Muskegon Community College has received a $20,700 grant to pursue accreditation for its early childhood education associate degree through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
MCC joins nine other Michigan colleges who received similar grants from the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC) and the Michigan Office of Great Start (OGS) to pursue either NAEYC accreditation or reaccreditation in the next two years.
The rigorous national accreditation process measures the quality of early education standards from birth through eight years, explained Jennifer Jones, the education coordinator at MCC.
“It is a thorough assessment of all education processes, quality standards, fieldwork and critical direct measure assessment related to early childhood education at MCC,” added Jones, who has been advocating for the college to seek the accreditation since she arrived on campus five years ago. The costs associated with gaining accreditation have been a roadblock to date, she added.
“The funds specifically secured by the grant are going to be used for the site team visit, which will cost over $6,000, and for materials and staffing,” said Jones. “Our education para pro will be compensated for 10 hours a week from now until after the site visit is completed to track and do paperwork associated with accreditation process. The grant will compensate the college for two classes so I can have release time to work on the accreditation through Fall 2016.”
Jones will be immersed in documenting the 12 comprehensive early childhood education criteria used by NAEYC to evaluate MCC’s program. She admittedly is working against an accelerated timeline that will bring the site team to the MCC campus next summer with the final reporting or follow-up visit slated for that fall. The reward, though, is worth the effort, she noted.
“This accreditation means a higher level of professional standards that can more easily be transferred to other institutions through articulation agreements,” Jones explained. “As a state, we are trying to give our higher education institutions the ability to transfer early childhood education associate degrees from one accredited institution to another. The four-year institutions and the two-year institutions are having very critical conversations about creating this process.”
Presently, nine Michigan colleges offer NAEYC accredited early child education associate degrees. If MCC is successful in its efforts, the college will join those ranks by the end of 2016, said Jones.