The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently released its sixth Starting Strong report, which includes data from 26 countries and jurisdictions throughout the world. The report focused on children’s daily interactions with their families, other children, and the environment, as those interactions directly influence their learning and development. This report focused on early education curriculum and pedagogy and workforce development, with key findings and recommendations highlighted below.
Curriculum and Pedagogy
Curriculum frameworks set standards and guidelines that help staff and program administrators ensure their programming fosters early learning, as well as providing alignment to future learning. Of the countries surveyed in the report, 25% have more than one curriculum per age group, while 14% have no framework for the birth-to-two group. Ensuring quality is difficult in both situations, and transitions to pre-primary and primary education can also be more difficult, as each child is entering with a different knowledge base.
Curriculum and Pedagogy Recommendations
- Using only one framework per age group for continuity
- Inclusion of parents, communities, and children in curriculum design
- Increasing feedback from staff, families, children, and leaders to aid in quality improvement efforts
Education requirements vary for teachers across the countries surveyed in the report. Most countries require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and the standard for assistants is that of a high-school diploma or equivalent. Most teachers for three-to-five-year-old programs are required to do some work-based training with children, but the standards for all others vary.
Workforce Development Recommendations
- Increase funding – quality cannot be achieved until consistency in training, education, and continuing professional development needs are met
- 18 states spend <$1,000 per low-income three-and-four year-old
- 35 states spend <$3,000 per low-income three-and-four year-old
- Only New Jersey, Vermont, and District of Columbia have adequate ECEC funding
- Funding levels require a choice: include fewer children, or decrease quality
The OECD’s recommendations focus on ensuring that all early education providers are well prepared, but an increase in those standards must also be met with improving existing supports for current staff to advance their knowledge. Improving the breadth of content covered is also needed as early learning providers may need additional education in play diversity, transitions, and engaging the family and community. Implementing and maintaining accreditation mechanisms for all programs and feeding outcomes back into the programs serves both the aims of continuous improvement and ongoing education for staff.