OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 912 (File 528, as amended by Senate "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE STAFF QUALIFICATIONS REQUIREMENT FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS.

SUMMARY

Existing law increases higher education requirements for school readiness staff in two phases. 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 from an institution accredited by the state or regionally accredited with state approval. In the second phase, 100% of classroom staff in each school readiness program must have either a teaching certificate or a bachelor's degree.

This bill delays the first phase by one year, from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018, and the second phase by one year, from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021.

The bill also creates the following additional ways for school readiness staff to meet the higher education requirements: (1) by holding a bachelor's degree with a concentration in early childhood education from a regionally accredited institution (i.e., does not require approval in Connecticut), (2) by holding an associate degree with a concentration in early childhood from a regionally accredited institution and a program approved in Connecticut (this applies for the first phase only), (3) by submitting a degree for review by the state to determine if it satisfies the requirements, and (4) under the law that already grandfathers in existing early childcare workers (see BACKGROUND).

The bill also makes minor changes to the first phase requirements for those who do not either have a teaching certificate or a bachelor's degree.

It also makes conforming and technical changes.

*Senate Amendment “A” (1) specifies that a qualifying bachelor's degree have a concentration in early childhood education rather than in early childhood education or similar discipline, (2) defines “concentration in early childhood education,” (3) makes minor changes to the current staff requirements, (4) changes first phase staff requirements for staff who do not have a teacher certification or a bachelor's degree, (5) modifies the conditions for submitting a degree for review by the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) to determine if it satisfies state requirements, and (6) makes conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017

EARLY CHILDHOOD DEFINITION

The bill defines “concentration in early childhood education” as a program of study in early childhood education, including early childhood education, child study, child development, or human growth and development.

CURRENT STAFF REQUIREMENTS

Until the first phase of increased higher education requirements begins, current law requires one person in each classroom to have certain credentials. The bill makes minor modifications to the current requirements by adding to the list of acceptable credentials an associate degree or a bachelor's degree with a concentration in early childhood education from a regionally accredited higher education institution.

Current law already permits very similar staff credentials. It allows an associate degree or four-year degree with 12 credits or more in early childhood education or child development. In either of these situations the degree and coursework must be approved by the early childhood commissioner or the president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities after consultation with the OEC commissioner.

FIRST PHASE REQUIREMENT CHANGES

The first phase of the higher staff requirements establishes two groups of employees, with one group needing a higher level of education. The bill makes changes to both groups.

Under current law, at least 50% of classroom staff in each state-funded school readiness program must have a higher level of education by holding 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 from an institution accredited by the state or regionally accredited with state approval.

The bill authorizes OEC to issue an early childhood teacher credential to anyone who holds an associate degree (or bachelor's) with a concentration in early childhood education from a higher education institution that is accredited regionally and the program is approved by (1) the Board of Regents (BOR) or Office of Higher Education (OHE) and (2) OEC. Under the bill, staff with this credential count towards the 50% required to have a higher level of education.

The bill also makes minor changes to the first phase requirement for those who do not either have a teaching certificate or a bachelor's degree. Under current law, up to 50% of those employed in a state-funded school readiness program can meet the state qualification requirements if they hold an associate's degree with a concentration in early childhood education or a similar discipline from a higher education institution that is accredited regionally and by the BOR or OHE and the program is approved by (1) the BOR or OHE and (2) OEC. The bill modifies this to an associate's degree with a concentration in early childhood education from a regionally accredited institution.

DEGREE REVIEW FOR SUFFICIENCY

Current law permits someone with a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or child development or a bachelor's degree and at least 12 credits early childhood education or child development to submit documentation to OEC for review and assessment to determine whether the degree has a sufficient concentration in early childhood education to satisfy state requirements. The bill modifies this by also (1) allowing those with associate's degrees with the above mentioned coursework to submit and (2) specifying that those with a concentration in early childhood may also submit for review. The bill requires that a degree be from a regionally accredited higher education institution.

BACKGROUND

Grandfathering

Two existing statutory provisions allow certain school readiness staff members to meet the higher education requirements (i.e., are grandfathered).

Under one provision, staff members are considered to have satisfied the requirements 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 in Connecticut 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 requirements (CGS 10-16p(b)(5)).

Under a second provision, staff members are considered to have met the requirements if they (1) were employed by a program on June 30, 2015 and (2) have a (a) bachelor's degree in early childhood education or child development or (b) bachelor's degree and at least 12 credits in in early childhood education or child development (CGS 10-16p(b)(3)).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

36

Nay

0

(03/22/2017)