by Susan Titterton
The Task Force is turning its attention to designing the “bridge” for the existing workforce to advance into the recognized early childhood education profession described in the Unifying Framework. While the foundation is being laid to build public investment in early childhood education and to establish a new Vermont ECE Profession Board, it’s not too soon to begin figuring out:
As we move to a profession with three designations – ECE I, ECE II and ECE III – how will the experience and expertise of the current workforce be valued?
We know that academic credentials don’t tell the whole story of a long-time early childhood educator’s qualifications, particularly when that individual has years of rich experience and ongoing high-quality professional development. We know we need a “bridge” that honors experience and expertise, as well as education. Now is our chance to be proactive — to design and recommend a fair, clear process, that is informed by those in the workforce — rather than waiting for others to tell us what’s going to happen.
To that end, the Task Force has begun an Establishing Equivalence Pilot with 95 volunteers from the ECE workforce providing data about their education, experience, and ongoing professional development. These volunteers come from all over the state, across all child care settings, and they work in different roles. They are novices and veterans. Some have few credentials and lots of professional development. Some have degrees in ECE, some in related fields, and some in unrelated fields. What we need to figure out is how to value that diversity AND what pathways will be needed so that every individual in the existing workforce who wishes to qualify at a specific designation within the profession may be able to do that.
Here are the steps and tentative timeline for the Task Force’s work on the pilot. We’ll keep you abreast of this work as it evolves and plan extensive outreach to the ECE workforce in the fall to share a draft design and get feedback.
- March – Analyze data from 95 pilot participants; invite those without academic credentials that indicate a clear ECE designation into the next phase to look at their experience and expertise
- April – Survey pilot participants for their ideas about how to value experience and expertise and what the “bridge” supports should be
- June-August – Develop a process for establishing equivalence by assessing and validating competencies of those who may not have academic credentials, but great expertise
- September-November – Offer outreach sessions with follow-up surveys to the ECE workforce around the state to share information and gather feedback on the design for a process to establish equivalence and on the “bridge” for the existing workforce
- November-December – Based on workforce feedback, create a “Bridge” Consensus Document with recommendations for how to proceed
For more on the pilot, watch this presentation by Jenny Stearns to the Advancing ECE as a Profession Task Force in February.
Susan Titterton is the Project Coordinator for Advancing as a Profession.