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Early Childhood Learning Standards and Practices


Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS)

These standards have been developed by the Wisconsin state departments of Public Instruction, Children and Families, and Health Services. These standards reflect the shared values and commitments of the citizens of Wisconsin to prepare young children for success in school. The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards specify expectations for children birth to first grade. The standards contain developmental domains, sub-domains, developmental expectations, performance standards and program standards.

The developmental continuum provides a predictable but not rigid sequence of accomplishments which describe the progressive levels of performance in the order in which they emerge in most children, based on current research. The developmental continuum begins at an early developmental level and continues through developmental levels that would be typical of children entering first grade in each developmental domain.

Sample behaviors of children have been provided in each domain to provide "samples" of what children might do as they demonstrate accomplishments at each level. Sample strategies for adults have been provided in each domain to provide "examples" of what adults might do to assist the child to gain knowledge or learn skills at each level of the developmental continuum. The appendix has been expanded to provide additional resources for parents, providers, teachers, principals, and directors of early care and education collaborative programming.

In the fall of 2011, the WMELS Early Literacy section was reviewed to assure that it was in line with current best practices. We worked with Alan Coulter, Ph.D., Office for the Jamie S. Settlement Agreement LSU Health Sciences Center, to identify a national reading expert, Stephanie Al Otaiba, who assisted in this review and update. Concurrently the adoption of the State Standards has provided an opportunity to further align early childhood and academic standards.

The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards is available electronically in English and Spanish  or may be ordered online at DPI Publication Sales

For WMELS to have the highest level of impact for young children, school districts, and other early childhood programs need to explore how WMELS align with other standards such as the Wisconsin Academic Standards and the federal Head Start Performance Standards. To learn more, visit Wisconsin Early Childhood Collaborating Partners: Implementation-Alignment with the Standards.


For questions about this information, contact Sherry Kimball (608) 267-9625