Aisha Ray, Barbara T. Bowman, Jana Fleming

Young children from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds are projected to be the majority in U.S. schools in the next two decades. Yet national studies conducted by Dean Aisha Ray and Professor Barbara Bowman demonstrate that the early childhood infrastructure—including higher education, accreditation bodies, and state teacher credentialing systems—insufficiently prepares teachers who can effectively work with culturally, linguistically, and racially diverse children.

The failure of preservice teacher preparation programs to adequately train teachers has been associated with poorer educational outcomes. Further, early childhood teacher standards, which help guide the content and practice skills addressed in higher education teacher preparation, also do not adequately focus on culturally marginalized children.

Ray and Bowman, along with Jana Fleming, director of the Herr Research Center for Children and Social Policy conducted a study aimed at improving efforts in Illinois to place the specific developmental and educational needs of culturally, racially, and linguistically diverse children explicitly within teacher standards, teacher certification, and teacher preparation in higher education. The study examines the diversity content of the curricula in all accredited associate- and bachelor-degree early childhood teacher preparation programs in Illinois, interviews early childhood faculty in each institution, develops teaching materials for higher education faculty, and develops policy recommendations for early childhood teacher standards and certification.