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Effects of Michigan Common Core State Standards on Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Early Childhood Classrooms

Effects of Michigan Common Core State Standards on Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Early Childhood Classrooms
Introduction
As an early childhood teacher in 2013, I am constantly feeling challenged and overwhelmed by mandated curriculum from the State of Michigan. With the recent implementation of Michigan Common Core State Standards, I began to feel the pressure of teaching curriculum that the children do not seem to understand. I began to wonder why? Is it because I failed to deliver the lesson? Is it due to concepts being too difficult? Are the standards appropriate for all learners and where they are in their development? During my career spanning over twenty years, I have believed and am dedicated to providing a classroom environment that is developmentally appropriate for my early learners. I believe the problem is that Michigan's Common Core State Standards are causing early childhood teachers to teach in ways that are not developmentally appropriate. These beliefs brought me to this topic and caused me to ponder if others feel the way I do. Are the Common Core State Standards mandated by the state of Michigan are creating early childhood classrooms that are not developmentally appropriate as perceived by myself and my colleagues. I believe that early childhood classrooms should be free of mandates from the state when those mandates force teachers to feel pressured to teach and draw them away from teaching in the way they know is best for the child. I pose the following questions to help me explore my feeling more completely. Can early childhood teachers consider the appropriateness of the CCSS mandates as they relate to early learners? Can early childhood teachers continue to observe developmentally appropriate practices while implementing CCSS? Is the state mandated curriculum threatening developmentally appropriate practices in early childhood classrooms?
What The Experts Say Common Core State Standards was an initiative that developed in 2009 (Kendall, 2011). The initiative was in response to governors and state commissioners of education wanting common education across the nation. The book Understanding Common Cores States Standards (2011) suggests that the initiative was a cry form lawmakers "… to develop a set of shared national standards ensuring that students in every state are held to the same level of expectations that students in the world’s highest-performing countries are, and that they gain the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for success in postsecondary education and in the global arena" (Kendall, 2011 p. 1). It is further thought that Common Core State Standards are preparing all students for success in college (Kendall, 2011). There is no evidence for a student to be successful if they are not college bound. According to Kendall, the standards were developed for states to prepare students across the county in the same way regardless of any outside factors (Kendall, 2012). There is concern that the math common core standards in relation to the young child will need revising according to Main (2012) due to professional development and curriculum development. Main (2012) also suggests that there is no evidence to support that the initiative of common standards nationwide will lead to improvement of national public education. The Common Core State Standards initiative was swift in developing and implementation. The recommendation stated by Main (2012) is to be cautious and slow in implementing the standards, not just the math ones. Loveless (2012) tries to claim that the common core standards produce more learning. The study used student achievement data and found that past practice in relation to current testing did not support that more learning was happening as a result of states implementing common core standards (Loveless, 2012). In fact, in several instances student achievement made no growth at all. An interesting find in Loveless' study was the major supporters of the initiative relied heavily on highly qualified professional development for teachers implementing the standards and school improvement in curriculum (2012). This leads me to question the validity of the common core standards and the thought by which they were developed and by whom they were developed. Clearly, this poses an additional question about whether professional development was implemented for teachers upon adopting Michigan's Common Core State Standards. An opportunity to look closely at individual standards and the literal definition by which they are suggesting is what Yatkin seems to be doing in this article (2012). She poses interesting questions to the definitions of specifically the reading common core standards and how early learners are to accomplish them. For example, she dissects the word determine in a standard and wonders how an early learner is to make a determination of something they do not know or have no prior knowledge of (Yatkin, 2012). Through further reading she finds evidence in support of the problem that the standards are not developmentally appropriate. Yatkin makes the following remark, "some standards call on young children to behave like high school seniors, making fine distinctions between words or literary devices" (p. 43). These are many valid points that Yatkins makes in support of CCSS creating early childhood classrooms that are not developmentally appropriate. In 2000, Smith and Croon conducted a study to find relationships between teacher beliefs about developmentally appropriate practices and a child's self perception. It was a random selection of two boys and two girls from an urban school in Nebraska. The teachers were selected based on interest and availability to perform in the study. Interestingly only one of the fourteen teachers selected, held her early childhood endorsement (Smith & Croon 2000). The study found that there is a significant relationship between what a child's perception of him/herself is and if a teacher is solely observing developmentally appropriate practices when teaching (Smith & Croon 2000). The study was not conclusive on whether or not to use developmentally appropriate practices nor was it designed to obtain that information. In relationship to this research, this study holds merit in the fact that when teaching young children their perceptions are very real and can affect the successes they find. Kindergarten classrooms today look very different than in the past. The cookies and nap time days of old are gone. Developmentally appropriate practices are being replaced with standardized tests and common core state standards. Gullo and Hughes pose the questions of how to maintain developmentally appropriate practices while delivering mandated curriculum, preserving developmentally appropriate practices, and how to address assessment (2011). Much of what they found was that early childhood teachers would have to adapt and teach in ways that they may not be used in order to preserve developmentally appropriate practices (Gullo & Hughes 2011). For example, teaching the early learner how to take a standardized test. While the test is not developmentally appropriate, the way in which a teacher will teach will be. The work and findings of Gullo & Hughes is of particular interest to the researcher as they work through the problem. The bar has been raised (Gullo & Hughes 2011) not only in what academic performance is for early learners but also in what society thinks these classrooms and students should look like. The editors, Copple, & Bredekamp set clear definitions and guidelines for the early childhood to teacher to follow for intentionally practicing the methods of developmentally appropriate (2009). Developmentally appropriate practices are grounded in research in how early learners develop and grow. Copple & Bredekamp outline birth to age eight with these four main domains of develop; physical development social and emotional development, cognitive development, and language and literacy development. They examine the transition from home to school as well as answer frequently asked questions. Again a vast resource, but imperative for the problem in the explanation of developmentally appropriate practices. Though not a study, this resource explains the key definitions of developmentally appropriate practices; what they are, how they are used, and reasons behind the theory. At the time of its publication, this study reports 46 of the 50 states have adopted and began implementing common core state standards. Schmidt and Burroughs also claim that the adoption of common core standards have boosted scores on achievement tests (2012-2013). Evidence also shows equality among the states in regards to what students are learning. This can best be said that all students nation wide are receiving the same content. Schmidt & Burroughs refer to this as the equality part of the research. Schmidt & Burroughs go on to say that without teachers being adequately prepared, parent involvement, and limited resources the success of common core state standards will fail (2012-2013). What is interesting in the research is that no consideration to equality was mentioned about teachers. To achieve true equality in the results wouldn't all teachers need to have the same degrees, experience, style, etc.? This is where the research seems flawed. There are many valid points that Schmidt & Burrough make. Theses findings are in conflict with what is trying to be proved. However, there are points within the content of the article that will also support the position on the common core standards lack of the use developmentally appropriate practices.
Action Research Steps

