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Volume 22, Number 1
January/February 2006

Degrees of Improvement

States push to reverse the decline in preschool teachers’ qualifications


Better preparation for elementary reading, writing, and math. Lower rates of special education placement and grade retention. Higher incomes and lower incidence of arrest during adulthood. The short- and long-term benefits of quality preschool education are well documented by research dating back decades.

Yet at a time when recognition of preschool’s importance seems to be growing, the educational qualifications of preschool teachers are steadily declining. Around the country, advocates, policymakers, and teacher educators are struggling to find ways to improve the skills and credentials of those who teach our nation’s youngest students.

This article is part of an ongoing series on the education of children from preK through grade 3, made possible through the support of the Foundation for Child Development.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

E. Frede. “Assessment in a Continuous Improvement Cycle: New Jersey’s Abbott Preschool Program.” New York: National Early Childhood Accountability Task Force of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

W.S. Gilliam and C.M. Marchesseault. “Part 1: Who’s Teaching Our Youngest Students? Teacher Education and Training, Experience, Compensation and Benefits, and Assistant Teachers,” in From Capitols to Classrooms, Policies to Practice: State-Funded Prekindergarten at the Classroom Level. New Haven, CT: Yale University Child Study Center, 2005. Available online at

S. Herzenberg, M. Price, and D. Bradley. Losing Ground in Early Childhood Education: Declining Workforce Qualifications in an Expanding Industry. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute, 2005.

C. Lobman, S. Ryan, and J. McLaughlin. “Reconstructing Teacher Education to Prepare Qualified Preschool Teachers: Lessons from New Jersey.” Early Childhood Research and Practice, in press.