Hawaii has taken another step toward improving early-childhood education with this week's release of standards identifying expectations of knowledge and behavior for children from birth to kindergarten.
The research-based standards align with the K-12 standards of Hawaii's Department of Education and the Common Core State Standards, which is expected to provide for a smoother transition for students from early-childhood programs into kindergarten, according to state officials.
The state's Executive Office of Early Learning, established by lawmakers in June, on Wednesday released the Hawaii Early Learning and Development Standards, which are designed to "support early-childhood professionals in the development of their programs, and provide guidance on how to integrate strategies to educate young children."
"This is the first time a set of standards have been released that address the development needs of the whole child from birth to kindergarten entry," Director Terry Lock said on the Executive Office of Early Learning website. "In addition to national research, the updated HELDS are based on decades of work within the Hawaii early-childhood community and show our state's commitment to ensure that all children receive a high-quality early-learning experience."
Hawaii does not provide state-funded preschool programs, but does fund initiatives that pay for early-learning services for certain populations, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
State officials are working toward the creation of a "universal network of child care and preschool support for every 4-year-old" in Hawaii, according to the Executive Office of Early Learning. That office is charged with developing an implementation plan for such an early-learning program, and ensuring that government services are coordinated and meet needs.