[By Sara Villegas, Community College Liaison, Regis University CPS]
Requirements for licensure of early childhood educators are becoming more standardized, and in many cases have begun to require more advanced degrees and specialized study. “This is for a good reason,” said Karen Cooley, professor of early childhood education at Regis University’s College for Professional Studies (Regis).
“Pre-schoolers need care and guidance to prepare them for elementary school challenges. We want to work together to develop future early childhood educators who have the knowledge and practical experience to help ‘little people’ learn and grow.”
With more students seeking early childhood education specializations at community colleges, the opportunity to transfer an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education (ECE) is at a premium. Even more challenging is finding an institution that will allow students a fair transfer of an associate of applied science (AAS) degree. The many technical credits, while providing excellent training for ECE specialists, are often accepted at a low rate at four-year institutions – if they are accepted at all.
With this in mind, Gary Sawyer, chair of the education department at the Community College of Denver (CCD), approached Regis. Regis has a long history of working with local and national community colleges to develop generous transfer agreements through its Associate’s to Bachelor’s Program, and both Sawyer and his Regis liaison, Sara Villegas, recognized an opportunity. The faculty of the Regis School of Education and Counseling supported the idea.
“It is important for four-year institutions to provide continued pathways for community college students in the area of teacher education,” Karen Cooley said. “Education is constantly growing with new and enhanced ways to help all students learn and become better citizens. As an adult learning institution, Regis provides rigorous coursework, alternative formats, and practical application of classroom experiences for teacher education students to become the educators for the future.”
The Regis University CPS Associate’s to Bachelor’s Program works with both its regional and national partners to provide transfer agreements for many programs and students can transfer up to 90 credits toward their bachelor’s degrees. The Regis transfer program is unique because it offers transfer agreements for a variety of AAS degrees, and provides students with a pathway to either a bachelor of applied science or traditional bachelor of arts or science degree. This groundwork provided a perfect platform for a transfer pathway between the CCD’s Early Childhood Education AAS degree and the Regis Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education Degree.
Sawyer, Cooley, and Villegas worked together to analyze how the programs would best fit together and provide transfer students with a seamless pathway toward their bachelor’s degrees. One obstacle that faces AAS transfer students is the loss of technical and occupational credits when they transfer to four-year institutions. The transfer team worked diligently to complete a plan that would allow students to apply 89 transfer credits toward their bachelor’s degree at Regis. By individually matching CCD’s required AAS ECE courses with Regis degree requirements, the team ensured that a student’s ECE-specific coursework transfers in its entirety. The student can then take an additional 45 credits in core requirements for a total of 89 CCD credits, allowing the student to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education after completing 39 credit hours at Regis.
“Students now have a clear direction to complete an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree with state licensure in this much needed area,” Cooley said. It also opens the door for students to earn a master’s degree later on.
The new transfer agreement allows for an affordable and comfortable transition for students who desire to apply the work they have done on their associate’s degrees toward their bachelor’s degrees. The generous transfer policy ensures that a student’s credits are not “lost” in the transfer process, and allows students to earn more credits at the more affordable community college level. Because Regis caps its class enrollments at 12 to 16 students, CCD transfer students will find the same personal attention that the CCD excelled at providing. Because CCD does an excellent job at training their ECE students, they graduate from Regis with a solid foundation in early childhood education, as well as a well-rounded liberal arts background and state licensure.
Sawyer, Cooley, and Villegas look forward to launching the new transfer program for the fall 2011 semester. They are planning to work together to hold a kickoff event for ECE students and faculty to inform them of the exciting new transfer opportunity available to them, and are excited to help guide students through the transfer pathway from AAS to BA.
“The impact that Regis and CCD have on our higher education students will readily be seen in their teaching,” Cooley said. “These new educators will be preparing youngsters for the future. Early childhood education is a vital part of the overall educational experience of an individual, and Regis and CCD will produce quality early childhood teachers who care for these young individuals and who help them to grow and to learn.”
If you would like additional information, please contact Sara Villegas at svillegas-at-regis-dot-edu.
This article originally appeared on the NACCTEP website. It has been reposted with permission by NACCTEP.
The National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs (NACCTEP) promotes the community college role in the recruitment, preparation, retention, and renewal of diverse early childhood and K-12 teachers. For more information on NACCTEP, please visit the website at www.nacctep.org.