Proposed Amendments to Part 26 (Standards for Certification in Early Childhood Education and in Elementary Education)

With the adoption of updated Illinois Learning Standards (ILS) for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects and those in Mathematics for kindergarten through grade 12 in 2010, agency staff began work to update the standards for receipt of the early childhood endorsement.  In November 2011, the Early Childhood Advisory Group began reviewing the current standards, and the group completed its work earlier this year.  The advisory group included representatives from postsecondary institutions, including faculty; community- and school-based early childhood programs; early childhood credentialing and professional organizations; teacher unions; and the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Illinois Community College Board.  The proposed early childhood standards align to the ILS, as well as embody the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards, which are set forth in Part 24 (Standards for All Illinois Teachers).  The standards consider the content and pedagogical knowledge necessary to work with children in the early childhood years of birth through grade 2 (currently birth through grade 3).

Specifically, the proposed standards for English language arts align to the foundational knowledge and skills that preschoolers should possess to become successful readers, writers and speakers in the later grades.  Additionally, for English learners, the proposed standards emphasize the relationship between knowledge and skills needed to acquire English and those that develop concurrently as the student learns his or her home language.  The proposed mathematics standards underscore the importance of early childhood teachers not only being familiar with the mathematics that they teach, but also being able to understand how children develop mathematical skills and the methods that can be used to present mathematical concepts in "everyday terms or analogies" that are accessible and meaningful to preschoolers.

The advisory group also recommended updating the general standards to which programs must align and the assessment standards.  Beginning January 1, 2015, all early childhood programs seeking approval for the first time will be required to show alignment to the 2010 National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Standards for Initial and Advanced Early Childhood Professional Preparation Programs.  Existing programs must show alignment to these standards no later than September 1, 2019.  The 2010 NAEYC standards describe what early childhood professionals are expected to know and do, defining essential learning outcomes in professional preparation programs and presenting a shared vision of excellence.  These standards offer practitioners a framework for applying new knowledge to critical issues. They support important early learning goals across settings serving children from birth through age 8.

As proposed, the new early childhood standards will take effect beginning September 1, 2019.  To minimize the effect of making a transition from the existing standards to the new standards, the proposed amendments prohibit institutions from placing candidates, after February 1, 2017, into programs that have not shown alignment to the new standards.  The delayed effective date will allow sufficient time for existing programs to align their course of study to the new standards and for candidates currently enrolled to complete these programs and be issued the early childhood education endorsement prior to the new standards taking effect. 

Several companion changes to those being proposed in Part 26 will be made in Part 25 (Educator Licensure) later this year.  These include requiring that early childhood education field experiences and clinical practice (i.e., student teaching) occur in at least two of the three early childhood age groupings (birth through age 3; age 3 years through 5 years; and age 5 years through 8 years).  While the advisory group did not change the content standards for the biological and physical sciences and social sciences, it is recommending the following, which also will be reflected in Part 25:

Initial Review by State Board of Education:  August 2014

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