development (NICHD 2002 ) 4 and half years. early child care experiences positively or negative ly related to child functioning prior to school entry? And if so are statistical effects sufficiently large enough to be (NICHD 2002 p. 136) The focus on the effects being meaningful is a new perspective for this type of study. Most studie s before were unable or unwilling to look at this piece of the puzzle. The NICHD looked at how the quality of the childcare program affected the children enrolled. According to the authors researchers such as Burchinal et al., 2000,
Catherine Cross 18 Goelman and Pence, 19 87, Howes and Stewart, 1987, McCartney, 1984, and Vernon Fegans, Emmanuel and Blood 1997 have found that there is a positive relationship between child (NICHD, 2002). The researcher s found that the higher the quality of the program, the of childcare settings : children who were in centers and those who received care in a home setting outside of the ir own home. The children for the study were recruited through hospital visits shortly after birth in 1991 at ten locations in the United States. There were 5,146 children who met the eligibility requirements, of that group a conditionally random sample o f 3,015 were selected for phone interviews. After those interviews a total of 1,364 became the group that was used for this study. The quality of care the children received was measured through the use of the Observational Record of the Caregiving Envi ronment (ORCE). The ORCE is based on observations of 44 minute cycles, each broken into four 10 minute observation periods. caregiver or other people (NICHD, 2002). It w as fo und through the use of this evaluation instrument that higher quality of care in the center or home based care had a positive effect on children. The study also found that the child will function at a higher level when exposed to a quality program ver sus a program been found to be of lower quality using of quality obtained higher scores on tests of pre academic skills and language than did children whose child care was (NICHD 2002 p. 155) The study also showed that students who stay in quality pre kindergarten programs will continue to
Catherine Cross 19 improve and will predict better performance on measures of cognitive and linguistic functioning (NICHD 2002 p. 157) The sum total of the study stated that the better the quality the better prepared a child will be for the start of Kindergarten. wide range of part day, full school day, and full work day programs under educational, (Kamerman & Gatenio 2003, p. 1) These programs are responsible for all the current daycare taking place in the United States today. The goal of the ECEC is to int egrate the various types of programs into a less fragmented system. The problem the ECEC is consistently running into is the varying degrees with which the programs agree on the basic tenets of a program. There has been but with the advent of universal pre kindergartens there will be an even greater need for a more standardized way of measuring a program. linked with later school achievem ent, emotional and social well being, fewer grade retentions, and reduced incidences of juvenile delinquency and that these outcomes are & Gatenio 2003, p. 12) The sooner the programs are pu t into place the better off all pre kindergarten students may be. The ECEC in the United States was part of a twelve nation study on the subject of early childhood education and policies. This study was undertaken by the Organization for Economic Co ope ration and Development (OECD) that originated with the Marshall Plan at the end of World War II. The idea began in 1988, and the book Early Childhood and Care in the USA was written to talk about the policies that were observed during the
Catherine Cross 20 held meetings with early childhood experts who developed a common framework of topics and questions to be addressed in each country. The OECD (Karp 2003). The revie w tried to accomplish the following tasks: 1. Distinguish among and investigate the contexts, major policy concerns and policy responses to address the concerns within the participating countries. 2. Explore the roles of national government, nongovernmenta l organizations, and other partners and the institutional resources devoted to planning and implementing services at each level. 3. Identify feasible policy options suited to the different contexts. 4. Evaluate the impact, coherence, and effectiveness of d ifferent approaches ECEC policy and practice. 5. Highlight particularly innovative policies and practices. 6. Contribute to the Indicators of education Systems project by identifying the types of data and instruments that need to be developed in support of ECEC information collection, policy making, research, monitoring, and evaluation (Karp 2003). The team from the United States found that quality ranged from low to high. The hope from the researchers who participated in the study is to help make lasting policy changes to help the quality of early childhood to improve.
