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.
Wisconsin offers an early childhood license from birth through age eight. Candidates are required to pass the Praxis II Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (5018) test and the National Evaluation Series (NES) Foundations of Reading test.
Emergent Literacy and Oral Language: The Praxis II Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (5018) test measures candidates' knowledge of the main concepts of emergent literacy, including the role of phonological awareness, fluency, phonics and word analysis in literacy development. The test does not address oral language. The Foundations of Reading test also requires candidates to demonstrate an understanding of the main components of emergent literacy, including concepts of print, phonemic and phonological awareness, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension. The test references oral language in the context of phonemic and phonological awareness, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension.
Emergent Mathematics and Science: The Praxis II Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (5018) test measures candidates' content knowledge on key mathematical concepts such as numbers and operations, algebraic thinking, geometry and measurement, and data, statistics and probability. Such background is necessary to teaching emerging math learners. The Praxis II Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (5018) test measures candidates' content knowledge in key areas of science, such as Earth and space science, life science and physical science and the basic elements of scientific inquiry. Such background is necessary to teach emerging learners science.
Early Childhood Development: The Praxis II Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (5018) test does not address early childhood development from birth through age eight. Wisconsin's early childhood Content Guidelines require that the early childhood teacher "will demonstrate knowledge and skills in:
Praxis Test Requirement www.ets.org Foundations of Reading Test http://www.wi.nesinc.com/ Wisconsin Administrative Code PI 34. 27 Wis. Stat. 118.19(3)(a) Program Content Guidelines https://dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/epp/guidelines
Ensure that all preschool teachers possess the skills to create a positive and productive classroom environment.
Wisconsin 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.
Wisconsin responded with a helpful question that resulted in our clarification of this goal.
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.