National Academies Press: OpenBook

A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum (2024)

Chapter: 4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula

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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-2 4 Developing High-Quality, Equitable Preschool Curricula As summarized in Chapters 2 and 3, preschool curriculum plays a critical role in shaping instructional quality, classroom processes, and children’s early learning during a unique window of opportunity for development. Curriculum identifies the content children are to learn, the goals for children’s learning and development, intentional teaching strategies, and needed instructional materials. Although there is clear agreement that children should engage in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies beginning in the primary grades (Bruner, 1985; National Council for the Social Studies, 2013; NGACCSSO and NGA, 2010), debate is ongoing about the amount of attention that should be given to learning academic content in these subject matter areas in preschool (Zigler et al., 2011). The preschool years and preschool experiences are a period when strong foundational skills that affect developmental trajectories can be built; however, many children face societal inequities during this period. As stressed throughout this report, the available research evidence points to the importance of adopting strengths-based approaches to understand the varied backgrounds and experiences of young children and the ways in which those contexts shape the way they learn to establish a strong foundation for lifelong learning. This chapter identifies the essential components and characteristics of equitable preschool curriculum for all children based on the strongest available evidence of the efficacy of existing curricula. In essence, these criteria constitute the committee’s new vision for high-quality preschool curriculum. The chapter describes these criteria in detail, along with a list of key questions for decision makers to consider. Importantly, the committee calls for early childhood educators to reject the false dichotomies that plague the field and narrow perspectives on curriculum and its potential benefits. A summary of research on different curriculum types and approaches is included. The chapter then presents a continuum of curriculum types and the roles of educators in implementing them. A major purpose of this chapter is to provide guidance for curriculum developers in order to increase the quality and availability of research-based, validated curricula necessary to achieve the committee’s new vision for every child. The chapter considers who develops curriculum, how the process varies according to curriculum type, and specific considerations for developing curriculum in the content domains. A description of educative curriculum follows. Such curricula are designed to support the learning and development of teachers as well as children, particularly in the content domains. Educative curricula are especially valuable because children from minoritized communities too often have less qualified teachers who may not have been prepared to teach the content domains, a situation that perpetuates inequitable opportunities to learn. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-3 research-based and validated preschool curricula, followed by a framework for curriculum development and evaluation. MOVING BEYOND FALSE DICHOTOMIES False dichotomies are common in the early education field (e.g., Clements & Sarama, 2014b; Merkley & Ansari, 2018). Many discussions, even by experts (e.g., Kagan & Reid, 2022) tend to phrase issues as tensions between two mutually exclusive alternatives, such as play versus content teaching or academics versus teaching the “whole child” (Zigler et al., 2011). Other such dichotomies include scripts versus teacher autonomy; constrained versus nonconstrained goals, lower or higher-level skills, family-to-classroom versus classroom-to- family engagement (Kagan & Reid, 2022), and those listed below: Play–––––––Academics Emergent–––––––Highly scripted Child-initiated–––––––Teacher-directed Exploratory–––––––Content-focused Comprehensive/whole child–––––––Domain-specific Active Learning–––––––Passive acquisition Investigatory–––––––Didactic Social-emotional–––––––Cognitive Spontaneous–––––––Deliberate Out-of-School Language and Reasoning–––––––School-based Language and Reasoning These dichotomies may overgeneralize simple contrasts, without considering compromise or even a positive synthesis. False dichotomies such as these are based on either/or thinking, which assumes there is one right answer to highly complex questions. Resolving the tensions and complexities inherent in educational decisions requires rejecting these false dichotomies and moving from either/or to both/and thinking (Bredekamp & Willer, 2022) that also considers multiple ways of thinking of different cultural groups as well as individual children (Bouttee, 2015; Souto-Manning, 2023; Souto-Manning et al., 2019; Wright & Counsell, 2018). Both/and thinking requires the application of diverse perspectives and consideration of several possible answers to complex questions. Perhaps the most unfortunate false dichotomy is “play versus academics.” As described in Chapter 3, children learn a great deal through play (Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff, 2008; Hirsh- Pasek et al., 2009), including social skills and emotional competencies, language, literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), and other content areas (e.g., Sarama & Clements, 2009a; Weisberg et al., 2015; Zosh et al., 2018). Although beneficial, a research review investigated whether pretend play is critical for the development of various domains, or if it is but one of many routes to positive development, or simply an epiphenomenon of other routes (Lillard et al., 2013). For executive function and social skills, for example, research did not strongly support the critical cause view, but does not differentiate between the other two. For Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-4 other domains, such as reasoning and problem solving, there was little to suggest play is the causal factor. More research on play’s specific role is needed (Lillard et al., 2013). A more recent experiment, however, provided evidence that pretend play tutoring (teacher involvement outside of, or commenting on, and inside of, play) led to gains in social behavior skills but not socio- emotional development (Jaggy et al., 2023).This study illustrates that play may be powerful developmentally if the environment, interactions, and specific activities are introduced or guided by teachers. Supplementing this approach with awareness of systemic bias may be more effective. Such playful learning can include whole- and small-group activities, specific learning centers, and outdoor play. Introducing such intentionality through curricula has been shown statistically and practically to have significant positive effects on preschoolers learning in the United States and internationally (e.g., Clements, Sarama, Layzer, et al., 2020; Dockett & Perry, 2010; Fisher et al., 2013; Helenius, 2018; Lewis Presser et al., 2015; Sarama & Clements, 2009a; Schmitt et al., 2018; Størksen et al., 2023; Taner Derman et al., 2020). In many instances, however, teaching academics is pitted against developmentally appropriate practice, a view that underestimates children’s competence and denies them challenging curriculum (Bredekamp & Joseph, 2024, p. 140; see also Sullivan et al., 2015). The key is to make academic content meaningful and engaging for young children, which is often not the case, particularly for children living in low- income communities and those who are members of historically marginalized groups (Adair & Colegrove, 2021; Boutte, 2024; Early et al., 2010; Malik et al., 2018; NASEM, 2023; Souto- Manning, 2018; Wright & Counsell, 2018). Families and early childhood educators alike express concern that young children’s opportunities for play and social-emotional learning may be stifled when early education experiences focus on academic content. These concerns are legitimate when methods for supporting content learning are inappropriate for young children. For example, there are missed opportunities in preschool for children to explore and learn content through engaging, playful learning experiences in which children have autonomy and agency to approach problems and seek solutions, and in ways that integrate different content areas into interdisciplinary learning experiences. To leverage these opportunities, educators and developers need to move beyond dichotomizing these complex issues and embrace both/and thinking (Bredekamp & Willer, 2022) while also integrating other views and perspectives beyond Eurocentric notions. Research makes clear that, given such appropriate pedagogy, tailored for young children’s optimal ways of learning, preschoolers can learn across academic domains throughout early childhood with no negative effects on other developmental domains (e.g., Le et al., 2019). During the first five years of life, then, content learning can occur in ways that are aligned with developmentally appropriate practice (NAEYC, 2022), and can include opportunities for play and playful activities (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2009; Weisberg et al., 2015; Zosh et al., 2018). Because content instruction has too often been limited, neglected, or conducted inappropriately in the years before formal schooling (e.g., Brosterman, 1997; Clements, Fuson, et al., 2019; National Academies of Sciences, 2022; Zigler et al., 2011), research points to the importance of intentionally teaching for children aged 3–5 (Burchinal et al., 2022). Another dichotomy, constrained versus nonconstrained goals, also termed lower- versus higher-level skills, further illustrates the need for synthesis. For example, important constrained Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-5 goals in preschool include attaining alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness, while a nonconstrained goal is learning vocabulary. Teaching only nonconstrained, higher-level skills may be counterproductive given that lower-level knowledge may be necessary for the effective learning and use of higher-level processes, perhaps especially in hierarchical content domains such as mathematics (e.g., Clements & Sarama, 2021; Hartman et al., 2023; Piasta, 2023; Xu et al., 2023) and also in early literacy (Roberts et al., 2019). Further, researchers of color have argued that privileging higher- over lower-level skills and knowledge may not serve the needs of some communities because they have not had equitable opportunities to learn those skills and attain that knowledge (Delpit, 1988, 2013). Therefore, it is crucial for developers of high-quality preschool curricula to consider how they can support both differentiation and meaningful synthesis of goals and skills when appropriate (Clements et al., 2011; Mulligan et al., 2020), with a focus on specific goals for individual children when appropriate. An important caveat is that content hierarchies intrinsic to the domains’ structures do not privilege “school-based” ways of representing and processing content but recognize knowledge gained from everyday and out-of- school environments and experiences (Banks, 1993, 1995). Different cultural groups’ and individuals’ ways of understanding and building knowledge are not only valid but may also be complementary. Thus, it is critical to consider the hierarchical process of learning in some domains and the continuum of learning in varied contexts. Finally, a pedagogical false dichotomy is between direct, or teacher initiated, instruction and other approaches to teaching, such as inquiry. A research review in Science suggested that the latter are more effective in teaching concepts, but that the choice of a pedagogical strategy should depend on the goals of instruction and the learners’ needs (de Jong et al., 2023) (See chapter 3 for a discussion of the ways in which children learn). Most of the time, moreover, a combination of approaches featuring active thinking and learning on the part of the child and intentional, direct instruction where required is recommended (de Jong et al., 2023): …theoretical purity is less important than a consideration of all relevant theories and empirical work. The complexity of the field often creates a Babel of disciplines…in which the lack of communication prevents progress. This is one conceit curriculum developers can ill afford. Instead, they must meld academic issues and practical teaching demands no less than a serious consideration of what researchers and teachers from other philosophical positions experience and report. This does not imply inconsistent positions. It does imply that overzealous applications (often misinterpretations and overgeneralizations) can limit practical effectiveness. As merely one illustration, constructivism does not imply that practice is not necessary and does not dictate specific pedagogical practices (Clements, 2008, p. 615). CHARACTERISTICS OF HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULUM Effective use of curricula is one of the most important determinants of quality in preschool education (Yoshikawa et al., 2013). This section describes the committee’s vision for Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-6 high-quality, equitable pre-K curriculum. These criteria derive from the committee’s review of the evidence, with special consideration of the needs of historically marginalized groups of children, including Black, Latine, and Indigenous children; multilingual learners; children with disabilities or developmental delays; and children experiencing poverty. To some extent, these criteria are consistent with the Office of Head Start’s criteria for effective, comprehensive curricula. Head Start’s online Curriculum Consumer Report evaluates and rates curriculum (Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC), 2020). A recent guide from the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse guide also contains recommendations relevant to the development of high-quality curricula (Burchinal et al., 2022). Ensuring Equity The overarching goal of this report is to provide guidance for achieving equitable learning and developmental outcomes for all preschool children (Curenton, Iruka & Durden, 2017; also see Chapters 1, 5, 6, and 7).The committee defines equity as the goal and process of ensuring that everyone has a fair opportunity to thrive which requires valuing all individuals’ and populations’ equality, fully recognizing systemic racism and oppression, and rectifying historical and contemporary structural injustices, systemic biases, and oppression, and providing resources and supports accordingly (Curenton et al., 2017; Jones, 204; Muhammad, 2023). In short, equity does not mean equal or the same. Rather, achieving equitable outcomes for young children, especially for the historically marginalized groups listed above, requires that educators have high expectations for every child and that curriculum itself meets high standards and addresses historical patterns of bias and other forms of inequity. Curricula must promote growth and achievement in all content and developmental domains, as well as children’s positive self- identity, sense of belonging, and agency across domains (Wagner, 2023). To this end, curriculum must be developed for the rich diversity of the population of preschool children and adaptable for the unique strengths and needs of each individual child. Importantly, preschool curricula whose key characteristic is effectively promoting high-quality teaching and learning have been validated as achieving equitable outcomes (e.g., Clements et al., 2011; Lillard et al., 2023). Of primary concern, therefore, is that equity needs to be a fundamental, substantive component of any high-quality curriculum. Accordingly, it is essential for curriculum developers to ensure that curriculum is designed for and accessible to all children and their teachers (Clements, Vinh, et al., 2021; Gersten et al., 2005; Hebbeler & Spiker, 2016; National Academies of Sciences, 2017, 2018a, 2022; National Research Council, 2001b, 2009; Sanders et al., 2007; Yoon & Martin, 2019). Children Living in Poverty Children from communities that have been historically marginalized, including those living in poverty, do not have the same type of access to high-quality preschool and program experiences compared to their peers (NASEM, 2023). For example, previous research has shown that low-income children are less likely to be enrolled in high-quality preschool, compared to their peers from higher-income households (i.e., 18% compared to 29%) (Nores and Barnett, 2014). And additional evidence points to the likelihood that classrooms with lower quality (i.e., Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-7 structural and process measures) will serve a higher percentage of children from low-income communities and families (Aguiar & Aguiar, 2020; Bassok & Galdo, 2016; Friedman-Krauss et al., 2014; Valentino, 2018). Therefore, curricula development must consider the accessibility of content as well as the resources available to all children and teachers. Children with Disabilities High-quality curricula are designed for inclusive settings with evidence-based adaptations and accommodations embedded throughout to facilitate the active engagement and learning of children with disabilities. Therefore, adaptations and effective supports for children with identified disabilities need to be incorporated from the earliest stages of curriculum development (Clements, Vinh, et al., 2021; Steinbrenner et al., 2022). Accomplishing this can be challenging for early childhood curriculum development and teaching, however, because historically, the emphasis has been on creating general supportive environments that facilitate and enhance children’s development (Grisham & Hemmeter, 2017), whereas special education has sometimes emphasized individualized approaches to children with disabilities. Instead, high- quality curricula include and provide support for teachers for a blended approach—integration of practices that can be used to address the needs of all children in inclusive settings. That is, the needs of individual children with disabilities are integrated into the classroom’s activities and routines so that all children can be meaningfully included in each educational experience (Grisham & Hemmeter, 2017). Beyond that inclusion, it is critical to attend to the inequities in special education from an intersectional perspective, such as the over-categorization of Black and Latine children into special education (Harry & Klingner, 2006), particularly those categories viewed as low status (e.g., intellectual disability) compared to high status (e.g., autism, ADHD) (Skrtic et al., 2021). In addition, the role of bias in procedures or assessments used to make those decisions must be attended to. Culturally Responsive and Linguistically Affirming Pedagogy Culturally responsive and linguistically affirming pedagogy and discourse practices are considered foundational (e.g., Durden & Curenton, 2018; Ladson-Billings, 1994, 1995; Lee et al., 1990; O’Brien et al., 2023; Sanders et al., 2007). High-quality curricula achieve this goal by including all children and cultures, thus having universal impact while reducing disparities in outcomes across groups based on advantage (Watts et al., 2023). An essential component of equity-driven preschool classrooms is the provision of culturally and linguistically responsive, relevant, and affirming educational materials. Such curriculum materials are necessary if educators are to provide equity-focused teaching and learning experiences for all children. A recent report entitled The Representation of Social Groups in U.S. Educational Materials and Why It Matters (Armstrong, 2022) synthesizes the results of 160 studies on this topic. Although most involved older children and youth, the results have implications for developers of pre-K curricula as well. For example, culturally responsive materials have been found to improve self-identity and enhance active engagement and motivation to learn. Use of culturally relevant picture books and children’s literature with Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-8 children in the primary grades has been found to positively support children’s language and literacy development (Brooks & Browne, 2012; Fleming et al., 2015; Loflink & Loya, 2010b). Multilingual Learners High-quality curricula address the specific strengths and needs of multilingual learners and promote early bilingualism (Durán et al., 2010; National Academies of Sciences, 2017; Sandhofer & Uchikoshi, 2013). One study, for example, found that Spanish-speaking preschoolers made significant gains in their emergent literacy skills in both Spanish and English in a domain-specific language and literacy curriculum, and these gains were greater than those of a control group using a comprehensive curriculum. English-only and Spanish-to-English transitional versions of the curriculum were equally effective for English language outcomes, but for Spanish-language outcomes, only the transitional model was effective (Farver et al., 2009). Similarly, a two-way immersion (TWI) program using a comprehensive curriculum and alternating between English and Spanish weekly and a comparison English immersion program led to similar gains in language, literacy, and mathematics (Barnett et al., 2007). However, the TWI program also improved the Spanish language development of multilingual learners and native English-speaking children without losses in English language learning (Barnett et al., 2007). Supportive curricula include goals of emergent bilingualism for multilingual learners and adaptations of instructional practices that scaffold language development and comprehension, as well as materials and learning experiences that accurately reflect and build on the cultures and languages of multilingual children and their families. Antibias Pedagogy Although some curricula are designed to promote culturally responsive instruction, recent literature highlights the need to go further and actively practice antibias and anti-racist pedagogy (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2020; NAEYC, 2019) (See chapter 5 of this report). Antibias education extends beyond celebrating diversity, infusing everything that happens in a program— including interactions among teachers, children, families, and administrators—and shaping how the curriculum is implemented every day (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2020). Antibias instruction fulfills four distinct goals: (1) support for children’s development of a confident sense of identity without needing to feel superior to others, (2) ease with and respect for human diversity, (3) a sense of fairness and justice, and (4) the skills of empowerment and the ability to take action and stand up for oneself or others (NAEYC, 2019). In concert with antibias education, anti-racist education seeks to interrogate White privilege, power, and epistemology in learning by “acknowledging and addressing the primacy of race in education and social relations” (Escayg, 2020, p. 5). Escayg (2020) underscore three core principles of anti-racist education: (1) acknowledging the dominant discourse and power in centering one perspective in early childhood systems, which influences teaching curricula and guidelines (2) using a strengths-based perspective embedded with historical and cultural knowledge about practices related to families and parenting and (3) “unsettling and unmasking the white racial frame” by acknowledge the role of Eurocentric perspectives on knowledge and interactions “…that operate on intellectual, emotional, and social levels, including within institutional contexts such as the media and schools (Wingfield & Feagin, 2013)” (Escyag, 2020, p. 10). Curricula can support Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-9 such goals, but achieving anti-bias instruction requires the inclusion of non-dominant perspectives, voices, and knowledge in the conceptualization of teaching, learning, guidelines, and what constitutes best practices (Allen et al., 2021 Escayg, 2020; Iruka, et al., 2023). Beyond curriculum per se, achieving culturally responsive instruction requires comprehensive interventions that involve all parties and all aspects of schools and homes. An example is an intervention in elementary grades (not pre-K) emphasizing professional development and school-wide planning and implementation that successfully decreased racial disparities in school discipline for Black students (McIntosh et al., 2021). Likewise, a preschool intervention using the Pyramid model 7 (described later in this chapter) addressed behavioral issues without the use of suspension and expulsion, which affect Black children at more than three times the rate experienced by other children (Fox, Strain, & Dunlap, 2021, see also Vinh et al., 2016). Again, professional development and school leadership and teamwork were the core of the intervention, layered onto extant curricula. There is a critical need for research to explore whether such interventions can be supported by and incorporated into preschool curricula. For example, a specific curriculum for reducing exclusionary discipline practices was implemented successfully with middle school students, but there is little evidence that such systemic problems can be addressed in preschool curricula (Nese et al., 2021). Language and Early Literacy Although interactive book reading is one of the most effective ways to promote young children’s language learning and early literacy (Institute of Education Sciences, 2007; Zucker et al., 2013), the quality and cultural relevance of the materials matter. Rudine Sims Bishop (1990) first identified the critical need for books and curriculum materials that, metaphorically, provide children with “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.” In mirror books, children see all their identities—their race, ethnicity, culture, language, socioeconomic background, abilities/disabilities, families, and communities—represented positively and accurately (Trotman Scott et al., 2018; Wright et al., 2022). In mirror books, diverse characters exercise agency and effect change in the world around them (Fleming et al., 2015). Window books provide windows on the world, enabling all children to learn about people, places, and events. Window books are necessary because every child needs to read books that fully depict the diversity of the world and the accomplishments and agency of diverse people. Books should also provide sliding glass doors for children to exercise their imaginations, envision new experiences, enter the world created by the author, and gain vital background information, all necessary abilities for later reading comprehension (Duke, 2019). Books and other curriculum resources communicate who is valued and how people should be treated. Children from historically marginalized groups, especially those who are Black, Indigenous, and Latine, need books and materials with positive images that counteract the racism, stereotypes, and biases they experience every day. By contrast, books and other 7 (The Pyramid Model for Promoting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children is a “positive behavioral intervention and support framework to help early educators build skills for supporting nurturing and responsive caregiving, create learning environments, provide targeted social-emotional skills, and support children with challenging behavior” (National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations, n.d.). Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-10 curriculum resources can reinforce biases by omitting, devaluing, or presenting negative images of children, their families, and communities (Armstrong, 2021). Recently, a team of researchers developed rubrics for curriculum review that can be used by educators or school leaders to determine whether a curriculum includes a culturally responsive and racial equity focus and whether the literacy materials, in particular the storybooks, exemplify this focus (Curenton et al., 2023). Further emphasizing the importance of diverse resources, First Book conducted a pilot study to assess educators’ perspectives on diverse books and the impact on student outcomes. First, they surveyed almost 4000 educators from every state working in Title 1 or Title 1 eligible schools, 18% of whom were preschool teachers (First Book Research & Insights, 2023). They then conducted in-depth interviews with a small sample. Students were ethnically and racially diverse including l6.2% Black, 31.7% Latine, and 21.8% White, Teachers agreed that diverse books are important, but a small percentage are available. The study found that increasing access to diverse books resulted in students’ spending more time reading and a majority chose “mirror” books with characters like themselves. A promising finding was a positive impact on student reading outcomes with reading gains highest among 4- to 6-year-old students. As a pilot, the study has numerous limitations but will be replicated with a larger sample and control group. Research shows that children’s literature has not achieved the goal of promoting equity and inclusion (Adukia et al., 2021). Annually, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison documents the books it receives by and about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Although such books have increased, they are still a small percentage of the overall number of books published (ccbc.education.wisc.edu). In 2022, of the total 3,45l books analyzed, the Center reported the following percentages of books that have at least one Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color as a primary character or subject : 12% Black/African, 9% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander , 6% Latine; 7% BIPOC Unspecified (e.g. brown-skinned character); 0.6% Arab, and 1% Indigenous (Cooperative Children’s Book Center, 2023). The 6% share of books about Latine characters is far from equitable given that more than 26% of young children in the United States are Latine (Fernando, 2021). Supporting Active and Interactive Learners Educators’ (often unconscious and implicit) racism may negatively impact young children’s agency in educational contexts, at least according to teachers’ ratings (Adair, under review; Adair et al., 2017, 2018). Opportunities to experience agency are important to children’s ability to learn and show their capabilities (Adair, 2014), and are a key aspect of an active learner. Children are active learners who initiate explorations of and interactions with the surrounding world and both adults and peers (Brosterman, 1997; Cobb, 2000; DeVries, 2002; Fröbel, 1885; Gelman, 1994; National Research Council, 2001b; Piaget, 1973; Samuelsson et al., 2006). Thus, it is important that developers of high-quality curricula avoid a preponderance of passive “reception” of knowledge, recognizing that children construct knowledge and understanding from a wide variety of experiences (Clements, 1997). Further, curricula can support teachers in ensuring that classroom experiences promote learning and development and Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-11 minimize time wasted in passive experiences, such as waiting during transitions between activities (Early et al., 2010; La Paro et al., 2009). High-quality curricula can also help teachers achieve other critical characteristics of early education, such as stimulating and supportive interactions between teachers and children (Yoshikawa et al., 2013) and particularly, among teachers and children and content (Clements & Wright, 2022). Communication and supportive interaction are key factors in children’s learning and development (Burchinal et al., 2022) and children have the right to communicate and interact (Samuelsson et al., 2006). Developers can ensure multiple opportunities for children to talk with, not just listen to, teachers and interact with peers by applying research on productive dialogues and “think-pair-share” strategies, to incorporate the best of such interactions between teachers and children and between children (e.g., Fraivillig et al., 1999; Palincsar, 1986). They can support teachers in using an equity lens, such as ensuring they are aware of their own implicit bias based on children’s socio-demographic and providing varied opportunities for children, especially those from marginalized groups, to express their ideas (Delpit, 1988; Iruka et al., 2023). High-quality curricula support teachers to better understand children by observing, interacting, and being reflective (Burchinal et al., 2022; Samuelsson et al., 2006). Curricula that are simply activities without guidance for teachers to support the thinking and learning for which those activities are designed will be inadequate. Addressing Goals High-quality curricula (whether comprehensive or combinations) are intentional and purposeful in addressing goals in all developmental and content domains, including multiple, developmentally-sequenced experiences to both support new learning and reinforce and expand previously acquired competencies (Diamond et al., 2013). We return to content domains in a succeeding section. Here, we emphasize that content areas and developmental domains including social, emotional, and physical are addressed systematically and sequentially (Burchinal et al., 2022; Clements, 2007). Most important, high-quality curricula promote joyful, engaged learning for all children (NAEYC, 2022). Involving Families High-quality curricula promote reciprocal partnerships with families and family engagement (Beleslin et al., 2022; Samuelsson et al., 2006). To provide culturally and linguistically relevant curricula and ensure equity, developers and teachers need to engage with and learn from families and communities (González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005; Reyes, Da Silva Iddings, & Feller, 2016). A new vision of curriculum development includes a collaboration between developers and evaluations with communities and racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse families within them. Educators need to incorporate and build on families’ funds of knowledge—the experiences, traditions, resources, and rich cultures they bring with them. Curricula build in communication supports to promote ongoing two-way partnerships to bring the home into the school and vice versa (Sanders et al., 2007). Parents’ knowledge of children’s development predicts positive outcomes for their children, so two-way communication and sharing is critical (e.g., Douglas, 2024). Every chapter of this report discusses families and their Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-12 involvement. This brief section is simply a reminder of their role in the development, selection, and implementation of preschool curriculum. Supporting Excellence and Fidelity in Teaching the Curriculum Teaching a curriculum well requires implementing it with fidelity. Although an aspect of fidelity is compliance or adherence to a curriculum’s instructional activities, it may be as or more important to be true to the vision of the young children experiencing the curriculum and what happens in each classroom (Clements et al., 2011). Therefore, high-quality curricula are developed to be supportive; adaptable; and especially, educative for teachers—the latter a critical issue to which the chapter returns. In a similar vein, instruments that measure fidelity, whether curriculum-specific or more general, must assess more than just adherence or dosage, but the quality of the environment and teaching, including those characteristics empirically connected to children’s learning and development (e.g., Clements et al., 2011; Sarama & Clements, 2021b). (See Chapters 2 and 9). Similarly, the measures must use models that consider the way quality is defined in light of research that notes that definitions of quality often fail to address issues of equity and the lived experiences of children from marginalized communities (Garcia-Coll, 1996; Iruka et al., 2022; Marks & Garcia-Coll, 2018; Phillips, Johnson, & Iruka, 2022). All of these considerations lead to a final and critical characteristic: a high-quality curriculum provides strong guidance and support for teaching effectively and sensitively while being flexible and adaptable. Brown and Campione (1996) contrast two ways to flexibly adapt a curriculum. The first, a lethal mutation, no longer captures the pedagogical essence of the intervention and can be harmful. For example, “simplifying” a game by removing a step in which children turn to their partner and ask, “I am right?” limits peer interaction and removes an opportunity for productive disagreement (Clements & Sarama, 2021). In contrast, the second way, a productive adaptation, positively reinterprets a curriculum, preserving its essence while tailoring the learning experience to the strengths, needs, and characteristics of particular classrooms and children (Brown & Campione, 1996). An example is giving some children a number cube with only 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 on the six faces and other children a cube with numbers from 5 to 10, depending on the children’s level of thinking (Clements & Sarama, 2021). Ideally, such formative assessment is built into a curriculum; regardless, any adaptation that serves the needs of children, within the written curriculum or not, is a sign of fidelity to high-quality teaching practice. Two types of adaptations should be included in a curriculum, with specific, easy-to-implement suggestions. Micro-adaptations are those the occur during a lesson to maximize engagement and learning. In the previous example, changing the number cube could be done during a lesson to meet each child’s needs. Macro-adaptations involve reflecting on teaching and learning episodes so as to adjust future instruction. A teacher might plan a completely new activity for the following lesson for a child who excels in the activity (detailed examples can be found in the studied curricular reviewed here or at LearningTrajectories.org). Such adaptations can be of many types, such as modifying activities to be culturally responsive or responsive to the need of a child with disabilities. High-quality curricula provide research-based guidance that benefits everyone. In contrast to the notion that individual teachers create all aspects of the curriculum, systematic, Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-13 evidence-based practice is more effective than private, idiosyncratic practice (Raudenbush, 2009). This does not imply use of a narrowly “scripted” curriculum; rather, focusing on the shared scientific base is a more effective and efficient way to improve education. Further, such scientifically grounded shared practice is, somewhat paradoxically, more likely to generate creative contributions. Teachers may modify shared practices, and those modifications will be accessible to discussion and further research. And, more extensively, productive adaptations and flexible curriculum planning are necessary for teachers and children in different sociocultural contexts and with different individual strengths, assets, interests, and needs (Bredekamp & Joseph, 2024). From this perspective, fidelity is being true to the research guidance and the vision of the curriculum as supporting all children’s development, not compliance with a rigid script. Curriculum developers need to incorporate both of these critical aspects. Summary: Characteristics of High-Quality, Equity-Driven Preschool Curriculum This chapter describes the components and criteria of high-quality preschool curricula that support equity and promote positive learning and developmental outcomes. Table 4-1 summarizes characteristics proposed by the committee that can be incorporated into the development of high-quality, equitable curricula. TABLE 4-1 Characteristics of High-Quality, Equity-Driven Preschool Curriculum Curriculum Characteristic Key Considerations for Decision Makers Research-based Is it based on current research on content and teaching practices that support children’s development and learning? Are essential principles of how children develop and learn reflected in the curriculum’s philosophy and planned experiences? Evidenced-based for child Has the curriculum been rigorously validated? Does research outcomes show positive learning outcomes from its use with children of racially, ethnically, linguistically, culturally, and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds? Scope and sequence Does the curriculum provide an organized framework and sequence to guide teachers’ decision making and children’s development and learning? Focus is across Does the curriculum address “the whole child”—all domains of developmental domains and development (cognitive, social, emotional, and physical—and content areas or coherently content areas such as literacy, mathematics, science, social incorporates domain-specific studies, health and physical education, and the arts? OR curriculum Are domain-specific curricula, such as focused literacy and mathematics, coherently organized to guide educators’ implementation? Covers content and learning Is there an organized scope and sequence in each of the domains in depth learning domains that describes progressive steps and individual learning experiences? Does the curriculum build on children’s prior learning and experiences? Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-14 Clearly defines specific Does the curriculum address important goals such as the developmentally appropriate standards of the disciplines (e.g., mathematics, literacy, learning goals science) and/or the state or federal early learning standards? Are the goals reasonable expectations for most 3- to 5-year-old children? Includes well-designed Does the curriculum provide opportunities for children to be learning experiences and active and engaged both mentally and physically? interactions Emphasizes responsive, Do learning experiences include both child-focused exploration intentional teaching and investigation and teacher-guided instruction? Is the curriculum responsive to children’s strengths and interests? Does it promote positive interactions among teachers and children? Provides guidance to prepare Does the curriculum provide flexible guidance on daily, developmentally weekly, and/or monthly schedules? Is there guidance on needed appropriate, engaging age-appropriate and culturally and linguistically relevant learning environments, books, equipment, and materials for children and teachers that materials, and schedules are flexible to support children’ interests and progress over time? Is there guidance on organization of the environment, including use of diverse learning contexts designed to meet important, meaningful goals—such as centers, small and large groups, and individual experiences? Supports culturally relevant, Does the curriculum promote a strengths-based approach, responsive, and sustaining recognizing that all development and learning is a product of teaching and learning cultural experiences? Does the curriculum positively promote children’s cultural and racial identities and home languages, and recognize and build on their prior knowledge and competence acquired in their families and communities? Supports multilingual Does the curriculum provide instructional support for teachers learners and various to scaffold children’s English language development while also language system supporting multilingual learners’ home languages or their language system (e.g., African American English)? Is emergent bilingualism for MLs a goal? Are there linguistically affirming and culturally responsive materials and activities in childrens’ home languages and language system that support multilingual/multidialectal learners’ development? Provides individuation and Does the curriculum provide for adaptations, accommodations, effective supports for modifications, and effective supports for children with children with identified identified disabilities or developmental delays? disabilities Supports individualized Does the curriculum offer guidance for teachers to adapt instruction for every child recommended teaching strategies and learning experiences according to individual children’s strengths, interests, abilities, needs, and continuing learning progress? Is the guidance detailed and easy to use, including both key components of Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-15 high-quality formative assessment, assessing to understand children’s level of thinking, strategies, etc., and modifying tasks and teaching strategies based on this understanding? Supports family engagement Does the curriculum promote reciprocal partnerships with families? Are materials and strategies provided for families in their preferred languages so they can engage in school experiences and decisions and extend children’s learning at home? Includes ongoing assessment Is there support for teachers to collect, analyze, and use tools and strategies aligned information from both formative and summative assessments to with goals and experiences adapt and individualize instruction and to help children make continued progress? Provides professional Are there initial and ongoing professional learning development opportunities to ensure that teachers implement the curriculum with fidelity (often a balance of compliance fidelity with fidelity of vision)? SOURCE: Adapted from the Preschool Curriculum Consumer Report Criteria (Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC), 2020). In summary, high-quality curricula are coherent, equitable, culturally relevant, linguistically supportive and affirming, flexible, and adaptable (Clements & Sarama, 2002a; National Academies of Sciences, 2022; Sanders et al., 2007). Full development of high-quality curricula includes establishing evidence that supports their effectiveness (National Academies of Sciences, 2022), meaning that the curriculum is both research based and empirically validated (Clements, 2007). Meeting these criteria places substantial demands on curriculum developers, who work in interdisciplinary areas (Clements, 2007), often as part of diverse interdisciplinary teams that include experts in serving children from historically marginalized groups and of diverse races, ethnicities, languages, abilities/disabilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. WHO DEVELOPS VARIOUS CURRICULUM TYPES AND APPROACHES Curriculum development requires broad and deep knowledge, experience, and expertise. Therefore, it is important to ask who develops curricula for preschool and who ideally would. Preschool teachers cannot be expected to create curriculum resources independently (Ball & Cohen, 1996; National Academies of Sciences, 2020, 2022); in addition to expertise, the task requires substantial time, expertise, and teamwork. Some educators champion the individual teacher’s interpretation and even creation of curriculum. As noted earlier, however, research suggests that implementation of systematic, evidence-based practice is more pedagogically powerful and more equitable than individual teachers’ private practice (Raudenbush, 2009). Nevertheless, although it varies by curriculum type and approach, teachers always are cocreators of curriculum when it is defined as implemented curriculum (Burkhardt et al., 1989). Although their role is limited in certain types of highly structured, direct instruction-based approaches, high-quality implementation always considers children’s culture and language, strengths and assets, interests, personalities, individual abilities, and knowledge (Castagno & Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-16 Brayboy, 2008; Sanders et al., 2007). Another example is the implementation of learning trajectories, an asset-based approach that integrates goals, child-centered developmental progressions, and teaching practices (described fully in later sections). The learning trajectories in that approach are “hypothetical learning trajectories,” as they are realized educationally only when instantiated by teachers and the children in their classrooms, with modifications being inherent in the approach. The learning trajectories approach is asset based because it always starts with and builds on the strengths of each child—what they know and can do. In this way, a high-quality curriculum supports teachers’ agency to imbue curriculum implementation with sovereignty, self-determination, and cultural relevance (cf. Castagno & Brayboy, 2008). Although research in this area is limited, one study showed the success of involving teachers in the development of a problem-based STEM curriculum for preschool children (John et al., 2018). The teachers perceived increased knowledge and self-efficacy in teaching STEM in their classrooms, supporting use of a participatory curriculum design approach to empower teachers and enhance their self-efficacy in teaching STEM to young children. Several other approaches to planning and implementing curriculum are frequently used in preschool programs. For example, early childhood education has a long tradition of emergent curriculum in which educational experiences are derived from the interests and experiences of the learners as the school year proceeds (Jones & Nimmo, 1994). “Although emergent curriculum places considerable emphasis on following children’s interests, this approach does not mean that nothing is planned and that everything emerges solely from the children” (Bredekamp & Joseph, 2024, p.367). Instead, emergent curriculum can be described as a planning process in which teachers and children create webs of possibilities that become tentative plans (Jones & Nimmo, 1994). Depending on children’s initiatives and responses, the teacher observes, assesses, and adapts plans and experiences to meet learning goals. Such a child-centered approach supports flexibility and creativity. At the same time, however, implementers of emergent curricula benefit from knowledge such as that embodied in learning trajectories and developmental progressions. Rather than dichotomize curriculum as either completely teacher-planned and emerging from