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Every child counts: Developing Virginia's ELD standards

Drs. Xu and Rhodes leading collaborative effort to develop early learning standards in Virginia

Headshots, from left: Yaoying Xu, Ph.D., and Joan Rhodes, Ph.D., both of the VCU School of Education. [View Image]From left: Dr. Yaoying Xu and Dr. Joan Rhodes.

Dr. Yaoying Xu, professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education, and Dr. Joan Rhodes, department chair and associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, are currently leading a project with the Virginia Department of Education that focuses on early learning and development standards for all children from birth to 5 years old in Virginia.

Drs. Xu and Rhodes are working in conjunction with Dr. Irene Carney, project coordinator, Dr. Teresa Harris, professor at James Madison University, and Deana Buck, program specialist at the Partnership for People with Disabilities. According to Xu, the Virginia ELD standards organize information into areas of development and specific indicators within this particular age group. "It is the natural right, instead of a privilege, for ALL children, regardless of their background or condition, to receive high quality education and care, and every early childhood provider's basic obligation and essential responsibility to ensure that our children are learning and developing in a safe and nurturing environment,” Xu said.

A wide range of studies, individuals and documents helped to inform the Virginia ELD standards, including position statements from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, existing Virginia standards and those from other states, the Head Start Framework for Early Learning Outcomes, and a review of research literature.

Statewide stakeholders, using relevant research and a wide array of resources, have directed five work groups throughout this process – one for each of the ELD standards. Work group members represent numerous colleges, universities and organizations, and according to Rhodes, this reflects the immense effort that went into presenting standards that will serve all of Virginia’s early childhood providers and young children.

“The new standards will impact every preschool classroom across the commonwealth, and the new document created through the collaborative efforts of multiple stakeholders will assist educators and parents as they design instruction to meet the needs of all children learning in early childhood settings,” Rhodes said.

Dr. Xu agreed, adding: “This unified set of standards not only serves as a guideline to remind us of important milestones of child development and learning, but more importantly, it conveys a message that children will learn, explore and grow up, but the quality of content and context matters.”

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