Teacher Qualifications’ Impact On Learning Environments

May 23, 2019

Published by CounciLINK on May 23, 2019


This blog is reprinted from newamerica.org and underscores the value of teachers’ educational background and how it impacts the quality of teaching in the classroom. Credentials such as the CDA give teachers the core competencies they need to establish quality learning environments.

By Elise Franchino

TeacherAs a former early educator, I want to emphasize that learning environments matter. For young children, the environment is the structure through which learning comes alive. Setting up my pre-K and kindergarten classrooms was a task that I simultaneously relished and treated with great thought and respect. I learned how to successfully accomplish this task in my undergraduate early childhood education program, where I developed knowledge and competencies to create effective early learning environments.

A recent American Education Research Association (AERAmeta-analysis synthesized the abundance of research examining the relationship between teachers’ academic backgrounds and the quality of the early learning environments they create. Forty-five studies were selected, each conducted in a child care center between 1980-2015, and each comparing educators with varying educational attainment. Studies used ITERS or ECERS as the Environmental Rating Scales (ERS) to measure quality. The Infant and Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS) and the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) were the measures of classroom quality which guided my pre-service learning as well.

The seven ITERS and ECERS indicators that researchers analyzed were space and furnishings, personal care routines (i.e. hand washing and diapering), language and reasoning (i.e. formal and informal communication), activities (i.e. mathematics, fine motor, dramatic play), interaction (i.e. supervision and discipline), program structure (i.e. scheduling and accommodations for students with special needs), and parent engagement.

Indicators related to the quality of teachers’ instruction and students’ social-emotional support, such as activities, language-reasoning, and interactions, relate closely to the widely used Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS).

All seven quality outcomes correlated positively with educators’ academic background, though teaching degrees (or lack thereof) had the least impact on space and furnishings and personal care routines. Both of these indicators are more related to structural quality than process quality, and therefore less likely to be predictive of children’s learning outcomes than the other five indicators. On the whole, researchers found the positive correlation they were seeking.

To read the complete blog, go to newamerica.org.

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