children’s interests or commercially published, consider a more complex range of curriculum options. Table 4-2 describes a continuum of types of curricula available while at the same time thinking about the teacher’s role in relation to those plans (Bredekamp & Joseph, 2024). In some cases, then, curriculum is developed very close to the classroom. Depending on the quality of the curriculum, it can potentially be highly open-ended, flexible, and responsive to the individual children in the classroom, their cultural and linguistic contexts (Sanders et al., 2007), and the class as a whole. The curriculum can also build on and respond to individual children’s strengths, interests, motivation, understanding, and abilities. Increasingly, however, curriculum is developed at a distance from the classroom and is much more prescribed. Teachers pace instruction to ensure that the scope and sequence of the curriculum are covered so that children are exposed to and learn concepts and continue to make progress on important learning goals and expectations. In reality, curriculum development lies somewhere between these two alternatives, and rather than dichotomizing curriculum as either completely teacher planned and emerging from children’s interests or commercially published, one can consider a more complex range of Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-17 curriculum options. Table 4-2 describes the teacher’s role in implementing a continuum of curriculum types (Bredekamp & Joseph, 2024). Even this cursory description reveals the relationship between curriculum and teaching. At one extreme, teachers using an emergent curriculum have tremendous responsibilities and are expected to create almost everything in the curriculum while at the same time ensuring that children achieve important learning outcomes. At the other extreme, teachers’ expertise may be underestimated, and adaptation for individual differences may be limited if administrators do not permit deviation from a prescribed script. TABLE 4-2 Preschool Curriculum Types and the Teacher’s Role in Implementation Emergent Curriculum Curriculum Researcher- Published Published (based on children’s Model with Developed Curriculum with Highly interests, hypotheses, Linked and Validated Resources and Scripted and investigations) Assessment Curriculum Materials; Curriculum Tools and with Teachers’ Proprietary or with Materials; Professional Guide and Open Source (by May Be Development Professional Agency, School Researcher Development District, or Developed System of Child Care Programs) Identify developmental and learning goals. Prepare the Provide environment, and materials, obtain materials and environment, resources. and learning experiences within the curriculum. Plan interest-based Use Implement Reference Implement curriculum and intentional and curriculum teacher’s guide curriculum learning experiences child- guided closely to to identify closely to (such as guided play and teacher- ensure fidelity scope and ensure fidelity and projects) with guided to program. sequence, to program. children. strategies. implement This may be learning compliance experiences, fidelity (e.g., and use with direct recommended instruction strategies. approaches) or fidelity to a vision, Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-18 depending on the curriculum goals. Know learning Make decisions Remain trajectories of skills about how to sensitive to and knowledge in each use or adapt children’s curriculum area. suggested responses and learning plans. plan for needs. Observe and assess Use program’s Observe and Observe and Use program’s children’s strengths, assessment assess assess assessment interests, and progress. tools to assess children’s children’s tools to track children’s strengths, interests and children’s strengths, interests, and progress. progress. interests, and progress. progress. Adapt teaching to help Adapt Adapt Adapt teaching, Adapt teaching individual children, teaching to teaching to including as much as including children help help lessons, scripts, possible to with disabilities, make individual individual and prompts, to engage progress. children, children, help individual individual including including children make children, children with children with progress. including disabilities, disabilities, children with make make disabilities, progress. progress. build on their strengths, and help them make progress. SOURCE: Adapted from Bredekamp & Joseph, 2024, Table 10.1, p. 359. CURRICULUM FOR SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING Social-emotional learning (SEL) involves the development of knowledge and skills in emotion recognition and regulation, positive self-image, compassion, positive relationships with adults and other children, and effective social problem-solving and decision-making. Such learning begins in infancy and continues throughout the early childhood years (Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC), 2015). Positive social-emotional learning and development can be promoted in preschool programs in which teachers provide learning opportunities that are engaging and educative. However, children living in poverty are more likely to experience lower-quality early education, even with the availability and funding of programs such as Head Start and public pre-kindergarten (NASEM, 2023). The intersection of Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-19 other marginalizing factors can produce further negative impacts on a child’s early educational experiences and development. The Foundational Importance of SEL Children who develop social-emotional competencies are more likely to have more positive experiences and academic trajectories beyond their preschool years (e.g., Bierman et al., 2008; Burchinal et al., 2022; Flook, Goldberg, Pinger, & Davidson, 2015; Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC), 2015). Further, social and emotional competencies support early learning. For example, they provide security and support that enables and contributes to learning in all domains (e.g., Starnes, 2017). This can involve “apprenticeship in thinking” that develops general and specific cognitive abilities through interactions in everyday social contexts (Rogoff, 1990). In summary, SEL is and must be a major domain in preschool curriculum (Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC), 2015). Positive social and emotional experiences are critical and increasingly important given recent challenges, from social-cultural changes and stresses (Gunter, Caldarella, Korth, & Young, 2012) due to the pandemic. However, “Scholars and practitioners have raised important questions about whether guiding frameworks, prominent programs, and associated assessments adequately reflect, cultivate, and leverage cultural assets and promote the optimal well-being of young people, especially those from communities of color and underresourced backgrounds” (Jagers et al., 2019, p. 162), bringing attention to the concept of transformative SEL, which is “ the potential of SEL to mitigate the educational, social, and economic inequities that derive from the interrelated legacies of racialized cultural oppression in the United States and globally (Jagers et al., 2019, p. 163).This means that SEL must also attend to the structure of power by ensuring children, including children with privilege, are aware of their identity and others and co-create a community of agency and belonging. SEL Curricula and Interventions Preschool experiences impact children's social and emotional development (e.g., Goldstein, Warde, & Peluso, 2013 Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC), 2015 #7341; Shure & Spivack, 1980) as well as their social preferences, such as being more egalitarian (List, Cappelen, Tungodden, & Samek, 2020). High-quality interventions and curricula are mainly based on models of social and emotional learning and target malleable factors identified through research (Domitrovich, Moore, & Greenberg, 2012; Institute of Medicine (IOM), 2010). Such theory- and evidenced-based interventions with high-quality implementations from introduction to sustainability can have a positive effect on young children's social-emotional learning (e.g., Bierman et al., 2008; Domitrovich et al., 2012; Myran, Richardson, & Stonelson, 2009), including children with disabilities (Vaughn et al., 2003), although overall evaluations of SEL programs have been mixed (Zhai, Raver, & Jones, 2015). A review of research on early childhood SEL interventions concludes that the more effective programs include professional development of educators, stress management for educators themselves, and embedding strategies in everyday classroom activities (McClelland et al., 2017). Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-20 This section reviews research on evidence-based focused SEL curricula and SEL interventions that have implications for developing and evaluating preschool curricula. The I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) curriculum was designed to decrease disruptive behaviors by teaching interpersonal cognitive problem-solving skills. ICPS includes lessons in recognizing children’s own and others’ emotions, perspective-taking, and practice in thinking of multiple solutions to social problems before they arise (Shure & Spivack, 1982). A randomized control trial involving 4-year-old African American children in a low-income community found improvements in children’s social problem solving skills especially the ability to think of alternative solutions to interpersonal problems and decreases in physical and verbal aggression, inability to cope with frustrations, and social withdrawal (Shure & Spivack, 1982). Feis & Simons (1985) replicated the study in an RCT with rural preschoolers, The study found decreases in problem behaviors and fewer referrals to a mental health consultant in children experiencing ICPS compared to children in the control group. More research has been conducted on Preschool Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS), a universal elementary school prevention curriculum aimed at reducing aggression and behavior problems by promoting the development of social-emotional competence. Emotional competencies, considered to develop first, are taught initially, and then cognition and behavior. As an example, verbal mediation and inhibitory control are taught with lessons using a traffic signal, with the red light signaling “Stop—Calm Down,” yellow signaling children to "Slow Down— Think," and green signaling “Go—Try My Plan.” Identifying and verbally labeling feelings and emotions to manage them is taught with Feeling Face cards. Multiple studies have been conducted on PATHS, such as one reporting support for its effectiveness in promoting inhibitory control and verbal fluency and partial mediation of behavioral outcomes of inhibitory control (Riggs, Greenberg, Kusché, & Pentz, 2006). The authors argue that developers of social-emotional prevention programs should consider the developmental integration of executive functioning, verbal processing, and emotional awareness. The conservative review process of the What Works Clearinghouse, on the other hand, concluded that PATHS had no discernable effects (effect size = 0) on academic achievement, social interactions, observed individual behavior, or emotional status for students in elementary school (https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/InterventionReport/712). However, the large Head Start CARES project reported that PATHS showed small to moderate improvements in children’s knowledge and understanding of emotion (emotion knowledge), social problem-solving skills, and social behaviors (Morris et al., 2014). Further, positive effects were found in a more extensive intervention project using PATHS as one component. The Head Start REDI (Research-based, Developmentally Informed) was not a curriculum, but an enrichment intervention designed to promote social-emotional competence (PATHS), language, and literacy development. These components were designed to be integrated and implemented with the Creative Curriculum and High-Scope which Head Start programs were already using (Nix et al., 2013). REDI included brief lessons, extension activities, and teaching strategies, all supported by professional development and mentoring (Bierman et al., 2008). In that study, significant differences favored children in REDI classrooms on vocabulary, emergent literacy, emotional understanding, social problem-solving, social behavior, and engagement. In another study, REDI substantially decreased teacher-reported and Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-21 independent observations of children’s internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, with the most potent effects for Latine girls (Raver et al., 2009). Another study testing REDI’s logic model found that preschool gains in the social- emotional and language/emergent literacy skills mediated three important kindergarten outcomes: reading, learning engagement, and positive social behavior. Importantly, this was after accounting for preschool gains in vocabulary and emergent literacy skills (Nix, Bierman, Domitrovich, & Gill, 2013). Also noteworthy, the social-emotional benefits of REDI were the most sustainable of the domain effects (Sanford DeRousie & Bierman, 2012; see also Welsh, Bierman, Nix, & Heinrichs, 2020). Al’s Pals Kids Making Healthy Choices is a social-emotional curriculum designed to promote positive relationships, self-control, problem-solving, and healthy decision-making, and reduce problem behaviors such as aggression and social withdrawal (Lynch, 1998). The curriculum includes guided play, puppets, songs, and teacher-led lessons. A randomized control trial in a large Head Start program found significant positive effects on children’s social emotional competence and coping skills and less aggression in the intervention group compared to the control group (Lynch, Geller, & Schmidt, 2004). In some SEL interventions, mindfulness and/or yoga is embedded (McClelland et al., 2017). For example, in a randomized control trial of the Kindness Curriculum children who participated significantly improved on cognitive regulation and prosocial behavior compared to the control group (Flook et al., 2015). As in many such studies, larger gains were found for children initially lower in social competence. Next, we present an elaborate review of a particularly influential model implemented in preschool programs across the U.S. to improve social-emotional development and reduce challenging behavior in preschool settings—the Pyramid Model for Promoting Social and Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children (Fox, Carta, Strain, Dunlap, & Hemmeter, 2010; Hemmeter, Ostrosky, & Fox, 2006; Hemmeter, Fox, & Snyder, 2013). Recent data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights reported that more than 8,000 children were suspended from public preschool programs in 2011–2012, with Black children representing most of those suspensions (U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Data, 2014). 2017–2018 data from the Office of Civil Rights also found that preschoolers served under IDEA were expelled at rates 2.5 times greater than their share of the total preschool population (U.S. Department of Education, 2023). A recent policy statement offers guidance about decreasing inappropriate discipline practices and promoting the use of promotion and prevention practices to foster social-emotional competence (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & U.S. Department of Education, 2014). The statement encourages programs to consider implementing the Pyramid Model (Fox, Dunlap, Joseph, & Strain, 2003; Hemmeter, Ostrosky, & Fox, 2006). The Pyramid model is a multi-tiered framework to identify and implement evidence- based practices in early education programs and classrooms to promote social skills and emotional competencies in all children, including children with developmental disabilities. A classroom-wide positive behavior support approach for developing young children's social- emotional competence and preventing and addressing their challenging behavior, the Pyramid Model was designed to be an efficient classroom-wide approach for supporting all young children’s social-emotional development and preventing their challenging behavior. In the Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-22 Pyramid Model, social-emotional teaching practices are implemented within and across classroom activities and routines versus only during small-group instruction. The Pyramid includes four components: building positive relationships with children, families, and colleagues; designing supportive and engaging environments; intentional teaching of social and emotional skills; and developing individualized interventions for children with the most challenging behavior. A key component is embedded instructional strategies such as emotional literacy (acquiring vocabulary to communicate feelings, friendship skills, behavior regulation (calming strategies), and problem-solving. The model is designed to be implemented by classroom educators with support from behavior or mental health consultants and is based on two primary assumptions. The first assumption is that there is a relationship between children's social-emotional development, communication skills, and problem behavior. The second assumption is that to address the needs of all children in early childhood settings, professionals need a range of strategies to address the myriad of factors that might cause challenging behaviors. Research from a randomized study on implementing the Pyramid Model within public preschool classrooms indicated that teachers who implemented the model rated children as having fewer challenging behaviors and improved social skills (Hemmeter et al., 2016). Outcomes for children were not statistically significant, but effect sizes were of moderate size (Hemmeter, 2016), the study met the rigorous WWC standards without reservations. 8 A later evaluation extended the Pyramid Model with components based on current research related to implicit bias, culturally responsive practices, and what is known about the use of inappropriate discipline practices in early childhood programs (Fox, Strain, & Dunlap, 2021). Although not an experimental evaluation of the approach's effect on inappropriate discipline practices, it did illustrate how early education programs can address diverse populations' social, emotional, and behavioral needs without using suspension and expulsion (Fox et al., 2021). The Pyramid Model aims to support all children's social-emotional development and reduce the intensity or likelihood of significant and persistent problem behavior. The Pyramid Model mirrors elements in the tiered PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) framework used in K-12 schools (McIntosh & Goodman, 2016). Both frameworks reflect a three-tiered model of classroom strategies for promoting the social-emotional development of all children and addressing the needs of children at risk for or who have challenging behavior (Fox, Dunlap, Hemmeter, Joseph, & Strain, 2003). Tier 1 represents universal practices implemented to support all children's social-emotional learning and behavior. Tier 2 practices are implemented with children identified as at risk for persistent, challenging behavior. Tier 3 provides individualized planning and support for children with the most persistent challenging behavior (Dunlap et al., 2014; Lewis, Adamson, Mitchell, & Lembke, 2013). Children with disabilities often require explicit social skills instruction. Under this model, teachers are offered a significant level of support to offer targeted and effective social-emotional skill-building lessons and interventions that decrease challenging behavior and improve a child's ability to learn. This is particularly important in inclusive settings since children with disabilities are 2.5 times more likely than typically developing peers to be expelled from preschool based on behavioral issues (U.S. Department of Education, 2023). The Pyramid Model has also led the field in scaling and 8 See https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/WWC/Study/85768. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-23 disseminating the model, and it is currently implemented at some level in nearly every state in the U.S. and has also been broadly adopted by Head Start. Evaluations of the Tools of the Mind curriculum, designed to promote self-regulation, have been mixed, with some studies showing positive effects (e.g., Barnett et al., 2008; Baron, Evangelou, Malmberg, Melendez-Torres, & International, 2017) followed most often by null effects at the preschool level (Baron et al., 2017; Nesbitt & Farran, 2021), as reviewed in an upcoming section. The large CARES research reported that Tools did not demonstrate expected impacts on executive function or self-regulation, producing positive impacts only on emotional knowledge (Morris et al., 2014). Another SEL curriculum, Strong Start Pre-K, including “booster lessons,” significantly decreased internalizing behaviors and improved child–teacher relationships (Gunter et al., 2012). Part of an evidence-based SEL series designed to be developmentally appropriate and reduce students’ internalizing problem behaviors, the Pre-K program is highly structured and partly scripted to teach a vocabulary of feelings and social and emotional competencies that prevent mental health problems. Literature, puppets, and familiar situations are included in brief, repeated lessons. Other studies in kindergarten and grades 1 and 2 similarly yielded positive effects (Kramer, Caldarella, Christensen, & Shatzer, 2010; Whitcomb & Merrell, 2012). The Incredible Years includes a preschool classroom curriculum entitled Dina Dinosaur and training programs for both parents and educators. The Dinosaur program includes whole group lessons, small group activities, materials such as puppets and a Calm Down thermometer, and skills development embedded throughout the day (The Incredible Years, 2024). Its training programs for different contexts are designed to prevent and reduce behavior problems and improve emotional self-regulation and social competence. Ideally, contexts are combined— parent, teachers, and child—infancy through elementary. Videos and vignettes portray adults from different backgrounds modeling social and emotional coaching, positive discipline, and children engaged in social problem-solving. Studies on different programs and outcomes are available (Webster-Stratton & Bywater, 2019). A randomized control trial with a sample of children in Head Start found that the children in the program that used Incredible Years demonstrated fewer conduct problems than children in the Head Start program that did not use the curriculum (Webster-Stratton, Reid, & Hammond, 2001). Another RCT found that compared to the control group, children experiencing Incredible Years showed greater gains in emotion regulation and social competence and greater decreases in conduct problems (Webster-Stratton, Reid & Stoolmiller, 2008). A recent study reported positive effects on preschoolers' social competencies with decreased behavior problems (Major, Gaspar, Palos, & Pereira, 2024). Caveats include the quasi-experimental structure and the use of any teacher reports (which may be more subjective, a caveat for many studies in this sphere). (Positive effects were also found in studies in which the curriculum was combined with, and thus confounded by, other curriculum and extra-curricular components, e.g., Zhai, Raver, & Jones, 2012). The large CARES research project reported that Incredible Years improved children's emotional knowledge, social problem- solving skills, and social behaviors but failed to produce expected impacts on children’s problem behavior and executive function, an exception was some benefit for children with the highest levels of behavior problems at the beginning of the year (Morris et al., 2014). Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-24 Finally, consistent with the results of these studies, a meta-analysis that included many of these curricula and approaches indicated that early social-behavioral intervention emphasizing intentional teaching of social skills has a substantial benefit for children with emotional and behavioral problems (Dong et al,, 2023). Curriculum and intervention fidelity were significant moderators of these effects, with important implications for SEL preschool curricula. The effects of curriculum-based interventions were smaller than the interventions without curriculum. Thus, a written curriculum may not effectively ameliorate preschoolers' social behavioral problems, as are programs in other forms. Interventions integrated throughout the day were smaller than those delivered during scheduled times, suggesting the importance of intentional teaching of SEL for preschoolers and, thus, professional development for teachers (Dong et al., 2023). The large-scale CARES study concluded that some evidence-based approaches can improve preschoolers' social-emotional competence when implemented at scale with appropriate support. However, they also conclude that there were no facilitative effects on academic competencies, and, importantly, there were no impacts on outcomes in kindergarten as reported by teachers and parents. Fadeout is a pervasive phenomenon, but little about social-emotional skill persistence is known. A meta-analysis reported that at 1- to 2-year follow-ups, persistence rates were larger for cognitive skills than for social-emotional skills; they demonstrated similar patterns of fadeout (Hart, Bailey, Luo, Sengupta, & Watts, 2023). In contrast to many studies that show that children with lower entry skills benefit the most from curricular interventions, follow- up quantile treatment effect analyses found that students who had greater emotional knowledge and problem-solving skills gained more from the social-emotional curricula studied in CARES (Shea & Jenkins, 2021). Despite how much we have learned, more research on SEL curricula would benefit the field. Studies of some SEL-oriented curricula, such as Second Step, designed to reduce impulsive, high-risk, and aggressive behaviors, are often limited methodologically (e.g., What Works Clearinghouse, 2013). However, pilot studies have been promising (Upshur, Wenz-Gross, & Reed, 2013). A follow-up efficacy evaluation also concluded that there were promising results, with marginal effects on the social-emotional domain and significant effects on measures of executive function (Upshur, Heyman, & Wenz-Gross, 2017). However, Latine children appeared to have fewer gains in EF than White students. SEL: Implications for Preschool Curricula Existing research identifies social and emotional learning as critical to the preschool educational experience. Further, theory- and evidenced-based interventions with high-quality implementations from introduction to sustainability can have a positive effect on young children's social-emotional learning (e.g., Bierman et al., 2008; Domitrovich et al., 2012; Myran et al., 2009). Features of the curricula, approaches, and interventions in the research corpus offer helpful guidelines for high-quality preschool education. However, a necessary caution is that many successful projects constituted specific interventions or broader approaches that go well beyond providing a curriculum, with many of them not encapsulated in a written curriculum at all. Further, at least one meta-analysis found that approaches or interventions that used a written curriculum had smaller effects than those that did not (this review focused on children with Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-25 emotional and behavioral problems, Dong et al., 2023). Therefore, while the implications drawn from research are empirically supported, not all effective programs are (or are entirely) encapsulated into written curricular objects. Nevertheless, several guidelines are suggested by the research. • A curriculum or approach that promotes incremental, sequential social-emotional learning should be used, or a theme-based curriculum should be supplemented with a curriculum or approach that provides such learning experiences (Burchinal et al., 2022)—for example, beginning with identifying and labeling feelings such as happy, sad, mad, and scared and progressing to others, such as frustrated, jealous, or disappointed (Burchinal et al., 2022). • Children learn about how people feel and interact by observing, asking questions, and discussing peoples' feelings and interactions with trusted adults. They also learn from lessons in understanding others and their perspectives, taking turns cooperating, and dealing with conflict. They develop social and emotional understanding and competencies more when teachers intentionally use classroom experiences to discuss feelings, strategies for resolving conflicts, or collaborative decision-making (Burchinal et al., 2022; Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC), 2015). • Intentional teaching, including scheduled, sequenced lessons emphasizing small group work, develops preschoolers' social problem-solving (Burchinal et al., 2022), ability to identify and discuss feelings, use verbal mediation, teaching social and emotional skills, including individualized interventions for children with challenging behaviors (especially those that functional assessment of the relation between the challenging behaviors and the child's environment and that adapt the environment, Dunlap et al., 2006). Literature, videos, photographs, puppet shows, familiar situations, role-playing, and specific classroom incidents can help provide educational experiences. Supplements following these guidelines may also promote general cognitive skills. For example, a cost-effective intervention of scheduled, sequenced (across increasing difficulty) movement and music games developed Head Start children’s working memory, attentional flexibility, and inhibitory control, with MLLs also learning more (McClelland, Tominey, & Acock, 2015). • New understandings and skills should be implemented in staged activities and within and across classroom activities and routines to provide repeated experiences and generalization. • Similarly, effective social and emotional development is fostered by wide-ranging efforts to build positive relationships between educators and children, families, and colleagues and design supportive and engaging environments (Blewitt et al., 2020) • Recognizing and incorporating children’s backgrounds, languages, and experiences fosters positive social and emotional experiences and makes learning more relevant and engaging (Burchinal et al., 2022). Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-26 • Building strong positive relationships with students, creating a safe/supportive learning environment, fostering teacher/family partnerships, building confidence, providing education resources, and holding students to high expectations were the strategies that nurture the academic and social development of young Black children in low-socioeconomic communities (Karaya, 2022). New approaches to address inequities and injustices have been proposed for curriculum, teaching, and research that need to be explored and investigated (e.g., Souto-Manning, 2023). • The success of the Pyramid Model is relevant to integrated Multi-Tiered Systems of Support(MTSS) Approaches that do not just focus on academics or social- emotional development but that focus on both simultaneously recognizing that social-emotional skills provide an essential foundation for learning (Wackerle- Hollman et al., 2019). In a new vision for curriculum, skills would be integrated, and teachers would not be able to focus on social-emotional development, language and literacy, or mathematics. Curricula would encompass the whole child and recognize the interconnectedness of learning and development. • As in all domains, professional development and support from administrators and behavior or mental health consultants, are important, if not requisite, supports for teachers in high-quality implementations of social and emotional curricula. SEL and the Content Domains Although results are mixed interventions addressing social and emotional development can have a facilitative effect (and never a negative effect) on preschoolers' learning of content domains. On the other hand, some educators express concern that social and emotional learning might be stifled when early education experiences focus on academic content. Although these concerns may be legitimate when methods for supporting content learning are inappropriate for young children, research is clear that, given appropriate pedagogy, young children can learn across academic domains throughout early childhood with no adverse effects on other developmental domains (Le et al., 2019), and, if the teaching of those content domains aligns with research, with positive effects on the development of social-emotional and other general competencies, such as executive function and self-regulation (e.g., Burchinal et al., 2022; Chernyak, Harris, & Cordes, 2022). Social interactions support children's math explorations and greater math knowledge supported social interactions (e.g., Chernyak et al., 2022; Zippert, Eason, Marshall, & Ramani, 2019). CURRICULUM IN THE CONTENT DOMAINS High-quality curriculum is especially important for the subject-matter content domains. Teaching and learning subject matter requires curriculum materials that build toward a vision of excellence; are true to the subject, developmentally appropriate, and engaging; and are supported by evidence of their success (Clements & Sarama, 2002a; NAEYC, 2022; National Academies of Sciences, 2022; Nyisztor & Marcus, 2008). Research indicates that effective use of curricula that focus on content such as language and literacy, mathematics, science, and social-emotional Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-27 development, contributes substantially to children’s learning and development (Clements & Wright, 2022; Justice et al., 2015; Yoshikawa et al., 2013). Curricula may play a particularly important role given that general quality ratings (e.g., Quality Rating and Improvement System [QRIS]) have not proven predictive of, and may not assess what is needed to support, learning in subject-matter content domains (Finders et al., 2023). Further, approaches such as incidental experiences and teachable moments are valuable but inadequate if used exclusively (Ginsburg et al., 2008). Guidelines for the Content Domains Teaching content is necessary for “teaching the whole child.” Children have the capability and natural motivation to investigate and learn subject-matter content. Developers of high-quality curricula are aware of the need for attention to all content domains, even if they are developing a domain-specific curriculum (Burchinal et al., 2022; Clements & Wright, 2022; National Academies of Sciences, 2022). Goals for all domains encompass concepts; procedures; information/facts; productive disposition; practices, such as problem solving, problem posing, and investigation; and transfer to other domains, including social-emotional development, executive function/self-regulation, learning to learn, and approaches to learning. These components along with domain-general processes predict success in school and in life (e.g., Amukune & Józsa, 2023; Clements et al., 2016; Haywood, 2004; McClelland et al., 2019; Morgan et al., 2018; National Academies of Sciences, 2018b; Sung & Wickrama, 2018; Vitiello & Greenfield, 2017; Zelazo et al., 2004). Developers of effective, equitable curricula use research to build those components into learning experiences, including formative assessment, and scaffolding within a context of a caring community (Banse et al., 2021; Clements et al., 2016; Haywood, 2004; National Academies of Sciences, 2022). Advancing equity requires comprehensive support from the entire educational context in which teachers work, including their communities, their social service agencies, professional development providers, and public policies (NAEYC, 2019). Effective teaching of content is based on an understanding of children’s thinking and learning (see Chapter 3). As discussed previously, curriculum developers support instruction that begins with and proceeds from a deep and reflective understanding of the thinking and learning of groups and individuals, specific to the domain. Research within each domain provides suggestions that are often unique to that content. For STEM, for example, teachers using curricula that include scientific kits and materials are more likely to teach accurate content (National Academies of Sciences, 2022; Nowicki et al., 2013). As another example, teachers’ modeling of math materials before an activity or a transition is more effective than following general class organization suggestions (Moffett et al., 2021). Inclusion of curricular supports for teachers to develop deep knowledge of the fundamentals of the content domains is essential to understanding what one is teaching. Without such knowledge of the goals and big ideas of the domain, it is difficult for teachers to recognize their nascent forms in children’s everyday activities, play, and other representations (Broderick & Hong, 2020; Edwards et al., 1993, 2012), and in turn, teachers may be unable to build on children’s prior knowledge and effectively implement an approach focused on asset-based Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-28 learning trajectories. Given the limited pre-service and in-service experiences offered to many preschool teachers, this requires considerable effort on curriculum developers; see the section CURRICULA FOR CHILDREN AND THEIR TEACHERS: EDUCATIVE CURRICULA. Teaching content to young children takes place mainly in playful contexts, ranging from intentional small- and large-group and individual work, to everyday routines, to child-initiated play and teachable moments (Diamond et al., 2013). Content instruction includes both incidental and intentional approaches. For curriculum developers, it is important to consider the goals, the children, and the range of teaching approaches to determine pedagogical practices (Burchinal et al., 2022). For example, naturalistic language scaffolding embedded in play and everyday routines positively supports children’s receptive and expressive language development, especially for children with disabilities (e.g., Schreibman et al., 2015). Literacy and Language A substantial research base exists on teaching early literacy and language to inform curriculum development (International Literacy Association, 2018; National Institute for Literacy, 2008; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). For example, the large-scale meta-analysis of research on early literacy development conducted by the National Early Literacy Panel (National Institute for Literacy, 2008) identified foundational knowledge and skills that are the forerunners of conventional reading and writing. Among these predictors are alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, concepts of print, early writing, and oral language. Continuing research with diverse populations of children on interventions to improve these and other early literacy and language outcomes such as comprehension and background knowledge has important implications for the development of high-quality preschool curriculum. Compared with earlier views of the science of reading that focused on formal instruction in reading in elementary school, recent work emphasizes complexities beyond the “simple view of reading” and focused on the substantial development of foundational literacy skills in the early years, especially in families and in preschool (Cabell et al., 2023; Zucker et al., 2022). Essential foundations such as language comprehension and production, print knowledge (Piasta et al., 2012), and content knowledge can develop early. This recent research also moves beyond studying only typically developing, monolingual English-speaking children to include those who are multilingual leaners, are racially diverse, live in diverse cultures, and have disabilities (Cabell et al., 2023). This research corpus provides detailed guidance for curriculum developers. For example, explicitly teaching letter sounds using mnemonics (e.g., embedding letters in familiar actions, objects, or characters) and embedding letters and their sounds within words in interesting and imaginative stories facilitates positive motivation and learning outcomes (Roberts & Sadler, 2019). Some curricula teach primarily letter names or teach letter names before letter sounds (phonics), but research shows that teaching both simultaneously leads to greater learning (Piasta, 2023; Piasta et al., 2010). Some curricula develop letters through whole-group instruction; however, differentiating teaching on the basis of formative assessment and teaching primarily in small groups is more effective (Piasta, 2014, 2023). Such instruction also is more effective if Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-29 targeted to each child’s letter and sound knowledge and if sequenced to teach easier letters (e.g., letters in a child’s name; note that letter sounds are not so sequenced) such as A, B, and X, before more difficult letters such as Q, U, and V (Piasta, 2023; Piasta et al., 2022). Some curricula teach all upper-case letters before any lower-case letters. Children do recognize upper-case letters more easily, but once they can name one, they can learn the lower- case version without waiting to learn the full upper-case alphabet (Piasta, 2023). In summary, research supports combining brief (approximately 10–15 minutes), fast- paced, explicit letter-name and letter-sound teaching that includes embedded mnemonics. Unfortunately, this approach is not used frequently. Research does not support other popular approaches, such as teaching using multisensory techniques, letters within contexts, or combined alphabet and phonological awareness (Piasta, 2023). By contrast, some preschool curricula use large-group lessons and move all children through the same activities (e.g., “letter of the week” approaches), minimizing individualization. As described previously, effective curricula embed consistent formative assessment to adapt instruction to children’s current level of knowledge and skill. In a similar vein, specific language scaffolds during book reading activities promote children’s development of language and literacy, especially for populations who have experienced being marginalized (Pentimonti & Justice, 2010; Pentimonti et al., 2017; Pentimonti et al., 2010). For example, teachers might reduce the number of possible choices, as in, “What is this part of the animal called? Is it the teeth or the jaw?” (Pentimonti & Justice, 2010, p. 247). Preschool teachers’ use of such scaffolds is infrequent, however, so curricula could build them into lessons, emphasizing flexible use based on formative assessment (Pentimonti et al., 2017). For example, to teach the competence of predicting future events in a story, teachers might present possible choices for children just developing the ability, such as, “Do you think Juan will dress up as an animal or super hero for the party?” For children who are further along in developing the ability, the teacher might challenge them to reason and hypothesize by asking, “Why do you think so?” or “Why is it helpful to predict what will happen?” Similarly, specific pedagogical practices in shared book reading improve a range of language and literacy competencies in young children, including those with or at risk for learning disabilities (Murphy et al., 2023). Preschoolers can also learn more than simply “names.” For example, experimental and quasi-experimental studies of World of Words curriculum, found that both word knowledge and conceptual development were taught successfully by engaging children with new vocabulary through taxonomic categories such as scientific or health concepts and content [Neuman et al., 2011; Neuman & Kaefer, 2018). In one study, statistically significant effects were found in the intervention group on children’s curriculum-related expressive vocabulary, content knowledge, and knowledge of information texts compared to the control group (Neuman, Kaefer, & Pinkham, 2016). Although World of Words is a language curriculum designed to increase children’s vocabulary and world knowledge through content-rich units of study, the curriculum is available only in English. Young children benefit from integrated and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching content. Arguably, integration is most important for language and literacy, as it gives meaning to their use, develops disciplinary literacy, and content knowledge, all with effectiveness equal to that of more siloed approaches (Wright & Gotwals, 2023; Purpura et al., 2021). However, Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-30 developers consider the focus and interrelationship of curricula and curricular components with the subject and the children in mind (National Academies of Sciences, 2022; see the section on “Integrated and Interdisciplinary Curricula” later in this chapter). In literacy, for example, explicit, structured activities targeting awareness of the written language and phonological features of language help children develop early literacy competencies more than informal storybook reading (Justice et al., 2015). To develop language skills, curricula encourage replacing simple “right or wrong” feedback with discussion of the ideas and strategies that underlie answers. In multiturn conversations, for example, teachers ask several children about their interpretation of a storybook or how they solved a problem and then ask others if they agree with the solution, always inviting multiple children to respond (Justice et al., 2015). One of the most effective ways to build children’s language and literacy skills is an interactive picture book reading technique called dialogic reading (Institute of Education Sciences, 2007). While reading books with children individually or in small groups, the teacher uses five types of increasingly complex prompts or questioning strategies that stimulate the children’s language interaction. Research on dialogic reading demonstrates that it enhances the language skills of children from middle- and upper-income families more than does typical picture book reading (Institute of Education Sciences, 2007). Likewise, studies of dialogic reading with children experiencing poverty and children with disabilities found substantial positive effects on language learning (Towson et al., 2016). Dialogic reading is a key component of Literacy Express, a comprehensive curriculum including units on oral language, literacy, basic math, science, general knowledge, and social- emotional development (Lonigan et al., 2005). Two large experimental studies that met What Works Clearinghouse standards found positive effects on print knowledge and phonological awareness and promising effects on oral language (Institute for Education Sciences, 2007; Lonigan et al., 2011). Both interactive book reading and oral storytelling are proven strategies for promoting preschool children’s language and early literacy development (Institute of Education Sciences, 2007; Zucker et al., 2013; Johnson et al., 2019; Wright et al., 2022). Interactive book reading, in which teachers engage children in conversation about the story before, during, and after reading the book, has enormous power to capitalize on the stories that books convey and images they depict to positively represent and support children’s identities, cultural experiences, and backgrounds and promote equity and inclusion (Armstrong, 2022; Bishop, 1990). It is important to note, however, that such a focus on the written word neglects the value of oral storytelling traditions among diverse cultural groups. Oral storytelling is an especially rich aspect of Black Americans’ culture (Gardner-Neblett et al., 2017; Gardner-Neblett & Iruka, 2015; Heath, 1983/1996, 1989). An analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which used a large, nationally representative sample of children born in the United States in 2001, demonstrated for the first time that Black preschoolers’ oral storytelling abilities are positively related to their kindergarten early literacy skills (Gardner-Neblett & Iruka, 2015). The study found that children’s storytelling abilities in preschool predicted early literacy in kindergarten for Black children from both low-income and higher-income families, but not for children from other racial and ethnic groups. