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External Resources, Resources | | New America Education Policy Program

Pre-K Teachers and Bachelor’s Degrees

Envisioning Equitable Access to High-Quality Preparation Programs

Early childhood experts and advocates have long called for increasing the education and training of U.S. early childhood workers, and over the past two decades, policymakers have gradually increased credentialing requirements for teachers in Head Start and state-funded pre-K programs. The 2015 report from the National Academies Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation essentially endorsed that trend, recommending that states and other organizations build a system that requires and enables all lead educators in early childhood settings to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with specialized knowledge and competencies in early childhood education. 

New America and Bellwether Education Partners brought experts together for a day-long meeting on September 26, 2017 in Washington, DC, and conducted follow-up interviews. Discussion focused on the group of educators who are poised to achieve this: lead pre-K educators who are teaching three- and four-year-olds in publicly funded classrooms within early learning centers and elementary schools. Discussion also accounted for the fact that current members of the workforce may find it exceedingly difficult to find the time and money to attend college courses and complete traditional preparation programs, given the low wages that come with most jobs in early childhood. The aim of the meeting was to envision what preparation for current and future early educators should look like and to examine the potential of new, more accessible and higher-quality models for degree programs. 

This new report, Pre-K Teachers and Bachelor’s Degrees: Envisioning Equitable Access to High-Quality Preparation Programs, summarizes the ideas from the meeting and follow-up interviews.

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