Results of Pre-Kindergarten Teacher Capacity Work Group

23 January 2017

In March 2016, the Pre-Kindergarten Teacher Capacity Work Group, an ad hoc group made up of representatives from the Early Learning Challenge grant, the Child Development Division, the Agency of Education, philanthropy, early childhood nonprofits, and institutions of higher education, surveyed three, four and five STAR child care programs. The group initially formed to address the availability of licensed preK teachers needed for full implementation of Act 166.
 
This informal, non-scientific survey gathered data about the availability of licensed early childhood teachers, particularly in community-based programs. The goal of the survey was to inform the state and partners about issues that programs are experiencing in hiring and retaining licensed early childhood teachers. We want to thank you for your participation and give you an update on the results of the survey and efforts around the state to address challenges relating to the availability of licensed Pre-K teachers.
 
The informal survey went out to 620 three, four, and five STAR programs. 212 center and home-based programs and 70 school-based programs responded, a 45% response rate. Key takeaways from the results include:

  • Recruiting and hiring licensed Pre-K Teachers is challenging, especially for home and center-based programs:
    • Of 244 programs who responded to the question “Please rate the level of difficulty in recruiting or hiring a licensed Pre-K Teacher,” 191, or 78%, found the process “difficult” or “very difficult”.
    • Of the 60 school-based programs responding to the question, 45% found the process “difficult” or “very difficult”.
    • Of the 184 home and center-based programs responding to the question, 89% found the process “difficult” or “very difficult”.
    • The process is most difficult for home and center-based programs outside of Chittenden County. Of 138 who responded, 50% described the process as “very difficult.”
  • Not being able to provide adequate wages and benefits poses the biggest hiring challenge for home and center-based programs: 114 programs responded to a question asking about specific challenges faced in recruiting and hiring licensed Pre-K teachers:
    • 76 home and center-based programs reported not being able to pay the desired salary of a licensed teacher; 32 reported not being able to find a qualified teacher interested in working in their program.
    • 3 school-based programs reported not being able to pay the desired salary of a licensed teacher; 3 reported not being able to find qualified teacher interested in working in their program
    • Other challenges listed by home and center-based programs include:
      • Some programs are supporting staff through provisional license/peer-review process, but find it challenging and expensive (11 comments).
      • Several programs report that licensed teachers don’t necessarily meet program needs, have the right skills, or align with program philosophy (9 comments).
      • Some programs can match school pay, but have a hard time hiring because they are asking teachers to work more days/hours than school-based teachers (5 comments).

Addressing systemic wage and benefit gaps between public and private settings is an issue we must continue to tackle as a field. The recent report and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care are a good first step in this effort.
 
In the meantime, we want you to you know about several statewide efforts and resources that help address challenges related to availability of licensed Pre-K Teachers:

  • The Agency of Education, Vermont Birth to Five, and VAEYC’s T.E.A.C.H. scholarship programs partnered to create a process for approximately 40 individuals (over two years) to be awarded provisional licensure, and are providing mentoring and financial support in order to help those individuals attain a VT Level 1 teaching license with ECE or ECSE endorsement. As of December 1st, 2016, 5 have achieved ECE licensure and are continuing to work in community-based programs, 2 have submitted peer review portfolios and are awaiting review, and 10 are on track to submit portfolios by January 30th, 2017. We anticipate a similar number completing this process during 2017.
  • Dr. Eden Haywood-Bird, assistant professor in early elementary education at Lyndon State College, developed a new Early Childhood Education Licensure program that helps move those with an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree with licensure, and those with a bachelor’s degree to licensure. This program is mostly online, so it greatly increases access for early childhood professionals throughout the state.In addition, the requirement for student teaching can be met in the place of employment, with approved supervision. For more information, visit: http://lyndonstate.edu/degree-programs/education/early-childhood-education/
  • The Agency of Education has undertaken several efforts in the last few years that may be helpful to those seeking licensure with an ECE or ECSE endorsement:
    • Signed the Interstate NASDTEC “license to license” agreement which means that any educator with a non-conditional/non-expired out of state educator license, from a state that has also signed the agreement, is eligible for initial licensure in VT to match the same/equivalent endorsement from the other state.
    • Revised the competencies required to become licensed with ECE or ECSE endorsement. The new competencies were developed with significant guidance from the NAEYC teaching standards and others. These are the standards that will now be used for transcript review and peer review, which should significantly streamline the process.
    • Scheduled all 2017 Peer Review clinics on Saturdays.

For more information visit: http://education.vermont.gov/educator-quality/become-a-vermont-educator.
 
If you have any questions or comments for the Pre-K Teacher Capacity Workgroup, contact Julie Cadwallader Staub, Early Learning Challenge Director, at Julie.CadwalladerStaub@vermont.gov