Those British accents sure make them sound intelligent, but are preschoolers in England smarter than American preschoolers? Associated Press reporter Nancy Zuckerbrod posed the question last week. Zuckerbrod and her family just moved to London, and she was surprised to find that her charming 5-year old daughter was "behind" academically according to the standards of her prospective English primary school. Back in Washington, D.C., where Zuckerbrod's daughter attended publicly funded pre-k, she had been a star student: curious, played well with others, an all-around good kid. Meanwhile, peers her age in England, the school told Zuckerbrod, were expected to be reading by themselves and understand fractions.
So are early education standards really higher in England? Early Ed Watch took a look at the English Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage, which has been operating in English preschool ("reception") classes since 2002. We compared those standards with those from two U.S. states--Georgia, which has the nation's oldest universal pre-k system, and Massachusetts, which is generally regarded as having some of the nation's strongest academic standards (and is now en route to universal pre-k)-as well as the District of Columbia, where Zuckerbrod's daughter had previously attended pre-k.