Content Knowledge: Georgia

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.

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2020). Content Knowledge: Georgia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/GA-Content-Knowledge-87

Analysis of Georgia's policies

Georgia offers two licenses covering preschool ages; birth-kindergarten and PreK-grade 5. Georgia's PreK-grade 5 license is the state's elementary license. Candidates for this license are required to pass the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) Elementary Education test.  (For a discussion on these requirements as they pertain to elementary teachers please see 2-A: Elementary Content Knowledge). Birth-kindergarten candidates are required to pass the GACE birth-kindergarten assessment.

Emergent Literacy and Oral Language:
Georgia's PreK-5 elementary education test assesses candidates' understanding of:

  • Key ideas relevant to the foundations of literacy and reading development and the stages of early orthographic development; and
  • The roles of phonological awareness, phonics, and word recognition in literacy development.
In addition, PreK-5 reading preparation standards require candidates to,
  • "implement and evaluate instruction in each of the following areas as appropriate: concepts of print, phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, critical thinking, motivation, and writing.
  • demonstrate a high level of competence in use of English language arts and they know, understand, and use concepts from reading, language and child development, to teach reading, writing, speaking, viewing, listening, and thinking skills and to help students successfully apply their developing skills to many different situations, materials, and ideas.For Georgia's birth-kindergarten candidates, Georgia has neither teacher preparation standards nor test requirements that address emergent literacy and oral language."
However, Georgia has neither preparation standards nor test requirements that address emergent literacy or oral language for birth-kindergarten early childhood education candidates.

Emergent Mathematics and Science: Georgia's PreK-5 preparation standards require candidates to:

  • "Know, understand, and use fundamental concepts of physical, life, and earth/space sciences. Candidates can design and implement age-appropriate inquiry lessons to teach science, to build student understanding for personal and social applications, and to convey the nature of science; and
  • Know, understand, and use the major concepts and procedures that define number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, and data analysis. In doing so they consistently engage problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, connections, and representation."
Georgia's PreK-5 elementary education test also addresses foundational knowledge of math and science necessary to instruct emerging learners.

However, Georgia has neither preparation standards nor test requirements that address emergent mathematics or science for birth-kindergarten early childhood education candidates.

Early Childhood Development: Georgia has neither preparation standards nor test requirements that specifically address early childhood development birth-age 8 for either birth-kindergarten or PreK-5 education candidates.

Establishing a Positive and Productive Classroom Environment: Georgia's preparation standards require the PreK-5 and birth-kindergarten teacher to use "a broad repertoire of developmentally appropriate research-based teaching/learning approaches (play, small group projects, open-ended questioning, group discussion, problem solving, cooperative learning, reflection, and inquiry experiences) to help...children develop intellectual curiosity, solve problems, and make decisions."

The PreK-5 elementary education test requires that a candidate understands:
  • "Factors that influence physical, social-emotional, language, cognitive, and aesthetic development of all children and understands how to incorporate content, concepts, and activities to foster them;
  • How to design an enriched learning environment to stimulate exploration, experimentation, discovery, and learning;
  • How to design, implement, and evaluate environments to assure developmental and functional appropriateness; and
  • The importance of promoting the development of children's self-regulatory skills."
Georgia birth-kindergarten preparation standards require that candidates are prepared in:
  • "Establishing a classroom environment grounded in positive relationships and supportive interactions as the foundation of their work with children; and
  • Knowing and using effective research based strategies and tools for Birth through Kindergarten children including the appropriate use of technology."
Additionally, Georgia's birth-kindergarten preparation standards require:
  • "The program shall prepare candidates who design learning environments that encourage active participation in individual and group activities; and
  • The program shall prepare candidates who create an environment that encourages self-advocacy and increased independence."
The Birth through Kindergarten assessment requires that the teacher understand "the importance of promoting the development of children's self-regulatory skills."

Citation

Recommendations for Georgia

Ensure that all preschool teachers possess sufficient knowledge of emergent literacy and oral language.
Georgia 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.

Georgia 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.

Georgia 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.

State response to our analysis

Georgia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis, however this analysis was revised subsequent to the state's review. 

Updated: February 2020

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.