CDA Gold StandardSM FAQs

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About the CDA Gold Standard

The CDA Gold StandardSM is awarded exclusively by the Council to provide public recognition to qualifying organizations that successfully meet the CDA Gold Standard criteria and complete the Council’s CDA Gold Standard application process along with instructor and organizational interviews, and a course observation.

  • The CDA Gold Standard is meant to address the needs of students and employers who have sought direction from the Council regarding quality CDA training and which organization/agency to select.

The CDA Gold Standard focuses on an organization’s ability to meet the Three Principles:

  • Principle I: Business Policies and Practices – To demonstrate high quality services and meet the needs of CDA® students, CDA Gold Standard organizations must be built upon sound business policies and practices. This means ensuring solid business practices, policies, and an organizational commitment to best practices in preparing early childhood educators.
  • Principle II: Quality Student Services – Quality student services are directly related to an organization’s ability to offer students the early childhood education and CDA® training and professional development preparation experiences that support their learning.
  • Principle III: Alignment with the CDA® Subject Areas – Applicants must complete the CDA Education Coursework Alignment (CECA) which demonstrates how CDA coursework aligns with required CDA Subject Areas. These area comprise the core knowledge used daily in early childhood education programs.

Awarded organizations are a part of an elite and exclusive community of CDA Gold StandardSM certificate holders. The CDA Gold Standard is an assurance that your organization can provide CDA students and their potential employers what they want:

  • Consistent quality and relevant CDA content from a reputable training program or organization.
  • Coursework and training that is aligned with the Council’s Eight CDA Subject Areas.
  • Assurance of ethical business policies and practices.
  • Support for their success, including access to advising on the additional steps required beyond training to qualify to receive a CDA.
  • Programs designed to accommodate the needs of all students, for example – those who are bilingual, multilingual or geographically isolated students.

The two types offered are Comprehensive and Select.

To apply for the CDA Gold StandardSM – Comprehensive, an organization must:

  • Offer CDA® professional development training that: aligns with all Eight CDA Subject Areas; provides instruction that introduces students to all aspects of the CDA certification requirements; and provides support for CDA students throughout the entire CDA preparation process.
  • Demonstrate sound business policies and practices
  • Provide quality student services
  • Complete a Site Visit Review with a CDA Gold Standard Specialist

To apply for the CDA Gold StandardSM – Select, an organization must:

  • Align with a minimum of four of the Eight CDA® Subject Areas
  • Demonstrate sound business policies and practices
  • Provide quality student services
  • Complete a Site Visit Review with a CDA Gold Standard Specialist

The CDA Gold StandardSM is available to organizations offering CDA® training and professional development in early childhood education such as, but not limited to:

  • Non-Profit and For-profit Organizations
  • Higher Education Institutions
  • Child Care Resource and Referral agencies
  • High School Early Childhood/Child Development Programs
  • Private training organizations
  • Tribal organizations
  • Head Start
  • Early Head Start
  • Religious organizations
  • Military

Eligibility

Before beginning the CDA Gold StandardSM application process, organizations must self-determine if they meet each of the following two pre-qualifications:

  1. Must have offered CDA® coursework for, at least, the past three full and consecutive calendar years without interruption of services*; and,
  2. Must offer services that support CDA® students throughout their CDA® training and application process.

Note: Organizations are to complete the self-assessment before starting the online application process below.

* Under special circumstances an exception to this requirement may be granted. A waiver request will be required and if approved, a special application process will be initiated. For more information send an email to goldstandard@cdacouncil.org.

Interested organizations’ may access the online application through the Council’s website at www.cdacouncil.org/goldstandard. After arriving on the page, select the “APPLY NOW” tab.

The fees associated with the CDA Gold StandardSM process are located on the homepage of the online application. These fees are satisfied by credit card or payment agreement only, depending on the stage of the application. Other forms of payment will not be accepted.

 

PAYMENT STRUCTURE FOR COMPREHENSIVE APPLICANTS TOTAL COST
Local/State: agencies, organizations and higher educational institutions that:

  • Conducts the majority of training and programmatic offerings at a physical location within a state and operates independently of a national “umbrella” organization.

If operating multiple sites within your state, each site must:

  • Share the same mission and vision
  • Execute and deliver services and programmatic offerings in the same manner
  • Utilize the programs and courses developed by the main organization
$3,500
Multi-state/National: agencies, organizations and higher educational institutions that meet one or more of the following:

  • Conducts a majority of their training and programmatic offerings online which are open and accessible to individuals throughout the country
  • Serve as an umbrella organization to affiliates located in multiple sites and locations throughout the country
  • Establishes mission and vision and provides operational and programmatic oversight to each affiliate
$7,000

 

PAYMENT STRUCTURE FOR SELECT APPLICANTS TOTAL COST
Local/State: agencies, organizations and higher educational institutions that:

  • Conducts the majority of training and programmatic offerings at a physical location within a state and operates independently of a national “umbrella” organization.

If operating multiple sites within your state, each site must:

  • Share the same mission and vision
  • Execute and deliver services and programmatic offerings in the same manner
  • Utilize the programs and courses developed by the main organization
$3,000
Multi-state/National: agencies, organizations and higher educational institutions that meet one or more of the following:

  • Conducts a majority of their training and programmatic offerings online which are open and accessible to individuals throughout the country
  • Serve as an umbrella organization to affiliates located in multiple sites and locations throughout the country
  • Establishes mission and vision and provides operational and programmatic oversight to each affiliate
$6,500

At this time, the Council does not accept CDA Gold Standard applications for individual consultants.

