Defining developmentally appropriate practice in the age of academic rigor and high stakes accountability





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The purpose of this study was to answer the research question: How do early childhood experts and kindergarten teachers describe Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)? Secondary questions included: How do early childhood experts and kindergarten teachers evaluate sample hybrid lesson plans? How do early childhood experts and kindergarten teachers address the challenges of academic rigor and accountability in DAP? DAP is a philosophy closely associated with early learning. Therefore, the participants in this study included two early childhood experts and two practicing kindergarten teachers. For the purpose of this inquiry, a case study design was employed. This study had three primary data collection methods. The methods were individual interviews, analysis of sample hybrid lesson plans, and a group discussion. After a thorough review of the data it was found that the participants in this study rely heavily on their philosophical knowledge of DAP in order to navigate the current trend of high stakes accountability and academically rigorous curricula. Thus, it is imperative for teacher preparation programs and school district curricula to provide in-depth coursework and professional development surrounding DAP. The data also revealed that the participants of this study reviewed the sample hybrid lesson plans in a favorable manner. The sample hybrid lesson plans were able to support an academically rigorous program while maintaining a level of developmental appropriateness. Hence, the definition of DAP has evolved to meet the changing needs of early learners.

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