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What is the vision and mission of the Division of Early Childhood Education?

The Vision:

The Division of Early Childhood Education along with the community, shares responsibility for the education of young children, acknowledging that early childhood development is the foundation that extends throughout the educational career of all children and contributes to their ongoing achievement.

The Mission:

The Division of Early Childhood Education promotes and provides high quality, developmentally, linguistically and culturally appropriate educational programming and services responsive to the needs of all children and families in the community. 

What support does the Division of Early Childhood Education provide?

The Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) is available to provide assistance and support. Classroom observations, newsletters, and professional development are provided by the DECE in general and specifically to the Early Care, Head Start and SAGE programs. 

What is developmentally appropriate practice? (DAP)

As the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) defines it, developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) is a framework of principles and guidelines for best practice in the education of young children through age 8. It is grounded both in the research on how young children develop and learn and in what is known about education effectiveness. The principles and guidelines outline practice that promotes young children's optimal learning and development.

In all aspects of work with young children, teachers must consider three areas of knowledge:

  1. Age Appropriateness
  2. Individual Appropriateness
  3. Cultural Appropriateness

Developmentally appropriate teaching is:

  1. Appropriate to children’s age and developmental status.
  2. Challenging to children in ways that promote progress.
  3. Based on research from the fields of child development and teacher effectiveness.
  4. Meaningful in terms of the authenticity of context and the integration of a variety of developmental domains.
  5. Essential and extends ourselves to accurately understand family values, customs, aspirations, and feelings about the child’s culture.
What are Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS)?

The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards are standards aligned to the Common Core State Standards that specify developmental expectations for children from birth through entrance to first grade. They are a general guide to help early care and education professionals and parents to observe a continuum of development recognizing that children are unique and develop at individual rates. The standards reflect attention to all the domains of a child's learning and development. Each domain is divided into sub-domains. Each sub-domain includes developmental expectations, program standards, performance standards and developmental continuum. Samples of children's behavior and adult strategies are also provided (WMELS, 2008). 

The domains and sub domains of the WMELS are listed below:

Health and Physical Development

A. Physical Health and Development

B. Motor Development

C. Sensory Organization

Social and Emotional Development

A. Emotional Development

B. Self-concept

C. Social Competence

Language Development and Communication

A. Listening and Understanding

B. Speaking and Communicating

C. Early Literacy

Approaches to Learning

A. Curiosity, Engagement, and Persistence

B. Creativity and Imagination

C. Diversity in Learning

Cognition and General Knowledge

A. Exploration, Discovery, and Problem Solving

B. Mathematical Thinking

C. Scientific Thinking

Download this pdf for more info.

What is PALS?

The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) provides a comprehensive assessment of young children’s knowledge of the important literacy fundamentals that are predictive of future reading success. The majority of the PALS screening is administered individually, but a few of the tasks can be given in small groups of five or fewer students.

Please note:

  • All K4, K5, first grade, and second grade teachers will be required to administer the screener two times a year.
  • The Spanish version of PALS will be available for bilingual schools for grades K5, first and second
  • The fall and the spring scores are to be inputted within the PALS Online Score Entry and Reporting System.
  • More information will be provided to school leaders at the Principal’s Institute and via Thursday Updates.

Additional information about PALS is available on their website.


What are the expectations for Pre-K literacy instruction under the CLP?

Pre-K students are to receive literacy instruction for a minimum of 90 minutes daily in a full day program. However, this instruction is spread throughout the school day in manageable time chunks. Reading and writing are integrated at the Pre-K level as these processes are closely linked for the youngest students who are just beginning to learn the relationship between print and oral language.

What are the expectations for K5 literacy instruction under the CLP?

K5 students are to receive literacy instruction for a minimum of 90 minutes daily. The first 20 minutes of instruction is the whole group component exposing students to grade level standards, skills, strategies and resources. The next 60 minute component is small group instruction providing students with differentiated instruction at their instructional level to meet their needs. The last 10 minute component provides students with the opportunity to discuss, share, & reflect on their learning while enabling the teacher to identify if there are gaps in the learning and determine next steps in the lesson.

What is the Standards-based Report Card?

Standards describe what a student should know and be able to do at each grade level in all subjects. For several years, MPS has studied the use of a report card for elementary students that reports progress to the standards. This new report card was piloted in several schools over the last two years. It was well-received by parents, families, and teachers as a positive step in better communicating grade-level expectations for student learning. 

Why a Standards-based report card?

First, it clarifies and reinforces consistent, high expectations for all MPS students and schools.  Second, the report card helps teachers, students, and families focus on the standards throughout the school year.  Finally, and most importantly, the report card provides specific feedback on progress to the standards so students, families, and teachers can work together to set meaningful goals for improvement. Information on which big ideas and concepts each child has learned and what work is still needed for success in the next grade level helps ensure that your child receives additional support—at home and school—when needed. 

