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Pennsylvania Strengthens Higher Education Offerings for Early Childhood Professionals

Nov 7, 2016

Using Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge funds, Pennsylvania awarded one-year mini-grants to align over 300 early childhood education courses.

The Pennsylvania Core Knowledge Competencies for Early Childhood and School-Age Professionals (formerly known as the Core Body of Knowledge) is an essential component of Pennsylvania’s professional development system. It identifies a set of content areas that help define the knowledge expectations for professionals in settings within the early childhood and school-age field. It supports students’ preparation for entry into the field of early childhood and school-age care as well as professionals’ commitment to lifelong learning through ongoing professional growth. The latest revision is designed to be more inclusive of all group settings and was updated to reflect revised learning standards and current research on best practice.

The state has taken a number of steps to make progress toward its goal of a common statewide progression of credentials and degrees aligned with the Core Knowledge Competencies (CKC). A critical strategy has been engagement with higher education. Using Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge funds, Pennsylvania awarded community colleges, state colleges, and universities one-year mini-grants ranging from $7,500 to $15,000 to align over 300 early childhood education courses with the CKC. Courses must be aligned with the CKC to be included in Pennsylvania’s Professional Development Registry.

As a result of the first round of mini-grants, 220 courses at 18 two- and four-year institutes of higher education (IHE) were aligned. Seven IHEs received round 2 mini-grants in 2016 to align an additional 80 courses, Additionally, several institutions reported revising existing courses, specifically adding more emphasis on ages 0-5. The process of aligning the course objectives with the CKC challenged IHEs to take a hard look at what was being taught and how comprehensive the course offerings were.

Updated July 2018.

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