For the past three years, Wheelock professors Karen Worth and Jeff Winokur worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to draft the Next Generation Science, Technology, and Engineering Pre-Kindergarten Standards for Massachusetts. These newly designed Pre-K STE Standards provide early childhood educators with guidelines for designing experiences that give children the opportunity to build a foundation of science and engineering understanding and abilities.
Many states have Pre-K standards – what makes Massachusetts unique is its inclusion of the Pre-K standards as part of the Science and Technology/Engineering standards for K-12. The inclusion of the Pre-K standards recognizes pre-kindergarten as a crucial part of the education system. The Pre-K standards inclusion in the K-12 continuum also provides a shared language and set of expectations that link early education and K-12 educators, thus helping to support a smooth transitions into primary school for students.
“Massachusetts is one of the few states that has taken seriously the idea of having Pre-K built into its K-12 education
continuum,” Worth said. “That’s interesting and different because it says pre-school is not just daycare and it’s not babysitting. It says that pre-school is a place where there is foundational learning taking place.”
“It used to be that standards were about what content children should know,” Winokur added. “The new standards include action verbs that describe not only the content children should know but also the skills they should have in order to learn this new content.”
“Massachusetts is one of the few states that has taken seriously the idea of having Pre-K built into its K-12 education continuum. That’s interesting and different because it says pre-school is not just daycare and it’s not babysitting. It says that pre-school is a place where there is foundational learning taking place.” – Professor Karen Worth
To ensure that the new standards would be accepted and valued within the early childhood education community, Worth and Winokur met with early childhood educators across the state and maintained continuous contact with others in the field. In designing the standards, Worth and Winokur worked to align them with existing Massachusetts early care and education policies, and guidelines and research on student capabilities.
“It’s not so much creating something brand new,” Worth said. “It’s trying to support and guide educators in the field so they, in turn, can support the learning and development of the children in their care.”
View the webinar of Karen Worth and Jeff Winokur introducing the new Pre-Kindergarten Science, Technology, Engineering Standards.
Photo of children reading courtesy of andreajtalley’s Flickr feed and used under Creative Commons License.