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Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards


What's New in the Revised Learning Standards for Early Childhood? Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

PA Crosswalk for ELS (PDF)

List of Certified Trainers for the Early Learning Standards

Over 30 years of research confirms the foundational importance of early education and care for children's school and life success. As Pennsylvania seeks to emphasize its early learning programs, a standards-based approach to programs is vital. Children are born with an incredible capacity and desire to learn. It is critical that their first steps are in the right direction. Research-based standards are essential to building the foundation for a strong start—one that effectively provides children with skills and gives them the confidence to stay the course, graduate from high school or college, and contribute productively to communities and workplaces.

The Early Learning Standards were developed as a joint project of the Departments of Education and Public Welfare as part of a commitment to early childhood education and care. The Early Learning Standards are meant to guide children's development, and were developed by a Task Force consisting of early childhood practitioners and administrators, policy analysts and researchers, and university faculty. Support for the development of the standards was provided through the national Build Initiative, which is a multi-state partnership that helps states construct a coordinated system of programs and policies that responds to the needs of young children.

The early childhood learning standards provide guidance for the development of programs' continuum of learning. They are also aligned with higher grade level content, beginning with third grade. They provide a framework that can be used by practitioners to assess children's learning and plan appropriate lessons and strategies for the population they serve. Families along with early childhood practitioners can work as a team to build upon knowledge and enhance the development of new understandings.

New information on obtaining copies of the 2009 Revised Standards

The Learning Standards for Infants and Toddlers, Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, First and Second Grade have been written to support teachers' in-depth curriculum development and instruction. They are designed as a curriculum framework for developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood classrooms and offer teachers specific and detailed standards, concepts and competencies as well as instructional practice suggestions. The Learning Standards are a curriculum resource, not a curriculum itself.

The Learning Standards for Early Childhood provide teachers in all settings guidance and assure all children, regardless of setting, are provided with a well-rounded, comprehensive educational experience that considers all domains of children's learning. They support the creative and critical thinking that is required for students' academic and life success. They offer teachers varied educational and classroom experiences for a strong foundation to assure children's school success.

Place orders for any of the Early Childhood Standards through Waveline Direct by visiting www.wavelinedirect.com

Early Learning Standards Posters Are Now Available for Purchase

Posters that accompany the Revised 2009 Infant/Toddler Standards, the Revised 2009 Pre-kindergarten Standards and the Revised 2009 Kindergarten Standards are now available for purchase as an individual package without the Standards booklets. Place orders through Waveline Direct by visiting www.wavelinedirect.com.

Linking Standards to Curriculum and Assessment

Quality early learning environments are essential for preparing children to be successful learners as they go through elementary school. One means of attaining high quality learning environments is to implement curriculum that meets the needs of all children. A curriculum reflects the program's philosophy, goals and objectives for children as well as the guidelines to target children's development in such areas as cognitive, social-emotional, language, and fine and gross motor domains (Freede & Ackerman, 2006). The intent of a curriculum is to provide the framework for what happens within a planned environment to allow for learning and interactions with materials, peers and adults. The curriculum framework also helps to guide the evaluation criteria that are appropriate for the program.

The Pennsylvania Learning Standards for Early Childhood are a critical piece for assisting teachers in designing classrooms that meet the developmental needs of children to help them succeed in school. In conjunction with the curriculum, a second equally important piece in an early childhood classroom, is conducting on-going assessments of children. Assessments that are implemented in the classroom and aligned with Pennsylvania's Learning Standards for Early Childhood (birth to 3rd grade) will help inform teachers about designing a curriculum that provides multiple learning opportunities that best suits how each child learns. Developmental assessments allow one to understand a child's competencies and to design learning environments which will help a child grow to his or her developmental potential.

Choosing a Curriculum

There are many needs to be considered when planning a preschool curriculum. The physical environment should contribute to well -planned activities that can help young learners meet their goals, but it should also allow for spontaneous and unplanned learning to occur. This article from NIEER helps clarify what should be considered when choosing a curriculum that will meet the needs of young learners in a preschool environment.

Pennsylvania's Recommendations for Curriculum, Child Assessment and Program Assessment

Publisher Alignments to Curricula (in alphabetical order): Please note the Office of Child Development and Early Learning is not recommending the use of any specific curriculum instrument.


(0-3 years)
(3-5 years)

Curriculum Associates: BRIGANCE® Early Childhood Developmental Inventory (ECDI)

Curriculum Associates: BRIGANCE® Head Start Developmental Inventory (HSDI)


National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER)/ Lakeshore: Early Learning Scale (ELS)


Pearson: THE WORK SAMPLING SYSTEM® for Head Start

Assessment Technology Incorporated: Galileo®

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Riverside Early Assessments of Learning (REAL) Head Start

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Riverside Early Assessments of Learning (REAL) Kindergarten Readiness

HighScope: COR Advantage

Teaching Strategies LLC: Teaching Strategies GOLD®

The principles of assessment that we apply to young children are part of a continuum beginning at birth and extending through kindergarten to grade three. This is an updated report on early childhood assessment.

Assessment Tools

The assessment instruments are grouped into tables in the following document. One group of tables are instruments that are appropriate for measuring different domains. Another group provides an overview of key learning areas of the Early Learning Standards for Pre-K, and then there are tables describing curriculum. The final table lists standardized classroom observation systems for early learning classrooms.

Beginning July 2012, PA PreK Counts, Head Start State Supplemental Assistance Programs and STARS 3 and 4 centers and group will be required to select an approved assessment tool to meet child assessment and outcomes reporting requirements. The list to the right is a list of tools which have been for 2012-2013.

Classroom Assessment

Standards Aligned System and ECE

The Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System (SAS) is a collaborative product of research and good practice that identifies six distinct elements which when utilized together, provide schools and districts a common framework for continuous school and district enhancement and improvement. Much research has been conducted as to what makes a great school. There are many intangible

components; however, research supports the notion that great schools and school systems tend to have six common elements that ensure Student Achievement: Clear Standards, Fair Assessments, Curriculum Framework, Instruction, Materials & Resources, and Interventions.


Early Childhood and the Standards Aligned System- Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Early Childhood professionals in all settings can utilize the Standards and Aligned System to enhance their teaching practice for young children. Experienced teachers will be able to identify their current instructional strategies that incorporate SAS elements and gain greater understanding of how the system offers stronger alignment to the content that children learn as the progress through elementary and secondary school.

During 2009, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning created a companion site to the Dept. of Ed Standards Aligned System which offers resources under each SAS element specific to early childhood.

Early Learning Professional Community

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning has created profession learning community within the PDE SAS portal. This online community provides the opportunity for early childhood practitioners, teachers, and administrators to network and discuss issues related to early childhood education. Anyone who is registered on the PDESAS portal can join the Early Learning PLC through the use of "Teacher Tools."