NAEYC Higher Education Accreditation Standards
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NAEYC's higher education accreditation system accredits early childhood degree programs preparing individuals for beginning career roles as early childhood educators. Throughout 2021 and 2022, the accreditation system is in the process of transitioning from the 2010 NAEYC Standards for Initial Early Childhood Professional Preparation Programs to the 2021 Ensuring Quality in Early Childhood Education Professional Preparation Programs: NAEYC’s Early Childhood Higher Education Accreditation Standards. The Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs uses these standards as the basis for the accreditation of associate, baccalaureate and initial master's degree programs (the Commission does not accredit early childhood degree programs preparing individuals for advanced practitioner roles at this time).
About the Standards Revision Process
In 2020, following the release of the Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators and the Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession, the Commission began the process of revising NAEYC’s higher education accreditation standards both to reflect developments in the early childhood education profession and as a routine and healthy practice for an accrediting body. The Commission appointed a workgroup – comprised of stakeholders across the early childhood education field – to lead this effort. Over the course of several months, the Standards Workgroup and Commission considered the strengths and challenges of the 2010 accreditation standards, gathered feedback from the accreditation community, and considered the needs and guidelines of the early childhood education profession. This work culminated in the release of Ensuring Quality in Early Childhood Education Professional Preparation Programs: NAEYC’s Early Childhood Higher Education Accreditation Standards in October 2021. These standards define expectations for what early childhood education professional preparation programs must do in order to achieve accreditation—with a focus on how preparation programs will know that graduates are meeting the Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators, as well as the supports programs provide to aid candidate success.
The Commission extends deepest appreciation for the Standards Workgroup’s contributions to these standards, for the faculty who participated in surveys and provided feedback during the open comment period, and for the hundreds of programs and faculty who are part of the accreditation system.
About the 2021 Higher Education Accreditation Standards
Each of the six new accreditation standards (Standards A-F) addresses an important component of quality ECE professional preparation programs and contains a brief summary statement followed by a set of indicators for meeting it. As with the previous standards, each standard must be met in order to achieve accreditation.
To support programs’ understanding of accreditation expectations, each standard is accompanied by examples of evidence that programs are required or encouraged to submit in the Self-Study Report and/or during the site visit. Standards also include guidance designed to clarify the expectations of the standard and/or to acknowledge important contextual factors that may impact programs.
About the Standards Transition Timeline
Programs submitting first-time or renewal Self-Study Reports in March or September 2022 may choose to use the 2010 or 2021 Standards. Programs submitting first-time or renewal Self-Study Reports as part of the March 2023 submission cycle and beyond must use the new higher education accreditation standards (including programs who choose to submit their reports early prior to the March 2023 deadline but after the September 2022 cycle’s two-week grace period). Please see this chart that outlines expectations for programs with regard to transitioning to the new accreditation standards. To assist programs in beginning to prepare for the transition, we're pleased to share this draft of the first-time Self-Study Report template for the 2021 standards. The final editable version of the template, as well as a version for renewal programs, will be published in the Accreditation Resource Library later in 2021.
Webinar and Other Opportunities to Learn About the Standards Transition
On November 4, 2021 from 2:00-3:15 PM Eastern time, Commissioners and NAEYC staff will host a webinar providing an overview of the new accreditation standards and accompanying 2021 Self-Study Report template. The webinar will be recorded for those who cannot attend live. Register for the Webinar
Faculty can also sign up to join one of several scheduled office hours designated as informal opportunities to ask NAEYC staff and Commissioners questions related to the new accreditation standards and template. Sign up for Office Hours
In addition to these live opportunities, stay tuned for the following additional resources to be shared in the coming weeks:
- An overview of the Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators (pre-recorded presentation; best suited for programs transitioning to the new accreditation standards in 2022 or preparing to align curricula to the Professional Standards and Competencies in advance of transitioning to the new accreditation standards in 2023 and beyond)
- Aligning Assessments to the 2010 Standards (pre-recorded presentation; best suited for programs submitting Self-Study Reports in 2022 and choosing not to transition to the new accreditation standards or Professional Standards and Competencies yet)
- Completing the 2020/2021 Self-Study Report Templates (downloadable slides; best suited for programs submitting Self-Study Reports in 2022 and choosing not to transition to the new accreditation standards yet)
We welcome your questions as you begin the journey of transitioning from the old to the new. As questions arise, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can learn how best to support your program.
Download the 2021 NAEYC Higher Education Accreditation Standards
Programs submitting first-time or renewal Self-Study Reports as part of the March 2023 submission cycle and beyond must use the 2021 standards. Programs submitting reports in 2022 submission cycles may choose whether to submit using the 2021 or 2010 standards.
Download the 2010 NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards
Programs submitting first-time or renewal Self-Study Reports as part of March or September 2022 submission cycles may choose to submit using the 2010 standards, or may choose to transition to the 2021 standards prior to the 2023 transition deadline.