Early Childhood Preparation Policy
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.
Indiana offers a PreK-3 early childhood education license.
Emergent Literacy and Oral Language: Indiana's preparation standards for early childhood education teachers address the concepts related to emergent literacy. The Early Childhood Generalist standards require candidates to possess knowledge of key concepts related to emergent literacy such as: "the critical role of phonemic awareness in learning to read an alphabetic language" and "the distinction between phonological awareness and phonemic awareness." Candidates must also know the concepts of fluency, the importance of vocabulary development and reading comprehension. The components of the required Early Childhood Generalist test are similar to the preparation standards. However, neither preparation nor test standards address oral language.
Emergent Mathematics and Science: Indiana's Early Childhood Generalist standards require candidates to have a "broad and comprehensive understanding of fundamental concepts and processes of mathematics," and candidates must be able to demonstrate knowledge of: "properties of mathematical operations and patterns, measurements systems and units, attributes of geometric figures and the relationships between them, and ratios, proportional thinking, and other methods for representing and solving mathematical and real-world problems."
The Early Childhood standards require candidates to "have a broad and comprehensive understanding of fundamental concepts and processes of science and demonstrate the ability to provide content-specific instruction in science, including: fundamental concepts and processes of physical, earth, space, and life sciences." The standards also require candidates to be able to "provide specific instruction in: scientific inquiry; fundamental processes of scientific thinking, including computation, estimation, and symbolic representation."
The math and science components of the required Early Childhood Generalist test are similar to the preparation standards.
Early Childhood Development: Indiana's required test and preparation standards address early childhood development from birth-age 8. Preparation standards require early childhood education candidates to have:
Test Requirements http://www.in.nesinc.com/ Early Childhood Generalist Standards http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/licensing/early-childhood-generalist.pdf School Setting Developmental Standards--Early Childhood Education https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/licensing/early-childhood-education.pdf Indiana Administrative Code 511 IAC 15-4-1 and 4-2
Ensure that all preschool teachers possess sufficient knowledge of emergent literacy and oral language.
Indiana 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.
Indiana submitted an additional citation for consideration.
A strong preschool experience can set children up for achievement gains in elementary school, and even more critically, for improved long-term outcomes including college attendance and degree completion. However, not all preschool programs have achieved these positive results. 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. 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. Teacher training in these areas can translate into substantial gains for children in alphabet knowledge, vocabulary, and language skills. 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. 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.
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. 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. Little research exists on what teachers need to know about preschool science instruction, but experts agree that this area is important.
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. Similarly, preschool teachers need to know effective classroom management strategies that can build social-emotional skills and prevent or resolve many behavioral problems. 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. Teachers' emotional support for their students is associated with better social competence and lower rates of behavior problems.