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Community College Initiatives

Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation

The North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) led an effort that provided resources and support to North Carolina community colleges in their efforts to achieve accreditation, from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) for Early Care and Education (ECE) programs. The NAEYC Commission on Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation awarded accreditation to associate degree programs that demonstrated evidence of meeting the Professional Preparation Standards. Accreditation provides a framework for self-study, external evaluation, and improvement in the quality of teacher preparation programs. NCCCS advanced the accreditation efforts of 20 community colleges. The strategies benefitted North Carolina's children by increasing the quality and consistency of ECE programs which directly correlates to better preparation for the professionals responsible for the care and education of preschool-aged children. ECE programs are operating at each of the state's 58 community colleges and through these programs, NC’s ECE professionals receive training and credentialing.

The NCCCS is the State Agency responsible for the oversight of each community college and each ECE program is approved and monitored by the NCCCS. The Division of Child Development has goals to ensure that North Carolina children are provided safe and healthy environments in quality child care settings. A critical factor in achieving this goal is to have an appropriately educated child care workforce. Program quality in the Early Childhood Education Associate of Applied Science programs in the NC Community College System is a vital component of a strong and high quality early care and education infrastructure in North Carolina. With over 16,000 students enrolled in Early Childhood coursework, the Community College system is the primary source for education and professional development of the early care and education (ECE) workforce. National program accreditation, through the NAEYC, provides associate degree ECE programs with an opportunity to align themselves with national field preparation standards and increase the quality of their AAS programs. Program accreditation works to ensure that the education received in the community college ECE programs is of high quality and will produce highly effective, knowledgeable, and skilled early educators for the field, thus having more positive outcomes for children and the families with whom they work.

This Activity was completed December 2015.


Early Childhood Innovation Fund (Growing Greatness Project)

The North Carolina Community College system improved Early Childhood Education (ECE) through the Early Childhood Education Innovation Fund (ECEIF), which was developed through the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant. The ECEIF was designed to provide opportunities for North Carolina community colleges to increase access to and the quality of ECE programs. Additionally, the development of strong literacy and language skills is encouraged. ECE had three important content areas as priorities for attention, including reducing barriers to learning, strengthening the early foundations of lifelong learning, and enhancing resources and capacities.

To address these needs, the Growing Greatness Project worked with NC ACCESS faculty representatives from nine lead colleges and NC ECE partners to implement a one-year project with four specific objectives: 1. Incorporate an explicit and intentional emphasis on, and alignment with NC's early learning and development standards (NC Foundations for Early Learning and Development) and NC formative assessments to embed in NC ECE coursework, 2. Provide a sequence of professional development opportunities for NC ECE faculty to support the use of current, evidence-based content and methods in coursework and programs, 3. Update the program of study to support enhanced career pathways for ECE professionals, and 4. Increase pathways for ECE professionals through articulation and collaboration. View the presentation on Growing Greatness Project Final Summary.

This Activity was completed December 2015.

RTT-ELC Reform Area: A Great Early Childhood Education Workforce