In my last entries, I mentioned how preschool assessment is here to stay. Knowing that assessment or monitoring must occur, it is also appropriate to know what skills are being assessed. Most states have recently created or updated their preschool standards reflecting current researched practices, particularly in language, literacy and mathematics. Through checking many current state standards, I find that the required skills are generally the same for preschool throughout the country. Occasionally an off-the-wall standard appears, but usually the indicators are very similar. The one problem I see in some state standards, as well as federal Head Start standards, is that many times the skills are not listed in the devleopmental order that they should be introduced and mastered. Hopefully, state school programs, early childhood organizations and early childhood curriculum authors will provide some guidance on skills that have a developmental order of mastery.
I had a ‘reality check’ while visiting a Head Start classroom. The teacher was having the children sponge paint a pattern. It was evident to me, after observing for 30 mintues, that the children had no idea about creating or repeating a pattern. I asked the teacher if she had done any classification/sorting activities (a necessary skill in order to create a pattern). She replied, “No. We will do some classification activities sometime this year.” When I looked at her curriculum plan it was evident that the skills were all randomly placed within each domain. This is why I think it is necessary to make sure any standards are placed in the appropriate order and sequence.