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For Immediate Release:
August 3, 2006
Five Early Childhood Associate Degree Programs Earn NAEYC Accreditation
A new national standard of excellence for teacher education
(Washington, D.C.) – Five higher education institutions have earned national accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). These are the first associate degree programs accredited by NAEYC, which developed the new accreditation system to define a national standard of excellence for early childhood teacher education at the associate degree level.
The newly accredited early childhood associate degree programs are at the following institutions:
- Davidson County Community College – Lexington, North Carolina
- Denmark Technical College – Denmark, South Carolina
- Mitchell Community College – Statesville, North Carolina
- Prince George’s Community College – Largo, Maryland
- Sandhills Community College – Pinehurst, North Carolina
The new NAEYC Accreditation program fills a gap in the nation’s teacher education system, and recognizes the crucial role that associate degree programs at community colleges and other institutions play in early childhood teacher preparation, which is key to raising the quality of programs for young children. Twenty percent of the nation’s school teachers began their educations at community colleges, and the majority of students of color currently enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions are attending community colleges. Both Head Start and many state prekindergarten programs call for an associate’s degree for teachers.
"Research clearly shows that a key component in the quality of preschool, child care and other programs for young children is the preparation and ongoing professional development of teachers. For a growing number of early childhood teachers, the associate degree is the first significant degree in their ladder of professional credentials," said Jerlean Daniel, Ph.D., NAEYC’s Deputy Executive Director. "NAEYC Accreditation recognizes associate degree programs that are reaching a higher standard for preparation of teachers, and helping many more young children get a great start on learning."
NAEYC has been involved for many years in the accreditation of teacher education programs at the baccalaureate and graduate degree level, through its affiliation with the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). As part of NCATE’s accreditation system, NAEYC sets standards for, reviews, and approves baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral programs in early childhood education and related fields, granting National Recognition to approved programs.
In addition, NAEYC has been known for nearly 20 years for accreditation of child care centers, preschools, and other programs for young children.
The new NAEYC Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation system is tailored to the unique characteristics of community colleges and other associate degree granting institutions, emphasizing the strengths and assets of those schools. The accreditation process includes extensive self-study, submission of a program report, a site visit conducted by peer reviewers, and an accreditation decision made by a national commission of early childhood professionals.
The NAEYC associate degree standards and criteria are based on recent research in early childhood development and learning. The standards are based on student performance and describe what well-prepared graduates (tomorrow’s early childhood teachers) should know and be able to do. NAEYC-accredited programs select five key student assessments and use these to collect data on student performance in relation to the standards. This ongoing assessment of student growth and competence is used to improve the quality of teaching and learning. Accreditation criteria describe the associate degree program’s state and community context, mission, conceptual framework, faculty, students and resources. These provide the program’s unique framework for meeting the standards. The new accreditation system creates a set of shared standards that connect associate, baccalaureate and graduate degrees in early childhood education. NAEYC Accreditation can provide a solid and common foundation to support articulation and transfer of credits as students move forward with their own professional development.
NAEYC worked with 2-year colleges in six states – Arkansas, Illinois (primarily the City Colleges of Chicago), Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and South Carolina – to field test components of the new NAEYC Accreditation system. ACCESS (American Associate Degree Early Childhood Educators), the national association of early childhood faculty at associate degree programs, supported the initiative and served in an advisory capacity during the system’s development. "Earning accreditation was an eye-opening experience," said Biju Kabisatpathy, a member of the early childhood faculty at Denmark Technical College. "I want to thank NAEYC for their early childhood associate degree standards and criteria. They gave us a whole new way of thinking about our program."
The National Association for the Education of Young Children is the largest organization of early childhood educators and others dedicated to improving the quality of early education programs for children from birth through age eight. Founded in 1926, NAEYC now has nearly 100,000 members and a national network of more than 300 local, state, and regional affiliates. NAEYC and its affiliates work to improve professional practice and working conditions in early childhood education, and to build public support for high-quality early childhood programs.
For more information about the new NAEYC Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation system, visit: www.naeyc.org/faculty/asdeg.asp
Founded in 1926, the National Association for the Education of Young Children has nearly 90,000 members worldwide. The association is the largest and most influential advocate for early care and education in the
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Founded in 1926, the National Association for the Education of Young Children is the largest and most influential advocate for high-quality early care and education in the United States.