Policy Brief - Better Teachers, Better Preschools: Student Achievement Linked to Teacher Qualifications

December 2004

High-quality preschool education depends on effective, high-quality teachers. This brief presents educational requirements for preschool teachers, reviews evidence on the importance of teacher qualifications, and offers policy recommendations.

By W. Steven Barnett
NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 2, revised December 2004)

Summary

Research has linked early learning and development to the educational qualifications of teachers. The most effective preschool teachers – those with at least a four-year college degree and specialized training in early childhood – have more responsive interactions with children, provide richer language and cognitive experiences, and are less authoritarian. High-quality preschool education depends on effective, high-quality teachers.

This brief presents current educational requirements for preschool teachers, reviews evidence on the importance of teacher qualifications, and offers policy recommendations:

– require four-year degrees and specialized training for preschool teachers,
– encourage higher education institutions to develop the necessary programs for professional development of early childhood teachers,
– design professional development programs to help current teachers get a four-year degree, and
– provide preschool teachers with salaries comparable to their K-12 counterparts.

By implementing these recommendations we can help to increase the number of well-educated, professional early education teachers.

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