Catherine Cross 21 Elements of Quality 2003, p. 31) The following list s the various areas that the stakeholders are in basic agreement on according to Cryer : 1. Safe Care making sure the environment presents no hazards to 2. Healthful Care clean environment where measures are taken to keep the envir 3. Developmentally Appropriate Stimulation children are able to make choices for their own activities and have opportunities to learn from a variety of methods and resources. 4. Positive In teractions with adults 5. Encouragement of individual emotional growth children are able to operate as independent individuals. 6. Help children and with the help of both environmental guidance and support from adults (2003). These aspects seem to be wh ere professionals from early childhood can find a common background. Even with these areas as broadly defined as they are, there needs to be an effort to take them into consideration and build a program that shows how these would work as measurable standar ds. According to Ramey and Ramey (2004) certain experiences are essential to helping a child become successful during their early years of school. These are broken down into : celebrate developmental awarene ss, rehearse and extend new skills, protect from
Catherine Cross 22 inappropriate disapproval, teasing, and punishment, communicate richly and (Ramey & Ramey, 1999 b, p. 145) Many of these are very similar to what Cryer has found t hrough her studies and also expand some of the points to make an even more complete picture of an appropriate pre kindergarten. Cryer also makes the case that stakeholders must be a part of making sure the program contains quality. The argument here is th at who better than the parents and their children to decide if a program is working for them. If the children seem to be happy and engaged while at their preschool, is this not a measure of quality? It has been proven in the research that, yes this is a v alid argument. Peisner Feinberg and Burchinal ( 1995 ) determined that when the quality of a program is high the children who participate in the program demonstrate more positive feeling about their school experience than those who are in a lower quality pr ogram. E valuating the quality all of the different programs could be done through the use of the families as a valuable resource. Two definitions of quality are widely used by the ECEC : process quality and structural quality. Process quality consists of those aspects of an ECEC setting that children actually experience, such as teacher child and child child interactions; the types of spaces, activities, and materials available to children; and how everyday personal care routines, such as meals, toileti ng, and rest are handled (Cryer 2003 p. 37) Structural quality consists of the framework that allows process quality to occur factors that influence the processes that children actually experience (Cryer 2003 p. 38) These definitions will al low researchers to measure the amount of quality taking place in a program. The definitions of quality provided by the ECEC have been relatively stable The challenge now
Catherine Cross 23 is to implement th e definitions to help us provide a quality program. These definitions help to align with those in the North Carolina Smart Start by measuring the amount of quality being put into the program. In Smart Start studies the researchers were evaluating the pro cess quality of their programs by looking at the scores children received from the evaluative instruments. The structural quality can then be looked at as being good or ests. immediate and obvious indicator of the complex process of development in context that (Pianta 2002 p. 3) The more quality a program possesses the better the children are at meeting academic success. There are three areas to be considered when looking at what skills a child requires in order to be a successful student. These three areas are social emotional, behavioral, and academic skills that comprise what is believed to be a high quality pre kindergarten classroom (Pianta 2002 p. 3) Each of these areas can be broken down into categories, but for the purpose of the proposal they will be looked at as compl ete components. Considerations for Universal Pre Kindergarten In Novem ms for a New Age was co sponsored by the Laboratory for Student Success and the National Center of Education in the Inner Cities at T emple University Center for Research in Human Development and Education (Wang & Reynolds 2000 p. 2) The goal of this co nference was to provide a place to discuss growing concerns over universal
Catherine Cross 24 programs for preschoolers and to discuss the level of quality needed to help these children succe ed It was a place where early childhood professionals could meet to express the nee ds of all interested parties, children, families, and communities. The conference set about to identify the various resources available to educate our children and how to combine these resources into programs for success. During the conference areas emerged from the work groups, including: providing universal access to day care, improving the quality of professional development, and increasing parental & Reynolds 2000 p. 3) al regulable characteristics and by (Vandell & Pierce 2000 p. 3) The experiences are those given by the caregivers and th ose the child has within the setting of the daycare center. hat child care quality in both structural development, language skills, social competence, behavioral adjustment, and work (Vandell & Pierce 2000 p. 3) Vand ell and Pierce also talk about the longitudinal research done in recent years that shows that quality has a continued positive effect on quality programs is still be ing researched. The authors write about the continuing need to improve the studies that are being done in order to focus on the quality of the program itself. Vandell and Pierce discuss one study done by Lamb in the Handbook of Child Psychology which was a comprehensive review of child care research. He conclude that children who experienced high quality care did better in measures of cognitive development when compared to peers who may not have had this advantage(Vandell &
Catherine Cross 25 Pierce 2003). However, many in the field are hopeful that the preliminary studies continue to show positive results. has been an excellent source of information about what changes should be made to better educate our youngest students provides education, health, nutrition, and social services to children and families through The program primarily work s wit h low income families to provid e a support system for both the child and their family. Head Start had a rocky start and the information first reported by the program suggested that it has since been revamped and it has been suggested that the program although not helping children gain IQ points has had a positive effect on their school lives. misunderstanding about Head Start results from the failure to consider the f ull range of cognitive and academic outcomes as well as flawed research methods that generate faulty early problems Head Start has become what some have called a very reliable method for helping disadvantaged children r eceive the preschool experience they need. Boyer (1991) speaks about how it might be used as a model to help bring about a more universal program. He speaks about making this program available to anyone who not only needs childcare, but also wants their children to be able to receive a good start in school. Speaking on the behalf of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advan cement of Teaching, he addressed the subject of quality from the standpoint that everyone is entitled to receive it and that we are one of the last of the industrialized nations to assume control
