Advancing as a Profession: Progress update on building the bridge

by Jenny Stearns

Exciting progress with the Vermont Establishing Equivalence Pilot Study!

I am coordinating the Vermont pilot study on Establishing Equivalence. Our study explores how we can support the transition of experienced early childhood educators into the well-prepared, well-compensated early childhood education profession defined in the Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession.

Our study explores how we can support the transition of experienced early childhood educators into the well-prepared, well-compensated early childhood education profession defined in the Unifying Framework.

This will help educators to be credited at an appropriate ECE designation – ECE I, ECE II, or ECE III – in preparation for individual professional licensure.

Our study also aims to reassure the existing workforce that professional experience, in addition to academic credentials, will be acknowledged and valued in the transition process. We are continuing to consult with the workforce through focus meetings and follow-up surveys, and the feedback so far has been very positive.

Our study is organized in four phases:

Phase 1 was completed in March 2022 and generated data from 95 early childhood educators across the state. This provided comprehensive data about credentials, experience, and professional development of Vermont’s existing workforce.

Phase 2 is nearing completion. It involves designing a “bridge” for experienced early childhood educators to prepare for transitioning to the new profession. It will use a process of evidence collection through competency-based pathways in line with the NAEYC Standards.

Phase 3 is planned to begin in October 2022. A sample of study participants will be mentored through a trial process to assess how the “bridge” works. Their evidence will be validated by a panel of experts using an equitable, competency-based system. This will help us to make decisions about additional support that may be required as we help educators through the transition process across the state.

Phase 4 will document the study outcomes and develop an action plan for moving forward. We hope to conclude this by February 2023.

In a meeting last month, NAEYC representatives expressed their support for the work we have done so far. This is both encouraging and reassuring as we continue with this important work to advance early childhood education as a profession.

Woman with blonde hair and blue blazer against a backdrop of trees

Jenny Stearns has over 35 years of experience in early childhood education, in both the UK and the USA. She taught at Saint Michael’s College for ten years, where she was the coordinator of the early childhood education program. She has worked directly with children and families, taught in college and university, and is a published author of ten books on children’s play, learning and development. Jenny was very involved in redefining the early childhood education profession in England, through a national program to improve the status of early educators.


Other posts on building the bridge / the establishing equivalence pilot: