A PUBLICATION OF THE CHILDREN'S LEARNING INSTITUTE
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CIRCLE CDA Training Program: Supporting Preschool Teachers’ Ongoing Professional Development and Career Advancement

Each year, early childhood teachers are required to earn professional development hours to be eligible to continue caring for and educating the young children in their classrooms. The required number of hours differs for teachers in different settings (such as child care, Head Start, and public school pre-k programs), but the goal is the same – for teachers to participate in trainings that enable them to continue to grow professionally and become better teachers. Often, these professional development experiences serve as the beginning of a teacher’s career path that continues with recognized credentials and higher education degrees.

Although all early childhood teachers participate in professional development each year, not all teachers benefit from high quality training experiences that build content knowledge in child development domains (such as literacy and math) and encourage the use of instructional strategies that support children’s development and readiness for kindergarten. Several programs exist in Texas that support the delivery of high quality professional development for early childhood teachers. The Children’s Learning Institute’s Texas School Ready (TSR) Project, a research-based teacher training program that has been proven to positively impact teachers’ use of instructional strategies in the classroom, is one of these programs. Through TSR, teachers participate in a comprehensive, two-year professional development program covering a broad range of topics including child development domains, instructional strategies, preschool classroom management, and the use of progress monitoring data to support children’s development. Beginning in Fall 2016, thousands of teachers across the state will not only earn required training hours, they will also have an opportunity to participate in the CIRCLE CDA Training Program leading towards the Child Development Associate Credential™ (CDA).

The CDA is most widely-recognized credential nationwide for early childhood teachers and is a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement in the early childhood field. The CDA is based on a core set of competency standards, which guide early care professionals as they work toward becoming qualified teachers of young children. To qualify, early childhood teachers must have a strong knowledge base (education and professional development) and demonstrated practice (experience in the classroom). Through the CIRCLE CDA Training Program, preschool teachers will have an opportunity to earn all 120 hours needed to apply for the CDA. Although CLI will not be awarding the CDA credential to teachers, the CIRCLE CDA Training Program will enable teachers to get the most out of their professional development hours by initializing further career advancement with the CDA.

Through the CIRCLE CDA Training Program, teachers will complete 120 hours of online professional development on CLI Engage, the minimum number of hours needed to apply for the CDA. The professional development courses will be a combination of CLI’s established eCIRCLE courses, used in TSR for over 10 years to build teacher’s content knowledge, with all-new CIRCLE CDA courses; together, these courses provide all 120 hours through engaging material that follows CLI’s guiding principles in professional development: self-reflection, theory and practice-based, and authentic video examples. Teachers will also receive support to develop their professional portfolio, which serves as the application to the Council for Professional Recognition, the organization that awards the CDA.

Thousands of teachers in Texas will be eligible to access the CIRCLE CDA Training Program at no cost, through CLI’s partnerships with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission. This includes all Texas public school prekindergarten and Head Start teachers, as well as all preschool teachers at child care programs participating in Texas Rising Star or Texas School Ready. Participating teachers will only need to purchase the CDA textbook bundle from the Council for Professional Recognition, as well as pay the CDA assessment fee. Teachers within other programs can also contact CLI for more information if they would like to participate in this opportunity on a contract basis.

A group of pilot participants started the CIRCLE CDA Training Program during the 2015-16 school year, all preschool teachers in Texas who hope to earn their CDA. While the initial launch of the program will be for preschool teachers, CLI has plans to expand the program for infant and toddler teachers in the near future.

Learn more about the CIRCLE CDA Training Program at: childrenslearninginstitute.org/programs/circle-cda-training-program/

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