Highly qualified teachers embody the highest standards of the early childhood profession. They are able to establish warm and caring relationships with children, promote children’s curiosity and love of learning, and foster their development and learning. Standards defining teacher qualifications and competencies are created and assessed by professional organizations, defined in state documents for licensing and regulating teachers, and described in policy documents that outline competencies for practitioners. Although there is no universal agreement within the professional or research literature to define what constitutes a highly qualified teacher, research suggests that highly qualified teachers positively affect children’s developmental and learning outcomes and overall program quality. This entry first discusses the credentials available to early childhood teachers, the professional standards that must be met to earn ...

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