A copy of the CDA Gold StandardSM Handbook will be mailed to applicant organizations once the Application Fee is satisfied. All other interested parties, who have not applied and satisfied the Application Fee can purchase a copy of the Handbook in the Council’s bookstore at: http://store.cdacouncil.org/.

Application Process

The CDA Gold StandardSM is available to organizations offering CDA® training and professional development in early childhood education such as, but not limited to:

  • Mission and Vision statements
  • Accreditation documentation
  • Articulation documentation
  • Information on how the organization demonstrates Quality Student Services by collecting student feedback, using student feedback and ensuring student success.
  • An Organizational Letter from the governance/executive management detailing support of the CDA Gold Standard process and the financial health of the organization.
  • Sample copy of a student course completion training document.
  • Successful completion of the CDA Education Coursework Alignment section of the online form to demonstrate how your education and preparation courses(s) meet the Eight CDA Subject Areas

The CDA® Education Coursework Alignment (CECA) Review is an in-depth evaluation of the coursework information submitted by an organization to determine if it aligns with the educational criteria and requirements set forth by the Council concerning the CDA subject areas and settings.

A Gold Standard Alignment Specialist (GSAS), who is a Council employee, conducts an in-depth evaluation of the information submitted by an organization on the CECA form and determines if it aligns with the Council’s educational criteria and requirements concerning the CDA® Subject Areas and settings.

Once the CECA is approved, the organization has up to six (6) months to complete the Site Visit Review which is conducted by a Gold Standard Specialist, who is an independent contractor trained and approved by the Council.

The GSAS is a Council employee whose principal role is to complete an in-depth evaluation of the information submitted by an organization on the CDA® Education Coursework Alignment (CECA) form and determine if it aligns with the educational criteria and requirements set forth by the Council with respect to the CDA subject areas and settings.

The CDA Gold StandardSM Specialist (GSS) is an independent consultant with experience and expertise in Early Childhood Education and adult learning principles who conducts an organizational interview and observation (a required step in the CDA Gold Standard process).

A Gold Standard Specialist (GSS) conducts the Site Visit Review. The GSS confirms the information submitted in the online application and captures any new information that demonstrates adherence to the Three Principles. The GSS is an independent consultant to the Council trained to perform four distinct tasks in the CDA Gold Standard process:

  1. Receive Site Visit Review assignments from the Council.
  2. Confirm Site Visit Review logistics with the organization.
  3. Conduct the Site Visit Review.
  4. Prepare and submit the Site Visit Review Scoring Instrument to the Council.

The Site Visit Review includes three major components: The Instructor Interview(s), Course Observation(s), and the Organizational Interview.

Site Visit, Decision and Renewal

Each applicant is required to successfully complete a Site Visit Review by a Gold Standard Specialist (GSS). The GSS confirms the information submitted in the online application and captures any new information that demonstrates adherence to the Three Principles.

The total time for the CDA Gold StandardSM Site Visit Review is about 3-5 hours, depending on setting type and training modality and includes three major components: The Instructor Interview(s), Course Observation(s), and the Organizational Interview.

  • Instructor Interview – The Instructor Interview is a 45-minute meeting during which the GSS and one CDA® instructor discuss the instructor’s perspective of the organization’s CDA training program and how the organization addresses his or her professional needs.
  • Course Observation – The Course Observation is a 60-minute assessment (for each observation) during which the GSS observes and assesses the CDA learning environment, CDA teaching practices, and professional development activities to determine if the course aligns with the CDA Subject Areas and best practices in adult learning principles are implemented and used.
  • Organizational Interview – The Organizational Interview is a 45-minute meeting between the GSS and an organization representative(s) to discuss the organization’s mission, history, and context of the CDA training program as represented in the application. The Organizational Interview also reflects upon what the GSS experienced in the Instructor Interview and Course Observation.

The Site Visit Review includes three major components: The Instructor Interview(s), Course Observation(s), and the Organizational Interview.

Your organization is responsible for completing the Scheduling section of the online application by providing three (3) availability dates and times for the Site Visit Review. After entering availability options, the Council selects a Gold Standard Specialist to complete the Site Visit Review and also coordinates the availability of the interviews and observation of the selected training events.

Note: the Site Visit Review is a required component of the CDA Gold StandardSM application process that must be completed within a six month time period. Cancellation or failure to complete a Site Visit Review in the allotted time period will result in an automatic denial of a CDA Gold Standard award.

Following completion of the Site Visit Review, the GSS submits a final report. The results are reviewed, in conjunction with multiple sources of evidence gathered throughout the Gold Standard process to render a final decision.

Following a comprehensive review of the GSS Site Visit Review Report by the Council, a decision will be made to either:

  1. Deny the CDA Gold StandardSM or,
  2. Award the CDA Gold StandardSM

If the Council issues a denial decision, the organization is notified via e-mail with Appeal Procedures attached. Appeals must be submitted within thirty (30) days of the date listed on the denial letter and emailed to the Council at goldstandard@cdacouncil.org.

The purpose of the Appeal Process is to ensure that each training organization has received a fair and complete review process conducted in a manner consistent with all CDA Gold StandardSM policies and procedures. The CDA Gold Standard provides training organizations the right to appeal the final decision rendered by the Council’s Gold Standard Department.

Yes. The CDA Gold StandardSM is valid for three (3) years from the issue date listed on the CDA Gold Standard Certificate.

To maintain an active CDA Gold Standard status, all awardees are required to renew their Gold Standard Award prior to the expiration date. The online renewal application requirements focus on the Three Principles and the Site Visit Review.

Additional information regarding the renewal process will be sent to CDA Gold Standard awardees. However, basic information may be found inside the CDA Gold Standard Handbook.

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