Content Knowledge: Arizona

Early Childhood Preparation Policy

Goal

The state should require its teacher preparation programs to provide early childhood teachers with age-appropriate content knowledge and instructional strategies. Starting in 2020, this goal is now graded.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2020). Content Knowledge: Arizona results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/AZ-Content-Knowledge-87

Analysis of Arizona's policies

Arizona offers an early childhood education certificate to teach birth-grade 3.

Emergent Literacy and Oral Language: The Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment (AEPA) Early Childhood test requires candidates to demonstrate an understanding of the main components of emergent literacy and oral language, including concepts of print, phonemic and phonological awareness, vocabulary development, and language development. However, the proficiency assessment is not required. Arizona also allows candidates to demonstrate subject-matter knowledge using one of the following methods:

  • National Board Certification;
  • Two consecutive years "teaching courses relevant to the content area or subject matter," and a total of three years at one or more accredited postsecondary institutions;
  • Minimum of five years of work experience "relevant to a subject area of certification;"
  • Three years of full time teaching experience "in any state, including Arizona in a self-contained Preschool-Grade 3 classroom;" or
  • A bachelor's degree or higher in a "relevant subject area."
Emergent Mathematics and Science: The Early Childhood test addresses the concepts of emergent mathematics and science. The test requires teachers to be able to: "Understand mathematics concepts and skills and understand how to facilitate learning for young children in the area of mathematics."

These test sections contain the following examples: "recognizing characteristics, processes, and progressions in children's mathematical development, including intuitive and emergent numeracy; demonstrating knowledge of factors that affect young children's mathematical development; demonstrating knowledge of strategies for encouraging the use of mathematical concepts and skills in everyday life."

The test also addresses emergent science by requiring teachers to: "Understand science content and inquiry processes and how to facilitate science learning for young children."  Some examples of how to demonstrate this concept on the test are: "Recognizing the roles of exploration, active engagement, inquiry, and questioning in building knowledge, language, and concepts related to science; demonstrating knowledge of strategies for encouraging children to develop positive attitudes toward science; and demonstrating knowledge of strategies for encouraging the use of science concepts and skills in everyday life." However, the state does not require this proficiency test. 

Early Childhood Development: Arizona has neither preparation standards nor test requirements that address early childhood development from birth-age 8.

Establishing a Positive and Productive Classroom Environment: The AEPA Early Childhood test requires candidates to "[recognize] the role of play in children's development;" however, this is presented as an example under the broad heading of "Understand human growth and development and how to use this understanding to promote learning and development in all domains."

Citation

Recommendations for Arizona

Ensure that all preschool teachers possess sufficient knowledge of emergent literacy and oral language.
Arizona should—either through teacher preparation standards or test frameworks—ensure that all preschool teachers understand how to develop children's oral language skills and build children's emergent literacy. This understanding is important because of the critical role that preschool teachers play in language development.

Ensure that all preschool teachers possess sufficient knowledge of emergent mathematics and science.

Arizona should—either through teacher preparation standards or test frameworks—ensure that all preschool teachers understand how to introduce and develop children's mathematical skills and effectively introduce science concepts. This understanding is crucial because early introduction to complex mathematical concepts can affect later achievement in mathematics.

Ensure that all preschool teachers possess sufficient knowledge of the main developmental stages from birth through age eight.
Arizona should ensure—either through testing or preparation standards—that all preschool teachers are knowledgeable of children's developmental stages from birth through age eight. Such knowledge is essential so that all preschool teachers have an in-depth understanding of the children they are teaching.

Ensure that all preschool teachers possess the skills to create a positive and productive classroom environment.

Because well-run classrooms help children develop self-regulation and build academic skills, it is imperative that candidates are adequately prepared to create a positive and productive classroom environment. Skills such as: classroom management, developing a child's executive functions, and creating activities where children can learn through play are critically important to ensuring that all preschool teachers are able to establish an environment that actively supports learning. Arizona should ensure that all preschool teachers possess adequate understanding of these skills

State response to our analysis

Arizona asserted that it uses the National Association of Early Young Children (NAEYC) Standards for approval of its educator preparation programs. These national standards address the needs of young children from birth - age 8. 

