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.
South Carolina requires its early childhood education teacher candidates, who are licensed to teach grades PreK-3,
the Praxis Education of Young Children (5024) test.
Emergent Literacy and Oral Language: The Praxis 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.
South Carolina requires all early childhood teacher candidates to complete a 12-credit-hour sequence in literacy that includes "comprehension, oral language, phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, and vocabulary." South Carolina also requires that teacher preparation programs must "ensure that all teacher education candidates possess the knowledge and skills to assist effectively all children in becoming proficient readers" and "prioritize their missions and resources so all early and elementary education teachers have the knowledge and skills to provide effective instruction in reading and numeracy to all students."
South Carolina's literacy competencies address both emergent literacy and oral language by requiring early childhood education teachers to be able to:
Praxis Test Requirement www.ets.org SC Board of Education Regulation 43-51 SC Code of Laws SECTION 59-155-180 and 59-26-30 S.C. Code Ann. Section Literacy Competencies for PreK-5 Teachers http://ed.sc.gov/scdoe/assets/File/instruction/read-to-succeed/Reading%20Coaches/Literacy_Competencies_for_PreK-5th_Grade_Teachers.pdf
Ensure that all preschool teachers possess sufficient knowledge of emergent mathematics and science.
South Carolina 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 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. South Carolina should ensure that all preschool teachers possess adequate understanding of these skills.
South Carolina noted that proposed amendments to will require candidates completing educator preparation programs in early childhood, elementary, and special education to pass a stand-alone test in the area of reading instruction in order to become certified in South Carolina. The state added that the suggestion is NCTQ believes that candidates should be required to complete a subject area assessment (Praxis 5025), a pedagogy assessment related to early childhood (Praxis 5204), and a reading assessment. Any recommendations related to the cost of these assessments for candidates would not only be appreciated by states—but also critical as we navigate the reality of declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs.
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.