Lawmakers across the nation have been searching for a way to guarantee that all students receive the same education. These policymakers have been striving for equality among the states in how they hold students accountable and how teachers deliver instruction. In 2009, The Michigan Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were initiated by lawmakers for this purpose. The literature reviewed is inconclusive concerning CCSS and how it relates to early childhood education. There is research to show the exact standards, how implementation takes places, and what the expected outcome is. But no literature about what is happening in early childhood classrooms as a result of CCSS initiative. There appears to be abundant research that lists and explains these standards, how they should be implemented and what to expect in regard to academic achievement from the children. However, there also appeared to be little to no literature available to explain what exactly is happening in early childhood classrooms as a result of CCSS initiatives. The National Association for the Education of Young Children has had developmentally appropriate practices in place and accredited since 1985. These practices are to ensure that the social, emotional, cognitive, and cultural development of individual students are met. The literature supports early childhood classrooms observing developmentally appropriate practices but not in relation to CCSS. It actually appears that CCSS initiatives ignore these developmentally appropriate recommendations that have been considered extremely important for over two decades. Common Core State Standards mandated by the state of Michigan seem to be creating early childhood classrooms that do not appear to be developmentally appropriate as perceived by active teachers in the field. Therefore, I believe that common core standards mandated by the State of Michigan are creating early childhood classrooms that are not developmentally appropriate for young children. This statement brings up the following questions. Can early childhood teachers consider the appropriateness of the CCSS mandates as they relate to early learners? Can early childhood teachers continue to observe developmentally appropriate practices while implementing CCSS? Is the state mandated curriculum threatening developmentally appropriate practices in early childhood classrooms? In an attempt to find the answers to these questions related literature has been reviewed and a survey created consisting of eight questions (Appendix A). The survey was completed in a written and/or digital form by teachers currently working in the field in my school. The survey was given to 17 early childhood teachers. One Young Fives teacher, 6 Kindergarten teachers, 5 first grade teachers, and 5 second grade teachers. The years of service vary from first year teachers to veteran teachers with 20+ years. At our school we have adopted and are actively teaching the Michigan Common Core State Standards are currently being implemented. These teachers are important to my beliefs because I could find research to show the significant effects of the Common Core initiative and its relationship to developmentally appropriate practices. In conclusion, the action step of a survey in addition to the literature review will give the insight needed to examine how the Common Core State Standards Initiative may be causing early childhood classrooms to be developmentally inappropriate. The literature reviewed has been inconclusive thus far. Gathering data from active early childhood teachers that are implementing CCSS, will either support my hypothesis that Common Core State Standards mandated by the state of Michigan are creating early childhood classrooms that are not developmentally appropriate as perceived by active teachers in the field or not.
What I Found I coordinated and released a survey to 17 early childhood teachers at my Early Childhood School which houses students aged Kindergarten through Second Grade. The survey included 8 questions of which 5 were yes or no answers. Two questions were short answer based on how respondents answered the yes or no questions. The researcher collected 10 completed surveys. The survey respondents were as follows; 1 K-2 special education teacher, 1 young fives teacher, 2 kindergarten teachers, 2 1st grade teachers, and 4 2nd grade teachers. The results provided below in a pie chart, show the majority of respondents to be 2nd grade teachers (40 %).
[pic]

