Standards and Assessments Meeting Rounds Out Early Learning Tour

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On Tuesday, Senior Advisor for Early Learning Jacqueline Jones (ED) and Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development Joan Lombardi (HHS) hosted a panel of experts in Chicago to discuss early learning standards and assessments for young children.  This was the final stop on the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services’ Health and Human Sevices Listening and Learning about Early Learning tour.

Catherine Scott-Little, University of North Carolina Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the School of Human and Environmental Sciences, discussed the wide variation in content, format, and implementation of State early learning standards.  She noted that while all fifty states now have early learning standards, they focus on different age groupings and vary in the degree to which they address the domains of early learning.  Dr. Scott-Little argued that significant resources must be dedicated to ensure that early learning standards are infused throughout early learning systems, included in pre-service training and professional development, and used appropriately with all children across all settings.

Erikson Institute President Sam Meisels outlined the major reasons to assess young children.  Dr. Meisels argued against high stakes testing of children younger than eight years old, citing reports from the National Academies as well as the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007.  He provided a critique of the Common Core Standards and supported the use of observational assessments.

Dr. Linda Espinosa proposed that assessment is a critical component of good teaching.  She called for assessment policies that are responsive to dual language learners, the development of new measurement tools that are valid and reliable for dual language learners, and professional development on dual language learning development for all early learning educators.  Dr. Espinosa urged the administration to formulate a national policy statement to help guide the states about first and second language development in young children.

Kathy Hebbeler, Manager of the Community Services and Strategies Program at SRI International and Director of the Early Childhood Outcomes Center, concluded the panel’s presentations with a discussion of assessment for young children with disabilities.  Dr. Hebbeler described the need to design assessments that provide multiple ways for a child to demonstrate the competencies targeted by the assessment.

Slide presentations and public speaker comments will be posted at

See summaries of other Listening and Learning About Early Learning tour meetings.

Steven Hicks
Special Assistant on Early Learning