Catherine Cross 26 over our preschools to make them a place where our children can learn and grow. The foundation completes the idea of a universal program by saying that preschool and daycare should complement one an other. The barriers between care and education should be broken down to form a more seamless way of taking care of our children. This would provide all aspects of the definitions provided by the ECEC as far as process and structural quality go. The aspects of all parties being willing to work towards the same end would give the program the buy in that is needed to address the issues of quality. This statement from Boyer is important because it helps to show where the first ideas for Universal Pre Kindergart en started to come from. The basis of his idea is that everyone should attend a pre kindergarten program and that as an industrialized nation we should be moving toward this goal of having open access to all. kindergarten as a downward extension of formal education and more readily support it fro (Maeroff 2003 p. 9) This view needs to be addressed when looking at the issue of universal pre kindergarten. The issue of child care will be greatly intertwined w it h how programs need to be put together for greatest success. The child care issue is of huge concern and the reality is that children can only spend a certain amount of time in a structured program no matter the quality offered. Children will also need ch ildcare provided for them when parents are not able to be there at the end of the pre kindergarten education part of the day. The structur al and process quality must be maintained to help form a seamless bond between the end of the school day and the start of the child care part of the day. The other issue to keep in mind is : why do some preschools fail? According to Ramey and Ramey (2004) preschools fail for four specific reasons F irst many programs
Catherine Cross 27 cannot provide the training teachers need to be succe ssful in the classroom. Second, many programs often do not provide enough time for children to learn and only operate for a certain number of hours per day and months per year. Third many programs that do not work are more remedial rather than focusing o n ways to prevent failure from happening, thus making learning experiences very limited in nature. The final reason for failure is that many programs although well intentioned focus on helping the families more than they focus on the development of the c hild. These same programs do not offer the direct teaching needed to help these children grow in academic areas. This is not to say that researchers dismiss the importance of families. Family is a very important part of ly can provide can prove the best help of all. The objective here is to form a cohesive unit. there are excellent procedures available to observe and document the quality an (Ramey & Ramey 2004 p. 488) The question still rema ining is how to make sure that programs currently being put into place meet the standards we wish for our children to achieve. We know from the research p resented above that it is possible to extend child care programs into quality academic programs, and that many academic programs could be extended to include needed child care. Now, it is just a question of the quality of these programs. Most programs can meet some of the needs of our children ; now it is a question of finding the right combination.
Catherine Cross 28 Future Direction for Quality: The Teachers The historical perspective shows that the evolution of pre kindergarten from the nursery school to the current sta te has been a long and winding road. The path shows us that, out of need, society developed a way to look after the youngest members and then furthered that idea to include making sure that everyone has equal opportunity to participate and succeed. The que stion now facing the early childhood community is how to develop the high level of quality that all stakeholders would like to see. All children need to be prepared to enter elementary school and now we are seeing the early childhood community beginning to agree on what high quality programs look like. Both NIEER (2006) and NAEYC (2005) agree that programs should have well trained teachers and programs focused on developing the whole child through a well planned out curriculum. Everyone can agree that the b etter prepared the teachers, the better the program -and thus, the better the child will do during progress through school. The goal of pre kindergarten is to give every child a firm footing in the basics so as to allow each to make the most of the lear ning experiences that will be offered in elementary school. As this theme of quality continues, the next place to focus is on teacher development. Teachers both prepare the children and designing the programs used. As a pre kindergarten teacher I know that I make decisions daily on which book to read and what concepts to teach. I am also responsible to make sure the children get the appropriate amount of play and social interaction each day. I decide if a child needs extra support, and then find the way to provide it. I rely daily on my education and training to help me make these important decisions that affect how well my students will do in the future. Support for the idea of preparing teachers well comes from many sources within
Catherine Cross 29 the early childhood com munity. One of the biggest supporters for improvement in the education of early childhood teachers comes from the National Association of Education for Young Children (NAEYC). early childhood professionals a re well prepared, children are likely to experience warm, safe, and stimulating environments that lead to healthy development and constructive standards for programs that prepa re early childhood professionals. NAEYC (2005) has identified the following five core standards that educators should master: 1. Promoting child development and learning knowledge of different theoretical positions in child development. Knowledge of biologi cal, growth. Knowledge of the developmental milestones for children and knowledge of current research. 2. Building family and community relationships knowledge of the diversity of family s ystems, traditional, non traditional and alternative family structures, family life styles, and the dynamics of family life on the development of young children. This also includes a knowledge of different community resources, assistance, and support avai lable to children and families. 3. Observing, documenting, and assessing knowledge and application of developmentally appropriate child observation and assessment methods. Teaching and learning knowledge and application of different curriculum