Updated: February 2020

Last word

NCTQ awards credit for specific teacher preparation standards that are incorporated into policy, rather than standards that are simply referenced by name or nested.

How we graded

The factors considered in determining the states' rating for the goal:

  1. The state should ensure that all new teacher candidates possess sufficient knowledge of emergent literacy and oral language.
  2. The state should ensure that all new teacher candidates possess sufficient knowledge of emergent mathematics and science concepts.
  3. The state should ensure that all new teacher candidates possess content knowledge of early childhood development in the birth to age eight range.
  4. The state should ensure that all new teacher candidates possess content knowledge of strategies and concepts that create a positive and productive classroom environment. Such as: classroom management techniques, building social and emotional skills, developing a child's executive functions, and learning through play.

Content Knowledge: The state should require all early childhood teacher candidates to possess sufficient knowledge of: emergent literacy, oral language, emergent mathematics and science; childhood development from birth through age eight. The state should also require all early childhood teacher candidates to possess sufficient knowledge of strategies and concepts that create a positive and productive classroom environment, such as: classroom management techniques, building social and emotional skills, developing a child's executive functions, and learning through play.


Content Knowledge: Emergent Literacy and oral language
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:
  • One-quarter Credit:
    The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires
    that all new teacher candidates possess sufficient knowledge of emergent literacy and oral language
Content Knowledge: Emergent mathematics and science
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:
  • One-quarter Credit:
    The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires
    that all new teacher candidates possess sufficient knowledge of emergent mathematics and science concepts.
Content Knowledge: Early Childhood Development (birth through age 8)
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:
  • One-quarter Credit:
    The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires
    that all new teacher candidates possess content knowledge of early childhood development in the birth to age eight range.
Content Knowledge: Positive and Productive Classroom environment
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:
  • One-quarter Credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires that all new teacher candidates possess content knowledge of strategies and concepts that create a positive and productive classroom environment. Such as: classroom management techniques, building social and emotional skills, developing a child's executive functions, and learning through play. State can get credit for addressing any one of the concepts listed.

Research rationale

A strong preschool experience can set children up for achievement gains in elementary school,[1] and even more critically, for improved long-term outcomes including college attendance and degree completion.[2] However, not all preschool programs have achieved these positive results.[3] To increase the likelihood that children will reap benefits from attending preschool, states should ensure that the preschool teachers have certain essential skills and knowledge.

To lay children's foundation for learning to read—and to open the door to other areas of learning—teachers must understand how to develop children's oral language skills and build children's emergent literacy. Especially for young children who are already behind, preschool teachers can play a critical role in language development.[4] Emergent literacy encompasses a range of skills that are essential to reading, but may not come naturally to all children. These skills include phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, learning the alphabet, and concepts of print.[5] Teacher training in these areas can translate into substantial gains for children in alphabet knowledge, vocabulary, and language skills.[6] The early introduction of language and literacy can make a lasting difference for children. Unsurprisingly, children with low language and literacy skills in preschool demonstrate lower reading skills in kindergarten.[7] However, not all approaches to teaching emergent literacy are equally effective, and the quality of preschool curricula varies, making it that much more important that preschool teachers have ample training in how to develop their preschoolers' emergent literacy skills.[8]

Preschool teachers need similar grounding in teaching emergent math and science concepts. Research finds that introducing children to more complex mathematical concepts from an early age may increase their math ability in later years.[9] In fact, some research suggests that the relationship between children's early math skills and future math achievement is twice as strong as the relationship between emergent literacy and future reading achievement.[10] Little research exists on what teachers need to know about preschool science instruction, but experts agree that this area is important.[11]

Beyond knowing what to teach, preschool teachers need to understand the children they are teaching. As such, knowledge of child development from birth to age eight is important.[12] Similarly, preschool teachers need to know effective classroom management strategies that can build social-emotional skills and prevent or resolve many behavioral problems.[13] Of course, classroom management is about more than discipline: it is about establishing an environment that actively supports learning, including understanding how to develop children's executive functioning skills and manage children's play for learning purposes.[14] Teachers' emotional support for their students is associated with better social competence and lower rates of behavior problems.[15]


