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Earning a CDA in High School… Can It Work?

Posted by on in Professional Development
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Not surprisingly, workforce development is a key issue now in education. More and more students are looking to their high schools for the skills they need to find meaningful employment when they graduate and school districts are responding with programs to meet the needs of their students and the community.

Recently, the Council for Professional Recognition introduced a new opportunity for high school students to earn a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA) while still in high school, rather than having to wait until they are 18 and have graduated. This is exciting news, meaning that students can be credentialed and workforce-ready upon graduation.

Along with the excitement comes some apprehension on the part of high school teachers who will now be responsible for taking their students through the credentialing process. They may have heard about what is entailed, but have no real experience with the Professional Resource File, the Competency Goal Statements, or understanding what happens at the Verification Visit. Additionally, some of what they’ve heard may be hearsay. They need some support and accurate information, so they can provide the best instruction and mentoring possible for their students. Without it, these teachers may very well take a pass.

Another issue would be the teachers who still use a child development curriculum tied to older “Home Ec” or “Consumer Science” models and are hesitant to switch over to Early Childhood. The material covered in these classes meet some of the required subject areas for CDA, but not all. School districts who want to their high school programs to get on board with the CDA opportunity will need to convince these teachers to change curriculum. Perhaps you are in this position… what are your thoughts?

Yet another dilemma is funding for the CDA application fee. Right now, this fee is $325… a lot of money for your typical high school teen.  High school teachers know that unless their students get help paying this fee, they can’t afford to apply. What this means is a lot of effort expended to get their students ready to apply for a CDA, just to have them drop off at the end and never get the credential. Some highly motivated teachers who see the value in having their students finish have come up with various and creative ways to help fund the application fees, including rummage sales, spaghetti dinners, community babysitting nights, and more.  I’m sure those who are in this situation would love to hear about how others are dealing with this problem.

As with many new opportunities come new challenges. Let's brainstorm some solutions and share strategies so our high school sudents can take advantage of what the Council has to offer.

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Debra Pierce is professor of Early Childhood Education at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Ivy Tech is the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college systems, serving nearly 200,000 students annually.

Her professional background has always involved children, over the past 40 years, having been a primary grades teacher in the Chicago Public School system, a teacher of 3 and 4 year-olds in a NAEYC accredited preschool for 15 years, and a certified Parent Educator for the National Parents as Teachers Program.

Debra is a certified Professional Development Specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition. She has taught CDA courses to high school career/tech dual credit juniors and seniors in preparation for earning their CDA credentials. She also conducts CDA train-the-trainer events across the country and develops and teaches online CDA courses for several states, is a frequent presenter at national and state early childhood conferences, and is a Master Trainer for the states of Minnesota and Arizona. She was also awarded the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award by the University of Texas.

Debra is active in her community, supporting children's literacy and is on the board of directors of First Book in Indianapolis. Debra is a contributing author for Hamilton County Family Magazine and Indy's Child in Indianapolis.
She loves spending time with her two grandsons, Indy, who is 7 and Radley, 3.

Debra has spent the last 16 years dedicated to the success of those pursuing the CDA credential and is the author of The CDA Prep Guide: The Complete Review Manual for the Child Development Associate Credential, now in its third edition (Redleaf Press), the only publication of its kind. She hosts a website providing help and support to CDA candidates and those who train them at http://www.easycda.com
The comments and views expressed are not in collaboration or affiliation with The Council for Professional Recognition or Ivy Tech Community College.
Follow me on Twitter at /easycda

  • Errol St.Clair Smith
    Errol St.Clair Smith Monday, 09 April 2012

    I like the idea of having high school graduates ready for the early childhood workforce. The CDA credential is an effective marketing tool for students who plan to work right after high school.
    Since they are not in the workforce yet, why couldn't NAEYC and/or its state/local affiliates offer scholarships to these potential early childhood educators to ease the financial burden of the credential?

  • Errol St.Clair Smith
    Errol St.Clair Smith Tuesday, 08 May 2012

    Several teachers in Arizona are working hard to make earning the CDA credential a reality for their high school students. I am confident that within the next couple of years, we will begin seeing students graduate high school with their CDA in hand. I wonder who the FIRST Arizona HS candidate will be? Will she/he be someone you or your child knows?

  • Errol St.Clair Smith
    Errol St.Clair Smith Tuesday, 08 May 2012

    This question goes out to ALL of the high school ECE teachers: How are you raising the funds to pay for your students' CDA credential? Are you part of a Joint Technological Education District (JTED) and asking them for support? Are you seeking tax credits? Having fundraisers? Please share your ideas and strategies with us! :)

  • Guest
    Bridgette Tuesday, 14 November 2017

    My district is now offering to pay for it but I do have some of the concerns above. I am new to it so I working hard to make sure that the 3 years (courses) make since and that my students are definitely building a strong knowledge foundation. Fortunately, I have Early Childcare professionals who are willing to work with me and help me ensure my students are top level, have scholarships to continue upon graduation and the opportunity to interview for jobs before graduation. I think this program is awesome but there should be a training by teachers who have been doing to help the newbies get started.

  • Debra Pierce | @easycda
    Debra Pierce | @easycda Wednesday, 15 November 2017

    Funding is always an issue. Hopefully, lawmakers will continue to understand the importance of quality child care and the connection between that and well-trained teachers... and pass legislation to fund their education.

  • Guest
    Sharon Tuesday, 16 June 2015

    Where can I find out more about students earning the CDA in high schools - specifically NJ? Thanks

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Guest Friday, 22 March 2019