Catherine Cross 30 models, sta ndards for high quality programming and child assessment practices. 4. Becoming a professional knowledge of laws, regulations, and policies that impact professional conduct with children and families. This also includes a knowledge of professional organiza tions and resources associated with early childhood education. teachers of young children are appropriately prepared to work with their students. NAEYC is currently developing accreditation practices for associate degrees as well as its already established recognition of baccalaureate programs. This approval, although not required, would provide a stable guide by which to measure teachers entering the field of early childhood e ducation. NAYEC recognizes the importance of the associate degree program, which lends credence to the idea that a well developed program would be able to prepare well prepared teachers who do not wish to seek a four year degree. The states follow the NAY EC lead are trying to ensure that all of their teachers are qualified to teach in their prekindergarten programs. In a study done in 2005 by Gilliam and Marchesseault looked at who is teaching our youngest students. The researchers took a sample of 3,89 8 prekindergarten teachers who are responsible for a state funded prekindergarten classroom. The researchers used telephone interviews to obtain information from the prekindergarten teachers, the informant was the lead teacher in the classroom and was res what degree they had earned and about having a Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate. The teachers were also asked if they held state certification and if so, in what
Catherine Cross 31 .8% of preschool lead teachers across the nation reported a High School Diploma or GED (HSD/GED) as their highest degree at the time of the survey, 14.1% interesting to note that of the 10 state systems with the most highly educated teachers, 9 Gilliam & Marchesseault 2005). This study does show t hat most teachers do at least meet the minimum requirements for teaching prekindergarten. Researchers (Rhodes & Hennessy 2000, McCarthy, Cruz &Ratcliff 1999 Early, et al., 2007) find a benefit to training, especially when it involves teaching specifics in early childhood areas. The same researchers find that teachers who have either formal college such as Child Development Associate(CDA) which is designed to teach the basic individual needs and provide more developmentally appropriate learning experiences. Therefore, a trained teacher will add to the quality experience we wish pre kinderg arteners to have before entering school. The ideal combination of talent and skill is what we seek in pre kindergarten children; such persons, with proper training, can reach the goal of educating our children in a quality program. The core value of early childhood education is to do the best job possible in making sure our children have all the basics for success, not only for the world of school, but for the one th at exists outside the school doors.
Catherine Cross 32 CHAPTER THREE: CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSIONS The history of early childhood education shows how hard people are willing to work to help young children grow into successful adults. The evolution of what began as daycar e, a place where children could go during the day while their parents worked, to the new universal pre kindergarten that provides opportunities for all children to receive a head start on their education, is amazing. The universal pre kindergarten has been designed to capture all elements of both care and education. Such an environment has long been available only for the most in need or those who could afford outside care for their children. The idea that we can and should allow all children the opportuni ty to succeed shows how far as a society we have come to acknowledging that early childhood education is not only helpful, but necessary. The idea of quality that has come along with the development of the new programs has helped to focus the ideas and cr eate some terrific programs. Excellent examples can be seen in Georgia (Barnett & Hustedt, 2003) and North Carolina (Bryant, Maxwell, Taylor, Poe, Peisner Feinberg & Bernier, 2003). Although these programs are based on different ideologies, the programs sh are the same intent of preparing all children for school. Studies of these programs (Barnett & Hustedt, 2003) (Bryant, Maxwell, Taylor, Poe,Peisner Feinberg & Bernier, 2003) have proven that they benefit society in the long run. These types of universal pr e kindergartens lower the need for remedial and specialized education and help children be more emotionally and socially ready for their
Catherine Cross 33 school years. Studies from North Carolina and Georgia continue to show that these students consistently do well in sch ool and are able to adapt to new situations more readily. NIEER studies (NIEER 2006) on the state of preschools show the effort that has been made by different states to keep growing their programs despite growing pains. The number of states without progra ms keeps shrinking while the number of states that implement successful programs keeps growing. The willingness of states to implement their own calls for quality shows that they are listening to the professionals in early childhood education and the peopl e in their state who are the daily users and financial backers of the programs. The state of Florida has made great effort to turn its Voluntary Pre Kindergarten program into a quality educational setting. Despite their growing pains, to quality is seen on the My Florida website (www.myflorida.gov), where they define a high quality program as one with the following qualities: Positive interactions between students and teachers Good communication Daily opportunities for language reasonin g and problem solving Teachers and staff that are well educated and compensated this includes teachers regular public school teacher Active parent involvement Low child staff ratios Supervision and evaluation of staff with opportunities for professional growth Well equipped facilities suited to the needs of young children
Catherine Cross 34 These ideas are being put into practice. As a teacher in the VPK program, I see the commitment being made to quality in these classrooms. We meet all of these standards. I have been given many opportunities to be a part of the growing process. Through my opportunities to teach the program I love, wh ich began with my studies at USF, I have watched the universal pre kindergarten program make a real difference for my students. They are confident and do well academically in kindergarten. I know that without the VPK program, some of these students would h ave been woefully unprepared for kindergarten and may have been left behind. We still need to continually work to make sure that all pre kindergarten programs continually challenge our students and their teachers keep improving. The result will be quality education for all, just the way it was meant to be.
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