What is the DECE Early Childhood Classroom Checklist?

The DECE Early Childhood Classroom Checklist was developed to be used as an informal observation tool and is aligned to the Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching Domain. It covers planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibility. It looks at adult/child interaction, adult/adult interaction, student engagement; Bloom’s Taxonomy and differentiated instruction.

What is the Curriculum Materials Development Center (CMDC)?

The purpose of the Curriculum Materials Development Center is to provide teachers the opportunity to create materials and activities that address the Common Core State Standards and the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards to meet the needs of individual learners in the classroom and to enhance early childhood and early elementary school classrooms. It is also used throughout the year for professional development opportunities. The CMDC is located within North Division High School located at 1011 West Center Street. 

What are the district guidelines for worksheets in preschool classrooms?

Young children learn best through age-appropriate hands-on experiences and interactions with others. Worksheets and seatwork does not foster learning or active engagement in student’s educational experiences. Research suggests that there are other, more developmentally appropriate ways for young learners to learn outside of the usage of worksheets. Appropriate work for young learners includes: materials and manipulation, verbal interaction with other students and teachers (including the support of vocabulary), opportunities for students to exercise choice and self-initiation and opportunities to represent experiences through symbolic means (kid-writing/drawing, scribing of students’ language, class graph, photos/pictures, and graphic organizers).

Other practices that should be evident within classrooms include the following teaching strategies: active learning experiences, varied instructional strategies, balance between teacher directed and child directed activities, an integrated curriculum, and learning centers. All learning activities in MPS Prek and K5 classrooms should be developed according to the above criteria.*

Effective means of measuring student learning objectives include: work samples, portfolios, observational records, checklists, and appropriate paper and pencil activities.

*Worksheets that are part of the reading and math curricula adopted by the district are the only exception to these guidelines. They should be used in moderation. I think that this is messy----. This is a hard concept---are we saying that when we say worksheets are ok that’s fine, but other than that they shouldn’t be used? I think rather than reference the CLP and have a separate FAQ about worksheets, you should put language in an earlier section discussing the need for moderation in using worksheets and how to use when reinforcing skill development and teaching independent work habits, etc. 

What is a worksheet?

A worksheet is a stand-alone activity that focuses a majority of children’s attention and efforts on “basic skills” devoid of higher order thinking. These are examples of worksheet tasks: copying, practicing handwriting, cutting, pasting, coloring pre-drawn images, and following directions. Worksheets are generally used to teach a single or limited set of academic skills through rote practice. Worksheets are typically simple low-level non-productive busy work. 

What are the district guidelines for rest or quiet time in early childhood classrooms?

The Division of Early Childhood Education is providing these guidelines for the implementation of rest or quiet time in Prek through K5 classrooms. Rest or quiet time may include relaxation, quiet reading with adequate lighting or other appropriate quiet activities. While periodically a child may come to school needing some additional sleep, this situation should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Allowing children to generally sleep or nap is not part of this recommendation.

Three-Year-Old Classrooms:

  • Half-Day Programs: No quiet time
  • Full-Day Programs: A maximum of one hour a day

Four-Year-Old Classrooms:

  • Half-Day Programs: No quiet time
  • Full-Day Programs: A maximum of 45 minutes a day in fall
  • A maximum of 30 minutes a day in spring

Five-Year-Old Classrooms:

  • Full-Day Programs: Up to 30 minutes a day in fall
  • To be phased out in spring to prepare for first grade
What are the 12 principles of Child Development and Learning that inform practice?
  1. All areas of development and learning are important.
  2. Learning and development follow sequences.
  3. Development and learning proceed at varying rates.
  4. Development and learning result from an interaction of maturation and experience.
  5. Early experiences have profound effects on development and learning.
  6. Development proceeds toward greater complexity, self-regulation, and symbolic or representational capacities.
  7. Children develop best when they have secure relationships.
  8. Development and learning occur in and are influenced by multiple social and cultural contexts.
  9. Children learn in a variety of ways.
  10. Play is an important vehicle for developing self-regulation and promoting language, cognition, and social competence.
  11. Development and learning advance when children are challenged.
  12. Children’s experiences shape their motivation and approaches to learning.


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Phone: 414-475-8111
Fax: 414-475-8737

Early Childhood Program Coordinator
Krissy Washington, AGR

Head Start Program Supervisor
Ruth Stark Jordan

Early Childhood Learning Manager
Joandy Williams

© Milwaukee Public Schools 2018
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