A standard is a measure of quality. In the field of early childhood, standards define and drive our work. Some standards are required of all practitioners or for certain settings. For example, North Dakota law (NDCC 50-11.1) requires licensure of child care by the Department of Human Services. Licensing regulations set the minimum acceptable health, safety, and program standards legally allowed. Licensed care, or in some cases regulated care, is the baseline below which it is illegal to operate. Licensed care is the starting point—the first standard that must be met—but it is not an indicator of quality care.
A number of widely accepted industry standards move beyond minimum licensing to define what a well-functioning program looks like, how effective caregivers and teachers interact with children, and what professional preparation qualifies a person for a particular career position. These industry standards are sometimes referred to as quality standards—the factors that have been proven time and again to support children’s healthy development and learning.
In North Dakota, we have developed several important quality standards. These include:
ND Early Learning Guidelines
The ND Early Learning Guidelines (often referred to as ELG) are standards that define the expectations we have for children’s learning and school readiness, or what children should know and be able to do.
North Dakota Core Competencies for Early Education and Care Practitioners
The North Dakota Core Competencies for Early Education and Care Practitioners (PDF) are standards that define the expectations we have for caregiver/teacher knowledge and skill. Because the ELG tell us the goals we have for child outcomes, we can determine what caregivers and teachers need to know and be able to do to ensure that they are teaching in ways that are effective, and that lead to the outcomes we want for children.
Bright & Early ND
The Bright & Early standards address program quality based on a several nationally researched measurements of program environments, staff qualifications, and teacher/child interactions.
Trainer and Training Approval Standards
The Registry is responsible to implement standards for the training that is delivered to the early childhood workforce. Growing Futures trainer and training approval standards are based on national guidelines from professional organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the national CDA Council, and the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). The Registry also follows the best practice guidelines of the National Registry Alliance and other member states.
Standards also determine how the Growing Futures Registry operates. As a member of the National Workforce Registry Alliance, the Registry strives to implement nationally accepted best-practice standards for data integrity, reliability, and security. Growing Futures is also responsible to develop [sic] quality assurance standards for trainers and training approval in North Dakota.
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