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.
New York offers an early childhood license to teach birth to grade 2. Early childhood education candidates are required to pass the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYTCE) Multi Subject: Teachers of Early Childhood (Birth-Grade 2).
Emergent Literacy and Oral Language: The (NYTCE) Multi Subject: Teachers of Early Childhood (Birth-Grade 2) test contains an extensive section devoted to emergent literacy. The test framework covers in depth, key components of emergent literacy, including children's development of print concepts, phonological and phonemic awareness, vocabulary development, and fluency
With regard to oral language, the test requires candidates to demonstrate: "understanding of the special role of speaking and listening in early literacy development and the importance of providing experiences using oral language purposefully and regularly in the classroom." and, "knowledge of the "stages of development in oral language, phonological awareness, word reading, spelling, fluency, text comprehension, language structures, and written expression."
The state also requires early childhood education candidates to take at least six semester hours of study "in teaching the literacy skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing...." This coursework requirement may be waived, however, "upon a showing of good cause satisfactory to the commissioner, including but not limited to a showing that the program provides adequate instruction in language acquisition and literacy development through other means."
Emergent Mathematics and Science: The New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYTCE) Multi Subject: Teachers of Early Childhood (Birth-Grade 2) test contains an extensive section devoted to knowledge of mathematics covering, numbers and operations, basic algebra, geometry, data and measurement. Candidates are not only measured on math content knowledge but also on the application of basic mathematical concepts in the classroom, for example, candidates must:
New York State Teacher Certification Examination www.nystce.nesinc.com NYSTCE Test Requirements http://www.nystce.nesinc.com/PDFs/NY221_222_245_OBJ_DRAFT.pdf Educating All Students Test Framework http://www.nystce.nesinc.com/content/docs/NY201_OBJ_FINAL.pdf Section 52.21 of the Commissioner's Regulations
Ensure that all preschool teachers possess sufficient knowledge of the main developmental stages from birth through age eight.
New York 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.
New York should ensure that all preschool teachers possess adequate understanding of how to develop children's executive functioning skills, build social emotional skills and manage children's play for learning purposes. This knowledge is critically important to ensuring that all preschool teachers are able to establish an environment that actively supports learning.
New York was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. In addition, the state noted that Teachers of Early Childhood candidates must complete the edTPA Early Childhood Assessment Handbook. But the state was not able to share the descriptions of the tasks and rubrics in the handbook due to copyright and test security reasons. New York suggested reaching out to Pearson and/or SCALE to see how the handbook rubrics address the NCTQ goals around candidates' abilities to incorporate complex texts and academic language into instruction, incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject, and identify and support struggling readers, including how candidates develop students' academic language.
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.