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What is Early Childhood Education?

In 2015, North Dakota instituted the Early Childhood Education Grant Program that was slated to benefit both public and private programs that were designed to help low-income four-year-olds.

The state had four stipulations:

  • Programs must be a member of a local Early Childhood Education coalition or a board member.
  • The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction must approve the program's ECE curriculum and facilities.
  • Each grant holder should incorporate 10 hours of researched-based parental involvement to its curriculum.
  • All programs must document its willingness to accept children of all cognitive/learning abilities.

This program continues in the 2018-19 school year and it promises to do great things statewide. That's because investment in Early Childhood Education yields a 7-10% dividend, according to noted economist James Heckman, of the University of Chicago. Heckman's research has shown that communities have much to gain by investing in low-income children aged birth through age five.

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Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in North Dakota

North Dakota's pathway to the classroom will be similar to those from other states. Generally speaking, if you wish to become an Early Childhood Education teacher, you will need to complete a state-approved teacher-preparation program, pass one or more standardized tests, and submit legal paperwork that attests to your character. However, North Dakota has a few nuances that all prospective educators should heed prior to submitting their licensure application.

Early Childhood Education is often overlooked as a profession. This is a shame because it is vital to the lives of students and is even a boon to communities. That is, when a child is afforded instruction and the ability to play and explore from an early age, they are more likely to succeed later on. Just as you would water and feed a seedling, so do young children need early care.

On top of this, noble-prizewinning economist James Heckman's research has discovered that community investment in low-income Early Childhood Education pays serious dividends. In particular, his work shows that when low-income children aged birth-5 years are given preschool opportunities the community receives a 7-10%return on that investment.

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Step 1. Earn Your Degree

When you decide that you wish to devote your life and career to educating North Dakota's children, you will first want to find an appropriate degree program. North Dakota has many state-approved programs to choose from. However, it's worth noting that the state is part of a coalition of Western states that allows you to study in out-of-state colleges at the standard in-state rate. Thus, if you can't find exactly the program you want, you might look in other states, such as California, Washington, Colorado, or Wyoming, to name a few.

Regardless of where you study, your teacher-preparation program should be state-approved and include a student teacher experience. If you do study out-of-state, the ND Education Standards and Practices Board recommends that you go ahead and attain a license in that state. From that point, you can easily attain an Other State Educator License (OSEL) and not have to worry with the North Dakota standards. However, if you don't take that route, you will need to apply for an Out of State Reciprocal License in North Dakota.

Step 2. Pass Your Exams

Every state requires that its teachers pass at least one test. The majority choose tests from the PRAXIS series of exams, and each state has slightly different standards for those. North Dakota also requires PRAXIS for its teachers. To be an Early Childhood Educator, for instance, you will need to take two tests, where some other states require only one. Those tests are Early Childhood Education and Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood.

The tests, their codes, and content breakdowns are as follows:

Early Childhood Education – Code 5025

  • Language and Literacy: 30%
  • Mathematics: 25%
  • Social Studies: 14%
  • Science: 14%
  • Health and Physical Education; Creative and Performing Arts: 17%

Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood – Code 5621

  • Students as Learners – 22.5%
  • Instructional Process – 22.5%
  • Assessment – 15%
  • Professional Development, Leadership, and Community – 15%
  • Analysis of Instructional Scenarios – 25%

Additionally, North Dakota is now requiring that all teachers, regardless of intended classroom subject area, take these three examinations that measure your core academic skills. You must achieve a composite minimum score of 466 and achieve the minimum scores on the individual tests.

Core Academic Skills: Reading – Code 5712, minimum score 149

  • Key Ideas and Details – 35%
  • Craft, Structure, and Language Skills – 30%
  • Integration of Knowledge and ideas – 35%

Core Academic Skills: Writing – Code 5722, minimum score 153

  • Text Types, Purposes, and Production – 60%
  • Language and Research Skills for Writing – 40%

Core Academic Skills: Mathematics – Code 5732, minimum score, 143

  • Number and Quantity – 30%
  • Algebra and Functions – 30%
  • Geometry – 20%
  • Statistics and Probability – 20%

Step 3. Standards and Qualifications

The final part of becoming a teacher will entail background checks from the North Dakota State law enforcement bureau, as well as the FBI. You will need to submit fingerprints to complete the process. If you have any convictions on your record that don't involve children, but which are more serious than a simple traffic infraction, you should account for those. That is, you’ll need to write a letter that explains the issue and details how you made amends to the state. If you have receipts attesting to your completion of a sentence, payment of a fine, etc. you should include that. If the letter is in a matter-of-fact, professional tone, and is thorough, the Board should accept your license. If you are unsure, have a paralegal or other legal professional review the note.

One requirement that North Dakota teachers must meet is the Mental Health Requirement. If you complete your teacher-preparation in-state, your program will include the requisite course as part of the core curriculum. If, on the other hand, you graduate from an out-of-state university, you will need to take a course from the University of North Dakota to fulfill this part of your application. Your school district may also have a satisfactory course.

Popular Career Choices

  • Preschool Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher

Additional Specialization Certifications

Special Education:
To work in this specialty area, you will need to take additional coursework and pass the PRAXIS test that is particular to your subject area.

You could choose from specializations that include, but are not limited to:

  • Early Childhood SPED
  • Deaf and Hearing Impaired
  • Blind and Sight Impaired
  • Gifted Education
  • Students with Learning Disabilities
  • Students with Intellectual Disabilities

School Counseling: To achieve this certification, you will need a master's degree in counseling, education, or a related human service field, such as Social Work. Your official transcripts should reflect significant work in counseling.

