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Survey Says Setting Rigorous Pre-K Expectations Not Beneficial

Should academics play a role in preschool?

No, says a majority of educators who responded to a survey on perceptions of school readiness. In fact, setting rigorous expectations for preschoolers often results in pushing inappropriate academic content into early learning. And trying to meet those higher expectations isn't likely to prepare kids for success in school.

That's what more than 70 percent of the 409 respondents said in the survey prepared by The Source for Learning and the National Head Start Association. The two groups plan to release the complete survey results April 16 at a School Readiness Goals Summit to be held in Nashville.

The groups say that the survey and the summit are part of efforts to bring key stakeholders together to craft a unified definition of school readiness that states can use. The goal is to recommend a definition and a set of competency goals that will incorporate child development research and the Common Core State Standards in reading and mathematics for kindergarten. Right now, school readiness definitions and expectations vary from state to state.

"There is much anxiety in our community about achieving school readiness in ways that support both the early childhood programs and the elementary schools," Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association, said in a release.

The groups surveyed teachers and administrators in early education and K-12 settings, according to The Source for Learning.

About 65 percent of survey respondents said states should work together to develop a common set of school readiness goals. And yet about 69 percent said their states' pre-K standards are "appropriate and reasonable."

The survey also found that:

• Nearly 77 percent of respondents don't believe that current assessment instruments focusing on specific early reading and math abilities can determine whether a child is ready to be successful in kindergarten.

• Ninety percent believe that the best way to prepare a child for kindergarten is to focus on goals that are developmentally appropriate. Those include progress in language and literacy, cognition and general knowledge, approaches towards learning, physical well-being and motor development, and social and emotional development.

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