Results of question #2, do you hold a ZS Endorsement: show 6 respondents hold the ZS Endorsement while 4 do not hold the ZS Endorsement. The chart below will show that 60% of the total respondents do in fact hold the ZS Endorsement, while 40% do not hold the ZS Endorsement.
[pic]
In response to question #4; do you observe developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) in your classroom: 9 respondents answered yes they do observe DAP and 1 respondent answered no; they do not observe DAP in their classroom. 90% do observe DAP while 10% do not.
[pic]
Question #5 of the survey asks if respondents are currently responsible for delivering Common Core State Mandated Curriculum. All 10 respondents reported that yes, they are responsible to deliver CCSS. 1 teacher reported that basically she delivers CCSS. This same teacher also answered yes to question #5 that she delivers CCSS. It is important to note in this finding that this teacher is a special education teacher.
[pic]
The next survey question asked if teachers were satisfied with CCSS. Respondents reported 70% are satisfied with CCSS while 30% are not always satisfied. This result was written in by respondents as there was not an option to answer not always. No respondents reported that they were not satisfied with CCSS.
[pic]
The final yes/no survey question was do respondents think that CCSS follow DAP. 7 of the 10 teachers surveyed answered yes CCSS follows DAP resulting in 70%. 1 teacher (10%) answered no, CCSS do not follow DAP and 2 respondents (20%) reported not always does CCSS follow DAP.
[pic]

As earlier stated, 2 questions were short answer based on how respondents answered to question #3 and question # 8. Question # 3 asks if Developmentally Appropriate Practices are being observed in teachers' classrooms. Question #4 asks if respondents answered yes to question #3 to state ways in which they do so. 9 respondents answered yes and 1 respondent answered no. Below is a list of short answer responses by the 9 respondents who answered yes. This list was taken directly from 9 respondents completed surveys. • small groups • differentiated instruction • hands on activities • fine motor activities • leveled reading/writing groups • Daily 5 involving "hands on" activities • partner work • singing • poems • IEP goals for students that are developmentally appropriate for them • a notebook with a class list and notes about the children being engaged and if they are showing that they are learning • Instruction is aligned to CCSS and it's creating smarter kiddos • teach according to the needs and wants of my students by setting my expectations based on my knowledge of how children learn • needs of students are met based on DRA assessment • whole group • balanced literacy • tables instead of desks • tailoring curriculum to the students' individual needs • hands on activities • use a wide range of teaching strategies The final survey question was if you answered YES to question #2 (do you hold the ZS Endorsement) and NO to question #7 (do you think that Common Core State Mandated Curriculum follows Developmentally Appropriate Practices) how do you deliver the state mandated curriculum while observing DAP? The data gathered for this question would lend to believe that respondents interpreted the question in the way it should have been asked. Below is a list of short answers from 3 respondents. • Kindergarten CCSS are appropriate for those students who come with solid backgrounds grounded in literacy and number sense • Differentiate as much as possible. Pull small groups according to where the students are developmentally in the subject and work with them to get them to benchmark. This allows for meeting needs of students who are below benchmark and push those who may be developmentally ready to move on. • Adjusting things for different needs to hit different learning styles.
Conclusion
My entire career has been spent in the field of early childhood education. I feel strongly about what is developmentally appropriate for early learners and what is not developmentally appropriate. As more and more mandates are coming from the state level, my job as an early childhood teacher is being challenged, tested, and made more difficult with each new law or rule. As I interpreted my survey data, I was shocked to find 70% of my colleagues, the respondents in this research, are satisfied with Common Core State Mandated Curriculum. I am interested to know why. Could it be the guidelines that CCSS give? The literature did not support or negate this finding. State lawmakers did not appear to care either way if teachers were satisfied with CCSS. Only the need to develop a curriculum that could be a national initiative (Kendall, 2011). My data collection shows overwhelmingly that early childhood teachers actively teaching are observing developmentally appropriate practices and delivering CCSS. Is this because the standards lend to that or because the teachers know how to teach the standards observing developmentally appropriate practices? The results of my data show that while all teachers may not think the CCSS are developmentally appropriate all the time, these same teachers are able to observe developmentally appropriate practices in their classrooms. This finding shows that yes, early childhood teachers are able to observe developmentally appropriate practices while delivering the mandated standards. I do continue to wonder if this is because we as educators simply just know what to do. There are so many more questions that could be asked and deeper digging to be done to truly understand CCSS. How were the early childhood CCSS developed? Were representatives from early childhood education part of the development of CCSS? What are local school districts doing to be sure that developmentally appropriate practices are being followed din their early childhood buildings? Should all K-2 teachers be required to hold the ZS Endorsement? With standardized tests being implemented earlier, what are the implications for early childhood classrooms? In the meantime, I am happy to say that my colleagues and I will continue to deliver the standards while practicing developmentally appropriate practices. It is why I went into early childhood and I know why my colleagues did.

Reference List
Copple, C & Bredekamp, S. (Eds.). (2009) Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Dichtelmiller, M., Jablon, J., Marsden, D., & Meisels, S. (2001). The Work Sampling Sysytem Preschool Through Third Grade Omnibus Guidelines (4th ed.). Bloomington, MN: Pearson.
Gullo, D & Hughes, K.(2011) Early Childhood Education Journal. Reclaiming Kindergarten: Part I. Questions about Theory and Practice. 38 (5), 323-328.
Kendall, John. (2011). Understanding common core state standards. Retrieved from http://libproxy.umflint.edu:2242/lib/umich/docDetail.action?docID=10490879
Kendall, John. Understanding Common Core State Standards. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2011.
Loveless, Tom. (Dec2012/Jan2013). Educational Leadership. The Common core Initiative: WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF SUCCESS? 70 (4), 60-63.
Main, Laura Fricke. (2012) Early Childhood Education Journal. Too Much Too Soon? Common Core Math Standards in the Early, 40:73–77.
Schmidt, W. H. & Burroughs, N.A. (2012-2013). Educational Leadership. How the Common Core BOOSTS QUALITY & EQUALITY. Educational Leadership; 70 (4), 54-58.
Smith, K. & Croom, L. (2000). Journal of Education Research. Multidimensional self-concepts of children and teacher beliefs about developmentally appropriate practices. 93 (5), 312- 321.
Yatvin, Joanne. (Mar 2013). Phi Delta Kappan. Warning: The Common Core standards may be harmful to children 94 (6), 42-44.

Appendix A
Common Core/Developmentally Appropriate Practices Survey

1. Grade Level You Teach Y5 K 1 2

2. Do you hold a ZS Endorsement? YES NO
(the old ZA Endorsement renamed)

3. Do you observe Developmentally YES NO
Appropriate Practices in your classroom?

4. If you answered YES to #3, please briefly state a couple ways you do this.

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

5. Are you currently responsible for delivering YES NO
Common Core State Mandated Curriculum?

6. Are you satisfied with the content of Common YES NO
Core State Mandated Curriculum?

7. Do you think that Common Core State YES NO
Mandated Curriculum follows Developmentally
Appropriate Practices?

8. If you answered YES to question #2 (do you hold the ZS Endorsement) and NO to question #7 (do you think that Common Core State Mandated Curriculum follows Developmentally Appropriate Practices) how do you deliver the state mandated curriculum while observing DAP?

________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________…...

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Edu 695 Week 2 Dq 2 Common Core Presentation New

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