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.
Texas offers a PreK-6 license, which is the state's de facto elementary license. Candidates are required to pass the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards (TExES) Core Subjects EC-6 (291) examination. (See Elementary Teacher Preparation Goals 2-A through 2-C for analyses of elementary requirements.)
Emergent Literacy and Oral Language: Texas's required Core Subjects (EC-6) test covers emergent literacy in depth by requiring candidates to demonstrate an understanding of the main components of emergent literacy including concepts of print, phonemic and phonological awareness, the alphabetic principle, vocabulary development, fluency and reading comprehension. The test covers oral language in depth and requires that candidates understand "relationships between oral language and literacy development."
Emergent Mathematics and Science: Texas's required Core Subjects (EC-6) test measures candidates' content knowledge on key mathematical concepts such as numbers and operations, algebra, geometry and measurement, data, statistics and probability. Such background is necessary to teaching emerging math learners.
The test measures candidates' content knowledge of scientific subjects such as life, earth, and physical science etc., as well as, science processes such as observation and data collection. Such background is necessary to teaching emerging science learners.
Early Childhood Development: Texas has neither preparation standards nor test requirements that address early childhood development from birth through age eight.
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. Texas has neither preparation standards nor test requirements that address factors contributing to a productive classroom environment.
Test Requirement http://cms.texes-ets.org/texes/ Texas Administrative Code 231.611; 228.30(b)(1); 149.1001 Texas Education Code Subchapter D Sec. 21.050.a Undergraduate Educator Certification Requirements http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/index.cfm?objectid=7B5C8199-DD66-7300-333B2901D221FA26 Approved Educator Standards http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Preparation_and_Continuing_Education/Approved_Educator_Standards/
Ensure that all preschool teachers possess sufficient knowledge of the main developmental stages from birth through age eight.
Texas 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.
Texas 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.
Texas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that the State Board for Educator Certification will be revising the requirements for the elementary certificate over the next year with issuance of the new EC-3 certificate anticipated beginning in the fall of 2019.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.
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.