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Friday, August 31, 2007

Comments

Consumer Advocate

WARNING.....

Parents before allowing any child to take a high stakes test that collects personally identifiable information please read this post.

http://personalinfoatrisk.blogspot.com/

Mike Falick

Dr. McManis,

I appreciate the time you took this afternoon to discuss my concerns, and I applaud the concept of ensuring quality early childhood education for all students.

Having said that, my concerns include the high stakes testing of 4 and 5 year olds and the mandate that schools utilize a particular program rather than the long accepted choices provided under prior legislation and the Texas Education Agency regulations.

In a nutshell, my concern with high stakes testing of 4 and 5 year olds is that all 4 or 5 year olds do not perform at the same level at the same time, and judging the "success" of a pre-k program on the test results of a 4 or 5 year old is simply bad policy for children. While I have no problem with the idea of assessing students, and indeed believe that is necessary for proper teaching, when that information is then used to determine whether a program will receive your seal of approval and possibly funding, the testing becomes high stakes, and problems are sure to follow, including teaching to the test. If what you are attempting to incentivize is quality teaching and quality pre-k programs, I suggest that you make your quantitative and qualitative system for judging programs public and if independently validated, use your resources to provide directed support to programs that are deficient.

My additional concern, as I discussed in my testimony last Spring, is the limited amount of sunshine and accountability for the criteria necessary to get the seal of approval from the Center. I have looked at the website you directed me to for this information, and I am unable to find it. In addition, I have looked for the articles you indicated supported the program, and am unable to find those on the website as well.

As I said, I welcome the opportunity to continue this dialogue to work toward ensuring the best education for all of the students of our State.

Mike Falick

Lilla Dale McManis, Ph.D.

Mr. Falick, I represent the Children's Learning Institute which houses the State Center for Early Childhood Development. I am posting this comment on behalf of Dr. Susan Landry, Director. Our Center administers the Texas Early Education Model (TEEM) program for preschoolers at risk for school failure and the accompanying Texas School Readiness Certification System-open to all early childhood education programs. Full details about this work can be found on our website: http://cli.uth.tmc.edu/our-programs/program-overview/TX-school-ready/default.html

We do want to clear up some misconceptions you may have about getting young children ready for school. The State Center was directed by the Texas Legislature to develop the TEEM approach to address the high rate of school failure when children enter kindergarten in Texas. It is evidence-based and uses three instructional components: Texas state adopted curricula (the State Center does not offer a curriculum nor do we mandate a particular curriculum from the state adopted list be used); professional development for teachers which is focused on setting up a child-centered classroom with strong cognitive readiness activities; and child-friendly ongoing progress monitoring for guiding instruction. The State Center was also directed by the Texas Legislature to develop a rating system for early childhood education programs. This work has happened with the input and support of policy makers, children's advocates, experts in the field, school administrators, teachers, parents, and business leaders. The Texas School Readiness Certification System follows children from preschool to kindergarten and uses the reading scores from an assessment (Texas Primary Reading Inventory for English speaking children and Tejas LEE for Spanish speaking children) that the Texas Education Agency already administers to kindergartners and has for many years in over 95% of Texas school districts. Because of the research and feedback from kindergarten teachers of the importance of basic social skills (such as following directions and getting along with peers)for children to make the most of their kindergarten year, a brief social screener is also completed by kindergarten teachers. The determination of a preschool program being certified as a Texas School Ready program happens as a function of the quality of the preschool program in their preparation of young children to be able to have a successful kindergarten year and for future schooling. One key purpose of this work is to give parents the tools they have asked for to help them make decisions in placing their children in preschool. We appreciate your concerns and thank you in advance for your attention and posting of our comment.
Regards, Lilla Dale McManis, Ph.D.

anonymous

You asked if HeadStarts are not helping prepare students for Kindergarten what are they doing?
Well, I am a PK/HeadStart teacher and all HeadStarts are not preparing their students for Kindergarten. I taught Kindergarten for 12 years and one of the problems is that the some School Districts just say do whatever HeadStart tells you to do. But, some HeadStarts don't send teachers to staff development that gives them an idea what the students should be working on to be prepared for Kindergarten. Many of the teachers I work with were never told to work on rhyming words, letter sounds etc. We were just told to let them play. Of course children do learn from play but, they need the exposure to letter sounds, rhyming, alliteration, etc.I would like to say that I really enjoy reading your blog. Please do not post my email address, thank you.

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