Best Practices Recommended Resources on Standards in Early Childhood
  Starting Strong: A Different Look at Children, School, and Standards
Patricia F. Carini
Foreword by Joseph Featherstone
In an elegant affirmation of human capacity and creativity, Patricia Carini counters high stakes testing, the pathologizing of children, and the unrelenting critique of the public schools with a persuasive account of how children, all children, actively make sense of the world and their experience through the making of works such as drawings, constructions, and writings. This engaging and vivid account of the day-to-day possibilities of learning and teaching, and ultimately the remaking of the schools, is indispensable reading for anyone called to teach or committed to a liberating education for all children.

Illinois Early Learning Standards
The Illinois State Board of Education has developed a list of standards appropriate for young children.
“Standards are an essential first step for designing effective preschool curricula since they represent an agreed upon agenda for teaching and learning. The Illinois Early Learning Standards are excellent because they recognize the interconnectedness of emotional, social, cognitive, and physical development and learning—the whole child. Like all good standards, they should be used as the base for reflective teachers as they create learning experiences that build on what children already know and capture their interest in learning.”

— Barbara Bowman, Erikson Institute

Standards, however, can be used in inappropriate ways. ISBE also provides these guiding principles for the use of standards in early childhood education. Click here for the guiding principles for standards in early childhood education. Click your back arrow to come back to this page.

The Illinois Early Learning Standards with benchmarks can be viewed on the web.To view online the Illinois Early Learning Standards with benchmarks, principles, and the resources used to compile the list click here.

To download a pdf file of a 52 page booklet: Illinois Early Learning Standards, Illinois State Board of Education, Division of Early Childhood click here

Best Practices Inc. has developed a two page summary of the Illinois Early Learning Standards Benchmarks which is useful for lesson planning or to share with parents. To download this summary, go to our download page and select Illinois Early Learning Summary

Article on Linking Standards and Engaged Learning
Linking Standards and Engaged Learning
in the Early Years
Spring 2000
Volume 2 Number 1
Early Childhood Research & Practice (ECRP),
Judy Harris Helm, Best Practices, Inc;
Gaye Gronlund, Pacific Oaks College


Early childhood educators are increasingly concerned about the trend toward national standards and national testing. This article addresses issues of assessment in the early years of schooling, prekindergarten through third grade—a period when active, engaged, hands-on learning is most appropriate. Documentation of a kindergarten project on a turtle is presented to show how a science content standard is attained and how evidence is gathered that demonstrates the attainment of those skills inherent in the standard. The article then presents a framework for helping teachers and administrators to think about standards and the documentation of attainment of standards in ways that are compatible with how young children learn. The documentation procedures are especially compatible with approaches to learning that encourage student initiation and interest, such as the Project Approach. Included in the article is a PowerPoint presentation on standards and how they are achieved in The Turtle Project and a flowchart of decisionmaking.
Click here to read and download this article.

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