Early Childhood Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that its teacher preparation programs provide early childhood teachers with age-appropriate content knowledge and instructional strategies. This goal was new in 2017 and was not graded.
Kansas offers birth to kindergarten and birth to grade 3, early childhood unified education licenses. Candidates are required to pass the Praxis II Education of Young Children (5024) test.
Emergent Literacy and Oral Language: The Praxis II Education of Young Children (5024) test addresses emergent literacy and oral language. The test requires candidates to know "the progression of oral language development, including but not limited to expectations for listening comprehension and verbal communication, and how to facilitate and expand children's oral language and vocabulary development." Candidates are also required to "know strategies to address language delays." The test addresses emergent literacy by requiring candidates to be able to develop children's phonological awareness, concepts of print, fluency to support reading comprehension, phonics skills and how to expand children's use of vocabulary.
Kansas's early childhood unified educator program standards requires candidates to understand "the importance of a literacy rich environment to support and expand learner's communication through speaking, listening, reading, writing, and other modes" and "be well versed in the essential content knowledge in all pre-academic/academic disciplines, including...literacy concepts (e.g., phonemic awareness, vocabulary, writing,, shared reading); social studies concepts (e.g., social skills, community, character, family, culture, cultural identity."
Emergent Mathematics and Science: The Praxis II Education of Young Children (5024) test addresses emergent mathematics by requiring candidates to know how to develop children's "knowledge of number names and the count sequence, understanding of the relationship between number name and quantities, ability to use counting to determine how many objects are arranged in various configurations, and understanding of the concepts of operations on rational numbers." The test does not address concepts related to emergent science.
Kansas's early childhood unified educator program standards requires candidates to "be well versed in the essential content knowledge in all pre-academic/academic disciplines, including mathematical concepts (e.g., number sense, shapes, one-to-one correspondence, sequence, problem solving); scientific concepts (e.g., cause and effect, discovery learning, observation, change, systems, cycles)."
Early Childhood Development: The Praxis II Education of Young Children (5024) test does not address early childhood development from birth to age eight. Kansas's early childhood unified educator birth to kindergarten program standards require candidates to "know and understand typical progression in each developmental domain of children from birth to age 6." Birth to grade three program standards require candidates to "know and understand typical progression in each developmental domain of children from birth to age 8."
Establishing 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. This includes classroom management skills, developing a child's executive functions and creating activities where children can learn through play. The Praxis II Education of Young Children (5024) test does not address the factors that contribute to a productive classroom environment.
Kansas's early childhood unified educator program standards requires that the candidate:
Regulations and Standards for Kansas Educators 2016-2017 http://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/TLA/Licensure/Licensure%20Documents/CertHandbook16-17link.pdf Program Standards http://www.ksde.org/Agency/Division-of-Learning-Services/Teacher-Licensure-and-Accreditation/Postsecondary/Higher-Ed-Faculty-Resources/Higher-Education-Resources-TLA/Higher-Education-Standards
Due to Kansas's strong policies in this area, no recommendations are provided.
Kansas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.