The State of NAEYC Accreditation

For those who may not know, the NAEYC is the largest non-profit organization that advocates for early childhood professionals and children in early childhood programs. Part of the NAEYC’s mission is to raise the standard of care and instruction in early childhood centers around the nation. To do this, they have established the NAEYC Academy. The Academy’s biggest project is the Accreditation of high quality programs. This Accreditation is known to be the gold standard for quality.

There are currently 7000 programs that are accredited in the country. There are 8000 programs engaged in the process to becoming accredited (not all of those programs will become accredited). All in all, they estimate that 500,000 children’s experiences in early childhood centers have been affected.

The NAEYC is now proud to announce the Office of Applied Research lead by Kyle Snow, PhD. This Office will conduct research, gather research findings, and distribute the research to all the appropriate channels to allow early childhood professionals to stay on the cutting edge of developmentally appropriate practice. It will be interesting to see how successful this Office will be, because if they are successful, we may see that they fill missing link for many centers from being a non-accredited program to becoming an accredited program.

The NAEYC recently commissioned a study on their own processes. This study was a major assessment conducted by a third party organization. The commission came up with 10 recommendations.

While the 10 recommendations were not specifically mentioned, they mentioned the topics in which those recommendations were made:

Recommendations on National Commission on Accreditation Reinvention

Recommendations 1-5 – Purpose, structure, oversight and financing
Recommendations 6 – Accreditation Criteria
Recommendation 7 – Design of system
Recommendation 9-10 – Relationships with others

From the last commission on accreditation, the recommendation for paid assessors was made. Because of that recommendation, assessors have become more reliable and better trained.

The current commission has made recommendations on organizing and streamlining the criteria. This reorganization of the criteria would still include the same content, but would group similarly related criteria together in a different format.

Criteria should be statements of effective practice. But some of these statements are not easily measurable. They want to have criteria that are easily measurable, to reflect and map back to these criteria that aren’t easily measurable. The measurable criteria would be a subset of the not easily measurable criteria. In other words, one criteria would be a statement of best practice, and then measurable criteria would ensure that statement was being fulfilled. They would be a subset of the statement.

On the note of criteria, they have heard and understood that centers are burdened by the level of intense rigor to become accredited. The Academy knows this, but they remain adamant that they want to keep the rigor but improve the actual process to make sure that does not get in the way of making and maintaining program improvements.

Another recommendation was to gather data on the 417 criteria and analyze them to see how schools are performing in those criteria. From that information, the Academy could make directed efforts to improve those areas of quality.

The Academy is also working on a way to constantly update the criteria while ensuring that all programs are on the same page. They want the criteria to always reflect current research and best practices. They want the criteria to continue to be the gold mark for excellence.

Another change they are seeking to make is to make the actual assessment process more transparent. Currently, the assessment reports may tell you that you have been denied accreditation, but they do not tell you what specific criteria needs to be resolved to move forward. Furthermore, the self assessment tools made available right now are not comprehensive or entirely practical. They are currently developing an assessment instrument for schools to see how they are doing in terms of accreditation.

Some other recommendations that the Academy will fulfill are as follows:

– Reduce the number of Criteria
– Streamline the Sources of Evidence
– Consider scoring schemas that offer more than met/unmet
– Continue to ensure reliability of NAEYC Assessors

New information has been gathered on best practice as well:

– Green/Eco Friendly practice
– Fighting Obesity
– The importance of Nature in learning
– Serving families in crisis (homelessness, deployment, natural disasters, refugees)
– How to deal with Technology (Teachers talking on phones, appropriate uses of technology in classroom)

The NAEYC Academy is also seeking to supplement and enhance the available resources:

– Streamlined forms (Ready for online entry so that no one has to enter data more than one time)
– Additional guidance (On the criteria to be organized as a self-assessment format)
– Additional Training opportunities provided by Accreditation Program Support

The Academy will also have additional system enhancements:

– More flexible submission dates
– Updated Appeals Resource (, they want due process)
– Modified Accreditation Decision Reports (for deferred and denied programs, they will receive info about why they were denied)

For all of these changes, there will be an Interim period which allows programs a choice in assessment system. In this final transition period, a program can choose to be assessed within the current system, or to adopt the new standards.

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