Published Online: September 20, 2004

Teaching & Learning Update

4-Year Degrees Urged for Those Who Teach Infants and Toddlers

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Among policymakers and experts in early-childhood education, agreement has been growing in recent years that every preschool teacher should have a bachelor's degree. Now, along comes a new report from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education that takes that recommendation even further, saying that teachers who work with infants and toddlers should also have four-year degrees.

The position statement, called "The Early Childhood Challenge: Preparing High-Quality Teachers for a Changing Society," is the Washington-based membership group's effort to weigh in on the preparation of early-childhood teachers at a time when states and the federal government are increasing their attempts to provide school readiness programs.

"While emphasis on curriculum and content is important, high-quality early- childhood-education teachers are essential for addressing pervasive and persistent educational problems such as low reading and math achievement, particularly of children from low socioeconomic environments," says the paper, which was written by a "focus council" of early-childhood-education experts from eight of the association's member institutions.

The paper says that those who educate early-childhood teachers in colleges of education should themselves have experience in the field, and that multiple departments and schools within universities-not just education-can contribute to a preparation program for such teachers.

The authors make a number of recommendations for schools, colleges, and departments of education: Among them, teacher-preparation programs should be linked to states' early-learning standards; early-childhood education should be treated as a special discipline, separate from elementary education; and agreements should be forged that make it easier for students to transfer associate's-degree-level courses into bachelor's programs.

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The report is available online at

Vol. 23, Issue 44

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