Act 13 of 2020, signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on March 27, 2020, revises the Act 82 Educator Effectiveness (EE) process used to evaluate professional employees and temporary professional employees in PK-12 education across the commonwealth. The revised rating system applies to classroom teachers, nonteaching professionals, and principals as defined in Act 13.
The AAMC published new guidelines in May 2014 to provide expectations for both learners and teachers that include 13 Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Entering Residency (AAMC Core EPAs) that all medical students should be able to perform upon entering residency, regardless of their future career specialty. The guidelines were based on emerging literature documenting a performance gap at the transition point between medical school and residency training. Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) were chosen as the framework for the guidelines because they offer a practical approach to assessing competence in real-world settings and impact both learners and patients.
This child care crisis has received increased attention in recent years, from policymakers, political candidates, and voters.3 However, there remains a critical need to better understand the components of high-quality programs to ensure policy solutions adequately support and promote access to quality for all families. To that end, this issue brief highlights three core indicators of high-quality early childhood programs, and identifies six structural supports that are necessary to achieve and maintain high quality. These indicators and supports provide a roadmap for policymakers as they develop solutions to the current child care crisis and can also serve as a guide for parents seeking to make the best and most informed choices for their child.
Moderate-income families are typically ineligible for these publicly funded programs, but at the same time, such families struggle to afford the high cost of care in the private sector.19 This leaves parents facing a series of difficult choices, including prioritizing child care expenses over other household necessities; settling for low-quality child care that fits their budget; patching together multiple informal care options; or leaving the workforce altogether.20 To ensure that all children can realize the gains that come from attending high-quality early childhood programs, policy solutions need to focus on improving program supports and creating funding strategies that will increase access to high-quality programs for children from all backgrounds.
Moreover, the key to a high-quality program is what happens inside the classroom or family child care home, namely the interactions that take place between the teacher and child. 23 In a high-quality program, teachers engage children with learning strategies that are tailored to the age of the child and use an appropriate curriculum to structure the learning experience.24 A variety of supports are needed to facilitate these interactions so that high-quality teaching and learning can occur. As such, the quality of an early childhood program is dependent on the following three key factors.
In addition to the indoor learning environment, children need access to outdoor space where they can move and engage with the natural world. Outdoor play has positive impacts on health and has been shown to combat childhood obesity and help develop stronger immune systems.30 Research also shows that children who play outdoors regularly have more active imaginations, lower stress levels, and have greater respect for themselves and others.31
A high-functioning operating environment is an essential element of a quality early childhood program. This administrative operational support takes a number of forms. First, programs need effective leaders who can provide instructional support to teachers as well as sound business management to the overall program.32 These multiple leadership functions are complex and often need to be fulfilled by more than one person. Second, external to the immediate program, programs need a series of structural supports, including access to professional development, quality improvement resources, stable and sufficient funding streams, and a pipeline of well-trained teachers. These external supports recognize that early childhood programs do not operate in a vacuum and rely on the wider early childhood system.33
In addition, programs need to be staffed at a level that allows for teacher-child ratios that are appropriate for the age of the children and the size of the group, such as those required for programs accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.44 Low teacher-child ratios enable teachers to focus on the individual needs of the children and engage them in meaningful interactions.45 This means having both an adequate number of teachers specifically assigned to a classroom, as well as providing sufficient substitutes or floaters to cover for breaks, planning time, and paid leave.
The early childhood education workforce should also reflect the growing diversity of the child population, ensuring that children have teachers they can relate to and role models that reflect their own backgrounds.46
Early childhood program administrators are responsible for a broad range of tasks, requiring many different competencies.47 First, programs need instructional leaders with a solid understanding of child development and teaching and learning strategies. Instructional leaders support teachers with lesson planning and curriculum implementation, behavior management strategies, and professional development.
Finally, program administrators must be skilled in organizational management and relationship building. In addition to fostering relationships with families and the community, leaders play a key role in creating a positive atmosphere inside the program, which can minimize teacher turnover, increase program efficiency, and allow teachers to focus on the children.50
All early childhood programs should adopt a research-based curriculum that is developmentally, culturally, and linguistically relevant for all children.52 Curricula can provide a guiding philosophy for program activities, including teacher interactions and the design of the physical indoor and outdoor environment. Curricula also help teachers effectively structure and sequence classroom activities, target particular activities to build skills or meet development milestones, and build on prior learning and experiences. Curricula provide varying levels of flexibility to individual teachers; some provide highly structured models for teachers to implement, while others offer guiding principles and expect teachers to determine the best way to implement.53
There are a large number of curricula available for programs to choose from, with some of the best known models being the Creative Curriculum, HighScope Curriculum, and Tools of the Mind.54 Research has found a positive impact on early achievement scores and socioemotional behavior when programs intentionally apply a curriculum that is supported by professional development, coaching, and sufficient resources.55 Programs should adopt a curriculum that best fits their program philosophy and ensure teachers receive professional development and ongoing support to adequately incorporate the curriculum into their practice. It is also important that a curriculum is adopted for all age groups, not just preschoolers. Infants and toddlers need a curriculum that focuses on their need to explore and discover the world around them, guided by supportive and responsive caregivers.56
In order to support the highly qualified workforce, the safe and engaging physical and learning environment, and the stable business infrastructure necessary to achieve and maintain high quality, programs need to be able to access funding that supports the actual cost of operation.66 Many public funding streams are insufficient to support the costs of high quality, and low- and middle-income families struggle to afford the cost of tuition at high-quality programs. In order to ensure high-quality programs are available to all children, public funding needs to be sufficient to cover the costs of quality and provide families with help to afford the cost of private tuition.
Neither the demographic background of a child and family nor the type of facility in which the child is enrolled should be a barrier to accessing high-quality programs. However, programs need support to achieve and maintain quality. The six elements outlined above offer a roadmap to policymakers and stakeholders that allows them to focus on the key structures necessary to support high quality.
The need for high-quality early childhood education has never been greater, but programs are increasingly out of reach for a majority of Americans. As policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels develop strategies to address the child care crisis, they must simultaneously focus on the importance of quality. To achieve the goal of increasing access to high-quality programs for all children, it is vital that families and policymakers fully understand what quality looks like and what structures are needed to support it. The quality indicators identified in this issue brief can serve as a roadmap for policymakers to ensure the key supports are in place to help programs achieve and maintain quality and to help families access those high-quality programs.
As part of its commitment to enhancing public safety, NFPA makes its codes and standards available online to the public for free. Online access to NFPA's consensus documents conveniently places important safety information on the desktops of traditional users as well as others who have a keen interest. NFPA is committed to serving the public's increasing interest in technical information, and online access to these key codes is a valuable resource.
But online access also comes with risks, like inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and online predators. Using social media apps and websites where kids interact, predators may pose as a child or teen looking to make a new friend. They might prod the child to exchange personal information, such as address and phone number, or encourage kids to call them, seeing their phone number via caller ID. 2b1af7f3a8