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-31 Oral storytelling is also an important part of the histories and present-day life of children of other races, ethnicities, and cultural groups, including Native Americans and Pacific Islanders (Tharp, 1982; Tharp et al., 2003; Tharp & Gallimore, 1988). For example, “talk story” is an essential part of the enduring oral traditions of Hawai’i. During talk story, people share ideas, opinions, and daily events with others in groups in overlapping fashion. Talk story was one of the key elements of the Kamehameha Early Education Program (KEEP), which produced positive effects on children’s reading comprehension. The KEEP program was thoroughly evaluated and has been described as providing the strongest evidence for the efficacy of culturally based educational practice (Demmert & Towner, 2003). Oral storytelling and its presence in children’s literature supports the development of a healthy positive self-identity in Black children (Johnson et al., 2019; Wright et al., 2017). Another research-validated curriculum component is storytelling and story acting (STSA). STSA is a structured practice that exemplifies child-centered, play-based, and constructivist approaches that can operate as a curriculum module in conjunction with various curricula. During learning center or free play times, any child can choose to dictate a story to a teacher or assistant teacher, who records it. Later, the teacher reads each story to the class as the author, and other children they choose, act out the story. In an experiment, the addition of an STSA component increased preschoolers’ narrative comprehension, print and word awareness, pretend abilities, and self-regulation and reduced play disruption (Nicolopoulou et al., 2015). Opening the World of Learning (OWL) is a language and early literacy focused curriculum which the publisher describes as comprehensive because it includes teaching these skills in the context of content areas such as science, mathematics, social studies, and the arts (Savvis Learning Company, 2014). OWL is available in English and Spanish. As discussed in Chapter 2, OWL was used successfully in the earliest iteration of the Boston public prekindergarten program (Weiland, 2016; Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2013). As part of Early Reading First, the Enhanced Language and Literacy Success (ELLS) study evaluated OWL with additional supports for emergent writing and dual language learners (Wilson, Dickinson, & Rowe, 2013). The ELLS study found positive effects on some language and literacy outcomes for both English speakers and dual language learners. In the Georgia Summer Transition program using the Spanish-English version of OWL, children had statistically significant higher Spanish and English vocabulary skills (Early et al., 2016; Maxwell, et al., 2013). Another preschool literacy curriculum, Doors to Discovery, uses eight thematic units to build oral language, phonological awareness, concepts of print, alphabet knowledge, writing, and comprehension. Topics of study include nature, friendship, communities, and health. What Works Clearinghouse identified three studies of Doors to Discovery that meet its evidence standards (Institute of Education Sciences, 2013). WWC reports that potentially positive, substantively important effects were found for oral language and print knowledge (Christie et al., 2003; Institute of Education Sciences, 2013). Finally, research suggests that high-quality language and literacy in curricula may also promote children’s development of general cognitive competencies, such as self-regulation and executive function, possibly more so than curricular approaches targeting such competencies directly (Blair & Raver, 2014; Marti et al., 2018; Mattera, Rojas, et al., 2021). We return to these issues in the following section. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-32 These are only some of many examples that could be cited. As stated, there is a large base of studies beyond the scope of this chapter, and multiple resources based on this research provide substantial guidance and specific practices (e.g., Cabell et al.; Clements & Wright, 2022). For example, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators’ General Education Leadership Network Early Literacy Task Force (2023) produced a strongly referenced research- based guide to essential practices for preschool. Among the 10 practices, for example, are “intentional use of literacy artifacts in dramatic play and throughout the learning environment” and “brief, clear, systematic, and explicit instruction in letter names, the sound(s) associated with the letters, and how the letters are shaped and formed,” along with others on read-alouds with reference to print, vocabulary, and comprehension; writing; rich conversations; assessment; abundant materials; and collaboration with families (Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators General Education Leadership Network Early Literacy Task Force, 2023, p. 3 & p. 5). The entire recent literacy research corpus also emphasizes explicit support for teaching subject-matter content as a critical foundation for the development of background knowledge that is essential for reading comprehension. Mathematics As in language and literacy, there is a large research corpus on teaching early mathematics (Baroody et al., 2019; Burchinal et al., 2022; Clements et al., 2023a; Clements & Sarama, 2021; Frye et al., 2013; National Research Council, 2009; Nunes et al., 2016; Sarama & Clements, 2009b), and high-quality curricula build on that base. For example, curricula that support teachers in structuring lessons involving math that is challenging but achievable for each child promotes children’s learning in important and often neglected ways (Sullivan et al., 2015). Curriculum developers know and apply domain-specific research in designing and creating curricula. High-quality curricula help teachers understand developmental progressions in each domain and ways to assess and understand children’s level of thinking and learning in each (Clements & Wright, 2022; NASEM, 2022; NRC, 2009). Further, such curricula support multiple ways of representing, expressing, and strategizing math, encouraging the mathematical thinking of diverse cultures and individuals. Differences in goals can give the false impression that research on curriculum and teaching in early mathematics is contradictory when it is not, because different pedagogical approaches can be effective for different goals (Hiebert & Grouws, 2007). For example, when the goal is only learning facts, procedures, and skills (instrumental understanding, or rules without reasons [Skemp, 1976]), certain curriculum elements, such as whole-group organization, clear directions and explanations with modeling, fast pace, emphasis on mastery, and careful review, can be effective (Agodini et al., 2010; Carnine et al., 1997; Clark et al., 2012; Gersten, 1985; Heasty et al., 2012). In contrast, goals focused on relational understanding (knowing both what to do and why [Skemp, 1976]) include skills and also competencies such as conceptual knowledge, mathematical practices, general cognitive competencies (e.g., executive functions), and positive dispositions (National Research Council, 2001a). Here, effective teaching strategies include attending explicitly to concepts and connections among facts, skills, and the key ideas of Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-33 mathematics with consistent math talk among all participants; creating a shared coherent mathematical structure; and focusing on children struggling with the key math ideas (Hiebert & Grouws, 2007). Here, "struggle" does not indicate frustration but rather, an effort to make sense of math and figure out how to understand or solve a problem without following prescribed procedures. Mathematical processes, such as problem solving (NGA/CCSSO, 2010) are developed simultaneously. A recent survey of U.S. parents, teachers, and adults revealed opinions consistent with relevant, creative, problem solving–based education. Surprisingly, in this survey, math was also identified as the most important subject for school and later life (Global Strategy Group, 2023). Comparing domain importance, when they are all important and tightly interrelated, is not the point, but previous research indicated the same groups spent less time and attributed less importance to math (Sarama & Clements, 2009), so this survey may indicate that opinions are changing, with STEM education seen as appropriate for all children. Research supports addressing relational understanding, as it promotes more complete mathematical learning and development (Clements & Sarama, 2021; Fuson & Briars, 1990; Gilmore et al., 2017; National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008; Özcan & Doğan, 2017) and supports skill fluency, while focusing mainly on skills (Blöte et al., 2001; Hiebert & Grouws, 2007; Knapp et al., 1992). As one example of these benefits, urban first and second graders living in poverty learned to use the standard arithmetic algorithms skillfully and to understand them conceptually, when taught conceptually, by connecting place-value blocks and written representations. Second graders and high-ability first graders performed better than third graders who received traditional skills-based instruction (Fuson & Briars, 1990). Essential general cognitive competencies, such as executive function, are strongly related to math learning and achievement (in some studies, more than to other content domains [Clements et al., 2016]). Research suggests that curricula that attend to these relations and build specific supports for the development of both general cognitive competences and math yield multiple benefits simultaneously (Blair & Raver, 2014; Clements & Sarama, 2015b; Deaño et al., 2023; Deflorio et al., 2019; Marti et al., 2018; Mulcahy et al., 2021), particularly for populations that have been historically marginalized (Byers et al., 2018; Clements et al., 2023; Dong et al., 2021). This is consistent with work by African-centered education scholars who call for giving Black “STEAM learners an educational experience that is relatable, relevant and engaging” (Bailey et al., 2023, p. 8), but also argue the importance of not seeing math and STEM writ large as neutral because of European epistemology centered in math and science (e.g., Bailey et al., 2023; Bernard Martin, 2009; Wright et al., 2016).Thus, high-quality content learning in math, as well as in literacy and science, may promote both learning of content and executive function competencies, and do so more effectively than other general approaches, such as the Tools of the Mind PreK curriculum, whose theoretical core of scaffolding of play has shown small and more often no or a negative effect on executive function in multiple studies (Barnett et al., 2008; Clements et al., 2016; Clements et al., 2023; Farran & Wilson, 2014; Lonigan & Phillips, 2012; Mattera, Rojas, et al., 2021; Nesbitt & Farran, 2021). In sum, teaching for relational goals is research validated and important to do in collaboration with marginalized families (Sonnenschein et al., 2005). The discussion of false dichotomies and a continuum of instruction approaches applies to learning in mathematics as well as in language and literacy. Starting with the most unstructured approach, math arises naturally and frequently from children’s free play across a range of topics Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-34 (Campbell et al., 2018; Seo & Ginsburg, 2004) and in children as young as toddlers (Reikerås, 2016; Sim & Xu, 2017). The effects on learning are less well known but remain promising. More striking, children in classrooms emphasizing math were found to be likelier to be engaged at a higher-quality level during free-choice (play) time (Aydogan et al., 2005). Thus, high-quality math and free play need not compete for time; doing both makes each richer. On the other hand, research in multiple countries shows minimal math learning during free play (Clements & Sarama, 2021); without guidance, children may build experiential foundations for later math learning but not explicit math concepts (Sarama & Clements, 2009a). Other research shows that talking to children about math in their play promotes learning (Helenius et al., 2016; van Oers, 2010). Specifically, interactions that are a good fit with what children are playing and those that engage children’s thinking and include discussions about math topics promote math achievement with no detriment to their play (Trawick-Smith et al., 2016). Therefore, it is effective for educators to seek and use teachable moments in everyday play and routines (Lehrl et al., 2017) and attend to all children, including very young children, who may not be seen as doing math (Björklund & Barendregt, 2016), while recognizing that these moments will constitute only a small portion of the math activities needed in most cases. Other approaches to play help children learn math reliably. A systematic review of free play, guided play, and direct instruction found that guided play was particularly important in math, with a greater positive effect than direct instruction on early math learning overall and shape recognition specifically, and greater positive effect than free play on spatial vocabulary (Skene et al., 2022). This finding is consistent with research-validated experiments showing that guided play and playful teaching approaches are more effective than unguided play (Clements & Sarama, 2007), especially for children with fewer previous opportunities to learn math (Clements, Sarama, et al., 2021; Lewis Presser et al., 2015). Indeed, the guided approach supports equitable education (Fidjeland et al., 2023; Finders et al., 2023; Gawthorpe & Davidson, 2023). Further, programs based only on an “everyday” or “play” 9 approach to math education frequently show negligible gains. In comparison, approaches that focus on subject- matter content have strong, consistent, positive effects (Fuller et al., 2017) without impeding social-emotional development (Le et al., 2019). High-quality guided play (see also Pound, 2017; van Oers & Poland, 2012) includes having a clear learning goal; ensuring that children have a degree of choice and agency; and using an understanding of children’s thinking and interests to choose strategies, such as open-ended questions, hints, prompts, and modeling (see also Gawthorpe & Davidson, 2023; Gervasoni, 2018; Skene et al., 2022). Finally, a playful but intentional teaching approach is more effective in promoting math learning than are laissez–faire approaches or teaching based only on “teachable moments” (Ginsburg et al., 2008; Helenius, 2017; Knaus, 2017; Lai et al., 2018; Lehrl et al., 2017), including in free-play contexts such as the block center (Schmitt et al., 2018; Trawick-Smith et al., 2016). This is especially true for children with disabilities (Hojnoski et al., 2018). Later sections address intentional teaching. 9 The quotation marks used here denote the researchers’ use of the terms, possibly indicating a lack of intentional teaching and dichotomizing approaches so that the benefit of well-designed everyday play and experiences to promote learning would not be detected. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-35 Unsurprisingly, these issues and suggestions mirror similar findings in the debates on discovery learning. Guided discovery has been found more effective than unguided, discovery teaching (Baroody et al., 2019; Baroody et al., 2014; Paliwal, 2020, but cf. Clark et al., 2012) and better at developing concepts compared with direct instruction alone (de Jong et al., 2023). Despite the benefits of less structured approaches, however, direct instruction is important in a multidimensional pedagogical toolkit, including at appropriate junctures with discovery- or inquiry-based learning contexts (de Jong et al., 2023; Geary et al., 2019). As a simple example, direct instruction is necessary and efficient for Piaget's category of social- conventional knowledge, such as spelling “four,” writing “4” or other mathematical symbols, and following conventions or procedures. Physical knowledge is learned through acting on objects; in contrast, logical-mathematics knowledge is learned through thinking about one’s actions on objects (Piaget, 1964). Intentional, playful experiences and guided discovery approaches develop deep understanding and transfer to new situations that are needed for relational understanding in all math topics (Clements & Sarama, 2021; Weisberg et al., 2015), such that children engage with math beyond interactions with teachers (Gawthorpe & Davidson, 2023). While strategies from the pedagogical toolkit are best deployed depending on the content, context, and children, children who explore math ideas playfully before intentional instruction use a greater variety of strategies and attend to the features of problems more than do those instructed first (DeCaro & Rittle-Johnson, 2012). Some preschool math curricula have such play-based sessions. Big Math for Little Kids (Ginsburg, 2003) is another comprehensive math program for 4- and 5-year-olds. It uses activities and stories to develop ideas about key topics in math as well as mathematical language, thinking strategies, and curiosity and positive affect. In summary, educators teaching for relational understanding view children as active learners who initiate explorations of and interactions with the surrounding world and both adults and peers (Burchinal et al., 2022; Cobb, 2000; DeVries, 2002; Fröbel, 1885; Gelman, 1994; National Research Council, 2001b; Piaget, 1973; Samuelsson et al., 2006; Yoshikawa et al., 2013). They avoid a preponderance of passive “reception” of knowledge, understanding that children construct knowledge from a wide variety of experiences (Clements, 1997), including direct instruction when it contributes to their learning. Such experiences support learning and development and minimize time wasted in passive experiences, such as waiting (La Paro et al., 2009). Teachers support learning by using an equity lens to watch and listen to children and the way they express their ideas (Delpit, 1988, 2006). Encouraging teachers to see the strengths of all children, even if it includes ideas and expressions that are unfamiliar allows them to build math from what each child’s experiences and ideas. This is complemented by using learning trajectories approach, along with culturally responsive teaching, to supporting the construction of math ideas (Wright et al., 2016; see also the following section). By observing, interacting, and being reflective, they base interactions and activities on children’s thinking and learning (Burchinal et al., 2022; Samuelsson et al., 2006). In these ways, they promote joyful, engaged learning for all children (NAEYC, 2022). A critical feature of teaching approaches that develop relational thinking is that they base teaching on an understanding of children’s thinking and learning. A research-validated approach that does so and seamlessly integrates goals, children’s thinking, and the teacher is the learning trajectories (LTs) construct (Clements & Sarama, 2014a, 2021; Sarama & Clements, 2009b). The Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-36 use of LTs has been research validated in multiple studies (Clements & Sarama, 2007; Clements et al., 2023; Dumas et al., 2019; Gray-Lobe et al., 2021; Mattera, Jacob, et al., 2021; Orcan- Kacan et al., 2023; Sarama & Clements, 2019; Stites & Rakes, 2019; Verschaffel et al., 2019). Teachers in these studies used all the strategies in the previously described multidimensional pedagogical toolkit. Further, they combined brief, active, whole-group sessions; individual work (sometimes using educational technology); incidental learning throughout the day; and small- group sessions. The last was especially important because of the personal involvement and close interactions involved, supporting the understanding and use of children’s thinking to differentiate instruction. Such formative assessment is one of the most strongly empirically supported teaching approaches (Jiang et al., 2023; National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008; Shepard, 2005). Formative assessment entails using an ongoing understanding of children’s thinking and learning to inform and adapt instruction for groups and individuals. However, formative assessment is not useful unless teaching is adapted according to what is learned through the assessment (Hill, 2020; National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008). Effective teachers ask and answer the following questions: What do children need to learn? Where are children now? and How do I help them progress? (Shepard, 2005). Importantly, these questions align with the three components of LTs: goal, developmental progression, and linked teaching activities and strategies, and this may be why LTs support and contribute to teachers’ professional development and teaching prowess (Bardsley, 2006; Sarama, Clements, et al., 2017; Sarama, Clements, et al., 2016) and children’s learning (Clements & Sarama, 2007; Clements et al., 2023b; Hanby, 2018; Koç et al., 2023; Sarama & Clements, 2019). Considering the validating studies cited, it is important to note that most have involved a specific curriculum, so that the LTs may have been confounded by other differences between the compared groups. Therefore, studies that rigorously compared LT-based instruction with the same instruction lacking a critical aspect of LTs were needed to address the specific contribution of LTs. In most cases, these experiments validated the LT approach (Baroody et al., 2022; Baroody et al., under review; Clements, Sarama, Baroody, et al., 2020; Clements, Sarama, et al., 2019; Clements, Sarama, et al., 2021; Sarama et al., 2021). In the case of no significant difference, the LT itself may have been underresearched—patterning (i.e., the recognition, duplication, and extension of repeating patterns) in this case (Baroody et al., 2021). In summary, teachers who know how to use the three components of an LT are more effective in supporting children’s learning (National Research Council, 2009). Without such knowledge, teachers of young children may offer tasks that are either too easy or too difficult for young children, and this mismatch may limit the children’s learning (Clements & Sarama, 2021; Cooper et al., 2007). Playful, meaningful, content-rich education based on LTs benefits all children and is especially important for children with disabilities (Clements, Vinh, et al., 2021). Children with various disabilities may operate at levels different from those of their peers and at quite different levels in one topic (say, counting) than in others (such as geometry). LTs offer different ways to introduce math topics, such as arithmetic (e.g., counting, subitizing, or partitioning), so children can build on their individual strengths. The levels of LTs are clusters of ideas and processes, not just skills, so children can both learn and show competence using a variety of modalities and representations. Finally, LTs can be aligned with formative assessment and the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-37 process. For all children with disabilities or math difficulties, tiered support is important and has been validated as effective (Doabler et al., 2014; Klein et al., 2019). Finally, teaching with the LT approach, asset-based at its core, and simultaneously emphasizing culturally responsive teaching and the role of families and of out-of-school experiences, increases identity construction and meaning-making practices for Black boys, supporting their construction of math ideas (B. L. Wright et al., 2016). Such efforts are especially important given evidence that Black boys are often considered as less able than their white peers in math (D. B. Martin, 2007). Further, the approach has direct empirical support. Black preschoolers engaged in a conceptually-grounded, learning trajectories curriculum, gained more than other groups (Clements et al., 2011) and their gains persisted into fifth grade (Clements et al., 2023). Although beyond the scope of this chapter, there is also a substantial body of research on teaching strategies for relational understanding. For example, research has demonstrated how to structure curricula in such areas as teacher expectations; group size and structure; math talk, discussions, and connections; adapting activities; implementation; formative assessment; examples and nonexamples; collaboration with families and assurance of positive experiences for children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; and, of course, specific teaching strategies for each math topic (Baroody et al., 2019; Clements et al., 2023a; Clements & Sarama, 2012, 2021; Durden & Curenton, 2018; Ma & Kessel, 2018; National Research Council, 2009; Nunes et al., 2016; Sarama, 2019). As an example, a research review found that multilingual learners with learning disabilities succeed in learning mathematical problem solving when culturally relevant scaffolding, including visual models, is integral to the teaching–learning process (Lei & Xin, 2023). Given the importance of LTs in many research reviews and projects (Baroody et al., 2019; Burchinal et al., 2022; Clements & Sarama, 2021; Frye et al., 2013; National Research Council, 2009), and because they are relevant to all domains, additional discussion is found in the subsequent section on “Learning Trajectories Approaches”. Science and Engineering In science, engineering, and aspects of other domains, curriculum developers are still working to achieve the vision of the Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012) and to demonstrate genuine alignment with it and the Next Generation Science Standards (National Research Council, 2013). Curricula that do align promote and support investigation and design (Broderick & Hong, 2020; National Academies of Sciences, 2022). Such materials can provide information and guidance on science and engineering topics that many preschool teachers have not had the opportunity to learn about (National Academies of Sciences, 2022). Developers of high-quality science and engineering curricula ensure that the materials include substantive investigation and design; are conceptually and pedagogically coherent; support teachers’ noticing and understanding of children’s learning and development; and provide for flexibility (National Academies of Sciences, 2022), including suggestions for incorporations from local cultures and adaptations for all children (the former is particularly Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-38 important, given the marginalization of groups for both scientists and children (Burbanks et al., 2020; NASEM, 2022). They help orient children to phenomena and design challenges, including collecting, analyzing, and making sense of data. They support children’s development of explanations, discourse, and design solutions, the last of which is particularly challenging for preschool teachers (Domínguez & Goldstein, 2020). A promising approach is building science and engineering instruction into activities already taking place in the classroom, thus providing contextualized experiences that make learning engaging and meaningful (Bustamante et al., 2018). A research review identified categories of activities that have potential of developing children’s learning and engagement with STEM fields: educational robots, educational games, argumentative interactions, inquiry-based learning and engineering design, drawing and telling about engineers, free play and pretend play, and group membership (Ha, Hai, Mai, & Hanh, 2023). Although the number of studies of preschool science and engineering curricula is limited, some studies provide direct evidence for the benefits of following these guidelines. An early study of a preschool science curriculum emphasizing coherence and sequential development of science concepts in four modules, along with careful integration with other domains, showed that children were highly engaged with science, socially active, and rarely disruptive (French, 2004). They also made significant gains of approximately 0.5 standard deviation on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (French, 2004). 