NAEYC Higher Education Accreditation Standards
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NAEYC's higher education accreditation system accredits early childhood degree programs preparing individuals for beginning career roles as early childhood educators. Through 2022, the accreditation system was in the process of transitioning from the 2010 NAEYC Standards for Initial Early Childhood Professional Preparation Programs to the 2021 Ensuring Quality in Early Childhood Education Professional Preparation Programs: NAEYC’s Early Childhood Higher Education Accreditation Standards. The Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs uses these standards as the basis for the accreditation of associate, baccalaureate and initial master's degree programs (the Commission does not accredit early childhood degree programs preparing individuals for advanced practitioner roles at this time).
About the 2021 Higher Education Accreditation Standards
In 2020, following the release of the Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators and the Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession, the Commission began the process of revising NAEYC’s higher education accreditation standards both to reflect developments in the early childhood education profession and as a routine and healthy practice for an accrediting body. The Commission appointed a workgroup – comprised of stakeholders across the early childhood education field – to lead this effort. Over the course of several months, the Standards Workgroup and Commission considered the strengths and challenges of the 2010 accreditation standards, gathered feedback from the accreditation community, and considered the needs and guidelines of the early childhood education profession. This work culminated in the release of Ensuring Quality in Early Childhood Education Professional Preparation Programs: NAEYC’s Early Childhood Higher Education Accreditation Standards in October 2021. These standards define expectations for what early childhood education professional preparation programs must do in order to achieve accreditation—with a focus on how preparation programs will know that graduates are meeting the Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators, as well as the supports programs provide to aid candidate success.
The Commission extends deepest appreciation for the Standards Workgroup’s contributions to these standards, for the faculty who participated in surveys and provided feedback during the open comment period, and for the hundreds of programs and faculty who are part of the accreditation system.
Each of the six new accreditation standards (Standards A-F) addresses an important component of quality ECE professional preparation programs and contains a brief summary statement followed by a set of indicators for meeting it. As with the previous standards, each standard must be met in order to achieve accreditation.
To support programs’ understanding of accreditation expectations, each standard is accompanied by examples of evidence that programs are required or encouraged to submit in the Self-Study Report and/or during the site visit. Standards also include guidance designed to clarify the expectations of the standard and/or to acknowledge important contextual factors that may impact programs.
About the Standards Transition Timeline
Programs submitting first-time or renewal Self-Study Reports as of 2023 must now use the new 2021 higher education accreditation standards. Please see this chart that outlines expectations for programs at other stages of accreditation (responding to conditions, preparing Interim Reports, etc) with regard to transitioning to the new accreditation standards.
Resources About the New Higher Education Accreditation Standards
Programs will find the following pre-recorded presentations in the online Accreditation Resource Library in Basecamp:
- An overview of the new accreditation standards and Self-Study Report Template
- An overview of the Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators
We welcome your questions as you begin the journey of transitioning from the old to the new. As questions arise, please email us at [email protected] so we can learn how best to support your program.
Download the 2021 NAEYC Higher Education Accreditation Standards
Programs submitting first-time or renewal Self-Study Reports as of 2023 must now use the 2021 standards.
Download the 2010 NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards
As of 2023, only programs previously accredited with conditions under the 2010 standards should use these standards when responding to conditions. Programs submitting year 2 or year 4 Interim Reports may use these standards, but are strongly encouraged to transition to the 2021 standards prior to submitting the year 4 report in order to benefit from Commission feedback on alignment. All programs submitting Self-Study Reports must now use the 2021 standards.