Thursday, June 23, 2016

Professional Development: A Cornerstone of High-Quality Programs & Outcomes for Children

Levels of education among early learning professionals in Washington, and around the country, vary significantly. Research is clear that children who attend high-quality early learning programs are more likely to be ready for Kindergarten and perform successfully in school and beyond. We know that the quality of any early childhood education program depends significantly on the qualifications of its teachers. 

Several studies on teacher preparation indicate the importance of a highly-skilled and trained workforce when it comes to positive child outcomes:

· “The professional development of practitioners is universally recognized in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) as a key ingredient to improving the quality of early care and education. Research also shows that qualified and well-compensated care providers and teachers are the cornerstone of high-quality early childhood programs.”[1]

· “Well-educated teachers with specialized training in early childhood education have the knowledge and skills to positively impact child outcomes. Research shows that the most effective preschool teachers have a four-year degree with specialized training in teaching young children.”[2]

· “Preparation programs, training, mentoring and coaching, and in-service professional development are all critical direct mechanisms for developing and sustaining the knowledge and competencies of professionals.”[3]
DEL staff and state partners at the National Academy of Medicine state convening in early May. Washington State Department of Early Learning, Thrive Washington, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Child Care Aware, Head Start Collaboration Office, Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Council and Higher Education Partners.
State and national momentum is increasing to support policy change to address low wages, accessibility of professional development and highlighting the connection between teacher preparation and child outcomes. The Department of Early Learning is working alongside state and national partners in state planning efforts and national learning tables. A recent workforce survey went out to early learning programs all around the state to learn more about experiences related to educator hiring and retention.  Stay tuned for the results of that survey and more information about our state’s work to support the early learning workforce.

[1] Building an Early Childhood Professional Development System (2010) NGA Center For Best Practice Issue Brief Full Report

[2] J. Coffman and M.E. Lopez, “Raising Preschool Teacher Qualifications,” Montclair and New York: The Schumann Fund for New Jersey and The Trust for Early Education, 2003).Full Report

[3] Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC). 2015. Transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8: A unifying foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Full report

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