Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are early learning standards?

Early learning standards are guidelines that identify what children from birth to age five should know and be able to do. By providing a clear framework, they help all stakeholders ensure that children meet learning and development milestones.


Why do we need early learning standards?

They promote higher-quality learning experiences for children from birth to age 5. They support each child’s individual rates of development, approaches to learning, and cultural context. Early learning standards help parents and teachers understand the development progress of each child and they help support the early identification and referral of children with special needs. They help to set clear and realistic goals for success. Common early learning standards ensure that children are receiving a consistent, high-quality education across all programs in Georgia. Of course, standards are not the only thing needed to guarantee a child’s learning and development, but they provide an accessible framework for teachers, parents, and other stakeholders.


What was Georgia’s process for revising the state’s early learning standards?

Georgia’s process began in 2010 when the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) commissioned an alignment study of their early learning standards, the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) for K-3, The Head Start Framework, and Work Sampling Online. Drs. Sharon Lynn Kagan of Columbia University and Catherine Scott-Little of UNC-G conducted a comprehensive analysis of these documents. Based on their recommendations, DECAL put together a team of stakeholders who drafted the new Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards (GELDS). A review of the draft standards was completed by Drs. Kagan and Scott-Little. After a series of three more analyses and corresponding revisions, DECAL posted the GELDS for public review and feedback in February 2013. The GELDS will be finalized and ready for implementation by May 2013.


Why was this revision important?

With the implementation of the CCGPS for K-12 in 2010 and the revision of the Head Start Framework, DECAL wanted to address the need for better alignment and the need for a more rigorous set of standards for birth to age 5. The early learning standards that existed were good, but the goal was to make them better.


Will the Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards (GELDS) take the place of the Georgia Early Learning Standards (GELS) for birth to age 3 and the Pre-K Content Standards?

Yes. After the GELDS are implemented in 2013, they will take the place of the Georgia Early Learning Standards (GELS) for birth to age 3 and the Pre-K Content Standards, creating one set of standards for children from birth to age 5.


Who was involved in writing the GELDS?

DECAL initiated the GELDS revision and alignment project; however, stakeholders from across the state were involved throughout the process. The work groups consisted of Pre-K teachers, Pre-K directors, Pre-K consultants, Infant/Toddler teachers, Infant/Toddler directors, Infant/Todder specialists, DECAL staff, technical college instructors, ECE college professors, child care directors, early interventionists, inclusion specialists, ELL specialists, Kindergarten teachers, and Principals.


What does this work mean for students with disabilities and English Language Learners?

Early learning standards which are common across all programs will provide greater opportunity to share experiences and best practices that can lead to an improved ability to serve children with disabilities and English language learners. The GELDS specifically address ELL with a standard and age-appropriate indicators under the Communication, Language, and Literacy (CLL) domain. Also, DECAL is working closely with experts in the special education field to develop GELDS resources that specifically address the needs of students with disabilities.


Who should use the GELDS?

One of the goals with this revision project was to create a universal language that all stakeholders would be able to use when discussing children’s learning and development needs. The GELDS are not just for teachers. The GELDS are for parents, preschool teachers, infant and toddler teachers, directors, pediatricians, grandparents, principals, early interventionists, inclusion teachers, etc.


What will the GELDS mean for children?

The GELDS will provide clear expectations for children. They will ensure consistent exposure to high-quality learning experiences through curriculum, instruction, assessment, teacher preparation, among other supports for student learning. With more emphasis on higher-order thinking and problem solving skills, the GELDS will help prepare children for success in Kindergarten and beyond.


Will the GELDS keep teachers from deciding what or how to teach?

Early learning standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they do help teachers figure out the knowledge and skills children need. In that way, the GELDS serve as the first building block and will help teachers build the best lessons and environments for their classroom. The GELDS are a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what will help children succeed. Teachers, directors, principals and others will decide how the standards are to be met. Teachers will continue to write lesson plans, assess learning, and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the children in their classrooms. Each program will continue to make decisions about curriculum and how their programs are operated.


Will there be training opportunities for the GELDS?

Yes, Georgia State’s Best Practices division is developing face-to-face and online training modules that will support the roll out and implementation of the GELDS. Visit our website gelds.decal.ga.gov, for updates.

For Information: Standards Coordinator at GELDS@decal.ga.gov or (404) 463-0788.