In the summary for a recently released policy analysis, John Stone of the Education Consumers Foundation argued that developmentally appropriate practice (DAP), the widely promoted approach to early childhood education, has effectively prevented struggling students from achieving what educational policy makers have sought since 1983: The chance to close the gap. In the statement, Misdirected Teacher Training, Mr. Stone details the ways that DAP has hindered young children’s progress.
Misdirected Teacher Training describes a doctrine taught to virtually all preK-3 teachers that has undermined the teaching of basic reading and math skills over the past three decades.
Called “developmentally appropriate practice,” its effect has been to prevent struggling students from catching up with their peers—even after 4 or 5 years of schooling. As a result, approximately 2/3 of all students including 4/5 of minorities have not mastered reading by grade 4—when schooling shifts from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” As a consequence, they gain minimal benefit from their subsequent schooling and seventy percent ultimately drop out or graduate unprepared for college or a career.
Teaching practices that enable lagging students to catch up have been available for decades but are little used because they have been falsely characterized as boring, ineffective, or harmful by stakeholders in the status quo.
Even the organization that created the doctrine has tried to change its position in response to criticism from researchers but vested interests, including many in its own ranks, have resisted change.
The Higher Education Act now being considered by the U. S. Senate may open the way to reform by making it easier for states and universities to identify supportive accreditors and adopt teacher training standards that agree with the aims and priorities of public policy.
Jump to >Misdirected Teacher Training has Crippled Education Reform, where you can download a free copy of the policy statement.