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No Child Left Behind: A Desktop Reference
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Early Childhood Educator Professional Development (II-A-5-2151(E))

Purpose

This program aims to enhance the school readiness of young children, particularly those who are disadvantaged, and prevent them from encountering difficulties once they enter school. To achieve this, the program funds partnerships whose goal is to improve the knowledge and skills of early childhood educators who work in communities with high concentrations of children living in poverty. Research has shown that children who receive high-quality early childhood education do better in school and later life. In addition, one of the strongest predictors of a high-quality early childhood education program is the preparation and pay of teachers, as well as their responsiveness and sensitivity to the children in their care. Yet the reality is that pay and preparation for early childhood educators remain low: in 2000, the average teacher salary of child-care workers was $15,430, and only in 20 states and the District of Columbia are teachers who work in public prekindergarten or preschool programs required to have a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate in early childhood or elementary education.

WHAT'S NEW--The No Child Left Behind Act

Focuses on What Works

  • Funds programs based on scientifically based research. Partnerships must describe how the professional development activities that they provide are based on scientific research.
  • Supports professional development for early childhood educators in areas with disadvantaged children. Partnerships may provide professional development to train early childhood educators to meet the diverse educational needs of children in the community, including children who are limited English proficient, children with disabilities, and children with other special needs.
  • Trains early childhood educators to provide developmentally appropriate school-readiness services. Partnerships describe how they will train early childhood educators to provide developmentally appropriate school-readiness services-such as instruction in language, cognitive development, and early reading skills-based on the best available research on early childhood pedagogy, child development, and learning.

Increases Accountability for Professional Development

  • Meets achievement indicators. Partnerships must report annually to the U.S. Department of Education on their progress toward meeting achievement indicators that the secretary has established. These indicators include the quality and accessibility of professional development, the impact of the professional development on early childhood educators, and other measures of program impact.

How It Works

This competitive discretionary grant program is newly authorized under the No Child Left Behind Act, although a somewhat similar grant program existed in 2001. The program will provide two-year grants to partnerships consisting of: (1) one or more institutions of higher education or another public or private entity that provides professional development for early childhood educators who work with children from lowincome families in high-need communities; (2) one or more local or state public agencies,Head Start agencies, or private organizations; and (3) an entity that has demonstrated experience in providing training to educators in early childhood education programs in identifying and preventing behavior problems in children or working with children who are victims or suspected to be victims of abuse.

Key Requirements

Each applicant must submit an application to the U.S. Department of Education that includes, among other things, a description of the high-need community to be served; information on the quality of the early childhood educator professional development program currently being conducted; the results of the needs assessment the partnership has conducted; the types of professional development activities, based on scientific research, that will be carried out; and how the project will be coordinated with and build on, early childhood education professional development activities in the community.

Partnerships that receive grants must carry out activities that will improve the knowledge and skills of early childhood educators who are working in programs in high-need communities that serve concentrations of children from low-income families. Those activities may include professional development in: (1) the application of recent research on child, language and literacy development and early childhood pedagogy; (2) working with parents; (3) working with children who have limited English proficiency, disabilities, and other special needs; and (4) identifying and preventing behavioral problems in children or working with children suspected to be victims of abuse. Other allowable activities include assisting and supporting educators during their first three years; using distance learning to support professional development; and selecting and using screening and diagnostic assessments to improve teaching and learning;. The program also supports data collection, evaluation, and reporting on meeting the achievement indicators established by the secretary.

How It Achieves Quality

The U.S. Department of Education has established achievement indicators for this program that are designed to measure the quality and accessibility of the professional development provided, its impact on early childhood education, and other measures of program impact.

How Quality Is Measured

Every partnership must report annually to the Department on its progress toward achieving the goals specified by these indicators.

Key Activities For The State Education Agencies

State education agencies may apply as part of a partnership. All partnerships that receive grants must use the funds to improve the knowledge and skills of early childhood educators who are working in early childhood programs that are located in high-need communities and serve concentrations of children from low-income families. Partnerships may provide the allowable activities in the statute, and must report to the Department annually on their progress.


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Last Modified: 09/14/2007