Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Early Learning Guidelines/Early Childhood Standards

Increasingly, early childhood programs across the country have developed or are developing Early Learning Guidelines or Standards to articulate expectations for children's development and learning.

National/General Resources

WWW: Early Learning Guidelines-Standards Website

This Website is designed to provide recommendations and raise issues for state committees to consider as they make decisions about developing or revising Early Learning Guidelines (ELGs). It was developed by Catherine Scott-Little of the University of NC at Greensboro, together with Sharon Lynn Kagan and Victoria Stebbins Frelow at Teachers College, Columbia University, with support from the A.L. Mailman Family Foundation.

PDF: Where We Stand on Early Learning Standards (2009)

This paper by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAEYC and NAECS/SDE) outlines NAEYC & NAECS/SDE's position on defining the desired outcomes and content of young children's education. See also, the complete joint position statement, Early Learning Standards: Creating the Conditions for Success (2002) and the executive summary.

PDF: A Review of School Readiness Practices in the States: Early Learning Guidelines and Assessments (2010)

This brief from Child Trends provides an overview of states' Early Learning Guidelines (ELGs) and school readiness assessments, and discusses the following considerations: (1) practices consider children's physical, social, and emotional progress will be most effective in supporting school readiness; (2) care must be taken to align ELGs with research in child development; (3) states must take specific precautions when assessing young children, including clearly defining the purpose and use of the results; and (4) readiness depends on supportive families, schools, and communities.

Infant-Toddler Early Learning Guidelines: The Content that States Have Addressed and Implications for Programs Serving Children with Disabilities (Infants and Young Children, 22,2, 87-99, Apr-Jun 2009)

This article presents findings from a study that was done to determine what areas of development and learning were addressed in state's infant-toddler early learning guidelines (ELGs) published as of July 2007. The authors found that 4 developmental domains were most commonly addressed - physical development and motor skills, social and emotional development, language and communication development, and cognitive development and general knowledge. Far fewer ELGs addressed children's approaches toward learning. The article includes a discussion about implications for programs serving children with disabilities and providers' efforts to support children's progress on the required Individuals with Disabilities Education Act child outcome areas.

Perspectives on Early Childhood Learning Standards and Assessment (2008)

This book chapter from the National Research Council describes the development of early learning standards, how these learning standards are being used, and how practitioners are able to access information about how to use them. Early learning standards are defined as statements that describe expectations for the learning and development of young children across the domains of health and physical well-being, social and emotional well-being, approaches to learning, language development and symbol systems, and general knowledge about the world around them.

PDF: Early Learning Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers: Recommendations for States (2008)

This paper from ZERO TO THREE provides recommendations to assist states in creating or revising Early Learning Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers (ELG/ITs). These guidelines consist of "widely accepted expectations for learning" for children from birth to three. Even though states are not required by federal mandate to enact such guidelines, many have developed them. The paper discusses the unique features and challenges of this age range.

WWW: The Head Start Approach to School Readiness

Head Start views school readiness as children possessing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success in school and for later learning and life. The Head Start Approach to School Readiness encompasses three major frameworks that promote an understanding of school readiness for parents and families, infants/toddlers, and preschoolers. The three frameworks and their accompanying graphics provide the foundation for implementing systemic and integrated comprehensive child development services and family engagement efforts that lead to school readiness for young children and families.

State-by-State Resources

State Early Learning Standards / Guidelines (updated regularly)

This section of the ECTA Center's site provides a list of resources with state-by-state data, policies and initiatives related to early learning standards and guidelines for infants, toddlers, and preschool children.

Links on this site are verified monthly. This page content was last updated on 04/25/2014 SG

Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

  • CB 8040
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040
  • phone: 919.962.2001
  • fax: 919.966.7463
  • email: ectacenter@unc.edu

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P120002 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

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