PA 15-134—sHB 7020

Education Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS AND INITIATIVES

SUMMARY: This act makes a number of changes in the early childhood education statutes. It requires:

1. the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) to (a) quarterly perform and publicly post a trend analysis of regionally accredited bachelor's degree programs in early childhood education or child development, (b) review analysis results when considering whether to approve bachelor's degrees that lack state or regional accreditation, and (c) base such approvals upon trend analysis results ( 1);

2. local or regional boards of education and regional education service centers operating preschool magnet programs, as well as state or local charter school governing councils offering preschool programs, to obtain National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) program accreditation beginning in the 2017-18 school year ( 2);

3. OEC to develop a plan to help state-funded early childhood education program providers implement stricter staff qualifications required by law and submit the plan to the Education Committee by January 1, 2016 ( 4);

4. OEC to report to the Education Committee, by July 1 annually, on school readiness program providers' compliance with the stricter staff qualification requirements ( 5);

5. local and regional boards of education to include OEC's preschool experience survey (see BACKGROUND) in their kindergarten registration materials, rather than leave it to the boards' discretion ( 6); and

6. grandfathering certain school readiness staff into stricter staff qualifications through June 30, 2025 ( 8).

The act also (1) postpones by two years, from July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2017, the deadline by which certain school readiness staff must meet the first phase of stricter staff qualifications ( 8) and (2) allows OEC to provide funding, within available appropriations, to local and regional early childhood councils (see BACKGROUND) to implement early care and education and child development programs ( 3).

It also makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015, except the following provisions are effective upon passage: (1) OEC's plan to help early childhood program providers meet stricter staff qualifications, (2) postponement of these new staff qualifications, and (3) grandfathering of school readiness staff.

1 – TREND ANALYSIS

Beginning July 1, 2015, the act requires OEC to collect data on early childhood education or child development bachelor's degree programs from regionally accredited higher education institutions that have not been approved by the (1) Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR) or (2) Office of Higher Education (OHE) and OEC. The act defines these degree programs as those that have a concentration in early childhood education, including bachelors' degrees in early childhood education, child study, child development, or human growth and development.

Under the act, OEC must use the collected data at least quarterly to conduct a trend analysis to determine (1) whether such degree programs align with NAEYC teacher preparation standards and (2) which courses and concentrations offered as part of these degree programs align with NAEYC teacher preparation standards. OEC must publish the analysis results on its website and review them when considering whether individuals' bachelor's degrees that lack state or regional accreditation have a sufficient early childhood education concentration. If the trend analysis determines that an individual's degree aligns with NAEYC standards, OEC must find that the individual meets the state's school readiness staff qualifications.

4, 5, & 8 – SCHOOL READINESS STAFF QUALIFICATIONS

8 – Postponement of Stricter Staff Qualifications

Existing law imposes stricter school readiness staff qualifications in two phases, but the act delays the first phase by two years to June 1, 2017. The second phase, under existing law unchanged by the act, begins July 1, 2020.

In the first phase, at least 50% of classroom staff in each state-funded school readiness program must hold either a (1) teaching certificate with an endorsement in early childhood education or early childhood special education or (2) bachelor's degree with an early childhood education concentration that is accredited by the state or regionally accredited with state approval. The remaining 50% of the staff must hold an associate's degree in early childhood education, child study, child development, or human growth and development that is accredited by the state or regionally accredited with state approval.

In phase two, 100% of classroom staff in each school readiness program must have either a teaching certificate or bachelor's degree.

8 – Grandfathering

Under the act, school readiness staff members are considered to have satisfied the stricter staff qualifications (i. e. , are grandfathered) through June 30, 2025 if they have:

1. an associate's degree with at least 12 credits in early childhood education or child development from a higher education institution accredited by BOR or OHE and regionally accredited and

2. been employed by the same school readiness program since at least 1995.

Beginning July 1, 2025, these staff members must hold a childhood development associate credential or an equivalent credential or otherwise meet the law's stricter qualification requirements. If a grandfathered staff member terminates his or her employment with the program on or before June 30, 2025 and accepts a position at another program, he or she must submit documentation to OEC showing progress toward meeting the stricter requirements.

4 – Staff Qualification Assistance Plan

The act requires OEC to develop a plan to help state-funded early childhood education program providers implement the stricter staff qualifications the law requires. The plan must include ways to:

1. help school readiness program staff obtain bachelor's degrees with a concentration in early childhood education,

2. increase the salaries of or provide incentives for staff who already hold a bachelor's degree or otherwise meet the stricter qualifications, and

3. retain staff who already hold a bachelor's degree or otherwise meet the new qualifications.

BACKGROUND

Preschool Experience Survey

The law required OEC to develop a preschool experience survey by March 1, 2015. This voluntary survey allows boards of education to collect information on:

1. whether a child enrolling in kindergarten has participated in a preschool program and

2. either the (a) nature, length, and setting of the preschool program in which the child participated or (b) reasons why the child did not participate in a program, including financial difficulty, lack of transportation, parental choice, limited hours of operation, or any other barriers (CGS 10-515).

Early Childhood Councils

Local and regional early childhood councils develop early childhood policy and program planning, encourage parental involvement, and allocate resources, among other functions (CGS 10-502).

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