Notice Clarifying Expectations Regarding Alignment to NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards
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The Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs is committed to maintaining a high-quality accreditation system and to supporting programs that are seeking or maintaining their accreditation. In the spirit of continuous improvement and transparency, the Commission would like to provide a set of reminders regarding the requirements related to Self-Study Reports and Annual Reports, and clarify the expectations with which the Commission is evaluating all programs. Most of the following are already required in the accreditation system. Those that are new expectations are accompanied with a date by when programs must be implementing the policy.
All programs must use the 2010 NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards as they prepare their first-time and renewal Self-Study Reports and Annual Reports.
Programs must submit rubrics rather than other types of scoring guides (i.e. checklists, etc.) with their key assessments. This policy becomes effective for the September 30, 2017 submission date for Annual Reports and Self-Study Reports. Rubrics, rather than scoring guides, allow for programs to meaningfully distinguish between different levels of student performance expectations. Current policy allows programs to submit either rubrics or scoring guides. However, for the last two years, NAEYC has been recommending that programs shift to using rubrics instead of scoring guides, and the vast majority of programs that submit first-time and renewal Self-Study Reports as well as Annual Reports have made this shift.
All key elements of the standards should be identified and labeled in key assessments (instructions and rubrics) included in Self-Study Reports and Annual Reports. The labels should be embedded within the instructions and rubrics of the key assessments. This policy becomes effective for the September 30, 2017 submission date for Annual Reports and Self-Study Reports. This is currently a longstanding recommendation from the Commission and has been shared widely through the accreditation system’s professional development opportunities (webinars, in-person trainings, etc.). It has not, though, until this point been a requirement. After reviewing numerous programs, the Commission has found that labeling key elements in the key assessments has provided a clearer understanding to faculty, candidates, the Commission, and peer reviewers about which of NAEYC’s Professional Preparation Standards are being addressed in the assessment. This, in turn, has allowed the Commission to provide clearer feedback to programs. Programs are advised, however, that labeling is necessary but not sufficient: alignment must be present in the substance of the assessment itself, not only through the insertion of a label.
All programs must provide field experience opportunities in two of the three types of settings and two of the three early childhood age groups. While it has been considered an indicator of strength for programs to have field and clinical experiences that provide opportunities for candidates to observe and practice in at least two of the three early childhood age groups (birth-age 3, 3-5, 5-8) and in at least two of the three main types of early education settings (early school grades, early education and care centers and homes, Head Start programs), it has not been a requirement. Moving forward this will become a requirement for achieving and maintaining accreditation. This policy becomes effective for the September 30, 2017 submission date of Self-Study Reports. For programs seeking first-time or renewal accreditation, not meeting this requirement will result in receiving a condition if the program receives a favorable accreditation decision. Standard Seven of the 2010 NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards - Early Childhood Field Experiences – had previously been addressed through Criterion Five in the accreditation Self-Study Report. Future versions of the Self-Study Report template will be revised to remove this criterion and add a new section for programs to address Standard Seven. Programs may meet the standard through field experiences of varying lengths prior to and/or including a capstone experience; a definition of 'field experience' is included in the glossary of the Accreditation Handbook.
Programs seeking accreditation for the first time are required to include one application of data for Standards One through Six in their Self-Study Report. Not including the data will result in a condition if the program receives a favorable accreditation decision. This policy becomes effective for the September 30, 2017 submission date for Self-Study Reports. Prior to this point, programs seeking first-time accreditation needed only provide a descriptive plan for how they would collect and use data, with the knowledge that data would be reported through the Annual Report process. Throughout recent reviews of program reports, peer reviewers and Commissioners have found that many issues programs had regarding alignment of key assessments to standards may have been more easily noticed and addressed by the program prior to Self-Study Report submission if they had used their key assessments and reviewed the resulting data at least once.
Key assessments should address the full depth and breadth of the cognitive demands and skill requirements described within the standards. Reviewing the full standards document–not just the key elements or short summaries–will help programs gain a clearer picture of what meeting the standards looks like in practice. Pay special attention to the “know, understand, do” pattern that occurs in most of the standards’ key elements. Programs’ collective set of key assessments should ensure that degree candidates have the opportunity to demonstrate their performance at both the knowledge and the application level for each standard. Also note important but sometimes overlooked connector words within standards. For example, to meet Standard 2, key assessments should include a focus on families AND communities.
Each line of a rubric must measure key elements from only one standard. While multiple key elements from the same standard may be measured within a single line of the rubric, programs are encouraged to consider limiting each rubric line to a single key element to provide the most meaningful data on student performance. Key elements from multiple standards cannot be measured within the same line on a rubric. Clustering the key elements in this manner will not allow the program to disaggregate the data by standard. If there is clustering of the key elements of different standards, the Commission cites this as a condition when a program receives a favorable accreditation decision.
Rubrics of the key assessments should include objective and qualitative language that clearly distinguishes between how candidates meet and do not meet the standards. While quantitative distinctions of performance are not prohibited, the emphasis should be on the qualities that differentiate candidate performance at the various levels of the rubrics. When a rubric is primarily quantitative in nature, this results in a condition as part of a favorable accreditation decision. Programs are also encouraged to review their rubrics for subjective language that may be interpreted differently by different faculty, candidates, or other stakeholders.
Programs are encouraged to review and utilize the rubrics for standards at the back of the 2010 NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards to better understand how the Commission determines whether programs meet the Standards. These rubrics are also a helpful tool for programs to support the development of rubrics for their own key assessments.