[1] For example, see: Andrews, R. J., Jargowsky, P., & Kuhne, K. (2012). The effects of Texas's targeted pre-kindergarten program on academic performance (Working paper no. 84). CALDER. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w18598; Campbell, F. A., Pungello, E. P., Miller-Johnson, S., Burchinal, M., & Ramey, C. T. (2001). The development of cognitive and academic abilities: Growth curves from an early childhood educational experiment. Developmental Psychology, 37, 231-242; Ramey, C. T., Campbell, F. A., Burchinal, M., Skinner, M. L., Gardner, D. M., & Ramey, S. L. (2000). Persistent effects of early intervention on high-risk children and their mothers. Applied Developmental Science, 4, 2-14; Ramey, C. T. & Campbell, F. A. (1991). Poverty, early childhood education, and academic competence: The Abecedarian experiment. In A. Huston (Ed.), Children reared in poverty (pp. 190-221). New York: Cambridge University Press; Ramey, C. T., & Campbell, F. A. (1984). Preventive education for high-risk children: Cognitive consequences of the Carolina Abecedarian Project. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 88, 515-523.
[2] Schweinhart, L. J., Montie, J., Xiang, Z., Barnett, W. S., Belfield, C. R., & Nores, M. (2005). Lifetime effects: The HighScope Perry Preschool study through age 40. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press; Campbell, F., Conti, G., Heckman, J.J., Moon, S.H., Pinto, R., Pungello, E., Pan, Y. (2014, March 28) Early childhood investments substantially boost adult health. Science, 343(6178):1478-85. DOI: 10.1126/1248429. PMID: 24675955; Campbell, F. A., Pungello, E. P., Burchinal, M., Kainz, K., Pan, Y., Wasik, B. H., Sparling, J. & Ramey, C. T. (2012). Adult outcomes as a function of an early childhood educational program: An Abecedarian Project follow-up. Developmental Psychology, 48, 1033. Campbell, F. A., Wasik, B. H., Pungello, E. P., Burchinal, M. R., Kainz, K., Barbarin, O., ... & Ramey, C. T. (2008). Young adult outcomes from the Abecedarian and CARE early childhood educational interventions. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23, 452-466. Campbell, F. A., Ramey, C. T., Pungello, E. P., Sparling, J., & Miller-Johnson, S. (2002). Early childhood education: Young adult outcomes from the Abecedarian Project. Applied Developmental Science, 6, 42-57. Dynarski, S., Hyman, J., & Schanzenbach, D. W. (2013). Experimental evidence on the effect of childhood investments on postsecondary attainment and degree completion. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 32, 692-717. Chetty, R., Friedman, J. N., Hilger, N., Saez, E., Schanzenbach, D. W., & Yagan, D. (2010). How does your kindergarten classroom affect your earnings? Evidence from Project STAR. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w16381
[3] Lipsey, M. W., Farran, D. C., & Hofer, K. G., (2015). A randomized control trial of the effects of a statewide voluntary prekindergarten program on children's skills and behaviors through third grade. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, Peabody Research Institute. Retrieved from http://peabody.vanderbilt.edu/research/pri/VPKthrough3rd_final_withcover.pdf
[4] Diamond, K. E., Justice, L. M., Siegler, R. S., & Snyder, P. A. (2013). Synthesis of IES research on early intervention and early childhood education (NCSER 2013-3001). National Center for Special Education Research; Beck, I. L., & McKeown, M. G. (2007). Increasing young low‐income children's oral vocabulary repertoires through rich and focused instruction. The Elementary School Journal, 107(3), 251-271; Institute of Medicine & National Research Council. (2015). Transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8: A unifying foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; M. Adams, personal communication, January 2016; Dickinson, D. K., & Porche, M. V. (2011). Relation between language experiences in preschool classrooms and children's kindergarten and fourth‐grade language and reading abilities. Child Development, 82(3), 870-88.
[5] U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, What Works Clearinghouse. (2012). Early childhood education interventions for children with disabilities intervention report: Phonological awareness training. Retrieved from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/InterventionReports/wwc_pat_060512.pdf; Diamond, K. E., Justice, L. M., Siegler, R. S., & Snyder, P. A. (2013). Synthesis of IES research on early intervention and early childhood education (NCSER 2013-3001). National Center for Special Education Research.
[6] Landry, S. H., Swank, P. R., Smith, K. E., Assel, M. A., & Gunnewig, S. B. (2006). Enhancing early literacy skills for preschool children bringing a professional development model to scale. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39(4), 306-324.; U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, What Works Clearinghouse. (2012). Early childhood education interventions for children with disabilities intervention report: Phonological awareness training. Retrieved from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/InterventionReports/wwc_pat_060512.pdf
[7] Diamond, K. E., Justice, L. M., Siegler, R. S., & Snyder, P. A. (2013). Synthesis of IES research on early intervention and early childhood education (NCSER 2013-3001). National Center for Special Education Research.
[8] Diamond, K. E., Justice, L. M., Siegler, R. S., & Snyder, P. A. (2013). Synthesis of IES research on early intervention and early childhood education (NCSER 2013-3001). National Center for Special Education Research.
[9] Watts, T. W., Duncan, G. J., Siegler, R. S., & Davis-Kean, P. E. (2014). What's past is prologue: Relations between early mathematics knowledge and high school achievement. Educational Researcher, 43(7), 352-360.
[10] Diamond, K. E., Justice, L. M., Siegler, R. S., & Snyder, P. A. (2013). Synthesis of IES research on early intervention and early childhood education (NCSER 2013-3001). National Center for Special Education Research.; Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P., ... & Japel, C. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1428-1446; Other research found that children's math ability in preschool predicted their math ability at age 15, even after controlling for early reading ability and family characteristics. See: Watts, T. W., Duncan, G. J., Siegler, R. S., & Davis-Kean, P. E. (2014). What's past is prologue: Relations between early mathematics knowledge and high school achievement. Educational Researcher, 43(7), 352-360.
[11] Putman, H., Moorer, A., & Walsh, K. (2016). Some assembly required: Piecing together the preparation preschool teachers need. Washington, DC: National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from: http://www.nctq.org/dmsStage/Preschool
[12] Putman, H., Moorer, A., & Walsh, K. (2016). Some assembly required: Piecing together the preparation preschool teachers need. Washington, DC: National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from: http://www.nctq.org/dmsStage/Preschool
[13]  Diamond, K. E., Justice, L. M., Siegler, R. S., & Snyder, P. A. (2013). Synthesis of IES research on early intervention and early childhood education (NCSER 2013-3001). National Center for Special Education Research.; Epstein, M., Atkins, M., Cullinan, D., Kutash, K., and Weaver, R. (2008). Reducing behavior problems in the elementary school classroom: A practice guide (NCEE 2008-012). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/PracticeGuide/behavior_pg_092308.pdf; National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2010). 2010 NAEYC standards for initial and advanced early childhood professional preparation programs. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/files/ecada/file/2010%20NAEYC%20Initial%20&%20Advanced%20Standards.pdf
[14] Raver, C. C., Jones, S. M., Li‐Grining, C., Zhai, F., Bub, K., & Pressler, E. (2011). CSRP's impact on low‐income preschoolers' pre-academic skills: Self‐regulation as a mediating mechanism. Child Development, 82(1), 362-378.; Blair, C., & Raver, C. C. (2014). Closing the achievement gap through modification of neurocognitive and neuroendocrine function: Results from a cluster randomized controlled trial of an innovative approach to the education of children in kindergarten. PloS One, 9(11), e112393.
[15] Mashburn, A. J., Pianta, R. C., Hamre, B. K., Downer, J. T., Barbarin, O. A., Bryant, D., ... & Howes, C. (2008). Measures of classroom quality in prekindergarten and children's development of academic, language, and social skills. Child Development, 79(3), 732-749.