Grade-level Overlap and Standards Mismatch between Nationally Recognized Programs that Prepare Teachers for Grades PreK–3

Jul. 01, 2016

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 37, Issue 3, 2016, Pages 203-215

This study has two purposes regarding programs accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
First, the study examines what extent NCATE-recognized elementary teacher preparation programs, which have been approved by the Association for Child Education International (ACEI), prepares candidates to teach in grades PreK–3. Second, it investigates the grades that the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) considers part of early childhood education.

The current results indicate extensive grade-level overlap: 10% of ACEI-accredited elementary programs have grade spans that begin in preschool (or below), 53% begin in kindergarten, 30% in first grade, and 6% in second grade. The second investigation employed a content analysis to compare ACEI’s national standards for elementary teacher preparation with NAEYC’s national standards for early childhood teacher preparation.

This analysis indicates that ACEI’s standards include far fewer references to terms that capture essential features of early instruction (e.g., family, community, and observation). Further, while the NAEYC’s standards refer to “self-regulation” four times and “play” eight times, the elementary standards mention neither term. When referring to learners, the NAEYC almost always used “child” or “children,” but the ACEI mostly used “student” or “students.” These results support calls for both stand-alone early licensure and PreK–3 alignment.

Updated: Jun. 11, 2017