Reading Specialist:Reading Specialists need an M.Ed. or M.S. degree in Reading Education and passing PRAXIS scores, to help the student achieve full literacy. Children in your classroom will advance through a series of books and comprehension tests to get their reading skills up to speed.

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Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in North Dakota

  • Initial License:
    This is a two-year license that will start your teaching career.
  • First Five-Year License:
    Upon completing your first 18 months teaching as a full-time educator, you can apply for this credential. If you stay current with your CEU (Continuing Education Unit) credits, then you can renew this every five years.
  • 30 Year Life License:
    After teaching for 30 years in North Dakota schools, you can apply for this non-expiring license. Congratulations.
  • Substitute License:
    If you have a minimum of 48 college credit hours, a successful background check, and have completed the online application you can fill-in for full-time teachers in South Dakota. If you have the permission of a school's principal, you might even be able to take over as a long-term sub when a teacher needs to be out for an extended period – as for maternity leave.

If you hear the calling for the teaching profession and wish to become credentialed as a North Dakota teacher, an accredited Early Childhood Educator program is a necessity. That is because the state needs to see that you have fulfilled every requirement. You will not only need a degree, but your program will be asked to send a letter that recommends you for the profession. There are many training options for prospective educators in North Dakota.

Here are a few:

  • University of North Dakota

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling: Master's
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching: Bachelor's, Master's
    • Education: Master's (M.Ed.)
    • Educational Leadership and Administration: Master's, Doctoral
    • Special Education: Master's
    • English as a Second Language: Master's

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
    • North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board
    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • North Dakota State University

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling: Master's, Doctoral
    • Educational Leadership and Administration: Master's
    • Music Teacher: Bachelor's
    • Speech Teacher: Bachelor's

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
    • North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board
    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Valley City State University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Elementary Education and Teaching: Bachelor's
    • Music Teacher Education: Bachelor's
    • School Librarian/School Library Media Specialist: Bachelor's
    • Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language/ESL Language Instructor: Bachelor's
    • Art Teacher Education: Bachelor's

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
    • North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board
    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Sitting Bull College

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching: Associate's, Bachelor's
    • Elementary Education and Teaching: Master's
    • Teacher Assistant/Aide: Associate's

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
    • North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

  • Public schools:
    This is perhaps the most popular career path for educators. Public schools provide the most opportunities and the systems are all linked, making relocating within the state a breeze. If you decide to move out of North Dakota, your experience and licensure should be acknowledged, if not outright reciprocated, by your new home state's school system.
  • Private childcare:
    Families love to have educational specialists work in an intimate, if not one-on-one, capacity. You might find yourself carting children to their playdates or pee-wee soccer, but you might also teach them many fundamentals.
  • Private schools:
    While the environment might significantly resemble that of public schools, you are almost assured to have a smaller class size and possibly greater leeway in your curriculum choices. Private schools don't all have standard licensure or employment standards, like their public counterparts, but you are sure to find a more familial environment in private education.
  • Head Start programs:
    This federal preschool program assists low-income children to become their best selves. You might not need a ND certificate to teach for Head Start, but a bachelor's degree from a teacher-preparation program will certainly give you an advantage.
  • Community-based programs:
    These programs offer a lot of creativity as you won't often be restricted by state or other curriculum restrictions. Community-based programs can include theater groups, art classes, music instruction, and sports leagues.
  • Faith-based programs:
    Your local synagogue, mosque, temple, or church might have an educational component where you can teach children the basics of academics and a spiritual practice. There are also stand-alone schools that have a specific religious affiliation, so keep an eye out for those opportunities, as well.
  • Military programs:
    Once you have received a North Dakota Early Childhood Education credential, you can look at opportunities with the nation's military. Bases worldwide need teachers to help raise the next generation of Americans. This is a great opportunity if you are interested in learning a new language or culture while pursuing your passion for teaching.

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Early Childhood Education Teaching Salaries in North Dakota

  • Preschool Teacher:
    If you love teaching very small children, this is the occupation for you. It has been shown that preschool is a major determinant of later life success, so you need to be dedicated to providing excellent care.
  • Elementary School Teacher:
    One North Dakota certification covers all grades in the K-6 range, so you will have loads of opportunities to teach and grow. The PRAXIS for this occupation covers a wide range of skills, but your teacher-preparation program should make this a breeze.
  • Professor of Education:
    Some professors spend time in the classroom before moving into postsecondary education, but you might choose to achieve a master's, then a doctoral degree, immediately upon graduating from your undergraduate program. While most professors teach future educators, you could branch into research in hopes of supporting even better pedagogical methods.
  • School Principal:
    After five or more years in the classroom, you could decide to get a master's degree in education and move into administration. From the vantage point of the principal's office, you will guide students, teachers, and the whole curriculum.
  • Special Education Teacher:
    There are many sub-specialties that fall under the SPED rubric, so make sure you have a passion for your particular focus. That is, you might want to work with emotionally disturbed individuals, visually- or hearing-impaired students, or children who suffer with a relatively minor learning disability such as dyslexia.
  • ESL Teacher:
    English is a difficult language to acquire if you already know another. However, once you are certified for this specialty, you will be equipped to assist our newest Americans with their language-acquisition skills.
  • School Psychologist:
    Every school needs a Psychologist or Counselor to help children with life's difficulties. You will need a master's degree for this position, as well as passing PRAXIS scores, but you will be a vital part of any educational institution.
Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $27,300 $28,800 $31,200
Elementary School Teacher $39,600 $44,400 $57,100
Professor of Education $60,200 $73,400 $100,000
Special Education Teacher $41,200 $46,300 $58,100
School Psychologist $54,200 $61,100 $73,300

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