I entered the early childhood field because I did not appreciate how I grew up. I had a bad school experience and teachers from preschool through 3rd grade I did not relate to. I was told by my first-grade teacher if I wanted to change something I should become a teacher. I did become a teacher, but to my surprise teachers do not have the voice I thought they did. Instead, other stakeholders dictated what would go in their classrooms and not give the teachers the autonomy to do what was best for their children. We became a part of the race to the top funding that unfortunately prepared our students for the worst, not the best. Schools were no longer working together but against each other to keep best-kept secrets to beat the next school. The teaching world had become a business in corporate America.
My voice wanted for children to be who they were and yet believe they could accomplish anything to a good support system. This support included parents, librarians, community workers, teachers, everyone who could and were willing to support students. As a teacher, I should have a voice and a responsibility to speak out against assessments that do not measure student growth and individual achievement. “Information on the children should include data on their prior out-of-home program experiences, primary language, and any identified special needs. To complement these data, states would design a child assessment effort to document the status and progress of children’s knowledge, skills, and behaviors” (National Early Childhood Accountability Task Force, 2013, p. 65). I believe the presence of these state funding tests is the greatest barrier. It is hard to measure children and teach all required standards. We may overlook something or take away teaching time to get in standardized assessments.
As a scholar petitioner, I would love to talk to the presidential administration and the House of Representatives and Senate on what initiatives to evaluate programs on growth, not achievement. Funding should not be taken away because they did not meet your national standard. Standards need to be realistic and not compared globally. If they are compared globally, why not ask for assistance instead of competition? We can learn from each other so all students are successful and not bound by where they live or their culture. “Research shows that the quality of programs, as indicated by multiple dimensions, such as cultural appropriateness, staff skills, intensity and duration, and features of the physical and social environment of programs, is key to improving health, cognitive and socio-emotional development” (Britto et al, 2011, p. 3). The only downfall is most times to really get a politician or agencies like NAEYC to listen you have to hold an office to fight. Stakeholders say they listen to teachers, but they do not necessarily follow the advice. To minimize the downfall, we have teacher unions where teacher serves on those boards and head to Washington and local state decision making legislative conferences. I think coming together has made a huge impact on what can be done. Unfortunately, teachers in the early childhood field have become complacent, and tired of doing unnecessary assessments that they either make-up something on tests to get by and same on documentation. They are falling out of love with what they loved to do. I think bringing preschool teachers, day/ home care teachers, Head Start, Bright Horizons, Porter Leath, and any other early organization would help. These teachers need to sit down and figure out what worked best in each area and why. Can one assessment truly cover all domains and is it effective to be universal for all children and cultures? Then we need to find out how to lessen the stress of paperwork and actually know what is required by evaluators and have time to implement those strategies. Everyone hates to see an evaluator coming when, if they knew up front this is what should be posted, what your classroom should look like and sound like, then that would lessen the load on accreditation agencies, evaluators, and other stakeholders. Everyone needs a specific sheet to evaluate from that covers what needs to be seen. Then schools, parents should know also. Once the country can know what should happen, other stakeholders would know too. Then politicians would not be trying to cut 9.2 billion from the education budget because it seems like we do not need all the resources previously given. We might save money if everyone knew best practices and those were given universally. But without a goal and purpose. Right now, we need to take a step back and see what is really helping our children and what is not. Then we may see more educators in a classroom achieves more or technology integrated into classroom helped to achieve more. As scholar-practitioner, I see a need, but the question is: “Will stakeholders listen?”
The class I am currently taking has impacted how I think about evaluators and how I think about the evaluations we give children. I want to help children but believe that I almost need to work with and train others outside of classroom experience what needs to be met inside the classroom. Standards are great but are our children really measuring up? Programs seek quality, but it goes back to my initial question when I started this class: What is a quality program? Are we only looking at the environment and saying it’s safe for children? CLASS evaluations are listening to the relationship and interactions between the children and caregiver. Looking into evaluations this course has taught me that there are different aspects to quality. My goal would be to transform all these wonderful assessments into a single assessment that teachers, stakeholders, agencies can use one assessment to cover all domains and children and adults feel respected and valued in the end. If we have to ask what is a quality program and how is it assessed, we need to correct some evaluations and assessments toward centers, teachers, and students.
National Early Childhood Accountability Task Force (2013). The report of the national early childhood accountability task force: Taking stock: Assessing and improving early childhood learning and program quality. Chapter 4 Retrieved from http://policyforchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Taking-Stock.pdf
Britto, P. R., Yoshikawa, H., & Boller, K. (2011). Quality of early childhood development programs in global contexts: Rationale for investment, conceptual framework, and implications for equity. Sharing Child and Youth Development Knowledge, 25(2), 1–31. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED519240