EdReports Expands Curriculum Reviews to Preschool

EdReports Expands Curriculum Reviews to Preschool

As states emphasize the importance of early childhood education, the nonprofit organization EdReports plans to expand its free Consumer Reports-style reviews to include preschool learning materials.

The organization, known for its reports that measure how well K-12 curriculum aligns with learning standards in subjects like math and reading, announced July 10 that it will form a team of teachers to examine whether various early childhood materials align with research-based priorities.

Organizers hope to start the first assessments by the end of 2025 and contribute to the growing conversation about what the youngest learners need, said Shana Weldon, EdReports’ director of early childhood education.

“Early learning has been overlooked for too long,” she said. “We know how critical it is to long-term success for children, and we are excited to make an impact in this area.”

Despite an estimated 1.6 million children enrolled in state-funded preschool programs, there is no agreed-upon set of national preschool standards. Instead, many states set their own standards that focus on skills necessary for school readiness and healthy development, such as executive function, early literacy and motor development, Weldon said.

EdReports is planning a “listening tour” to gather feedback from educators on how preschool learning materials should be analyzed, focusing on areas highlighted in the tour. Consensus report published in April by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This report emphasized materials that include “well-designed learning experiences, intentional and responsive teaching strategies, well-defined goals and outcomes, embedded formative assessments, and differentiation based on understanding children’s ability levels, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, interests, and dispositions.”

The report also called for attention to the inequalities that arise when children’s learning experiences vary widely depending on the quality of materials and education in preschool programs.

Courtney Allison, EdReports’ Chief Academic Officer, said she hopes their work will elevate the importance of this conversation and help programs make smart purchasing decisions.

Research on effective preschool programs emphasizes the importance of qualified, caring educators and the types of interactions they have with young children. Although the reviews do not measure implementation, EdReports will analyze whether the materials provide teachers with the practical support they need to effectively teach essential concepts, Allison said.

“Our goal is for people to be able to make more informed purchasing decisions,” he said. “We want to provide a clearer understanding of what quality looks like, informed by the voices of educators.”