16:21 PM

UHCL’s ECED program strives to make a difference in early childhood education in Texas

Written by: Lauren Sawyer
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University of Houston-Clear Lake’s (UHCL) Early Childhood Education program (ECED) has recently marked significant achievements by earning full accreditation for its Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Care and Education (BS ECCE) and Bachelor of Applied Science Educator of Young Children Interdisciplinary Studies (BAS) from the National Association for Educators of Young Children Accreditation (NAEYC). In addition, the department has launched a new PK-3 Certification program, distinguishing UH-Clear Lake as the only university in the Houston area to offer this certification.

Program Director Amber Brown emphasized the critical need for high-quality early childhood educators in the state. The goal of the ECED is to establish UHCL as a leader in the field of early childhood education and position the university to make a significant impact in the lives of young children in Texas.

“Being the first NAEYC accredited program in Texas demonstrates UHCL and the College of Education’s mission to provide high-quality, student-centered programs that prepare students to thrive in a competitive workplace, and to make meaningful contribution to their communities,” said Brown.

NAEYC is the sole accreditor of early childhood degree programs. Since 2006, NAEYC has accredited early childhood associate degree programs, expanding to include baccalaureate and master's degree programs in 2016. NAEYC Higher Education Accreditation involves an in-depth review of early childhood higher education programs, beginning with the submission of an application to confirm eligibility. Eligible programs engage in self-study by working with stakeholders to reflect on the program's strengths and areas for improvement, collect data, and implement changes.

“Once the self-study was complete, the university hosted a team of peer reviewers for a three-day site visit where they conducted a detailed scrutiny of our course content, assessments, rubrics and degree components,” said Brown. “Findings were then shared with the Commission, who make final decisions,” she explained. “UHCL is one of only 16 bachelor degree programs in the U.S. and the only institution in Texas with a NAEYC-accredited bachelor’s degree program.”

Brown further noted both the Bachelor of Science in Education with Early Childhood: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 3 Certification and Bachelor of Science in Education with Early Childhood: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 3 and Special Education EC-12 Certifications programs will begin offering a paid full-year teacher residency in fall 2024. This will be done in partnership with Goose Creek Independent School District (ISD) and Galveston ISD.

“Resident Teachers will undergo a year of clinical teaching, gaining valuable classroom experience and mentorship to help them transition into becoming a full-time teacher,” said Brown. “These paid residencies provide a way for teacher residents to earn income while obtaining their certification.”

Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive preferential hiring and a service credit of one year at their cooperating district. The program is currently offered as a hybrid program, with coursework offered in hybrid, online, and hyflex modalities.

“The focus is on providing flexible and practical course offerings that support students as they balance the demands of work, school, and home,” Brown said. “The goal of the PK-3 Teacher Residency Program is to train highly qualified early childhood educators to improve the academic and future success of young children in the Greater Houston area.”

The two options are designed to educate and prepare students to work with culturally diverse groups of children from birth to age five in a variety of early educational settings. The BAS degree is also available 100% online.

The ECED program is currently starting the NAEYC accreditation process for the Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, which also has an online option.

“This is exciting because this will boost the program's national recognition and solidify UHCL as a distinctive place for early childhood education,” said Brown. “We are also looking forward to expanding the PK-3 Residency program to additional school districts to further support the teacher workforce in Texas.”

For more information about UHCL’s ECED program, visit www.uhcl.edu/education/departments/curriculum-instruction/early-childhood-education/.