Chicago's early learning standard benchmarks
The National Council on Teacher Quality, located in Washington D.C., recently released a report evaluating early childhood teacher education programs in Illinois. Most of the programs ranked poorly. Program directors have responded with possible and plausable reasons for the low rankings.
As parents and guardians to the city's children, it is important to be informed of your school's standards and how they compare to state standards - especially when we receive disturbing reports such as the above mentioned. Be informed rather than worried. Does your child's school do more? Less? At the very least, standards should reflect that of Illinois Early Learning Standards.
The early learning standards handbook lists applicable standards for the level, and corresponding benchmarks to measure progress. For example, one of the state's primary goals in the Language Arts curriculum is for children to read with understanding and fluency. The corresponding benchmarks at the pre-school level are:
a) understanding that pictures and symbols mean something
b) be able to predict what happens next using pictures and content as a guide
c) retell information from a story
d) understand that reading progresses from left to right and top to bottom
e) begin to develop phonological awareness - play rhyming games
f) respond to simple questions pertaining to the stories / poems presented
g) identify labels and signs in the environment
h) identify some letters, including those in child's own name
i) begin to display some symbol / sound recognition
Each child is different, and therefore learns differently. The best early childhood programs will display an understanding of this in their curriculum, and rather than simply teach to the state standard they will use the benchmarks as a guide for self-monitoring and evaluation.