Introductory and overview resources created by the DEC for the Initial Practice-Based Professional Standards for Early
Interventionists and Early Childhood Special Educators 2020
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EI/ECSE Standards Video Overview

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An Introduction: EI/ECSE Standards

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EI/ECSE Standards: Preparing for Program Review

Using the standards to prepare tofr program review.


Presenters: Margie Crutchfield,

Eva Horn, and Vicki Stayton

March, 2021

About the Standards

What are the standards?

The knowledge, skills, values, and dispositions professionals need to practice competently. The EI/ECSE Personnel Preparation Standards represent the first stand-alone Standards to focus specifically on the preparation of early interventionists and early childhood special educators who work with young children ages birth through 8 years who have or are at risk for developmental delays and disabilities and their families in home, classroom, and other community settings.

Why were they developed?

We have EI/ECSE personnel standards because: A high-quality workforce is essential to ensuring that young children with delays and disabilities receive competent care and services that are aligned with the positive outcomes families want for their children. Established standards for the EI/ECSE profession enables institutions of higher education to develop curriculum that results in well-prepared personnel. Professional development providers can use the EI/ECSE standards to plan and implement learning experiences that emphasize the content and practices described in the standards. The EI/ECSE standards provide a vehicle to collaborate with professionals representing other related disciplines and other professional associations in interprofessional initiatives. Institutions of higher education that seek accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) must align their program with the EI/ECSE standards.The EI/ECSE standards provide guidance to state certification/licensure policies. The national landscape of services for all young children has changed dramatically over the past four decades. The passage of P.L. 99-457 in 1986 resulted not only in dramatic increases in the number of young children at risk for delays and disabilities being served, but also in professional interest and research related to the characteristics of services that best addressed the needs of this population of children and their families. Concurrently, professional groups and organizations, policy-makers, and researchers began to re-envision and study the roles, practices, and educational requirements of the EI/ECSE professionals responsible for providing intervention and instruction to young children and their families. As the field of early childhood education continued to advance, it became clear that in addition to defining the role of the EI/ECSE professional, clarification of this discipline, in relation to the role of the early childhood educator (ECE), was critical. The DEC of the CEC joined the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and 15 other organizations in the work of the Power to the Profession Task Force (2016-2020) as a means toward this goal. The Power to the Profession Task Force has clearly defined ECE as a distinct professional discipline. The EI/ECSE role was identified as a specialization within that profession while building upon the foundation of ECE, which requires additional qualifications and standards. A set of standards unique to the EI/ECSE discipline provides standards that align with the ECE standards, adds clarification to the overlap, and identifies the additional knowledge and skills required to be a competent EI/ECSE professional. Collaborative partnerships with related disciplines (e.g., occupational therapy [OT], physical therapy [PT], speech-language pathology [SLP] in the preparation of personnel to work with children birth through eight years have been advocated for more than three decades. Having a set of standards for the preparation of special educators that addresses the birth through eight age range and aligns with the special educator K-12 standards provides a continuum of special education personnel preparation standards birth through 21 years. Having the two sets of special education standards provides clarity to both as to competencies that are common across the age span as well as clarifying those that are unique to EI/ECSE and thus facilitates collaborative work across disciplines. EI/ECSE professionals must be prepared to work with children who range in age from birth through eight years, covering a period of rapid developmental change. For young children who have or are at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities, EI/ECSE professionals must be able to integrate knowledge of how conditions both within children and within children's everyday home and community environments may influence their development and learning at different ages. EI/ECSE professionals work closely with families, and respect and support families as decision-makers and as essential partners in supporting their child’s growth and development. EI/ECSE professionals also work in a wide variety of natural and inclusive environments including schools, homes, and other community settings, each requiring different sets of skills, with roles such as direct service providers, consultants, coaches, and service coordinators. High quality educator preparation equates to EI/ECSE professionals’ expertise which directly impacts outcomes for children and families. The Initial Practice-Based Professional Preparation Standards for Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education are grounded in evidence-based practices in EI/ECSE, which reflect current research as well as professional and family wisdom. The standards are designed to provide a foundation that will be consistent across personnel preparation programs in EI/ECSE, as well as provide guidance for state licensure aligned with research, policy, and professional opinion related to young children, families, and services.

How were they developed?

The task force members reviewed multiple sources of information including but not limited to: Research syntheses and studies Relevant professional organizations recommended practices (e.g., DEC Recommended Practices, CEC High Leverage Practices, NAEYC Developmentally Appropriate Practices) and position statements (e.g., NAEYC Advancing Equity, DAP, & Code of Ethics papers; DEC/NAEYC joint position on Inclusion) Relevant professional standards (e.g., CEC Special Educator Standards, Early Childhood Educator Standards - NAEYC; Zero to Three Competencies, ECPC Interdisicplinary competencies; InTASC Core Teaching Standards, CAEP Elementary Education Statements) Policy, regulations, and recommendations of relevant agencies (e.g., ED/DHHS; Head Start; IDEA) The standards were developed using an iterative process with multiple drafts that were shared with diverse members of the fields of early childhood education, early intervention, early childhood special education, and K-12 special education as well as families of children with developmental delays or disabilities. The feedback and input was used throughout to revise and refine the work. The EI/ECSE Personnel Standards reflect the best available empirical evidence, as well as current supporting legislation and the wisdom and experience of the field.

Who developed the standards?

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) convened an Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE) Personnel Preparation Standards Development Task Force from 2018-2020. The task force membership consisted primarily of DEC members with representation from CEC and NAEYC. The task force members were selected through an application process. The task force obtained ongoing input from the field through listening sessions and public surveys.