Early Childhood

EdReports Expands Curriculum Reviews to Pre-K

By Evie Blad — July 10, 2024 2 min read
Boy raises his hand to answer a question in a classroom; he is sitting on the floor with other kids and the teacher is sitting in front of the class.
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As states stress the importance of early childhood education, the nonprofit organization EdReports plans to expand its free, Consumer Reports-style reviews to include prekindergarten learning materials.

The organization—known for its reports that measure how closely K-12 curricula match learning standards in subjects like math and reading—will assemble a team of teachers to review whether various early childhood materials align with research-based priorities, it announced July 10.

Organizers hope to launch the first reviews by the end of 2025 and contribute to growing conversations about what the youngest learners need, said Shana Weldon, the director of pre-K at EdReports.

“Early learning has been overlooked for a long time,” she said. “We know how critical it is to long-term success for children, and we are excited to have an impact in that space.”

Though there are about 1.6 million children enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs, there is no agreed-upon set of model national pre-K standards. Rather, many individual states set their own standards that center on skills necessary for school readiness and healthy development, like executive function, early literacy, and motor development, Weldon said.

EdReports plans a “listening tour” to collect educator feedback on how it should analyze pre-K learning materials, focusing on domains highlighted in a consensus report released in April by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. That report emphasized materials that include “well-designed learning experiences, intentional and responsive teaching strategies, well-defined objectives and outcomes, embedded formative assessments, and differentiation based on understanding children’s ability levels, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, interests, and dispositions.”

That report also called for attention to inequities created when children’s learning experiences vary widely depending on the quality of materials and instruction in their pre-K program.

EdReports hopes its work will raise the profile of that conversation and help programs make wise purchasing decisions, Chief Academic Officer Courtney Allison said.

Research on effective pre-K programs stresses the importance of qualified, engaged educators and the kinds of interactions they have with young children. While the reviews won’t gauge implementation, EdReports will analyze whether materials provide teachers with the practical support they need to effectively teach necessary concepts, Allison said.

“It’s our intention that folks can make more informed purchasing decisions,” she said. “We want to provide a clearer understanding about what quality looks like that is informed by educator voices.”

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