Early childhood programs across the country are developing program standards
as the yard stick against which program quality is measured. Program standards
may focus on the system policies (e.g. policies ensure that family supports,
service coordination, transitions, and other practices occur in response to
child and family needs rather than being determined by the age of the child),
or may focus directly on services (e.g. appropriate ratio of children to adults
throughout the day, teacher/provider level of education or training).
A variety of terms are used to communicate the same concept, including
quality indicators, standards, readiness of schools, program outcomes and
early learning standards. Variation also exists with respect to program
standards established for typically developing children, children with
disabilities, or all children. The National Program Standards Crosswalk Tool (2013) allows users to review and compare the content of various program standards available in the field (e.g., Head Start, accreditation, Caring for our Children). It was developed by the National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement (NCCCQI) in collaboration with a variety of agencies and organizations to help states that are developing and aligning early childhood (EC) program standards across sectors.
North Carolina School Readiness Assessment looks at both the condition of children when they enter school (Kindergarten) and the capacity of schools to educate all children, whatever each child's condition may be. The condition of children includes health and physical development, social and emotional development, approaches toward learning, language development and communication, and cognition and general knowledge. The readiness of schools includes: (1) knowledge of growth and development of typically and atypically developing children, (2) knowledge of the strengths, interests, and needs of each child, (3) knowledge of the social and cultural contexts in which each child and family lives, and (4) ability to translate developmental knowledge into developmentally appropriate practices.