The New America Foundation has published a report on “early learning” from birth to third grade. The New America Foundation used to be an organization whose purpose was to nurture young journalists (I was on that board several years ago). But as Washington, D.C., think tanks operate, they go where the money is.


The report upset me at the outset by confusing “proficiency” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (a very high bar, equivalent to an A or A-) with “grade level.” NAEP proficiency is NOT grade level. There is only one state where as many as 50% of students reached NAEP proficient, and that is Massachusetts.


The report, which you can read, has some sensible but not new proposals, like expanding access to preschool. Much in the report is good, but the bad part is the emphasis on assessment and data collection for pre-K and earlier.


It recommends licensing early childhood educators, both teachers and principals, and requiring that they have appropriate education for teaching young children. That leaves out TFA.


It recommends equitable funding. That’s good too.


It recommends a maximum class size for early childhood education of not more than 10. That’s good.


It recommends standards, assessments, and data for the little ones, which turns out to mean that the standards and assessments for the tykes should be aligned with “college-and-career-ready standards,” that is, the Common Core. I wonder what it means for a two-year-old to be college or career-ready? The report includes a long list of data indicators that should inform policy for 0-5.


The report says that assessment for pre-K is often overlooked, which the authors consider a mistake. Ugh! They recommend screenings, diagnostic assessments, milestones, and kindergarten entry tests for children below the age of 5.


The one recommendation that is missing is play. Play is children’s work. Please don’t assess it, other than to record that there was plenty of time for play.