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.
New York offers an early childhood certificate to teach birth-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/TestView.aspx?f=HTML_FRAG/NY211_TestPage.html 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.
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. Skills such as: classroom management, developing a child's executive functions, and creating activities where children can learn through play are critically important to ensuring that all preschool teachers are able to establish an environment that actively supports learning. New York should ensure that all preschool teachers possess adequate understanding of these skills.
New York asserted that the statement in the "Early Childhood Development" section is too broad, and that the Multi Subject: Teachers of Early Childhood (Birth-Grade 2) test does address developmentally appropriate pedagogical content knowledge (e.g., reading skills, mathematical skills).
The state added that early childhood education candidates must take the Early Childhood edTPA, which addresses knowledge of early childhood development and of positive and productive classroom environments. For example, the edTPA assesses candidates' ability to develop a positive learning environment and rapport with children, identify children's strengths and needs, and provide feedback related to learning objectives.
Regarding the analysis in the "Early Childhood Development" and "Establishing a Positive and Productive Classroom" sections, Commissioner's Regulations Part 52.21(b)(3)(i)(b)(1) requires early childhood education preparation programs to address: (i) processes of social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic, physical, and aesthetic growth and development in early childhood within socio-cultural contexts and how to provide learning experiences and conduct assessments reflecting understanding of those processes; (ii) early childhood curriculum development and the implications of environmental design for implementing curriculum; and (iii) teaching the literacy skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing to native English speakers and students who are English language learners, including methods of reading enrichment and remediations.
Commissioner's Regulations Part 52.21(b)(2)(ii)(c)(1)(ii) also requires teacher preparation programs to provide study that will permit candidates to obtain pedagogical knowledge, understanding, and skills that address learning processes, motivation, communication, and classroom management—and skill in applying those understandings to stimulate and sustain student interest, cooperation, and achievement to each student's highest level of learning in preparation for productive work, citizenship in a democracy, and continuing growth.
The content core for preparation in early childhood education (birth-grade 2) is found in Part 52.21(b)(3)(i)(a):
(a) Content core. In addition to meeting the general requirements for the content core prescribed in clause (2)(ii)(b) of this subdivision, the content core shall be a major, concentration, or the equivalent in one or more of the liberal arts and sciences, which, in combination with the general education core and pedagogical core, shall ensure that the candidate has a knowledge base for teaching to the State learning standards for students, as prescribed in Part 100 of this Title, in the following areas of the early childhood education curriculum: the arts; career development and occupational studies; English language arts; health, physical education, and family and consumer sciences; a language other than English; mathematics, science and technology; and social studies.
Per Commissioner's Regulations Part 52.21(b)(3)(i)(b)(1)(iii), all early childhood education programs provide study in teaching the literacy skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing to native English speakers and students who are English language learners at the childhood level, including methods of reading enrichment and remediation.
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.