Grades

    Important article from the Washington Post
    Steve

    It sounds like what many on this chatboard have been saying
    for a log time.

    The Common Core State Standards call for kindergartners to
    learn how to read, but a new report by early childhood
    experts says that forcing some kids to read before they are
    ready could be harmful.

    Two organizations that advocate for early childhood
    education -- Defending the Early Years and Alliance for
    Childhood -- issued the report titled "Reading in
    Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose." It says
    there is no evidence to support a widespread belief in the
    United States that children must read in prekindergarten or
    kindergarten to become strong readers and achieve academic
    success.

    The authors -- Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Geralyn Bywater
    McLaughlin and Joan Wolfsheimer Almon -- 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.

    The report says that kindergarten has since the 1980s become
    increasingly academic -- with big pushes from President
    George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind and President Obama's
    Race to the Top -- and that today many children are being
    asked to do things they are not ready to do. It says:

    Under the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) the
    snowball has escalated into an avalanche which threatens to
    destroy appropriate and effective approaches to early
    education. The kindergarten standards, in use in over 40
    states, place huge emphasis on print literacy and state
    bluntly that, by the end of kindergarten, children are to
    "read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding."
    Large amounts of time and money are being devoted to this
    goal, and its impact is felt strongly in many preschools as
    well.

    Many children are not developmentally ready to read in
    kindergarten. In addition, the pressure of implementing the
    standards leads many kindergarten teachers to resort to
    inappropriate didactic methods combined with frequent
    testing. Teacher-led instruction in kindergartens has almost
    entirely replaced the active, play-based, experiential
    learning that we know children need from decades of research
    in cognitive and developmental psychology and neuroscience.

    When children have educational experiences that are not
    geared to their developmental level or in tune with their
    learning needs and cultures, it can cause them great harm,
    including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and confusion. A
    grandmother from Massachusetts told this story:

    My 5-year-old grandson adored his play-based preschool,
    but it was a different story when he started an all-day,
    very academic, public kindergarten. From the first day he
    had mostly worksheets and table tasks, which he said were
    "hard." On the fifth day of kindergarten he refused to go to
    school, locked himself in his bedroom, and hid under his bed!

    Here from the report are some examples from the Core that
    the authors cite as inappropriate for many kindergartners:

    The CCSS website states, "Students advancing through the
    grades are expected to meet each year's grade-specific
    standards and retain or further develop skills and
    understandings mastered in preceding grades." However, there
    is no evidence that mastering these standards in
    kindergarten rather than in first grade brings lasting
    gains. To achieve them usually calls for long hours of drill
    and worksheets -- and reduces other vital areas of learning
    such as math, science, social
    studies, art, music and creative play.

    Fluency
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.4: Read emergent-reader texts
    with purpose and understanding.

    Print Concepts
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.D: Recognize and name all
    upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet.

    Phonics and Word Recognition
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.B: Associate the long and short
    sounds with common spellings (graphemes) for the five major
    vowels.

    Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.9: With prompting and support,
    identify basic similarities in and differences between two
    texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations,
    descriptions, or procedures).

    Research to Build and Present Knowledge
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.7: Participate in shared research
    and writing projects.

    Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.4.B: Use the most frequently
    occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-,
    pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.

    The authors call for the withdrawal and rewriting of the
    kindergarten Common Core standards. Other recommendations
    from the report are:

    Invest in high quality, long-term research to
    identify which approaches in preschool and kindergarten best
    help children become fluent readers by fourth grade and
    beyond, paying particular attention to children living in
    poverty.
    Convene a task force of early childhood educators to
    recommend developmentally appropriate, culturally responsive
    guidelines for supporting young children's optimal learning
    from birth to age 8.
    End the use of high-stakes testing with children up
    to third grade and the use of test scores for teacher
    evaluation and the
    closing of schools. Promote the use of assessments
    that are based on observations of children, their
    development and learning.
    Ensure a high level of professionalism for all early
    childhood educators. Strive to reduce the income achievement
    gap by
    placing experienced teachers in low-income
    communities. Invest in high-quality teacher preparation and
    ongoing professional development.