Below are the Draft Initial EI/ECSE Standards as of August 21, 2019. Each Draft Standard includes the title of the Standard, a description of the Standard, the components that make up the standard (the numbered list), and supporting explanations for each component.

In developing this draft, the Standards Development Task Force focused on performance-based behaviors we want to see from candidates completing a special educator preparation program and worked within CEC and CAEP parameters to develop a concise, yet complete, document. As feedback is received, the Task Force will make revisions. Additional documents, including sample performance indicators and assessment rubrics, will be included with the final Standards package.


Learn more about the Standards Development process in this webinar, presented by the chair of the Standards Development Task Force.

Draft Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education Initial Preparation Standards, