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.
Kentucky offers an interdisciplinary early childhood education/special education license that covers children ages birth-primary (kindergarten). Candidates are required to pass the Praxis Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (5023) test.
Emergent Literacy and Oral Language: The Praxis Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (5023) test does not address concepts related to emergent literacy or oral language.
Emergent Mathematics and Science: The Praxis Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (5023) test does not address concepts related to emergent mathematics or science.
Early Childhood Development: The Praxis Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (5023) test does not address early childhood development from birth-age 8 specifically. The test contains a section devoted to "Growth and Development of Young Children Across the Spectrum of Development." However, the test framework never defines the spectrum of development.
Establishing a Positive and Productive Classroom Environment: The Praxis Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (5023) test contains a section devoted to "Play and Learning Environment for Young Children," which tests candidates on their knowledge of:
Praxis Test Requirement https://www.ets.org/praxis/ Kentucky Administrative Regulations 16 KAR 2:040
Ensure that all preschool teachers possess sufficient knowledge of emergent literacy and oral language.
Kentucky 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.
Kentucky 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.
Kentucky 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.
Kentucky indicated that preparation programs are required to align with NAEYC standards.
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.