The Delaware Stars Curriculum and Assessment (C&A) team supports continuous quality improvement for programs using an Approved Assessment or Curriculum for Delaware Stars. The C&A Technical Assistant (TA) uses a consultative and coaching approach to collaborate with the administrator/family child care provider to strengthen current practices and to enhance the curriculum and/or assessment to align with the vision of the learning environment of the program. Using a wide array of resources, the program will build an action plan to dig deep into the next steps of using curriculum and/or assessment. This action plan will serve as a road map that will increase the understanding of children’s development and the quality of their experiences.
Comprehensive curriculum is a written plan that guides the design of children’s goals for learning and development, the experiences children will have to achieve those goals and the way in which adults, both staff and families, will support children’s learning to achieve school success. A sound, comprehensive curriculum is more than a resource guide that contains ideas and activities to do with children in your classrooms or homes. It is evidence-based or relies on what research tells us about the way in which children grow and learn and has many different parts or elements. When these elements work together, they provide early childhood professionals with a framework that helps ensure that children have standards-based, fun and challenging experiences that are developmentally, linguistically and culturally appropriate (developmentally appropriate practice-DAP).
Content in a comprehensive curriculum focuses on all domains of learning: social-emotional, physical, cognitive (intellectual), and communication (language and literacy). A curriculum that has been designed to support children’s learning in a more specific area such as literacy or mathematics, is a valuable resource that offers additional ideas to help children learn in that domain. It is considered a supplementary curriculum, and while it complements a program’s selection of a comprehensive tool, it does not replace a more expansive, broad-scope curriculum that programs must use to support children’s integrated learning and development.
A comprehensive curriculum includes these elements:
1. Goals and Objectives
Goals tell us the intent of activities. They are designed to allow for individualization to support meeting each child’s needs and interests and should be developed to help children learn and develop in all of the different domains – social emotional, physical, literacy and cognitive. In fact, many activities will help children’s skills grow in different goals at the same time.
2. Experiences for Children’s Learning
A well-defined comprehensive curriculum helps children achieve their learning goals and objectives. The activities that children experience will encourage them to construct their understanding and knowledge through play, active exploration, and investigation of materials and ideas. The curriculum should promote both child-directed and teacher-directed activities; large group, small group and individualized learning opportunities; and learning during every day routines and experiences. A strong curriculum is flexible and will promote teachers’ use of both planned experiences and those experiences that occur naturally as a result of children’s interests. Both indoor and outdoor environments are important learning spaces where the large equipment, learning materials, and spatial arrangement of these materials are key to supporting children’s learning. The way in which teachers design classroom environments optimizes children’s interaction with materials and concepts in ways that assure children’s growth and development, and at the same time, provides opportunities for the teacher to authentically assess and build on those learning experiences.
3. Varied Domains of Learning
A rich curriculum will assure that children have opportunities to expand their learning and development in all domains or areas of learning. This is known as “the whole child.” These areas include social and emotional learning, physical development, language and literacy skills, and the cognitive areas of knowledge that address mathematics, science, social studies and creative expression. Experiences that are included within the curriculum framework should be integrated or demonstrate how they can incorporate varied domains within one activity. Technology is also a new, but important, area of learning that should be included within a curriculum model.
4. Connection to Learning Standards
Delaware’s Early Learning Foundations for Infants and Toddlers and Preschoolers are based on the age-appropriate expectations for children that explain what children should know and do at specific ages. When a curriculum is aligned or cross-walked with the Early Learning Foundations, it assures that children are receiving experiences that are based on age-appropriate standards across all of the domains of learning and that the expectations for learning are challenging, yet realistic and attainable. A comprehensive curriculum will also correspond to classroom or teacher assessments such as the Environment Rating Scale or CLASS to assure classrooms plan for high-quality performance that is demonstrated in their scores.
5. Plans for Teachers
A curriculum should include ways that teachers can help children achieve or reach their goals and objectives. Delaware’s Educational Enduring Understandings state that teachers must understand how children learn and design learning environments that complement children’s learning needs. The curriculum should guide teachers’ thinking about their own intentional role and include ways in which they can purposefully provide materials, ask questions or design the environment to help children learn through play and investigation. Delaware’s teachers use essential questions to stimulate children’s thinking and help them transfer current knowledge to new situations (scaffolding).
6. Ways to Measure Children’s Learning
Curriculum must include an ongoing process for understanding each child’s growth and development and progress towards meeting their learning goals. This process provides the evidence that children are learning and should include strategies for observing and documenting children’s current levels of development, their interests and their needs as well as analyzing that information to develop new or modify learning objectives.
7. Diversity and Inclusivity
Activities that are linked to children’s personal experiences are more meaningful and often provide more successful ways for them to learn. The curriculum should provide information on ways to provide experiences that reflect the cultures and backgrounds of the children within the early learning site. The curriculum should also be appropriate or provide for adaptations for children with varied abilities including children that are English Language Learners or children with disabilities.
