High Quality Matters!

Research is clear that high quality matters and should be at the core of all early learning environments. A relentless focus on quality in the early childhood classroom leads to learning and increased success for children. When the quality of instruction and teacher-child interactions are strong, the readiness gap closes. It is time to reframe the debate  focusing our efforts on increasing quality in the classroom, equipping teachers with the specialized skills needed to promote children’s learning and development and proving that children are better off because they were in a high quality program.

How do you improve quality in the classroom? Equip teachers with skills that matter. Successful teachers are able to translate research and theory into everyday strategies that lead to children’s learning. It is time for Virginia to ensure that effective coursework exists and is accessible for teachers to increase in knowledge, skills and evidence-based best practices in the field of early childhood education and child development.

Virginia needs a competency-based, stackable credentialing system that aligns a set of professional development resources, microcredentials, college credits and degree programs. Microcredentialing allows teachers to access coursework in the specific instructional skills they need to be effective in the classroom, gives focus and coherence to their professional development and refines their skills with training in the necessary competencies. This system will ensure teachers are continually accumulating credits and professional development hours and gaining critical skills to be more effective in the classroom.

Our early childhood teachers need a roadmap to advance their careers with increasing levels of education, experience, demonstrated competencies and increased compensation through wage supplements or bonuses for professional development. The roadmap should be aligned with the QRIS or other quality indicators.

Growing evidence tells us that achievement and positive outcomes occur when teachers focus on the core skills (math, self-regulation, literacy and social skills) and lessons build upon those skills. The ingredients of high quality are: an integrated curriculum, professional development aligned with curricula and extensive coaching to implement effectively.

The JLARC report has been a springboard for quality-focused strategic investments in early education. The conversation has shifted from simply expanding access to early education to ensuring high quality early education for all children.  And, proving that children are better off because of those high quality experiences.

This is an exciting time for early education in Virginia!

Lisa Howard, President & CEO
Lisa Howard, President & CEO

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