ERIC Identifier: ED330674
Publication Date: 1991-00-00
Author: Stein, Sheryl E.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education Washington DC.
Prekindergarten Teacher Licensure. ERIC Digest.
This digest considers prekindergarten teacher licensure, a process which
enables states to ensure a certain level of specialized knowledge and experience
among early childhood professionals. Trained individuals with knowledge
of child development are needed to provide appropriate experiences and
interaction which will contribute to the growth and development of young
children (Zigler & Finn-Stevenson, 1989, p. 317). The past few years
have seen increased concern that teachers receive sufficient preparation
in both subject matter areas and grade levels (Cooper & Eisenhart,
1990, p. 185). The movement toward specialization in grade levels and subject
matter has led to an increased number of states offering specialized early
childhood education licenses rather than the broadly-scoped credentials
(e.g., Kindergarten through Grade Eight) common to many states up until
the 1980s. At the start of the 1990s, over one-half of the states including
the District of Columbia offer early childhood education credentials in
one form or another; some cover preschool while others begin at kindergarten
(AACTE, 1990, p. viii; Cooper & Eisenhart, 1990, pp. 186-87).
TRAINING IMPACTS QUALITY
As noted in a report from the National Governors' Association (Taking
Care: State Developments in Child Care, 1990), the National Child Care
Staffing Study found that the best predictor of appropriate teacher behavior--having
an understanding of the development and needs of children--is the amount
of formal education, followed by the amount of training, an individual
possesses (National Governors' Association, 1990, p. 6; Whitebook, Howes,
& Phillips, 1989, pp. 40-48). The National Association for the Education
of Young Children (NAEYC) has suggested that appropriate teacher behavior
may result from knowledge and experience including "...college-level, specialized
preparation in early childhood education/child development...current knowledge
of child development and its application of early childhood educational
practice..." (Bredekamp, 1987, p. 14).
States can theoretically ensure that personnel working with children
have appropriate training through regulations which require that particular
educational or experiential criteria be met. However, a historic argument
over whether early childhood programs are custodial, educational, or both
has resulted in a dichotomous approach to regulation (Caldwell, 1989; Hayes,
Palmer, & Zaslow, 1990, pp. 7-8; Mitchell, 1989, p. 665).
Caldwell notes that early childhood education programs were originally
designed as a service "for 'normal' children from intact, middle-class
families with enough economic resources to pay for a service not considered
essential enough by society at large to have been provided as a free and
universally available public service." Custodial day care, on the other
hand, operated as much as a service for parents as for the children, as
such programs would provide care for children who were often socially and/or
economically disadvantaged while a parent(s) worked (Caldwell, 1989, p.
405-6). Caldwell argues that high quality early childhood programs must
encompass both worlds: "they must be comprehensive, integrated programs"
(Caldwell, 1989, p. 413).
Because one type of program was conceptually considered a program of
education and the other a program of social welfare, regulatory control
of programs was placed in the agency with a similar mission. Thus, programs
seen as custodial traditionally have been regulated within the state's
social service agency. With the growing realization of the educational
aspects of early childhood programs, state education agencies have received
regulatory power over public preschool programs (Mitchell, 1989, p. 666).
This dichotomous arrangement can create problems, the severity of which
ranges from inhibiting program planning, coordination, and advocacy to
creating a two-tiered system that segregates children by income levels
(Hayes, et al., 1990, p. 8). Although some states have developed a coordinated
approach, preschool licensure and programs continue to be regulated predominantly
by state departments of education.
TYPES OF PRESCHOOL CREDENTIALS
As a rule, teachers must hold some type of certification or license
to work in the public school system. What constitutes an early childhood
education credential and whether the state requires such a credential are
two different issues. McCarthy (1988) notes several different configurations
of preschool credentials (p. 2).
1. Some states offer an early childhood education license that is separate
and distinct from an elementary license. Such a license may include kindergarten
and primary elementary grades up to grade three but is still not attached
to the elementary license. It should not be assumed that this credential
provides coverage for the same-aged children across all states offering
such a credential, as some states' credentials cover work with children
from birth through age four and others with children from ages five through
nine (McCarthy, 1988). For instance, Minnesota offers an early childhood
license which covers birth through age five and Missouri offers a license
covering Nursery through Grade 3 (AACTE, 1990, pp. 64, 70; McCarthy, 1988,
2. Several states offer "title-specific certification," where the title
of the credential denotes the range of the license; for instance, Prekindergarten
Certification, Nursery through Grade 6 (N-6) Certification (McCarthy, 1988).
