UC Berkeley ECE Teacher Development in Higher Education
Midway through the second decade of this century, the importance of early care and education (ECE) to children’s lifelong learning and to our nation’s economic well-being is recognized up to the highest levels of government, and in businesses, schools, and living rooms across the country. This understanding represents a dramatic shift from earlier decades, and carries with it heightened expectations for what teachers of young children should know and be able to do (Whitebook, Phillips, & Howes, 2014), in light of mounting evidence about inadequate and unequal educational quality, particularly for children of color and those living in low-income families. (Yoshikawa et al., 2013; Hernandez, 2011; Karoly, 2009).
In 2015, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences issued several recommendations to strengthen professional preparation standards for early childhood practitioners and the institutions responsible for their preparation and ongoing learning. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation (Institute of Medicine [IOM] & National Research Council [NRC], 2015), includes among its recommendations: 1) transitioning to a minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree, with specialized knowledge and competencies, for all lead teachers working with children from birth to age eight; and 2) the development and enhancement of interdisciplinary higher education programs for early care and education professionals, including practice-based and supervised learning opportunities.