- Principals nationwide are largely underprepared for the integration of pre-K programs in schools, according to "Early Childhood Preparation for School Leaders: Lessons from New Jersey Principal Certification Programs," a new report from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.
- New Jersey is spotlighted by researchers in particular due to its combination of a high-quality public pre-K program and the lack of a requirement for college-level early-childhood coursework for principals. In addition, only 56% of the 23 institutions offering principal certification programs in New Jersey required coursework on leadership and management of public pre-K programs.
- Additionally, an earlier report from 2015 found that just a fifth of principals nationwide supervising a pre-K program felt they had adequate training in early-childhood education.
While the research points to a need for more focus on early-childhood education in formal principal preparation programs, those already in the field will also need an increased focus on that area in their professional development opportunities as pre-K programs become more prevalent in elementary schools. This could potentially be handled with personalized microcredentialing opportunities made available to principals in a district who need early childhood skills the most.
The need is only likely to rise as the value of pre-K education is increasingly recognized nationwide. A North Carolina study last year found, for example, that students who had gone through preschool had higher test scores, lower special education placements, and were less likely to be held back a grade. Those benefits held across all race and income groups up through 5th grade, at which point researchers' observations ended.
Pre-K and early grade teachers also expressed a desire for administrators knowledgeable about early learning practices and child development last month in sessions at the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference.