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Infant-Toddler Early Learning Guidelines: The Content That States Have Addressed and Implications for Programs Serving Children With Disabilities

Scott-Little, Catherine PhD; Kagan, Sharon Lynn EdD; Frelow, Victoria Stebbins BA; Reid, Jeanne MPA

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0b013e3181a02f4b

Early learning guidelines (ELGs)—documents that describe the skills, characteristics, and dispositions adults seek to foster in young children—are increasingly common. Although less prevalent than ELGs for 3- and 4-year-old children, ELGs for infants and toddlers have been developed in more than half of the 50 states. Given this momentum, a study was launched to examine the content of infant-toddler ELGs published as of July 2007 to determine what areas of development and learning the guidelines have addressed. On the basis of analyses of 21 sets of ELGs, the authors determined that the documents have most commonly addressed 4 developmental domains—physical development and motor skills, social and emotional development, language and communication development, and cognitive development and general knowledge—while far fewer ELG items have addressed children's approaches toward learning. The analyses also suggested that specific indicators within each of the domains have been addressed more often than others. Results from this study have important implications for programs serving children with disabilities. Early learning guidelines that address content related to the required Individuals with Disabilities Education Act child outcome areas can facilitate service providers' efforts to support children's progress on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act outcome measures.

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Dr Scott-Little); and Teachers College, Columbia University, New York (Mss Kagan, Frelow, and Reid).

Corresponding Author: Catherine Scott-Little, PhD, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 248 Stone Building, Greensboro, NC 27402 (

The authors gratefully thank the A. L. Mailman Foundation for financial support that made this research possible and the contribution of each of the reviewers and key informants who guided the research team during the project.

©2009Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.