The early care and education (ECE) field is undergoing a major transition. With more research showing high-quality early childhood education as a major factor in a child’s future success in school and life, and the need for a child’s teacher to be well educated and competent, the field is coming under increasing scrutiny. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8, a report from the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Science, recommends lead teachers in all settings should have at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education as a foundation for their practice, basing this on the science of early childhood development. While the early childhood field is far from reaching this goal, progress is underway. The final report developed by the Power to the Profession Task Force calls for major investments in early childhood educators, including comprehensive strategies to make college degrees affordable and accessible for the incumbent workforce. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® (T.E.A.C.H.) Scholarship Initiative has a proven record as a way to make that happen, given the postsecondary education the workforce needs and the real career and wage mobility it deserves.
With the goal that every child in an early childhood setting has a teacher who is well educated and well-compensated, T.E.A.C.H. provides an opportunity for incumbent early childhood educators to access an affordable college education, have adequate workforce support while pursuing that education, and earn fair compensation commensurate with their educational achievements. The T.E.A.C.H. scholarship consists of several components. These include financial support for tuition, books and other expenses, paid release time, annual compensation enhancements upon completion of required credit hours and a counselor who provides personalized support for scholarship recipients and their employers. Currently, T.E.A.C.H. scholarship programs operate in 23 states and D.C.
The T.E.A.C.H. state programs are supported by Child Care Services Association’s T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center (National Center). The National Center provides ongoing technical assistance and resources and accountability oversight to ensure that the state programs maintain fidelity to the basic design of the T.E.A.C.H. model. To support this mission, the National Center created an extensive database primarily for use as a scholarship management system. That database includes extensive information obtained at the time of scholarship application. Scholarship recipients’ records are updated while they participate in the program. Because this information is monitored regularly and examined by National Center staff, it is quite useful in developing high-quality data for research and evaluation studies.
However, individual scholarship recipients are not routinely tracked in the T.E.A.C.H. database after they complete T.E.A.C.H. contracts and retention commitments. Hence, it has been difficult to conduct systematic assessments of T.E.A.C.H. scholarship recipients’ careers, especially those who graduated from early childhood education programs with a college degree. This three-year study, initiated in 2018, was developed to fill this gap by surveying recent graduates who were supported by T.E.A.C.H. scholarships while completing two- or four-year degrees. These surveys, fielded every six months, inquire about employment, wages, career progress, professional development and other work and life situations. The resulting data allows a detailed description of T.E.A.C.H. graduates’ accomplishments and experiences. This report is the second in a series of reports. The first report summarized developments over the first year after graduation. This report summarizes the findings from the second year after graduation. This study will continue over a third year, although the impact of the pandemic may make data collection and interpretation more difficult.