Education

Early Years Column

By Deborah L. Cohen — January 15, 1992 4 min read
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The High/Scope Educational Research Foundation has developed a new assessment tool for young children.

High/Scope, a nonprofit early-childhood research, training, and publishing center, is best known for the Perry Preschool Study, which showed that high-quality preschool programs for poor children can reap long-term social benefits.

The foundation says its new Child Observation Record, designed for children from ages 2 1/2 to 6, offers an alternative to standardized tests that could be used to help policymakers assess the first of six national education goals set by the President and the governors. That goal states that all children will enter school ready to learn by the year 2000.

“If the political pressure to come up with some measure of school readiness or the status of early-childhood learning is inevitable, I would certainly want to recommend this kind of approach over any other,” said Lawrence Schweinhart, the chair of High/Scope’s research division.

Teachers using the C.O.R. observe and record a child’s initiative, social relations, creative representation, music and movement, language and literacy, and logic and mathematics.

In a recent two-year study funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 64 teams of teachers and aides, primarily from Head Start programs in southeastern Michigan, were trained to use the C.O.R. On about 5,000 children.

The study found it to be “sufficiently reliable and valid,” when used by trained teachers, to offer feedback to parents, teachers, and administrators, and to help assess whether programs meet children’s developmental needs. Mr. Schweinhart also said the C.O.R. could help teachers become better observers and learn more about activities that promote child development.

But he warned against using any assessment to make “high-stakes” decisions about holding young children back, tracking them by ability, or placing them in special programs.

More information about the C.O.R., which costs $90 for assessment materials for a class of 25, is available from the High/Scope Educational Research foundation, 600 North River St., Ypsilanti, Mich. 48198.

The District of Columbia City Council last month overrode a vote by the D.C. Wage-Hour Board to more than double the minimum wage of day-care aides.

In October, the three-member Congressionally mandated beard voted to raise the minimum wage for clerical and semi-technical workers--the category that includes day-care aides--to $7.25 per hour. The minimum rate for day-care aides had been $3.25.

Faced with opposition from providers who maintained that the wage hike would put them out of business, the council last month passed a measure that knocked the raise down to $4.25 for day-care aides.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York has published a synthesis of recommendations on how to improve the training of early- childhood workers.

The report, based on a meeting of 35 experts, says a strong training system must ensure basic competence, nurture diverse training opportunities, balance quality with supply, foster career ladders, highlight training for directors and lead teachers, maximize incentives and minimize barriers to training, and ensure stable funding. It also explores the state of knowledge and challenges to early-childhood training, financing mechanisms, and strategies for the federal government, states, and the private sector.

Copies of the report, “Quality Matters: Improving the Professional Development of the Early Childhood Work Force,” No. 783, are being distributed for $5 each by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1834 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009.

Touting the benefits of forming nurturing bonds between older adults and young children, a University of Pittsburgh-based group has issued guidelines for employing older adults in child care.

The guide was prepared by Generations Together, a group specializing in intergenerational programming, training, policy development, and research.

It outlines how programs can address the needs of older adults and young children; prepare staffs to work with older adults; and ensure older workers appropriate compensation, benefits, supervision, education, training, and career opportunities.

Copies of “The Productive Employment of Older Adults in Child Care” are available for $3 each from Janet Wilson, Generations Together, University Center for Social and Urban Research, University of Pittsburgh, 121 University Place, Suite 300, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15260.

Young children living with a single parent get more practice honing their verbal skills than do those living with married parents, one study suggests.

In a study of 304 3- to 5-year- olds, students at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, found that those living with two parents were more likely to be referred for speech and language testing than those with single parents.

Dierdre Madden, the chair of speech communications and theater at Baldwin-Wallace, linked the finding to both the quantity and “worldliness” of the parent-child conversations.

“These parents come home and have no one else to talk to, so there is a lot of dialogue,” she said.

A version of this article appeared in the January 15, 1992 edition of Education Week as Early Years Column

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