10 Informational texts promote preschoolers’ knowledge of literacy forms and can make valuable contributions to all phases of learning science and engineering (Clements & Wright, 2022; Hwang & Duke, 2020; Sarama, Brenneman, et al., 2017). High-quality curricula provide tools that help teachers elicit and guide classroom discussions, facilitating children's cognitive and affective engagement with both literacy and science (Mantzicopoulos & Patrick, 2011), and they can support preschoolers’ basic concept acquisition and general cognitive competencies (Greenfield et al., 2017; Toran et al., 2019, http://rise.as.tufts.edu). In one study, a curriculum consisting of science games provided high-quality instructional support to teachers, including affordances for interactions that develop concepts, analysis, and reasoning (Guarrella et al., 2021). Thus, this science teaching resource provided teachers with a structure for transforming pedagogical prompts into effective teaching practice. Similarly, another study found that an early STEM program contributed to teachers’ skills in teaching STEM concepts, as well as to students’ competencies in STEM and recognition of its applications. A challenge in the program’s implementation was the need for more classroom time (Mesutoglu & Corlu, 2023). And, although not a curriculum study per se, a STEM intervention in preschool increased creativity and problem-solving scores (Yalçın & Erden, 2021). Further, for STEM especially, high-quality curricula help all children, especially those who are members of marginalized groups, to identify with the STEM fields by including a wide 10 The committee cautions against using gains made on norm-referenced and individually administered measures of receptive vocabulary based on words in Standard American English (e.g., Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test) as the sole marker/measure of children’s academic achievement. Research has pointed to the potential of such tools to be susceptible to bias if they do not adequately capture the experiences, familiar concepts, and cultural nuances of children from racially, culturally, and linguistically minoritized children as well as children from households with lower incomes and children with disabilities (Champion et al., 2003; Restrepo et al., 2006). Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-39 range of people working in the field and meaningful STEM topics. For example, incorporating culturally-based learning experiences focused on care for the environment, such as recycling as well as caring for plant and animal life, including the specific places and environments where children live (National Academies of Sciences, 2022). Vignettes from a Head Start Center on the White Earth reservation in northwest Minnesota incorporating cultural themes show children’s engagement, interest, and curiosity about animal tracks (Dubosarsky et al., 2011). In another instance, the Conscious Ingenuity (CI), a K-8th grade African-centered STEM program uses STEAM to build Black children’s character, confidence, and capabilities. CI uses African- centered cultural practices, such as call and response, affirmation recitals, communication styles, cultural imagery and problem-solving lessons aligned with their community (Bailey et al., 2023). While a promising approach being implemented in public school such as Baltimore City Public schools, more rigorous evidence is needed to further substantiate this program’s approach on children’s capabilities and learning outcomes. High-quality STEM experiences have the potential to ensure that children’s socio-demographics, such as their race, gender, place, ability, or class, do not determine children’s ability to meaningfully engage in and contribute to others’ learning by not solely centering the dominant groups’ experiences, resources, language and ability but meaningfully strengthen children’s domain-general skills, such as their approaches to learning and executive functioning (Bustamante et al., 2018). As in other domains, engaging families in STEM experiences is an important aspect of preschool education. Although interventions often yield small effects, providing materials and resources for home use appears a promising feature (Zucker et al., 2022). All children have the right to benefit from high-quality STEM experiences that have strong potential to help to develop science and engineering and also other domains, as well as approaches-to-learning and executive functioning strategies (Bustamante et al., 2018). Culturally responsive, asset-based approaches emphasizing the importance of families and of leveraging out-of-school practices help provide African-American males build positive identity construction and provide meaning-making practices that promote stronger STEM learning (Wright et al., 2016). Issues of investigating social justice issues such as toxins and other problems in specific, low-resource areas, have little research but could be pursued in future curriculum development projects. Other Domains Briefly, a note that other domains including social and emotional learning, are not often discussed as “content” domains. However, they do have conceptual or “content” aspects. These include the recognition, understanding, and appropriate expression of emotions, known as emotional literacy and language, and emotional self-regulation (Joseph et al., 2021), as well as cognitive problem-solving strategies that teach children to think about consequences and alternatives before acting (Fox & Hemmeter, 2009; Joseph & Strain, 2010; Sarama, Brenneman, et al., 2017; Webster-Stratton, Reid, & Hammond, 2001). These are important aspects of social- emotional development and the learning of social studies—the latter needing more research. In addition, the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework and state learning standards often include other domains such as the visual and performing arts, physical development and Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-40 education, health and safety, approaches to learning, and social studies (e.g., Head Start, 2023; Maryland State Department of Education, 2011). Educators’ Roles Educators vary in their sustained use of a curriculum. To support invested, improved implementation, it is crucial for developers and publishers of high-quality curricula to consider how to effectively promote teachers' autonomy in choosing and implementing a curriculum (making productive adaptations [Brown & Campione, 1996]). High-quality curricula also need to promote teachers’ access to resources and support for teachers from program administrators (Lieber et al., 2010; Sarama & Clements, 2021; Sarama, Clements, et al., 2016). See the section CURRICULA FOR CHILDREN AND THEIR TEACHERS: EDUCATIVE CURRICULA. CURRICULUM TYPES AND APPROACHES This section provides additional information about the two general types of curricula discussed previously—comprehensive and domain-specific. It then describes integrated and interdisciplinary curricula, which can fall into either of those two categories. Next, it provides an example of culturally relevant and sustaining Indigenous curriculum approaches. The section then includes a discussion of frequently used approaches to delivering curriculum content—the project approach, the Reggio Emilia approach, cycle of inquiry, and learning trajectories. Although these approaches are not specific curricula, they are designed to promote children’s deep engagement in thinking and learning about interesting and relevant topics of study and questions to investigate and may also be part of a comprehensive curriculum. Next, Montessori education, one of the oldest approaches to early education, is described and research on the model is presented. The final subsection reviews technology for children and their teachers. Comprehensive and Domain-Specific Curricula As described earlier, research reviews suggest that curricula focused on one domain have greater positive effects on those targeted domains than comprehensive curricula (Chaudry et al., 2017; Jenkins et al., 2018; Weiland et al., 2018; Yoshikawa et al., 2016; Yoshikawa et al., 2013). That is, domain-specific (developed by experts in a given domain [Chaudry et al., 2017]), play- infused curricula supported by professional development and coaching for teachers have been identified as the most likely to increase instructional quality in large-scale preschool programs (Jenkins et al., 2018). There are also examples of empirically validated efforts to incorporate a domain-specific component into a comprehensive curriculum (an approach strongly supported by state leaders [Little & Gragson, 2023]). Initially, the Boston early childhood program, for example, included a language and literacy and a math curriculum in its Focus on PreK curriculum, and multiple rigorous studies validated this approach as improving literacy, and especially vocabulary and math skills (Clements et al., 2011; Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2013). It is important to point out that in addition to having well-qualified certified teachers, Boston public prekindergarten sites were NAEYC accredited to provide a baseline of high-quality program provision. The substantial and meaningful gains were complemented by an increase in executive Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-41 function abilities due to the two domain-specific curricula. All groups benefited, but particularly Latine children (Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2013). A different math curriculum, Numbers Plus Preschool Mathematics, added to a comprehensive HighScope curriculum also led to greater math learning, although the effects were small (Wakabayashi et al., 2020). A review across five large-scale evaluations identified six potentially important features of both comprehensive and domain-specific curricula: a significant focus on specific instructional content, inclusion of detailed prompts or suggestions for the lesson while also incorporating teacher voice (described below), time for planning, use of real-time data, and early childhood training for administrators (Weiland et al., 2018). An example of detailed prompts is the provision, for each book to be read aloud, of explicit illustrations of how to accomplish the associated goals, which range from basic comprehension and recall to high-level inference making, depending on the book. Such prompts are not intended to be repeated as given, but instead are reminders of key pedagogical strategies, vocabulary, and so forth that teachers can read in advance or have in front of them as they teach. In other words, these curricula are “soft- scripted,” providing guidance but not requiring compliance. Inclusion of teacher voice is a caution that such soft-scripting is not presented as sentences to be read, as well as guidance for professional development providers that scripting is intended as a two-way communication with professionals rather than requiring compliance. This perspective is grounded in the assumption that the teacher–curriculum relationship is interactive and dynamic (Drake et al., 2014). Integrated and Interdisciplinary Curricula Integrated curricula simultaneously address learning goals across content areas or developmental domains. Integrated curriculum help meet the challenge of covering many learning goals in a limited period of instructional time. Such curricula can also help children make meaningful connections between topics of study. For example, literacy and social- emotional goals might be addressed within a single experience or lesson, such as reading books about friendship or conflict resolution. Integrated curricula also can support anti-bias education and other inclusive practices (Derman-Sparks & A.B.C. Task Force, 1989; Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2020) by incorporating reading or writing of stories that promote positive identity for children of all races, ethnicities, languages, and abilities; respect for differences; and examples of fairness, agency, and actions that promote social justice (Brooks & Browne, 2012; Fleming et al., 2015; Loflink & Loya, 2010a). The terms interdisciplinary and integrated are both often used to describe approaches that connect learning across content domains, but the terms are rarely distinguished. Integration can be partial, where one domain often plays a supporting role, or full, where all domains are combined in major lessons, instructional activities, or projects. In contrast, interdisciplinary curricula are selective: domains are connected only when doing so serves each domain, so that that each retains its core conceptual and epistemological structures (National Academies of Sciences, 2022). Although designed for slightly older children (kindergarten to second grade), an evidence-based curriculum is Science, Oral Language, and Literacy Development from the Start Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-42 of School (SOLID Start, Wright & Gotwals, 2017a, 2017b). The curriculum includes topics of study based on scientific phenomena that children can observe and investigate, such as insects or birds on the playground. Playful learning experiences, relevant information books, and teacher- scaffolded discussions are included. Children draw and write to represent and record their ideas and findings. Because the authors do not consider literacy (reading, writing, speaking, listening, images, representations, etc.) as a “discipline,” one could view this curriculum as fully integrated or even interdisciplinary for the focal competencies in literacy, language, and science (National Academies of Sciences, 2022), each of which showed improved outcomes for children (Wright & Gotwals, 2017a, 2017b). One example, the Connect4Learning (C4L) preschool curriculum is based explicitly on the interdisciplinary approach to literacy, language, mathematics, science, engineering, and social-emotional development (Sarama, Brenneman, et al., 2016, 2017). When appropriate, children might concentrate mainly on a mathematical exploration. Even then, development of the language and social-emotional domains is always involved. All components of C4L are drawn from research-validated curricula, and pilot studies have shown improvements in all included domains. Larger scale studies are underway (Sarama, Brenneman, et al., 2017). Approaches to Curriculum Implementation Curriculum content and early learning standards often come directly from the subject- matter disciplines: what children need to know and be able to do in mathematics, science, language, literacy, health, social studies, and the arts. Such content teaches accurate information about the world and how to obtain new knowledge. Because the content knowledge is often removed from children’s direct, cultural experiences, however, pre-K curriculum is typically organized conceptually. Conceptual organizers can make content knowledge more meaningful, engaging, and understandable for young children, particularly for children from culturally and linguistically minoritized groups. Many curricula, including those that are comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and domain- specific, incorporate a concept- or theme-based approach in which in-depth learning experiences are designed around a broad topic of study or meaningful conceptual organizers, such as the classroom community, families, the environment, or building structures (Sarama, Brenneman, et al., 2017; Sarama & Clements, 2015a; Schickedanz et al., 2005). Boston’s Focus on PreK for 3- year-olds, for example, includes 6- to 8-week units of study such as world of color and family and friends. Eight-week-long topics for 4-year-olds include together in our community and building our working city. 11 Culturally responsive and affirming curriculum, such as that for Native Americans described in Box 4-1, may be conceptually organized and place-based around children’s family and community cultural traditions and lived experiences. BOX 4-1 Indigenous Curricula and Pedagogy A review of culturally responsive approaches to curriculum implementation found that approaches were most comprehensive and responsive to the community in curricula designed for and implemented among Indigenous families. These curricula (e.g., Growing 11 https://www.bpsearlylearning.org/focus-on-prek. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-43 and Learning with Young Native Children, Doors to Discovery, Food Resource Equity and Sustainability for Health [FRESH] curriculum, Emotion-Based Prevention Program, and I Can Problem Solve) tend to be codeveloped by teachers and communities, with a heavy emphasis on cultural significance, meaningful learning, and community engagement (Burstein et al., 2014; Gilliard & Moore, 2007; Wetherill et al., 2021). Increasingly, Indigenous early learning programs, such as the Walatowa Head Start in New Mexico, are transitioning their curricula and programming to support local Indigenous worldviews and language immersion as well. In their curriculum for Indigenous children, Gilliard and Moore (2007) describe “teaching within a culturally relevant context, building a sense of belongingness and community through ritual, and respecting children, families, and community [as] were essential to defining the Native American Indian culture within these early learning programs” (p. 251). Similarly, the approach of Graue and colleagues (2014) to cultural relevance is described as family based. Burstein and colleagues (2014) also describe adaptations of early reading curricula (e.g., Doors to Discovery, Opening the World of Learning) through cultural wraparound adaptations designed specifically for Indigenous children and families (e.g., changing examples to make them contextually relevant, including words in Indigenous languages, adding culturally relevant artifacts and props, creating thematic unit books that align with Indigenous cultures). Thompson and colleagues (2008) designed a curriculum toolkit for Indigenous communities, with the curriculum designed to change according to the community’s needs. The curriculum is “centered in each child’s heritage,” and children make contributions to the heritage (Thompson et al., 2008, p. 399). Wetherill and colleagues (2021) described FRESH curriculum, a tribally led gardening curriculum for Indigenous preschool children intended to mirror and match Indigenous concepts. For instance, the authors describe a lesson in which butter bean, squash, and corn are addressed to reflect the Indigenous concept of the Three Sisters Crops (i.e., growing butter beans with squash and corn). These curricula represent a unique, community-informed approach to preschool curriculum that offers possibilities to consider for increasing the cultural responsiveness of curricula in other communities. Nonetheless, there have been relatively few research studies of the implementation and outcomes of Indigenous curricula. This limited presence of research likely reflects limitations in collecting valid and reliable measures of cultural concepts on which such curricula focus, the curricula’s orientation toward benefit to local community context rather than generalizability, and the time needed to overcome historical and enduring impacts of colonization aimed at dismantling the very cultural teachings that Indigenous communities strive to sustain and revitalize through culturally grounded curriculum today. Frequently used general approaches to curriculum implementation, including the project approach (Helm & Katz, 2016; Katz et al., 2014), the Reggio Emilia approach, the Cycle of Inquiry (Broderick & Hong, 2020; Edwards et al., 1993, 2012; Rinaldi, 2021), and the Learning Trajectories (LTs) approach, represent ways of conceptually organizing and deeply engaging children with curriculum content. Developers of high-quality curricula are aware of these approaches to creating and implementing a curriculum, especially their similarities and differences and the empirical research on each. Each of these approaches is described in the next sections followed by a discussion of Montessori education. The Project Approach The project approach for preschool children has long been widely valued and used in early childhood education (Helm & Katz, 2016; Katz et al., 2014). This approach is a way of engaging children over an extended period of time in investigations within the social and cultural Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-44 contexts of their lived experiences. The project approach organizes curriculum around an in- depth investigation of a real-world topic, focused on questions posed by children, the teacher, or the teacher and children together (see Box 4-2). Projects are effective ways of integrating curriculum content and promoting children’s understanding and thinking (Duke, 2015; Snider & Vartuli, 2020). Well-planned and well- implemented projects engage children’s interests and eagerness to learn, focus their attention, require higher-order thinking, and are joyful. The teacher needs to build on children’s interests or to cultivate their interest in a topic worth learning about, as well as to decide whether a topic is important, practical, and consistent with the learning standards and goals of the larger curriculum (Helm & Katz, 2016; Helm & Snider, 2020). A project has three phases. Phase 1 occurs when a possible topic emerges either from children’s interest or from an idea initiated by the teacher. During this phase, the class generates ideas, thoughts, and questions about the topic. Good topics offer opportunities for firsthand experiences, observation, interaction with experts, and research. During Phase 2, children engage in an investigation of the topic. The questions the children want answered should be broad enough to allow for substantive research. Children might take field trips, hear from visiting experts, or conduct experiments. Phase 3 is a culminating event during which children communicate, share, and present their work and findings to others, usually families, the community, or peers in their class or school. The project approach draws on and cultivates children’s interests and motivation to learn. Projects should engage children in thinking and problem solving; finding answers to their questions; and building comprehension, background content knowledge and skills. Research on the project approach finds that although it is challenging to implement, it is most effective when teachers have content knowledge themselves (National Academies of Sciences, 2018b). For example, Project ABC2, the project approach plus coaching focused on content, was implemented in five Kansas City area Head Start and community programs (Snider, Holley, & Usman, 2017). Project approach fidelity plus content coaching significantly improved teachers’ Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) instructional support scores on concept development, quality of feedback, and language modeling, which are persistently the lowest of CLASS scores in all programs. Another study in Head Start classrooms (Vartuli, Bolz, & Wilson, 2014) found that coaching resulted in higher project approach fidelity scores which predicted higher scores for the CLASS Instructional Support, Emotional Support, and Classroom Organization domains. BOX 4-2 Children Discovering Their World The project approach is the basis for a digital pre-K curriculum supported by the state of Maryland. The Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Early Childhood funded researchers at the University of Maryland to develop Children Discovering Their World, two fully digital comprehensive project-based curricula—Children Explore Their World for 3-year-olds and Children Study Their World for 4-year-olds. 12 The curricula are distributed free to licensed child care centers in Maryland under a grant from the state. Programs apply, and if they are accepted, the lead teacher receives an iPad loaded with the 3- or 4-year-old curriculum (eight project guides with lesson plans across content areas), all the children's 12 https://education.umd.edu/cdw Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-45 books in the lessons (not digital), and an array of content materials, plus professional development and coaching. Embedded are literacy and math scope and sequence, strategies to support multilingual learners, guidance on instruction for children with Individualized Education Programs, and strategies for differentiating instruction and implementing universal design for learning. The Maryland Early Learning Assessment is the formative assessment. The curricula are research based, but a large-scale evaluation of Children Study Their World for 4-year-olds in Head Start was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that the program is fully digital, lessons can be updated as new research is published, especially on literacy and social-emotional development. Project-based learning holds promise for enhancing learning outcomes for children from low-income families. Although it was conducted with children older than pre-K, one study developed and successfully implemented two project-based units based on state social studies standards and content area literacy in four second grade classrooms in low-income school districts (Halvorsen et al., 2012). The achievement of students in the low-income districts was then compared with that of students in higher-income districts. Results showed no statistically significant differences on standards-based assessments of social studies and literacy between the children from lower- and higher-income families. The Reggio Emilia Approach The Reggio Emilia approach originated in the exemplary, municipally run preschools and infant-–toddler centers in the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Since the approach first became widely known in the early 1990s, it has inspired educators throughout the United States and the world (Broderick & Hong, 2020; Edwards et al., 1993 Edwards et al, 2012; Rinaldi, 2021). Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the approach, used the metaphor “the hundred languages of children” to communicate the genius of every child. The “hundred languages” refer to the many ways children learn using various forms of media, such as drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, photography, video, music, dance, words, and numbers. These are used to engage, build, and display children’s understanding of the world. The approach emanates from the image of the child as rich in potential, strong, and powerful and as a citizen with rights. In Reggio, “children with special rights” (in the United States called “children with special needs” or “children with disabilities”) are given priority in enrollment. The Reggio Emilia approach is not a curriculum, nor is it a model. It involves collaborative project work among small groups of children and co-construction of knowledge and understanding between teachers and children (Edwards et al., 2012; Rinaldi, 2021). In addition, teachers and children place themselves in zones of proximal development, continually scaffolding each other’s learning. Curriculum is a process of inviting and sustaining learning. In Reggio-inspired schools, the curriculum emerges from children’s interests in topics or questions and their desire to find out more or to solve a problem. However, teachers plan in advance for possible directions the work will take to achieve goals. They listen carefully to children and meet regularly to discuss how to further the children’s involvement and deepen their understanding. The Reggio approach is described as a “pedagogy of listening” (Rinaldi, 2021). In Reggio, schools have a special teacher, called an atelierista, who is knowledgeable about the visual arts and media and works closely with teachers and children. A specially equipped studio space contains a wide range of materials used by children to represent their ideas and thinking in projects. Short- and long-term projects are a major teaching and learning strategy Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-46 in Reggio schools. Facilitated by teachers, children work in small groups on a topic or a project of interest to them that emerges from the children’s experiences (Vecchi, 2002). The growth in children’s thinking that occurs through project work is captured in one of the most compelling aspects of the approach—documentation. As a project proceeds, educators compile and display representations of the children’s thinking and learning using various media (photographs of them at work, drawings, sculptures, constructions, writing, and transcripts of their discussions). Documentation is not merely for display; it is used for children to revisit, reflect on, and deepen their thinking (Rinaldi, 2021). Although there is a dearth of research on the efficacy of the Reggio approach in the United States, the approach has inspired educators throughout the country and the world since first becoming widely known in the early 1990s. A survey of California state preschools conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction (Neville-Morgan, NASEM Listening session) found that 40% of preschool programs reported using a locally developed curriculum or the Reggio Emilia approach. In addition, a large-scale, longitudinal randomized control trial of the approach was carried out in Colombia. The study examined the impact of high-quality, project- and play-based, Reggio-inspired programs on young children from infancy to age 5 (Bernal et al., 2022; Nores et al., 2018). The programs incorporated positive teacher– child interactions, integration of multiple content and developmental domains, and intense professional development. Among preschoolers, large effects were found in the areas of math, language, literacy, executive function, and health (Bernal et al., 2022). Cycle of Inquiry Although similar, the project approach and Cycle of Inquiry (COI) approach are not the same (Broderick & Hong, 2020). The COI approach also starts with children’s interests, but teachers and children continually redesign the curriculum together as it develops (Broderick & Hong, 2020). This approach was initially inspired by researchers’ encounters with Reggio Emilia. COI involves six steps beginning with teachers’ systematic observations and documentation of children’s play and questions. Teachers then interpret children’s thinking and create a curriculum action plan based on their observations and interpretations of the children’s play. Next, they create plans to provoke children’s thinking and inquiry, set up and facilitate play, and finally reflect on and evaluate children’s learning and standards met. As with the Reggio approach, teachers engage children in representing and re-representing their ideas related to the topic of study using various media and documentation of their learning. Although COI is not a curriculum, case studies of the COI approach have found that it supports productive discussions between preschool teachers and children (Broderick et al., 2022) and could be incorporated into broader curricula (Hong, Broderick, McAuliffe, 2020). Learning Trajectories (LTs) Approaches As described previously, LTs are descriptions of the paths of children’s thinking and learning in a specific domain (STEM or literacy), called a developmental progression, and a related, conjectured route through a set of instructional tasks, whose purpose is to support the development of a curriculum or a curriculum component (Clements & Sarama, 2014a; Simon, 1995). Thus, LTs have three interrelated components, (1) a goal, (2) a developmental progression of levels of thinking, and (3) instructional activities correlated with each level. To attain a certain competence in a given topic or domain (the goal), students learn each successive level (the Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-47 developmental progression), aided by tasks (instructional activities) designed to build the mental actions-on-objects that enable thinking at each higher level (Clements & Sarama, 2014a; Maloney et al., 2014). Although LTs have been created and studied most commonly in the area of math education, LTs have been developed and have shown benefits in many domains, such as language, communication, and literacy; social-emotional development; physical development; and executive functions (Jen et al., 2023). Across domains, these benefits include encouraging deep, gradual learning and unpacking the complexity of each domain (Jen et al., 2023). All curriculum approaches benefit from the infusion of knowledge of the domains, children’s thinking and learning in the domains, and effective strategies for guiding and supporting this thinking and learning. LTs approaches provide that guidance and can thus contribute to most all other curriculum approaches (Broderick & Hong, 2020; Clements & Sarama, 2021; Dorr, 2017; Duke et al., 2016; Edwards et al., 1993, 2012; Helm & Katz, 2016; Hendrick, 1997; Karademir & Akman, 2021; Katz et al., 2014; Leung, 2023; Sarama & Clements, 2009b; Sarama et al., 2021; Tullis, 2011; Wellen, 2018). Research shows that children experiencing an LTs-based curriculum learn more math and learn at a faster rate than other groups (Clements et al., 2011; Clements et al., 2013). Other analyses have found that all children who experience LTs-based instruction have steeper growth curves than control groups, but that this significant improvement in learning rate appears to benefit Black and Latine students most, “highlighting the critical societal need for research-based mathematics curricula in preschool” (Dumas et al., 2019, p.1). The use of LTs as a basis for curricula in multiple content domains has received broad empirical support (e.g., Baroody et al., 2022; Burchinal et al., 2022; Clements, Sarama, et al., 2019; Ebby et al., 2020; Maloney et al., 2014; Mattera, Jacob, et al., 2021; National Research Council, 2009; Sarama et al., 2021; Wu et al., 2023). However, given the continued concern that White children and their outcomes are deemed the norm given the historical roots of the achievement gap, what outcomes are used to determine competency, and the theoretical basis for teaching and learning, more culturally-grounded research and critical lens are needed to ensure the approaches and outcomes being used are not solely centering White, English-speaking, middle-class, and able-bodied epistemologies (Ascenzi-Moreno & Seltzer; Gardner-Neblet et al., 2023). Two other approaches previously discussed in this chapter—the Reggio Emilia approach and Cycle of Inquiry—show promise, although scientific evidence has not yet been presented to inform the field as to their effectiveness. Montessori Education Originating more than 100 years ago, the Montessori educational approach was designed by Maria Montessori during her work with young children, who were considered to have cognitive disabilities, living in the impoverished areas of Rome, Italy. The Montessori method is a whole child comprehensive curriculum and instructional approach incorporating both independent hands-on, child-directed experiences and academic content, with teachers acting as guides and facilitators as opposed to direct instructors (Lillard, 2013). Two professional organizations, the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) establish standards for teacher preparation and accreditation of schools that determine fidelity of implementation. Montessori schools must meet specific criteria that include: in preschool, multi-age classrooms serve 3- to 6-year-olds; certified teachers who complete an approved course of study; well-organized classrooms that include numerous Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-48 specially designed multi-sensory, self-correcting materials; 3-hour periods of independent work time; small group and individual lessons; positive discipline; and no grades. During work time, children are free to choose constructive activities that promote learning in language, writing and reading, math, geography, culture, music, and art. The Montessori curriculum also emphasizes practical life skills that promote positive social relationships, as well as correct steps to perform practical tasks such as rolling up a work mat. In keeping with Montessori’s philosophy that education is necessary for peace, the American Montessori Society promotes peace and social justice including an emphasis on anti-bias, antiracist (ABAR) practices. and they offer a 12-week ABAR certificate program for teachers (AMS, 2024, learn.amshq.org). Debs & Brown (2017) describe challenges to ensuring that Montessori programs serve students of color, and also ways Montessori applies to implementing culturally responsive and sustaining practices. Among their examples are integration of Montessori with Hawaiian language and culture-based programs (Schonleber, 2011) and Native American Montessori programs aligned with cultural preservation goals (e.g. Ayer, 2016; Johnston, 2018). There are approximately 5000 Montessori schools in the United States. Despite its historic origins serving children living in poverty, most Montessori schools in the U.S. serve middle- to high-income families in private schools. However, in recent years there has been an increasing number of public Montessori schools, primarily magnet or charter, going from 300 in 2014 to 500 in 2023 (American Montessori Society, 2024) with students of color comprising a majority (Debs & Brown, 2017). Public schools typically use a random lottery for admission. However, a study conducted by Child Trends (Hilty et al., 2021) found several barriers to equitable access including that lotteries are not truly random, and programs are located in majority White communities, Studies of Montessori have produced mixed results attributable to limitations such as selection bias and lack of fidelity (Hilty et al., 2021). To address the lack of control for fidelity of implementation, one study (Lillard, 2012) compared outcomes for preschool children in three conditions: high fidelity classic Montessori programs, lower fidelity Montessori supplemented with conventional preschool materials and activities, and conventional preschool with no Montessori. Children were assessed at the beginning of the year and did not differ on a range of children’s social and academic outcomes. At the end of the year, children in classic Montessori demonstrated statistically significant gains on measures of executive function, reading, math, vocabulary, and social problem-solving with the largest effect sizes for EF. However, important limitations of the study are lack of random assignment to program and a well-educated, middle-income and mostly White sample. By contrast, a more recent longitudinal study was conducted in a high poverty city utilizing a randomized lottery (Lillard et al., 2017). Half the sample “won” the lottery and were in Montessori while the other half attended public and private “business as usual” schools. Children were assessed 4 times over the 3 years of Montessori preschool (ages-3-6) on a range of measures including academic ability, theory of mind, social problem solving, executive function, mastery orientation, school enjoyment, and creativity. Although the samples did not differ at the outset, over time the Montessori children demonstrated better outcomes on academic achievement, social understanding, mastery orientation, and liking school. The most promising finding was that over time, scores of lower income children in the Montessori group converged with scores of higher income children in the other schools, demonstrating potential to lessen the income opportunity gap. Nevertheless, a major limitation is that using a lottery sample is not a randomized control trial and further research is needed. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-49 In 10 states Montessori education is on the approved list of prekindergarten curricula (see Chapter 8). South Carolina, the state with the largest percentage of Montessori public schools in the U.S. (serving preschool through 8th grade), conducted a large-scale, multi-year mixed-method evaluation to inform future investment (Culclasure et al., 2018). The study examined fidelity; demographic makeup of schools; effects on academic and behavior outcomes; and teachers’ attitudes. Rather than primarily serving White, middle-income students as is often the case, public Montessori in South Carolina was found to serve a diverse population of students with 54% from low-income families and 45% children of color. To evaluate impact, Montessori students were matched to non-Montessori students with the same demographics and baseline performance. Montessori students demonstrated greater achievement in language arts, math, and social studies, better attendance, and behavior, with higher levels of creativity and executive function found in some years. Despite limitations, including variations in fidelity and possible selection bias, the South Carolina study is the largest comprehensive, longitudinal evaluation of public Montessori to date. Technology for Children and Their Teachers Educational technology has the potential to make positive contributions to early education, and decades of research has found that technology can provide developmentally- appropriate experiences for young children (Clements & Swaminathan, 1995; Hsin, Li, & Tsai, 2014; Sigdel, 2017). However, some organizations firmly opposed to young children’s technology use and some teachers retain a bias against technology (J. S. Lee & Ginsburg, 2007; Sargent, 2017) that often contradicts research evidence (Herodotou, 2018; Hsin et al., 2014; Lindahl & Folkesson, 2012; Reeves, Gunter, & Lacey, 2017). Research has refuted most of these criticisms, while accepting that not all uses are beneficial (Clements & Sarama, 2003; Lentz, Seo, & Gruner, 2014; Sarama & Clements, 2020). For example, homes with more technology better support mathematics learning (e.g., X. Li, Atkins, & Stanton, 2006; Navarro et al., 2012), and this is particularly so for certain children (e.g., African-American children, Judge, 2005). This is not to say that the more media children engage with the better. However, it does suggest a miscommunication about “media.” That is, large consumptions of media in all forms and content can be harmful. Children who use more entertainment media, for example, have smaller gains in assertiveness, social skills, and task orientation. These effects emerge mainly at high rather than moderate levels of use of such media (Dore, Xiao, Sayers, Purtell, & Justice, 2023). In contrast, children who use more educational technology have larger gains in task orientation and assertiveness and those using technology that focuses on social-emotional content have larger gains in task orientation and behavioral control (Dore et al., 2023). Thus, it is important to state that this section addresses educational technology, which has the potential to make multiple contributions to early education. However, whether this potential is realized depends on which technology is used and how–especially how it relates to the adopted curriculum. Research on different models of educational technology—technology-assisted instruction (including practice, tutorials, tasks, tools, and games); e-books, word processing and other tools, digital manipulatives, exploratory environments, and scientific tools and simulations; programming, coding, and robotics; and combinations of these—has identified the specific benefits of each. These benefits may be especially promising for children with disabilities. Unfortunately, reality often falls short of realizing this promise. To realize these benefits, teachers require resources, support, and professional development. Fortunately, there is a growing research base for providing each. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-50 Technology for Children To begin, debates regarding how technology can be useful in improving learning often involve false dichotomies. For example, some educators focus solely on drill and practice approaches, which, if used alone, can be ineffective and even mis-educative (Dewey, 1938,1997). Other educators tolerate only “open-ended” or (narrowly defined) developmentally appropriate technology applications. Evidence countering such dichotomous thinking exists for key domains: social-emotional development; literacy and language; STEM subjects; and general cognitive competences, such as executive function and creativity (e.g., Clements & Sarama, 2003). Types of software and pedagogical approaches that have shown benefits range widely. They include, for example, practice; technological manipulatives; simulations; exploratory environments; programming (coding); digital books; games; and creative development of text, art, music, and videos. Furthermore, potential contributions to the curriculum have also been shown for high-quality software, implemented well, similarly shows that technology can contribute to the curriculum (e.g., Burnett, 2010; Clements & Sarama, 2003; Cuban, 2001; Hartle, 2020; Herodotou, 2018; Hsin et al., 2014; Larkin et al., 2022). Young children prefer technology that differentiates tasks, offering more support or more challenge when indicated for individuals, and that provides children with choices and autonomy (LeSage & Ruttenberg-Rozen, 2021). Technology also can make special contributions for children with disabilities, including and beyond assistive technologies (Clements, Vinh, et al., 2021). Although such benefits of educational technology are generally seen with high-quality software, a caution is that most easily available software is not of high quality (see Callaghan & Reich, 2018). In the development of high-quality curricula, it is important to avoid common limitations on quality, such as missing instructions, poor feedback (corrective only, not informative), ineffective guidance and modeling on how to solve a problem that children could not solve, and lack of responsiveness to children's individual levels of thinking. Young children prefer technology that differentiates tasks, offering more support or more challenge when indicated for individuals, and that provides children with choices and autonomy (LeSage & Ruttenberg-Rozen, 2021). Building such formative assessment into digital curricula and then doing fine-grained research to evaluate and continually refine it is a promising avenue for educational technology. As a research example, missing even one important characteristic, such as individualizing according to children’s needs, resulted in the lack of any gains from a digital program in literacy for children entering with low literacy scores (Kreskey & Truscott, 2016). Although positive characteristics of high-quality software are less well defined, research provides some guidance. Some characteristics apply across different software types and pedagogical approaches, while others are unique to an approach. In general, as with any curriculum component, the choice of software should serve the goal for learning and be based on evidence. Finally, high-quality technology experiences can facilitate positive social-emotional development (Clements & Sarama, 2003). According to a review of 87 studies, most studies showed that technology use enhances children's collaboration and interaction with others and, for some, their development of cultural identity (Hsin et al., 2014). Technology for Teachers There is a growing literature on what professional development teachers want and need in order to implement technology well, as well as how technology can enhance the implementation Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-51 of professional development (Clements & Sarama, 2002b; Ikram, 2017; Kim et al., 2017; Langub & Warner, 2018; Marklund, 2015; Papadakis & Kalogiannakis, 2019; Sarama & Clements, 2019; Sundqvist, 2017). For example, coaching teachers virtually has been successful and is more scalable than other approaches (Kinzie et al., 2014; Whittaker et al., 2015). Web- based tools can offer multimedia that contribute to the understanding of children’s learning, as well as teaching strategies consistent with children’s needs (Clements & Sarama, 2017/2023). Further, the design and content of software, even that for children, may contribute to teachers’ professional development. This point applies to all components of a curriculum, an issue discussed in the next section. Digital curriculum resources, compared with traditional text versions, offer curriculum developers a wide variety of ways to support teachers in interacting with children around domains and implementing curricula in new ways, providing personalized learning, and melding formative and summative assessments (Pepin et al., 2017). CURRICULA FOR CHILDREN AND THEIR TEACHERS: EDUCATIVE CURRICULA Created with this purpose in mind, curriculum materials can contribute to a change in the educational system writ large and particularly to professional development (Ball & Cohen, 1996; Beyer & Davis, 2015). That is, they are part of educative curricula, materials designed to support both teacher and child learning (Drake et al., 