While HB 4 and SB 801 are aimed at improving quality in Texas Public Pre-K, the quality requirements outlined do not achieve the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) definition of a quality program.
Moving Towards Quality Pre-K
To move our state closer to achieving quality, the following benchmarks should be added:
- Specialized training in pre-K: Revise the EC-6 certification to address the lack of focus on early education; alternatively, require that early childhood educators have at least nine credit hours in early childhood education along with the EC‐6 certification.
- Assistant teacher has CDA equivalent: Ensure that there is some early childhood education coursework requirement for assistant teachers, or a Child Development Associate credential.
- Class size: Reduce class sizes to 20 or less.
- Staff-child ratio: Require class ratios of at least 1:18, consistent with state child care licensing for four year olds, or optimally, 1:10, as noted above.
- Additional services and site visits: Continued compliance with best practices should be a goal for our state as we strive for quality early education. Creation of an Office of Early Learning at TEA can provide oversight of pre-K programs, maximize opportunities to secure resources for pre-K, improve quality, and drive coordination with other agencies involved in early learning.