Top concerns about Common Core State Standards in early childhood education

There’s been lots of discussion about the Common Core State Standards recently, and their impact on classroom activity and child outcomes. Common Core is a major policy initiative to reform K-12 classroom practices, raise expectations and implement a new generation of assessments (at least in grades 3 and up), so it has major implications for Kindergarten-3rd grade (and early childhood education) teachers, children, and parents. It must be examined critically and debated. As we know, even if the policy is sound, implementation matters.

children in classA recurring concern is that the Common Core State Standards were developed from the top-down (setting standards for 12th graders first, and then working backwards to set expectations for the lower grades, failing to take sufficient account of research-based learning progressions for children from birth-age 5. A related issue: Some feel there was insufficient involvement of early childhood research experts in language, literacy, mathematics, and child development in the standards development process.

Over the next few weeks, we plan to have experts comment on the top concerns and issues we’ve heard about CCSS.

  • Rigorous standards may lead to reduced play and rich activity in preschool and Kindergarten classrooms.
  • Literacy instruction may become limited to a few texts and drill-and-kill teaching.
  • The standards are complex and extensive, and there is little guidance for teachers to implement them in Kindergarten classrooms.
  • Parents don’t understand the CCSS and are concerned about what they mean for their children.
  • The Kindergarten standards for literacy are not appropriate for children that age.
  • Assessment related to reaching standards will not be developmentally appropriate, and results may be misused.
  • Alignment with K-12 standards will mean teaching methods, subjects, and assessments that are not developmentally appropriate will be pushed down to preschool levels.
  • Math standards will be too challenging for young children.

We welcome your participation as well. Please comment and weigh in on the concerns and our experts’ responses.


  1. As an early childhood trainer and consultant, I currently train on how to implement the Pre-k CC standards in a play-based, DAP fashion. For the most part, I think it can be done. But there definitely needs to be some “tweaking”. The MAJOR problem and disconnect is regarding what we KNOW “kindergarten readiness” is SUPPOSED to look like (based on PROVEN reaearch), and what is actually EXPECTED. Is “kindergarten” expecting more than what is developmentally appropriate or are parents misinformed? Either way….the children are suffering. Even “the standards” do not dictate INappropriate practice. So…why do we do what we KNOW is WRONG?

  2. In this conversation, let’s also consider that if we don’t include children’s affective development in our discussions we are likely to lose the handle on the entire idea of developmentally appropriate experiences for small children. My field is literacy. Continuation of the focus only on “achievement” yields instruction that ignores teaching children to love books and reading. This should come prior to and then along with teaching them to read. Without that, we are likely to continue the flat line in reading achievement we’ve seen for over that last 20 years. Targeting 3rd grade reading scores when our little ones are still in diapers will do nothing in the long run for the kids and provide nothing for gaining the ultimate achievement of literacy, lifelong reading that becomes lifelong learning.

  3. The Kindergarten standards include some physically inappropriate provisions, particularly about writing, with which many children of that age struggle. Finger muscles are not fully developed for writing sentences and paragraphs until the second grade, particularly for boys. Early Childhood development people MUST be allowed to recommend Developmentally Appropriate tweaks to the Common Core.
    There is no rush to push early reading – early play and investigative experiences which include literacy components are much more suited to children’s development and will allow gains that are far more lasting.

  4. Common core implementation in early childhood education doesn’t make much sense to me. If you’re going to assume that everyone learns at a baseline pace, with a standardized problem-solving solution, you might as well throw your hands up in the air and go to recess. We all learn differently—let’s allow our kids to have fun and enjoy learning.

    Alex Jennings |

  5. While there are many questions that are currently unanswered in regard to PreK for All, we must begin to unpack several key issues that surround this debate. Once funding is approved, issues such as who receives services, when and where they receive services, and how these services are delivered are key questions.

    One important issue in this debate is the importance of developing core curriculum standards that encompass the whole child including social and emotional development; cognitive domains such as math, reading, science, and social studies; thinking and academic success skills such as creative thinking, critical thinking, collaboration, motivation, and problem solving skills; and physical motor and health skills. We must have our brightest teachers working with the youngest children in order to provide the greatest degree of growth in all areas of development.

    The implementation of these standards is a key factor in designing the pre-K program. A whole child approach to policy and practice is essential to ensuring children are engaged, motivated, and excited about learning. Pedagogical thoughtfulness in creating environments that address the standards while also addressing the many other needs of young children is an essential factor when developing the pre-K plan. An authentic, meaningful learning environment that promotes problem solving, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking can be developmentally appropriate for young children when high quality teachers are placed in early childhood classrooms.

  6. Pingback: Can Five-Year-Olds Really Meet Common Core State Standards? | School Library Journal