2014), including resources and structures that help teachers gain profound knowledge of the content to be taught (Cabell et al., 2023; Ma, 1999), as well as knowledge of children’s thinking and learning and how to support their learning (Clements & Sarama, 2021). Arguably, no category of the workforce is more in need of educative curricula than early childhood, populated with teachers and staff who are given insufficient professional preparation, resources, and pay (Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC), 2015). This critical feature of a high-quality curriculum requires a concerted effort by developers to build in specific structures and content, including the domain content, how children think and learn about that content, and how pedagogical strategies can support children’s thinking and learning—a challenging task. This curriculum feature may be particularly important in the STEM domains. Even when provided training in STEM education, preschool teachers have difficulty planning and implementing STEM activities, often because they lack content knowledge (Cevikbas et al., 2023; Leung, 2023; Yıldırım, 2020). Although many curricula provide instructional activities without supporting explanations and other forms of professional support (Zangori & Forbes, 2014), the potential for professional development is real and critical. Curricular interventions are a potentially stronger lever for change than other approaches commonly adopted in the education system (Whitehurst, 2009). This advantage is important in content areas, especially those with which teachers are unfamiliar, such as the STEM domains (Clements & Wright, 2022; National Academies of Sciences, 2022; one report dedicates a chapter to content knowledge in math [National Research Council, 2009]). But it is also important even in familiar areas such as literacy and language (notably multilingual learning), in which there have been many historical practices not in line with current research or a focus on equity (e.g., Duke & Martin, 2010, Chapters 1 and 7, this volume). A synthesis of a research project designed to describe what is and is not known about educative curricular materials reports implications relevant to developers of preschool curricula (Davis et al., 2017). Educative curricula have the following features. First, because teachers will adapt curricula, motivated by concerns about time and students’ competencies, educative materials suggest adaptations of lessons that would take different amounts of time and meet a Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-52 range of students needs while meeting goals (e.g., narratives describing alternatives that reduce time needed but providing opportunities for learning). Second, because different teachers will need and use different educative features, especially regarding discourse and explanations (Broderick et al., 2022), curriculum designers develop a variety of such features (e.g., narratives; boxes on content and pedagogical knowledge, including generative questions and rubrics) and help teachers recognize any new practices. Languages and vocabulary that teachers can comfortably comprehend are essential. Third, because teacher learning is situated in everyday work, educative materials provide representations of practice, such as rubrics illustrating key concepts with student work examples or learning stories. Fourth, because content can be new, educative curricula provide multiple supports for teachers’ understanding of the content, especially the big ideas of the domain (e.g., Clements & Conference Working Group, 2004; National Academies of Sciences, 2022), through content storylines, visuals, and children’s own definitions of concepts. The structure and content of supports for teachers may lead to different types of learning (Beyer & Davis, 2015). Beyer and Davis found that lesson-specific narrative supports helped preservice teachers understand and use specific adaptations. Teachers considered those supports to be useful, relevant, and motivating. In contrast, general expository supports helped teachers identify and use principles of practice in analyzing lesson plans (Beyer & Davis, 2015). Both types of supports may therefore be valuable; however, it is noteworthy that the lesson-specific supports for adaptations are critical for effective formative assessment and inclusive education. Materials should help teachers attend to children’s level of thinking in creating small groups (Jiang et al., 2023). DEVELOPING RESEARCH-BASED AND EMPIRICALLY VALIDATED CURRICULA: A FRAMEWORK While challenging, developing a high-quality curriculum is an opportunity to attend to and help educators leverage the multilayered contexts and experiences that shape all children’s development and learning. Developing a high-quality early childhood curriculum entails ensuring that the curriculum is individually, culturally, and linguistically affirming; supportive; and interactive (National Academies of Sciences, 2020; Sanders et al., 2007; Steffe & Cobb, 1988): Indeed, the development of high-quality research-based and empirically-validated early child curricula is so demanding of both expertise and effort that it is rare. Yet this is what the early childhood field needs. Fortunately, research, grounded in rigorous, asset-based and community-rooted principles, can provide knowledge and resources necessary to guide this development, expansion, and sustainability. Although studies in this area exist, the field needs more consistent, comprehensive, and cogent research on specific curricula. The large Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER) initiative identified 10 curricula that showed no statistically significant impacts on any of the student-level measures and 5 that showed significant impacts on some measures (Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Consortium, 2008). Familiarity with these findings is critical for developers of high-quality curricula, including the strengths and shortcomings of the design of the research. They also need to be familiar with other studies like these (usually of a single curriculum) and the characteristics of each of these curriculum studies, including the majority that did not include equity concerns. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-53 Equity must be considered in all phases of research and development (Iruka et al., 2024). For example, what are the theoretical approaches and framing of the studies? do existing studies include marginalized groups? Does any original research that is to be conducted do so? Convenience samples are usually inadequate and inappropriate. Similarly, do reviews and original work include funds of knowledge from various cultures (Civil, 2002; Moll et al., 1992; Presmeg, 2007)? An example is a culturally-based math curriculum, the Design and Build It module part of the Adapting Yup’ik Elders’ Knowledge project, increased 6th grade students mathematical understanding (Lipka & Adams, 2002). As another example, developing students’ spatial abilities through art and design (e.g., tilings or tessellations), as well as puzzles (e.g., tangrams) can be based in art found in most cultures (Danesi, 2009). Research is needed on similar approaches with preschool children. Such activities are engaging and can increase students’ mathematical self-efficacy (Casey et al., 2011; Cheng & Mix, 2012). Importantly, mathematics is a particularly challenging domain in which to incorporate funds of knowledge compared to all other domains (González et al., 2001). Other issues are under researched and under developed, such as the relative lack of Spanish versions of curricula and the absence of curricula and other resources in any other languages (Park et al., 2017), which is a vital gap for multilingual learners’ development and achievement (see Chapter 7). Another such issue is the tension between creating locally specific, culturally relevant curricula and curricula that are adaptable but also can be widely disseminated. Curricula that are developed by and for members of a specific group may benefit from using published research on and involving consultants with expertise in the various content domains. For curricula that are to be widely disseminated, the converse is true: literature and writing partners or consultants from all communities intended as audience for the curricula should be involved in all phases of research and development. At the same time, there are many pressures and constraints on curriculum developers. Preschool standards, especially accumulated across states and organizations, can lead to an overwhelming list of topics and outcomes (not all of which are consistent with research or the wisdom of expert practice, such as considerable time spent on the calendar or on bodies in outer space). Curriculum developers must determine how to incorporate the standards without overwhelming teachers and children. Another constraint derives from assessment systems, especially mandated ones, that can have the same weaknesses. These are sociopolitical issues that must be considered in curriculum development. Research indicates that curriculum research and development complement one another when designed and conducted together (Battista & Clements, 2000; Clements, 2007, 2008; Clements & Battista, 2000; Doabler et al., 2014; Lagemann, 1997; Lloyd et al., 2017; Sarama & Clements, 2008). Unfortunately, most publishers claim that their curricula are based on research. However, few document even these claims, and those that do tend to list theories or research evidence generally without specific connections to the curriculum (Battista & Clements, 2000; Chard et al., 2008; Clements, 2007, 2008; Doabler et al., 2014; Lagemann, 1997; Lloyd et al., 2017; Sarama & Clements, 2008). Further, little distinction is made between that which is research-based and that which is empirically validated. On the positive side, more instances of the synthesis of research and curriculum development have recently become available. This literature includes the creation and evaluation of theoretical and practical frameworks for such work. Several such frameworks have been proposed and used (e.g., Bannan-Ritland, 2003; Boerst et al., 2010; Burkhardt, 2006; Kimpston & Rogers, 1986; Lewis et al., 2006; The Design-Based Research Collective, 2003); most are Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-54 general, and many deal with evaluation, not development, of curricula (e.g., Carnine et al., 1997; Darling-Hammond & Snyder, 1992; Heck et al., 2012; Lloyd et al., 2017; National Research Council, 2004; Schoenfeld, 2016; Senk & Thompson, 2003; Walker, 1992). One framework, the Curriculum Research Framework (CRF) (Clements, 2007; Clements & Sarama, 2013), has been used to develop research-based and empirically validated curricula in early childhood education (e.g., Blanton et al., 2019; Bojorquea et al., 2018; Clements & Sarama, 2007, 2008; Doabler et al., 2019; Foster et al., 2016; Gavin et al., 2013; Ghalichi & Roehrig, 2017; Herrmann-Abell et al., 2016; Li et al., 2021; Sarama, Brenneman, et al., 2017; Superfine et al., 2010; Zucker et al., 2019) or cited as providing useful guidelines (e.g., Duschl et al., 2011; Hjalmarson & Baker, 2020; Hong et al., 2021; Kinzie et al., 2015; Moore et al., 2018; Munter et al., 2016; Solem et al., 2015). These proposal frameworks include goals and strategies. Because it constitutes one-way translations of research results, however, a framework limited to research-to-practice strategies is flawed in its presumptions, insensitive to changing goals in the content area, and unable to contribute to a revision of the theory and knowledge on which it is built—the second critical goal of a scientific curriculum research program. Instead, a valid scientific curriculum development program should address two basic issues—effect and conditions—in the three domains of practice, policy, and theory (see Table 4-3). TABLE 4-3 Goals of Curriculum Research Practice Policy Theory Effects • Is the curriculum effective in • Are the • Why is the curriculum helping children achieve curriculum effective? (all) specific learning goals? Are goals • What were the goals culturally and important? theoretical bases? (1, 2, linguistically affirming? Are (1, 5, 10) 3) the intended and unintended • What is the • What cognitive changes consequences positive for effect size occurred, and what children? (What is the quality for processes were of the evidence [construct and students? responsible? That is, internal validity]?) (6-10) * (9, 10) what specific • Is there credible • What components and features documentation of both a priori effects does (e.g., instructional research and research it have on procedures, materials) performed on the curriculum, teachers? account for its impact indicating the efficacy of the (10) and why? (4, 6, 7) approach as compared with alternative approaches? (all) Conditions • When and Where?—Under • What are • Why do certain sets of what conditions is the the support conditions decrease or curriculum effective? (Do requirement increase the curriculum’s findings generalize to s (7) for effectiveness? (6-10) communities/groups of various l. How do specific interest [external validity]? (8, contexts? strategies produce 10) What are Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-55 the costs previously unattained and results and why? (6-10) available resources?( 8-10) SOURCE: Adapted from Clements, 2007, p. 39. The Curriculum Research Framework is intended to guide the process by including three broad categories of research and development work, within which there are 10 phases. The three categories involve (1) reviewing existing research (A Priori Foundations), (2) building models of children's thinking and learning in a domain (Learning Trajectories), and (3) appraising the effectiveness and general worth of the result (Evaluation: Formative [leading to revisions] and Summative [to determine the effects of the completed curriculum]. Specific phases describing how research and curriculum development are integrated to their mutual benefit are provided in Table 4-4 (for full details, see Clements, 2007; Clements & Sarama, 2013). Note that all phases include scientific research, but only the last two focus on quantitative data; all 10 include qualitative data. This framework was intended for curriculum developer/researchers but can also guide the creation of criteria for any evaluation. TABLE 4-4 Categories and Phases of the Curriculum Research Framework Categories Questions Asked Phases Research Reviews: A What is already Content analyses of standards, organizations, Priori Foundations. In known that can be and domain experts are conducted to gather variants of the research- applied to the knowledge concerning the specific subject to-practice model, anticipated matter content, including the role it would play extant research is curriculum? How in children’s learning (phase 1); reviews of reviewed and can the needs of all relevant curricular issues for preschool are implications for the groups and all garnered from fields such as educational curriculum drawn. individuals be psychology, education, and early childhood addressed? (phase 2); and similar review of pedagogy are conducted, including the effectiveness of certain types of educational structures, experiences, and activities (phase 3). Equity concerns are addressed in these and all other phases (Meaney, 2018). Learning Trajectories. How might the In phase 4, the nature and content of all Curriculum curriculum be components of the curriculum are tailored components are created constructed to be based on what is known about children’s and sequenced in consistent with thinking and learning in all domains, as well as accordance with what is known what is known about educational environments empirically based about children’s and pedagogical methods. This includes models of children’s thinking and assessments, which must equitably measure thinking and learning. learning? the thinking and learning of all children, for Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-56 example, children from linguistically marginalized communities. That is, all assessments—whether curriculum-embedded assessments built into a curriculum or separate measures accompanying the curriculum—must document all forms of validity, and especially consequential validity (Dong & Clements, 2023; Dong et al., 2023; Messick, 1989). Adaptations for children with disabilities and consideration of cultural responsiveness, multilingual learners, and other equity issues are foundational for all components. This research is applied and revised (or, not infrequently, created anew) dynamically, simultaneously with the development of instructional tasks, using grounded theory methods, clinical interviews, teaching experiments, and design experiments. Evaluation: Formative How can the Phase 5 focuses on marketability, using and Summative. curriculum be strategies such as gathering information about In these phases, appropriate, educators and families from all societal empirical evidence is accessible, easy to groups, representation of which is carefully collected with which to use, and effective designed. More important, Phase 5 focuses on evaluate the for all adults and full community collaboration, involving the curriculum, realized in children? community in collaboratively creating the some form. The goal is curriculum (for all phases). to evaluate the appeal, Is the curriculum Formative phases 6 to 8 are aimed at usability, and usable by, and understanding the meaning that children and effectiveness of an effective with, teachers give to the curriculum components instantiation of the diverse groups of and activities in progressively expanding, curriculum. children and diverse social contexts so as to improve the teachers? curriculum. For example, the usability and effectiveness of specific components and characteristics of the curriculum are evaluated as implemented by a teacher who is familiar with the materials. The evaluation begins with implementation with individuals or small groups (phase 6), then continues with whole classes (phase 7), and finally focuses on implementation by a diverse group of teachers (phase 8). The curriculum is frequently, in cycles, altered based on empirical results, with the focus expanding to include aspects of Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-57 support for teachers. Methods include interpretive work using a mix of model testing and model generation strategies, including design experiments and microgenetic, microethnographic, and phenomenological approaches (phase 6), classroom-based teaching experiments and ethnographic participant observation (phase 7); and these plus content analyses (phase 8). The curriculum is altered based on empirical results, with the focus expanding to include aspects of support for teachers. What is the Summative phases 9 and 10 are intended to effectiveness of the assess whether the goals of the curriculum curriculum in have been met. (Note: that these evaluations diverse, realistic can lead to curricular revisions, for example, contexts? between editions). Source: adapted from Clements, 2007 CURRICULA BEYOND PRESCHOOL Although this committee was charged only with addressing high-quality preschool curriculum, we would be remiss to ignore one of the most important determinants of the long- range benefits of such a curriculum: without high-quality curricula in later grades, the benefits of preschool are often lost (Clements et al., 2023; Clements et al., 2013; Kang et al., 2019; McCormick et al., 2019; Wu et al., 2023). With follow-through, children’s learning and development are more likely to continue on a positive trajectory (Ansari & Pianta, 2018; but see cautions in Bailey et al., 2019; Carr, 2021; Carr et al., 2019; Jenkins et al., 2018; Pearman II et al., 2019; Sarama & Clements, 2015b; Unterman & Weiland, 2019). Developing consistency in curricula across early childhood programs, including both horizontal and vertical alignment, is a key consideration for policy makers (Little & Gragson, 2023). In summary, traditional research is conservative; it studies “what is” rather than “what could be.” When research is an integral component of the design process, when it helps uncover and invent models of children's thinking and builds these into a creative product, it moves to the vanguard in innovation and reform in education. Early childhood education should not be an “implication” tagged on to the end of studies from developmental and cognitive psychology. Educational research and curriculum research and development should be interwoven with other domains of study for progress in the field and for the benefit of all children (cf. Clements & Sarama, 2015a, p. 251). Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY, EQUITABLE PRESCHOOL CURRICULA 4-58 CONCLUSION The development and implementation of high-quality, equitable curriculum is a highly creative, complex enterprise that requires input and support across family, community, and educational contexts and diverse experts and expertise that does not rely solely on Eurocentric epistemology and models of teaching approaches, learning, and outcomes. • High-quality curricula are coherent, equitable, culturally relevant, and linguistically affirming, and have the flexibility to be adapted. To support their effectiveness, such curricula would also be research based and empirically validated as part of their development. • Theoretical purity is less important for developing and evaluating high-quality curricula than considering all relevant theories and empirical work. Similarly, research designs and methods are suited for specific investigations and questions, but a complete research and development program requires multiple methodologies. • The development and evaluation of high-quality curricula are resource intensive. Although progressing through multiple stages is demanding and producing satisfactory evaluation data is costly, given the potential financial and human costs of inadequate curricula, it is actually impractical to avoid careful, long-range development and evaluation of high-quality curricula. • Curriculum has a significant effect on teaching and learning. Curricula can be educative, supporting teachers’ acquisition of content knowledge and implementation of new approaches that support all children’s thinking and learning. As noted in this and previous chapters, a key challenge to advancing a new vision for preschool curriculum, particularly for children facing the greatest educational disparities, is the development of policy levers for curriculum choice and implementation that are closely aligned with empirical evidence. The committee recognizes that these considerations impose significant challenges for curriculum developers who work across disciplinary areas; however, it is essential for high-quality, equitable preschool curricula to be developed to meet the needs of the diverse population of preschool children and be able to suit the unique strengths and needs of every child. REFERENCES Adair, J. K. (2014). Agency and expanding capabilities in early grade classrooms: What it could mean for young children. Harvard Educational Review, 84(2), 217–241. Adair, J. K. (under review). The related impact of agency and racism on young children’s development: Evidence from three large-scale, multi-sited studies. Child Development. Adair, J. K., & Colgrove, K. S. (2021). Segregation by experience: Agency, learning, and racism in the early grades. University of Chicago Press. Adair, J. K., Colgrove, K. S.-S., & Mcmanus, M. E. (2017). How the word gap argument negatively impacts young children of Latinx immigrants’ conceptualizations of learning. Harvard Educational Review, 87(3), 309-334. Adukia, A., Eble, A., Harrison, E., Runesha, H. B., & Szasz, T. (2021). What we teach about race and gender: Representation in images and text of children’s. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

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A high-quality preschool education can foster critical development and learning that promotes joyful, affirming, and enriching learning opportunities that prepare children for success in school and life. While preschool programs generally provide emotionally supportive environments, their curricula often fall short in advancing learning in math, early literacy, and science, and lack the necessary support for multilingual learners emerging bilingualism. Additionally, access to high-quality, effective early learning experiences may be limited and inadequate based on factors such as a childs race, location, gender, language, identified disability, and socioeconomic status.

A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum examines preschool curriculum quality for children from ages three to five, with special attention to the needs of Black and Latine children, multilingual learners, children with disabilities and children experiencing poverty in the United States. The report articulates a vision for high-quality preschool curricula for all children, grounded in an equity and justice-oriented principles from inception to implementation and evaluation.

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