Understanding the Workforce of the South Carolina Child Early Reading and Development Education Program

Teacher Education Requirements and Professional Development Opportunities

by Celia J. Gomez, Anamarie A. Whitaker, Lynn A. Karoly

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Research Questions

  1. What was the distribution of education levels among CERDEP teachers in the 2017–2018 school year?
  2. What were the language and literacy outcomes of children in providers where all teachers had a bachelor's degree (BA), compared with children who attended providers where some or no teachers had a BA?
  3. What professional development opportunities were offered to CERDEP educators in the 2017–2018 school year?
  4. To what extent did professional development activities differ between and within public school districts and private CERDEP providers?
  5. What systems are used to track the teacher professional development opportunities available to CERDEP providers?

The South Carolina Child Early Reading Development and Education Program (CERDEP) is a state-funded full-day four-year-old prekindergarten (4K) program for children at risk of not being ready to start kindergarten. The program is implemented using a mixed-delivery system, with both public school districts and licensed private center–based providers able to serve eligible children. As part of an ongoing commitment by the South Carolina legislature to evaluate aspects of CERDEP, the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) contracted with the RAND Corporation to address questions related to teacher education and teacher professional development.

The teacher education requirements differ between public school districts and private center–based providers. Teachers in public school districts are required to have a bachelor's degree, while teachers in private centers must have at least an associate degree. In the first half of the report, the authors explore the distribution of teacher education levels among CERDEP teachers in public school districts and private CERDEP providers. The authors also examine the relationship between teacher education levels and assessments of children's language and literacy kindergarten readiness skills at the end of 4K in the private CERDEP settings only.

In the second half of the report, the authors document the in-service professional development opportunities available to CERDEP teachers in the 2017–2018 school year, and compare the opportunities available to teachers in the public school districts and private settings.

Key Findings

  • Approximately 64 percent of teachers in private CERDEP providers had a BA or higher in the 2017–2018 school year. The remaining 36 percent of teachers, who reported having an associate degree (AA), were required to be enrolled in a four-year college degree program.
  • Seventy percent of children in private settings attended centers where some or all teachers had a BA, and approximately 94 percent of all CERDEP children, across public and private settings, were enrolled in a classroom with a BA-level teacher.
  • There were no statistically significant differences in children's language and literacy kindergarten readiness measures at the end of prekindergarten between children who attended private providers where all teachers had a BA with children who attended private providers where some or no teachers had a BA.
  • Like most early care and education (ECE) settings, CERDEP teachers had access a number of workshop-style trainings on a range of overlapping topics, including high-quality language and literacy practices, health and safety, child assessments, and parent engagement.
  • CERDEP teachers in both the public school districts and private CERDEP providers had access to coaching, but the models and dosage differed across settings.
  • The South Carolina Center for Child Care Career Development (CCCCD) provides the primary system by which CERDEP teachers track their participation in professional development. The system does not currently function as a workforce registry.
  • CERDEP's professional development offerings meet some but not all of the best-regarded practices in ECE professional development.

Recommendations

  • Convene CERDEP stakeholders to discuss the different teacher education requirements between public and private settings.
  • Build on CCCCD's current database to establish a comprehensive statewide workforce registry system.
  • Provide specific professional development guidelines and develop a set of common competencies all CERDEP teachers must master in both public and private settings. Plan more shared professional development offerings to ensure that professional development content is consistent across public and private CERDEP providers.
  • Work to provide more sustained and long-term professional development opportunities.
  • Document CERDEP providers' receipt of coaching to ensure that all teachers receive individualized support.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    CERDEP Teacher Education Levels and Child Outcomes

  • Chapter Three

    Professional Development for CERDEP Teachers

  • Chapter Four

    Key Findings and Policy Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    CERDEP History and Program Features

  • Appendix B

    Technical Methods Details for Chapter 2

  • Appendix C

    Comparing CERDEP Children Across Public and Private Settings

  • Appendix D

    CERDEP Professional Development Key Informant Interview Protocol

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.

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