Recommendations for Early Childhood Structure and Standards in Minnesota

Submitted to MDE

by Ann Ruhl Carlson, Layna Cole, Carmen Cook, and Hope Doerner

December 20, 2021


In July 2021, a group of EC IHE faculty were asked to review the 2019 draft early childhood licensure standards.  Since 2019, several contextual changes have occurred in our world including demands for equity in our public systems and a global pandemic and the release of several influential documents including new national standards from NAEYC, new Minnesota Early Childhood Knowledge and Competency Framework content, new PELSB Unit Approval Rules, and draft PELSB Standards of Effective Practice.  This document summarizes revised recommendations reflecting the seismic societal shifts that have occurred in the last two years.  In addition to the recommendations, we have included supporting documentation comprised of crosswalks aligning relevant documents. Our hope is that this work can serve as a road map to move our field toward unification while creating accessible pathways for the early childhood workforce.  Our recommendations reflect increased calls for equity, and pathways that could address the staffing crisis in Early Childhood highlighted by the pandemic.   We hope this work helps prepare Minnesota to be ready to respond to potential federal legislation that could create historic changes in resources provided to the EC field, related to the training and compensation of EC professionals.  

Recommendations for EC Licensure and Standards

  1.  Adopt the NAEYC’s Unifying Framework for Early Childhood Education Professionals that identifies levels of responsibility and preparation for EC I, EC II, EC III.
    1. EC I (up to 120 hours of preparation) credit or non-credit
    1. EC II (2-year degree)
    1. EC III (4-year degree)
  • Adopt NAEYC Professional Standards and Competencies as content standards that replace 8710.3000 with the following additions:
    • Language to add “within the scope of your license,” that would allow specialization
    • Language referring to Minnesota’s KCFs: “Candidate uses and understands the Minnesota Knowledge and Competency Frameworks and uses components to develop learning experience of young children and families.”
    • Adopt International Literacy Association Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals to replace current “reading standards” in 8710.3000.
  • Create licensing structure built upon core understanding of child development with specializations.  Cognates would include Infants & Toddlers, Pre-K, K, 1-3, Parent Ed, ECSE, Leadership and Advocacy (to be developed).
  • Include language exempting cooperating teacher qualifications identified in Unit Rule Standard 10.  Develop language identifying desired qualifications for cooperating teachers which reflect flexibility regarding early childhood licensure status. This is necessary because of lack of currently licensed Early Childhood teachers in field settings.
  • Create a credentialing system in the state for professional recognition of all EC levels. 

Tasks Necessary to Move Recommendation Forward

        There is much work to do to move these recommendations through the approval process.  Following is a list of tasks that need immediate attention.

  1. Draft appropriate language to create PELSB “rules”.
  • Review all early childhood and childcare workforce related statutes that may need revision.
  • Clarify credentialing system.  Here are some possibilities:
  • Identify governing agency to monitor and issue credential for EC I (First 120 hours).  (DHS may be an appropriate agency due to the existing DEVELOP system.)
  • Identify governing agency to monitor and issue credential for EC II (2-year degree). (Child Development, Infant, Toddler, Pre-K focus). 
    • One possibility is to create an EC II Voluntary Credential through PELSB.   IHE 2-years would either be NAEYC accredited (creates transfer issues for licensure) or have restricted unit approval and program approval from PELSB. 
    • Another possibility is to have EC II credentialing housed in a new agency that oversees Early Childhood Education (re: Minnesota Department of Early Childhood Education.)
  • Identify governing agency to monitor and issue credential for EC III—(4-year degree in Early Childhood, non-licensure.)
    • One possibility is to create an EC III Voluntary Credential through PELSB.   IHE would either be NAEYC accredited (creates transfer issues for licensure) or have restricted unit approval and program approval from PELSB.
    • Another possibility is to have EC III credentialling housed in a new agency that oversees Early Childhood Education (eg: Minnesota Department of Early Childhood Education.)
  • PELSB adopt EC III Licensure: Replace current content standards with NAEYC Professional Standards and Competencies (2020).  Create process for additional licensure scopes based on cognates that will allow EC professionals to specialize. 
  • Draft legislation authorizing an EC credentialling system.
  • Develop K-3 KCF.  This is necessary to reflect the needs of primary-aged children.
  • Develop Leadership and Advocacy cognate standards.
  • Utilize a robust equity review to ensure proposed standards accomplish equity goals.  Although we used an equity lens in our work, we acknowledge our privilege as white women in higher education prevents us from fully recognizing barriers to equity.

Additional Recommendation

In addition to the immediate tasks necessary to move the EC Licensure and Standards recommendations forward, we have identified recommendations beyond the scope of our contracted work that would be very helpful in bringing our field together.  Our overall recommendation is to have our entire field, including all governing agencies, adopt the NAEYC’s Unifying Framework for Early Childhood Education Professionals.  This would eliminate many of the current barriers faced by our workforce.

  1. Have all EC governing organizations adopt NAEYC’s Unifying Framework for Early Childhood Education Professionals. 

While adopting the unifying framework, it would be important to examine the roles and responsibilities of MDE, DHS, and PELSB in early childhood in order to:

  1. Clarify roles among agencies and reduce duplication;
  2. Identify and remove barriers for the workforce due to separate agency policy and rules;
  3. Ensure focus on equity goals by identifying rules and processes that create barriers for professional pathways. (May need to conduct a broad equity review.)
  4. Improve collaboration among agencies to ensure resources (grants) are best utilized to accomplish shared goals for the early childhood and childcare workforce.  Avoid the approach of a patchwork of unaligned initiatives 
  • Remove current staff qualifications from Rule 2 & 3 and replace using NAEYC leveling.
  1. For Rule 2 investigate and align with NAFCC – 
    1. Replace Rule 3 staff qualifications with recommended NAEYC levels (EC I, EC II, EC III)  
    1. Create an alignment within the state using Head Start Performance Standards – 
  •  Align the MN Career Lattice to reflect NAEYC levels (EC I, EC II, EC III) to create one unified credentialing system that all EC professionals understand and use. 
  • Pursue the creation of one governing agency with oversight of the Early Childhood profession in the state.  (eg:  Minnesota Department of Early Childhood Education).
  • Encourage PELSB to ensure revised Early Childhood credentialing reduces barriers for transfer between 2- and 4-year programs by:
  • Preparing review teams to understand “restricted approval” and 2-year early childhood programs.
  • Review licensing process using an equity lens to remove barriers for that may have a greater impact on women and BIPOC. 
  • Create a review model with a focus on supportive interventions with the goal of increasing number of approved early childhood programs.
  • Improve collaboration between PELBS and IHE governing bodies.
  •  All state agencies (MDE, DHS, PELSB, OHE, MinnState, U of M, etc…) work collaboratively to address the needs of early childhood professionals in the state and unify the field of early childhood.

Supporting Documentation Available:

Early Childhood Professional Recognition Framework for Minnesota, PPT presented to IHEs on November 19, 2021.

NAEYC Professional Standards and Competencies (2020)

NAEYC Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession (2020)

International Literacy Association Standards (2017)

Crosswalk of draft SEPs to EC content standards(2021)

Crosswalk of KCFs to EC content standards (2021)

Minnesota Knowledge and Competency Framework (2020)