Early Childhood Program Earns National Accreditation

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Atlantic Cape earned accreditation for its Preschool-Grade 3 Education degree option.

Atlantic Cape Community College has earned national accreditation for its new Associate in Arts Preschool-Grade 3 Education degree option, which began this month. The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Commission on Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation awarded the distinction.

To earn accreditation, Atlantic Cape had to participate in a self-study process, collect and submit data and reports, and undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. The entire process took about two years to complete. “The process enabled the college to make several changes and improve its program to guide our students to become better teachers,” said Lisa Stein, assistant professor of social science.

Atlantic Cape was one of five associate degree programs to earn accreditation this year, and is now one of 162 programs in 31 states to reach this achievement since the system was launched in 2006. It is the first college in New Jersey to earn this accreditation.

“These programs have demonstrated their commitment to continuous quality improvement, transparency and public accountability at a critical time when there is increased demand for more early educators with the competencies needed to support young children and their families,” said Marcia Cox Mitchell, director of higher accreditation and program support at NAEYC.

The accreditation system establishes professional preparation standards to raise the quality of early childhood teacher education, and in turn raise the quality of early learning programs serving young children. To earn and retain accreditation, faculty at these programs had to demonstrate they collectively respond to the needs of their stakeholders; provide intentional learning experiences for their students to obtain the knowledge and skills needed to be effective early childhood educators; and continuously assess and reflect on their students’ performance.

“The introspective analysis and subsequent improvements that are required to earn accreditation can be rigorous but very transformative. We congratulate these programs for the innovative strategies they have implemented to ensure that their graduates are prepared to support the developmental and learning goals of young children,” said Nancy Beaver, president of Associate Degree Early Childhood Teachers Educators: ACCESS to Shared Knowledge and Practices.

Atlantic Cape’s degree program option prepares students to work with children in early childhood centers, hospitals and social service agencies. It provides the student with approved academic training for group teacher positions in state-licensed day care facilities. With the addition of one year’s work experience, some of which can be completed through field placements, the student receives recognition by the state as a group teacher. The option also provides a foundation of courses suitable for students interested in certification in early childhood education at the bachelor’s degree level.

For more information, contact Lisa Stein, assistant professor of social science, at lstein@atlantic.edu.

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