For example, Ohio offers the Prekindergarten Certificate (AACTE, 1990,
3. Another pattern noted is that of early childhood education endorsements,
which are added to elementary education credentials. Sometimes, this endorsement
solely encompasses kindergarten; other times, it includes nursery as well
(McCarthy, p. 3). An example of this is Wisconsin's early childhood endorsement,
which encompasses both (AACTE, 1990, p. 130). Requirements for such endorsements
vary from state to state.
4. Another pattern McCarthy finds is that of elementary education credentials
which include kindergarten (McCarthy, 1988, p. 3). Some states have added
nursery onto their elementary education credential, as New Jersey did in
January 1990 (AACTE, 1990, p. 80).
5. With the recent passage of P.L. 94-142 and P.L. 99-457, legislation
concerned with preschool education for special needs children, some states
have created credentials which acknowledge preparation in both early childhood
and special education, like Delaware (AACTE, p. 22).
6. Finally, McCarthy (1988) notes that there are a few states which
do not offer any credentials for teaching preschoolers but allow individuals
holding an elementary education license to teach children of kindergarten
age or younger (McCarthy, p. 4). Of the four states she mentions, only
one state, Idaho, still does not offer an early childhood credential.
CREDENTIALS AND COMPENSATION
Spodek and Saracho (1990) note that distinctions are made among early
childhood professionals with regard to compensation: "(1) between public
school-sponsored programs and non-public school programs, whether sponsored
by public or private agencies and (2) between teachers in child care programs
and educational programs" (p. 23). They note that early childhood teachers
working in public programs must meet the same standards for preparation
as their teacher counterparts who work with older children. Hayes et al.
(1990) note that the public sector pays better and provides more benefits
(i.e., health insurance) to teachers than the private sector; moreover,
they find that child care workers in public settings earn more than their
privately employed counterparts. With regard to the historic separation
between early childhood education and child care, they note the long-standing
pay disparity between education and social welfare programs: "Salaries
in education, although low, have traditionally been higher than salaries
for social services positions, even when levels of education are comparable."
References identified with an EJ or ED number have been abstracted and
are in the ERIC data base. Journal articles (EJ) should be available at
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collections at more than 700 locations. Documents can also be ordered through
the ERIC document Reproduction Service: (800) 443-3742. For more information,
contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education, One Dupont Circle,
NW, Suite 610, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-2450.
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (June 1990).
Teacher Education Policy in the States: A 50-State Survey of Legislative
and Administrative Actions. Washington, DC: Author.
Bredekamp, S. (Ed.). (1987). Developmentally Appropriate Practice in
Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth Through Age 8. Expanded
Edition. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young
Caldwell, B. M. (Spring 1989). A Comprehensive Model for Integrating
Child Care and Early Childhood Education. Teachers College Record (90),
pp. 404-414. EJ 35 979.
Cooper, J. M., & Eisenhart, C. E. (1990). Chapter 10. The Influence
of Recent Educational Reforms on Early Childhood Teacher Education Programs.
In B. Spodek & O. N. Saracho (Eds.), Yearbook in Early Childhood Education
Volume I: Early Childhood Teacher Preparation. New York: Teachers College
Hayes, C. D., Palmer, J. L., & Zaslow, M. J. (1990). Who Cares for
America's Children? Child Care Policy for the 1990s. Washington, DC: National
Academy Press. ED 319 523.
McCarthy, J. (1988). State Certification of Early Childhood Teachers:
An Analysis of the 50 States and the District of Columbia. Paper presented
at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
Early Childhood Teacher Education Colloquium, 1988.
Mitchell, A. (May 1989). Old Baggage, New Visions: Shaping Policy for
Early Childhood Programs. Phi Delta Kappan 70, pp. 664-672. EJ 388 718.
National Governors' Association Center for Policy Research. (1990).
Taking Care: State Developments in Child Care. Washington, DC: National
Spodek, B. & Saracho, O. N. (Eds.). (1990). Yearbook in Early Childhood
Education Volume I: Early Childhood Teacher Preparation. New York: Teachers
Whitebook, M., Howes, C. & Phillips, D. (1989). Who Cares? Child
Care Teachers and the Quality of Care in America. National Child Care Staffing
Study Executive Summary. Oakland, CA: Child Care Employee Project.
Zigler, E. F. & Finn-Stevenson, M. (1989). Child Care in America:
From Problem to Solution. Educational Policy 3, pp. 313-329.