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More Early Childhood Educators Have College Degrees

Study shows workforce includes more with bachelor's and associate's degrees

Kathleen Megan

March 09, 2011

A new study on Connecticut's early childhood educators shows that the state is well on its way to achieving education goals contained in a bill being proposed by state Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford.

The bill says that by 2015, half of the early childhood lead teachers must have bachelor's degrees and the rest must have at least an associate's degree.

The study by Connecticut Charts-A-Course a state program that helps early childhood workers achieve higher education levels and develop their careers shows that more than half of early childhood program directors and teachers have associate's or bachelor's degrees. Among directors, 67 percent have degrees; the level among teachers is 57 percent.

However, only 17 percent of assistant teachers have an associate's or bachelor's degree.

"I think we are doing pretty well," said Darlene C. Ragozzine, executive director of Charts-A-Course. "We've had a scholarship program running aggressively since 1997."

Between July and December 2010, Ragozzine said, the organization distributed $1.6 million in scholarships. The agency funded twice as many students working toward bachelor's degrees than in the past.

Ragozzine said she thinks the childhood education system has a good chance of meeting the proposed 2015 deadline, but the challenge likely will come in the large cities. She also said retaining staff once they have a bachelor's degree can prove difficult; too often people with degrees take higher-paying jobs in elementary schools.

The Charts-A-Course study also included information on salaries. Early childhood educators and workers are paid an average of $24,500 a year about half the average pay of public school kindergarten teachers.

The study showed that child-care educators and workers in Connecticut are predominately white, female and in their 30s or 40s.

It also showed that staff turnover in early childhood education programs in Connecticut is lower than national figures. While national turnover rates run from 25 to 40 percent, in Connecticut turnover rates range from 15 to 27 percent, depending on the staff position and on whether the employee is leaving the field completely or moving to another early education program.

Connecticut's relatively lower turnover rate is related to its high rate of accredited programs, Ragozzine said. She said data shows that staff are less likely to leave high-quality programs.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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