Defining and Recognizing High-Quality Early Learning Programs: NAEYC's 10 Accreditation Standards
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As a preschool teacher, you know that the work you do impacts children’s whole lives. High-quality early learning leads to many positive outcomes in life, including increased educational attainment, healthier lifestyles, and more successful careers.
NAEYC Accreditation of Early Learning Programs helps teachers and other early learning program staff develop a shared understanding of and commitment to quality. It offers programs access to continuous quality-improvement resources, such as the latest research on best practices, training, and technical assistance. Participating in the accreditation process results in greater staff morale and retention—keys to creating even better outcomes for children.
Currently, more than 10,000 programs are participating in our system nationwide and internationally on military bases, meaning NAEYC Accreditation positively impacts the lives of more than one million children!
The foundation for NAEYC Accreditation consists of 10 standards. These standards are research based, field tested, and consistently improved upon based on educator feedback. Collaboration with early learning programs across the country makes the standards, and the processes and systems for assessing implementation of those standards, stronger every day.
In this special edition of Teaching Young Children, one article is devoted to each of the 10 standards. The authors are all experienced educators, teacher educators, and researchers. Instead of introducing the standards, they tackle critical issues related to each standard and offer examples, tips, and strategies, many of which are drawn from accredited programs. During the accreditation process, programs are rigorously evaluated on all 10 standards. In this special issue, there is a box at the end of each article with selected assessment items to help you become familiar with the expectations set for accredited programs. Together, they provide a picture of the challenging and rewarding work that educators in high-quality, accredited programs do every day to ensure that each and every child receives an excellent early education.
Here is an overview of the standards. For details, visit
NAEYC Accreditation Standards
Standard 1: Relationships
The program promotes positive relationships between all children and adults to encourage each child’s sense of individual worth and belonging as part of a community and to foster each child’s ability to contribute as a responsible community member.
Standard 2: Curriculum
The program implements a curriculum that is consistent with its goals for children and that promotes learning and development in each of the following areas: social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive.
Standard 3: Teaching
The program uses a variety of developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and effective teaching approaches that enhance each child’s learning and development in the context of the program’s curriculum goals.
Standard 4: Assessment of Child Progress
The program uses a variety of formal and informal assessment approaches to provide information on children’s learning and development. These assessments occur in the context of reciprocal communications between teachers and families, and with sensitivity to the cultural contexts in which children are developing. The program uses assessment results to inform decisions about the children in their care, to improve teaching practices, and to drive program improvement.
Standard 5: Health
The program promotes the nutrition and health of children and protects children and staff from illness.
Standard 6: Staff Competencies, Preparation, and Support
The program employs and supports a teaching and administrative staff that have the qualifications, knowledge, and professional commitment necessary to promote children’s learning and development and to support families’ diverse needs and interests.
Standard 7: Families
The program establishes and maintains collaborative relationships with each child’s family to foster children’s development in all settings. These relationships are sensitive to family composition, language, and culture.
Standard 8: Community Relationships
The program establishes relationships with and uses the resources of the children’s communities to support the achievement of program goals.
Standard 9: Physical Environment
The program has a safe and healthful environment that provides appropriate and well-maintained indoor and outdoor physical environments. The environment includes facilities, equipment, and materials to facilitate child and staff learning and development.
Standard 10: Leadership and Management
The program effectively implements policies, procedures, and systems that support stable staff and strong personnel, fiscal, and program management so all children, families, and staff have high-quality experiences.
Photograph: © Getty Images
Vol. 13, No. 1