NAEYC Accreditation Effort: Maintaining National Standards for Quality

By Adrienne Lomangino, Head Teacher 

This year Bing was reaccredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, an endorsement that comes up for renewal every five years. This undertaking in­volved a process of self-study, modification and documentation. Preparations were a year-long endeavor, involving examination of all aspects of the school, both in the classrooms and administration.

Across the United States, accreditation from NAEYC is seen as the gold standard for early childhood programs. The organization describes itself as a “professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research.”

NAEYC has 10 standards for quality that cover all aspects of the education program, from policies and schedules to materials and moment-to-moment interactions. The standards are: 

1.  Relationships
2.  Curriculum
3.  Teaching
4.  Assessment of child progress
5.  Health
6.  Staff competencies
7.  Preparation and support
8.  Families, community relationships
9.  Physical environment
10.  Leadership and management

To demonstrate that the standards are achieved, a program must provide evidence of how it meets the extensive criteria for these standards. The Bing staff constructed separate portfolios of evidence representing the Twos classrooms, the nursery school classrooms and the administration. Together, these digital portofolios included 430 slides.

Schools are living, growing places, and the staff approached the self-study process as an opportunity for improvement. Scrutinizing and describing the ways in which teachers support children’s growth through selection and arrangement of materials, organization and facilitation of activities, and supportive interactions enhanced teachers’ professional awareness, fluency and pride. 

Most of the changes related to the creation and revision of various documents: We sought to clarify and elaborate on our policies and practices, particularly in relation to guidance and discipline, assessment and curriculum goals. They are part of a growing body of documents that articulate Bing’s mission, philosophy, practices and professional expectations.

The accreditation process culminated in a site visit in April, during which an assessor from NAEYC observed in classrooms and examined the portfolios of evidence. On the day of Bing’s site visit, everything was ready, and the day unfolded with the hum of children at play. The teachers showed the same responsiveness to children and attention to the environment that they exhibit every day. 

In June the school received notification that NAEYC accreditation had been granted. The congratulatory letter
noted, “Accreditation demonstrates your commitment to quality and continuous quality improvement.” While programs must reach an 80% pass rate for accreditation approval, Bing received 98%. This scoring illuminates that the school is continuing to fulfill its mission of “providing an exemplary program of play-based, child-centered education.”