Definitions Related to Teaching Staff Members

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Many terms are used to classify the teaching staff members who work directly with children in child care, preschool, and kindergarten programs.  For example, the terms teacher, lead teacher, master teacher, assistant teacher, teacher aide, caregiver, child care provider, and floater are commonly used to classify positions of varying responsibility.  For the purpose of NAEYC Accreditation, only two titles are used to represent teaching staff members: teacher and assistant teacher-teacher aide.  Individuals should be classified as these positions based on the role they fill.  Programs may engage other individuals to support the program administrator and teaching staff, but NAEYC does not outline qualifications for these additional roles.  Those staff members whose assigned roles are teacher or assistant teacher-teacher aide must meet the requirements for those positions as outlined by NAEYC Accreditation.


Teaching Staff

All adults working at a program who are assigned the role of teacher or assistant teacher-teacher aide.
Adult with primary responsibility for a group of children. 
For the purposes of NAEYC Accreditation, a group of children is defined as those children who are assigned for most of the day to a specific teacher or a team of teaching staff members and who occupy an individual classroom or well-defined space that prevents intermingling of children from different groups within a larger room or area.  Each group must have at least one designated teacher.  The teacher must spend the vast majority of time with one group of children who attend at the same time rather than divide time between classrooms or float between groups.
Assistant teacher–teacher aide
Adult who works under the direct supervision of a teacher.
An assistant teacher–teacher aide can work independently in a teacher’s absence, but for the vast majority of the time, the assistant teacher–teacher aide works directly with the teacher in the same space and with the same group of children.
Adult who replaces a specific teacher or assistant teacher–teacher aide on a temporary basis.
A substitute who replaces a specific teacher or assistant teacher-teacher aide for 20 or more consecutive business days must be considered a member of the teaching staff.  NAEYC recognizes that programs may use substitutes to supplement the teaching staff.
Other adult
Adult not considered part of the teaching staff, including:
  • Cook, bus driver, janitorial or administrative support staff member
  • Foster grandparent or volunteer reading buddy
  • Parent participating in a parent cooperative program (such as a cooperative nursery school)
  • Individual who supports the ongoing work of the teacher and assistant teacher by assisting with routine tasks such as room set-up, cleaning, meals, transitions, and supervision of napping children
  • Special subject teacher (such as music or art) or other ancillary professional*
*Ancillary Professionals: Adult with appropriate specialized credentials that engages children in planned activities and experiences (e.g., therapeutic consultant, music teacher, gym teacher, speech-language therapist, librarian).  When an ancillary professional (such as a music teacher, art teacher, or librarian) is providing a planned activity for one hour or less, that person may be counted toward the teaching staff ratio but does not need to be included in other reporting requirements for the teaching staff.  An ancillary professional working in this capacity should have the orientation described in Criterion 6.A.03 for substitutes and volunteers.


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Speak directly with NAEYC Early Learning Program staff about the NAEYC Accreditation process, educational qualifications, classes, and much more by contacting us at 1-800-424-2460, option 3.