8. Family Engagement
Families and teachers work in partnership to help children achieve learning success. The curriculum should include ways in which families share in children’s individualized goal-development, provide information about their progress, or participate in classroom experiences. It should include ways to assure family celebrations or events include consideration of family cultures and ethnic practices and provide ways to make adaptations for those cultural or ethnic practices or for adults who may have special needs. Suggestions for at-home connections will enrich the families’ understanding and supports for children’s experiences and learning and should be provided throughout the curriculum model.
Delaware Department of Education. Curriculum Resources: Essential Questions, Essential
Understanding and Design Principles.
National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. (2003) Joint Position Statement. Early Childhood Curriculum, Assessment, and Program Evaluation. Building an effective, accountable system in programs for children birth through age 8.
North Carolina Division of Child Development & Early Education. North Carolina Approved Early Childhood Curricula. (2011)
Taylor, H.H., (2000). Curriculum in Head Start. Head Start Bulletin. Issue 67.
The curriculum resources listed in the link below represents those published curricula that have been reviewed and approved by Delaware’s Curriculum and Assessment Task Force. Each has met the requirements of the Delaware’s Curriculum Rubric and fulfills the requirements for Delaware Stars Standard LC1.
In addition to choosing a pre-approved curriculum, providers have the choice of submitting a curriculum they have created for approval through Delaware Stars. For more about this approval process click on each corresponding section:
Supplemental curricula for Delaware Stars programs are those resources that further grow children’s skill mastery in specific domains of the Early Learning Foundations (ELFs) and are referenced in Stars Standards LC2.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list; programs may utilize other curricula, but must provide evidence of implementation
Child Assessment Information
The National Association for the Education of Young Children defines assessment as: “the
process of gathering information about children from several forms of evidence, then organizing
and interpreting that information.”
(McAfee, O., Leong, D.J., & Bodrova, E. (2004). Basics of Assessment: A primer for early
childhood educators. NAEYC, Washington, D.C.)
Assessment is designed to document children’s growth and learning through observation. It
informs planning and instruction that support the development of an individual child. It is an
ongoing and systematic process that should be embedded as part of the daily curriculum.
Assessment opportunities should occur naturally throughout the child’s day, creating authentic
experiences to note children’s progress and development.
National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) Indicators of Effective Assessment
- Ethical principles guide assessment practices.
- Assessment instruments are used for their intended purposes.
- Assessments are appropriate for ages and other characteristics of children being assessed.
- Assessment instruments are in compliance with professional criteria for quality.
- What is assessed is developmentally and educationally significant.
- Assessment evidence is used to understand and improve learning.
- Assessment evidence is gathered from realistic settings and situations that reflect children’s actual performance.
- Assessments use multiple sources of evidence gathered over time.
- Screening is always linked to follow-up.
- Use of individually administered, norm-referenced tests is limited.
- Staff and families are knowledgeable about assessment.
(NAEYC Position Statement: Early Childhood Curriculum, Assessment, and Program
- To monitor children’s development and learning
- To guide planning and decision making
- To report and communicate with others (families, state/federal agencies, etc.)
- To identify children who might benefit from special services**
**This is screening. (For more information on screening, please see Developmental Screening)
In addition to choosing an assessment from the Delaware Stars pre-approved assessment list, providers have the choice of submitting an assessment that they have created for approval through Delaware Stars. For more about this approval process Approved Assessment Rubric 2014.
Developmental Screening Information
- Screening is one part of a larger system of assessment for young children and is defined as:
o “The use of a brief procedure or instrument designed to identify, from within a large population of children, those who may need further assessment to verify developmental and/or health risks” (Council of Chief State School Officers, 2004).
o The primary goal of screening is to document normal aspects of a child’s health and development, while identifying potential problems that need further assessment and follow-up (Luehr & Hoxie, 1995).
o Screening is a brief procedure which indicates a child’s health and/or developmental status at a single point in time. A screening program always must include follow-up for those children who may not be meeting milestones and, therefore, would benefit from further, more in-depth assessment.
- Screening helps to determine if a child needs further services and should be completed during early phases of enrollment
(Schroeder, C., & Gooden, C. (2012). Recommended measures in early childhood screening. Kentucky Early Childhood Data System, Human Development Project, University of Kentucky.)
- Primary Reasons
o Can detect developmental needs very early
o Can be used as a basis for referral to early intervention or the school system
o Can be used to discuss child development and learning with families
- Secondary Reasons
o Assists in “teaching child development” to staff and families
o Formalizes programmatic assessment procedures
To view a list of screening choices that have already been approved by Delaware Stars
- Delaware Department of Education. Curriculum Resources: Essential Questions,
Essential Understanding and Design Principles. Retrieved
- National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association
of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. (2003) Joint Position
Statement. Early Childhood Curriculum, Assessment, and Program Evaluation. Building
an effective, accountable system in programs for children birth through age 8. Retrieved
- North Carolina Division of Child Development & Early Education. North Carolina
Approved Early Childhood Curricula (2011).
- Taylor, H.H., (2000). Curriculum in Head Start. Head Start Bulletin. Issue 67. Retrieved