Research, Decision Cycle Documents, and Additional Sources informing the Unifying Framework

Transforming the Workforce

Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation

The Institute of Medicine’s seminal report supports building a workforce unified by the science of child development and early learning and the shared knowledge and competencies needed to provide consistent, high-quality support for the development and early learning of children from birth through age 8.

Decision Cycles

All the components of the Unifying Framework are interconnected and dependent on one another. In order to manage this complexity, the Power to the Profession initiative was structured as a series of coordinated, iterative and strategic decision cycles. These cycles were designed to be predictable and intentionally sequenced to build on one another in order to lead to a unified framework.

Decision Cycle 1 – Professional Identity and Boundary

The initial cycle addressed the name, identity, scope, and responsibilities of what has been embraced as the early childhood education profession. Decision Cycle 1 is based on the central concept that early childhood educators care for and promote the learning, development and well-being of children birth through age eight in all early childhood settings while meeting the qualifications of the profession and having mastery of its specialized knowledge, skills, and competencies.

Decision Cycle 2 – General Competencies

The second cycle addressed the question of how to use our existing resources and arrive at a set of agreed-upon standards and competencies that encompass required knowledge and skills for all individuals within the early childhood education profession, as defined in Decision Cycle 1. The Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators is the result of Decision Cycle 2.

Decision Cycle 345+6 – Preparation, Pathways, and Compensation

This set of draft recommendations lays out a bold vision for the future of the profession and offers a unifying pathway to get there. Recommendations are focused on differentiating pathways, preparation, and compensation.

Decision Cycle 7+8 – Resources, Infrastructure, and Accountability

The last set of recommendations addresses the resources, infrastructure, and accountability structures needed across states and systems to support a prepared, diverse, well-compensated early childhood education profession.

Professional Standards & Competencies for Early Childhood Educators

The Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators describes what all early childhood educators must know and be able to do, and as articulated in the Unifying Framework, will serve as the foundational standards and competencies for the early childhood education profession.  It places diversity and equity at the center and responds to the critical competencies identified in Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, the seminal 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council.

The full document includes the leveling of the standards and competencies to the ECE I, II and III designations described in the Unifying Framework, recommendations for implementing the standards and competencies across the early childhood field, a summary of the research as well as resources and references that informed the document, a glossary of terms, and list of the workgroup members who led the revisions the Professional Standards and Competencies.

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Increasing Qualifications, Centering Equity: Experiences and Advice from Early Childhood Educators of Color

Choosing whether, when, how, and for whom to raise the bar on the qualifications for working as an early childhood educator requires a complex set of decisions, data, and investments. Yet as our collective understanding of the crucial importance of the early years gives way to a focus on the knowledge, skills, competencies, and dispositions of those working with children in those years, we are obligated to concentrate on what it will take to raise expectations and qualifications at scale, while centering equity in the process.

Therefore, building on a shared interest in equity and advancing the profession, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and The Education Trust decided to team up to meet 50 early childhood educators of color in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Wisconsin to lead and analyze 5 focus groups to unearth this expertise. The report, Increasing Qualifications, Centering Equity: Experiences and Advice from Early Childhood Educators of Color, is the result of that collaboration. The report provides policy implications based on the responses and recommendations to three main questions: (1) How do early childhood educators of color perceive policies that raise the educational requirements they have to reach in order to keep their jobs? (2) In what ways, if any, has the implementation of these policies impacted the career trajectories of early childhood educators of color? (3) What advice do early childhood educators of color who have “lived through” these policy changes have for policymakers and leaders heading toward similar change?

Read the full report and press release. Thank you to the Goldman Foundation and the Alliance for Early Success for the support that made this project and paper possible.