A.A.S. degree in SCC’s Early Childhood Education program receives accreditation

The Associate of Applied Science degree within Southeast Community College's Early Childhood Education program has been granted accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children's Commission.

SCC's program is among just 10 percent of those eligible in the U.S. that have earned Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation from the NAEYC. To earn accreditation, programs 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 typically takes two years to complete.

Julie Miller, program chair, said accreditation is huge in what it means to students.

"Students can be assured they are working with a quality program and that the education they are going to receive here will be closely linked to standards of NAEYC," Miller said. "We follow those standards in every course."

Miller said numerous people played a role in the accreditation process, including some from outside the College.

"Aside from our faculty, it was two former program chairs who worked on it," Miller said. "I'm just reaping the rewards of getting acknowledgement that we received accreditation. We also had help from people within the early childhood community, our advisory committee, directors of child care facilities throughout our city, SCC administrators, and our students. This is a huge honor for our community, as well as our program and college."

Only one other community college Early Childhood Education program in the state is accredited, Miller said.

SCC's program is offered face to face on the Lincoln Campus, as well as online. Each of the 31 students who graduated from SCC's program during 2011-2012 found work or continued their education. Graduates become assistant directors, assistant teachers, co-teachers, head teachers, infant-toddler caregivers, nannies, paraeducators, preschool teachers, and teachers.

The accreditation system establishes professional preparation standards to raise the quality of early childhood teacher education, and in turn raises the quality of early education programs serving young children.

SCC's Early Childhood Education program began more than 30 years ago at a facility at 31st and C streets in Lincoln. A child care center operates on the Lincoln Campus, providing program students hands-on experience.

"We congratulate these programs on their achievement," said Alison Lutton, senior director at NAEYC. "The NAEYC accreditation system sets a standard of excellence for early childhood associate degree programs to meet, and this program has demonstrated that it meets this standard. We applaud the efforts and appreciate the commitment to program improvement and teacher quality, which is a crucial component to providing high-quality early childhood education."

NAEYC is the professional organization that sets national standards for programs that prepare early childhood teachers of children from birth through age 8. The Professional Preparation Standards are: promoting child development and learning; building family and community relationships; observing, documenting and assessing; using developmentally effective approaches; using content knowledge to build meaningful curriculum; and becoming a professional.

Higher education programs at the associate, baccalaureate and graduate levels provide the foundation for qualified early childhood educators, administrators, college instructors, researchers, and policy makers. Strong programs produce graduates who are well-prepared to work with young children in high-quality infant, toddler and preschool programs, as well as in kindergarten through third grade.

Accreditation provides a framework for self-study, external evaluation and improvement in the quality of teacher preparation programs. Accredited programs align learning experiences and assessments with national standards and use student performance data to improve teaching and learning.

NAEYC is a constituent member of the National Association for Teacher Education. In the first six years of operation, 172 programs in 29 states earned accreditation from the Commission on Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation. More than 100 additional programs are currently in self-study in 34 states.


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Stu Osterthun
Administrative Director of Public Information and Marketing