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