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Pima Community College Graduates. Photo by Shanna Kukla.

NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Degree Programs in Arizona

By Vicki Louk Balint | June 29, 2018 

Why choose one of the NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Degree Programs in Arizona? If you’re thinking of studying within the field, does that make a difference?

As a faculty member at Northern Arizona University, Martha Muñoz was deeply involved in the accreditation process for undergraduate and advanced early childhood degree programs in NAU’s College of Education. 

Muñoz also served on the 2004 – 2005 NAEYC Advisory Council that helped shape NAEYC’s higher education accreditation system. In her role as a Commissioner, she helped determine final accreditation decisions for many early childhood degree programs. 

“Seeing the benefits of accreditation for communities, students, faculty, and employers fires my enthusiasm to provide technical assistance to colleges pursuing accreditation,” says Muñoz, who recently presented at NAEYC’s Professional Learning Institute 2018 (PLI) in Austin, Texas on the accreditation process.

“Traveling to Austin to participate in  was very special to me because I earned my PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in Higher Education Administration. I was honored to be a presenter at a PLI session on higher education accreditation. Plus, I have many friends and colleagues in Austin, and this was a bonus — my son lives in Austin, so I got to spend some time with him. In addition to my role as presenter, I had a chance to attend other sessions focused on Higher Education accreditation. This was a terrific opportunity to meet many faculty members from across the country who are deeply committed to the accreditation process.”

Higher Education Accreditation Means High Expectations 

The NAEYC higher education accreditation process provides a framework for self-study, external evaluation, and improvement in the quality of teacher preparation programs. NAEYC’s higher education accreditation system sets a high expectation for program quality. Programs that achieve accreditation see tangible improvements in the caliber of their curriculum and the cohesiveness of their program. Stronger student performance on NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards is an additional benefit. 

Welsh, Delzotto and Muñoz Arizona NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Degree Programs in Arizona
Left to right: Linda Welsh, PhD, of the Dana Center at the University of Texas, Ray DelZotto, President of Cook DZ, LLC and Martha Muñoz, PhD of MDZ Planning Group.

Muñoz, of MDZ Planning Group, presented on the value of NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Degree Programs in Arizona to an audience at PLI. Attendees included higher ed faculty members from across the United States, including California, North Carolina, Texas, Illinois, Arizona, Michigan, Tennessee, Washington and Hawaii. Here are some excerpts from her presentation on the value of NAEYC accredited early childhood education degree programs.

Facts on NAEYC Higher Education Accreditation

NAEYC Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs is the sole accreditor of early childhood degree programs. NAEYC accredits associate, baccalaureate and master’s degree programs that prepare early childhood educators. NAEYC’s Professional Preparation Standards serve as the accreditation standards for the system, and these standards establish expectations (knowledge and competencies) for early childhood educators across all early learning settings. There are currently 231 accredited early childhood degree programs across 39 states. Learn more about current Arizona NAEYC Accredited Higher Education Early Childhood Degree Programs.

The Culture of Higher Education Accreditation 

Within the college or university setting, NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Degree Programs in Arizona cultivate an intentional, learning-centered, well-aligned curriculum and conceptual framework. With a focus on student outcomes, the process facilitates improvements in teaching and learning. Higher ed accreditation fosters a strong faculty voice, collegial relationships and encourages community partnerships.

NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Degree Programs in Arizona Benefit our Field 

Reyes Coy-Nunez (left) and Silvia Figueroa, both recipients of associate degrees of Applied Science Early Childhood Studies from Pima Community College, shown here at the 2018 Multicultural Convocation. Photo credit: Shanna Kukla

Arizona NAEYC Accredited Higher Education Early Childhood Degree Programs create a vision of excellence for students and faculty. The process identifies common expectations for what an early childhood teacher should know and do. Aligned across degree levels – associate to baccalaureate to graduate, higher education accreditation promotes articulation across programs and fosters a culture of evidence-based theory and practice.

NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Degree Programs Benefit our Students 

Accreditation provides a discipline-specific stamp of approval from NAEYC, a trusted national organization that promotes high-quality early learning for all children, birth through age 8, by connecting practice, policy, and research. The accreditation process connects NAEYC standards right from the very from the first course! Students benefit from an intentional curriculum aligned with the high expectations for early childhood teachers. Engagement in active and collaborative learning along with connectivity across higher education institutions add value as students work to complete their degree programs. These graduates are ready to begin their careers as leaders in their profession.

NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Degree Programs in Arizona Benefit our Communities 

In our state, employers who hire graduates from Arizona NAEYC accredited early childhood degree programs can be confident that these professionals bring with them the knowledge and skills of good early childhood practice. Accredited higher ed programs create a standard of excellence for teacher preparation. This level of excellence ripples through communities and elevates expectations for teachers of young children. Parents and other community members benefit from teachers who have earned their degrees from higher ed programs with curricula rooted in current evidence from research, theory, and practice.

Accreditation strengthens many other industries and professions. Early childhood degree programs should be accredited, too!  

Public safety programs, health care organizations, providers of home care services, even tourism and parks and recreation professionals recognize common accreditation standards within their fields. Higher ed accreditation  for the programs that produce our professionals who care for and educate our youngest citizens is long past due.

NAEYC Higher Education Accreditation: A New Opportunity in Arizona 

Recently, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) contracted with AzAEYC to implement the Arizona Higher Education Accreditation Project (AzHEA). 

Through funding from the Preschool Development Grant (PDG), AzAEYC will be recruiting a cohort of Institutions of Higher Education to support the early childhood degree programs in achieving accreditation.

Our goal for this project mirrors the priority at the national level, says Dawn Wilkinson, Executive Director of AzAEYC. We hope to advance the quality of the early childhood profession in Arizona by strengthening the preparation of early childhood educators.”

Funding will provide support in many areas, including accreditation fees. Interested in learning more about the project? Fill in this form with your contact information and we’ll send updates.  

Thanks to Shanna Kukla for the above group photo of Pima Community College ECE Graduates.