Raising Pre-K Standards
Recently, the state of Texas has started revising its Pre-K Guidelines. The Pre-K Guidelines are the standards that all public pre-kindergarten programs in the state of Texas follow. I feel the guidelines are crucial to the success of the public pre-k program in Texas as they provide a foundation from which all pre-k teachers can work. As part of the revision process, the Texas Education Agency has scheduled public forums in 12 different locations during the month of February to receive feedback from experts and stakeholders across the state.
Personally, I feel the revisions are very necessary and long overdue. For one, the current Pre-K Guidelines in the state of Texas require that students learn only 10 letters and don’t address whether those letters should be upper or lowercase or a combination of both. My students learn 10 letters in the first few weeks of school, and all upper and lowercase letters, in addition to letter sounds, are covered by December! The current guidelines don’t take into account the fact that some districts now offer full-day pre-k. If a student attends pre-k all day every day and learns only 10 letters in a year, that’s a travesty - not to mention a waste of taxpayer money.
The public forums are being held during the day, making it impossible for regular classroom teachers to attend, and this contributes to teachers feeling alienated in this process. Many pre-k teachers are concerned that the new guidelines will not be developmentally appropriate and may mandate less play and more academics. The current guidelines provide for plenty of art, music, oral language, and dramatic play so their fears seem somewhat ungrounded to me. My feeling is this: the old guidelines are just that - old! They need to be replaced in order to move forward and keep up with the pace of education in the 21st century. The current standards are too low and don’t benefit teachers or students. Only those who were able to attend the forums were able to actually see the proposed revisions, but soon there should be a sneak peek on the TEA website. I would love to hear comments from anybody who attended one of the public forums. When the revisions are made public I will discuss them further here.