Newswise — Three CSU campuses—Sacramento State, CSU Bakersfield and Cal Poly Pomona—have been chosen to help transform early childhood education in California, supporting Governor Gavin Newsom's Master Plan for Early Learning and Care.

The focus of the project, titled UPLIFT CA (Universities & Partners Learning, Innovating, Fostering Equity, Transforming California ECE Degrees), is to elevate the early care education (ECE) workforce with an emphasis on supporting dual-language learners. A $4.5 million grant from the Early Educator Investment Collaborative will fund the project.

Implementing a set of expectations for all educators

According to experts, nothing is more critical to students' learning outcomes than the knowledge and skills of the adults who directly interact with them. Early childhood education is often a child's first step into the education system, and getting them started on the right foot with effective teachers will improve their chances of later success in school and life.

While PK-12 teacher preparation programs clearly articulate the competencies that teachers need to optimally support child development, a similar set of expectations is not currently in place for early-learning educators. They need only a permit whereas PK-12 educators are required to have a credential or bachelor's degree as well as undergo state-determined skill assessments.

UPLIFT CA will bring together the CSU, local community college campuses, state agencies and ECE providers to ensure future early-learning educators are fully equipped with state-determined competencies, similar to what is expected of PK-12 educators. Participating institutions will collaborate to strengthen ECE curriculum and align California's teacher preparation programs with state standards.

In turn, a competency-based system will create greater consistency across professional development programs, leading to a more coordinated pathway for community college students to complete their bachelor's degree at the CSU.

Increasing equity in early learning

A focus of the project is to prepare teachers to work with dual-language learners and increase diversity among the pool of early childhood educators.

“The Master Plan for Early Learning and Care describes a roadmap for building a comprehensive and equitable early learning system over the next decade, and critical to this plan is the development of a workforce to serve the needs of our diverse students and families," says Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, Ph.D., CSU assistant vice chancellor of Teacher Education and Public School Programs.

Approximately 60 percent of children under the age of 5 in California speak a language at home other than English, and educators often lack the skills needed to provide children with high-quality language experiences in both English and their home language.

By considering language as part of equity in early learning and care, UPLIFT CA will eliminate bias through practices and training. Supporting the development of dual-language learners is a foundation for future academic success and can break down barriers in higher education for minority students.

The CSU shares in UPLIFT CA's mission to strengthen PK-12 learning and close equity gaps in education. Annually, the CSU produces more teachers than any other institution in California, as well as having one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, making the university a critical partner in developing California's early learning and care workforce.

To learn more about the CSU's efforts in preparing California's future teachers and educators, visit the Teacher and Educator Preparation website.‚Äč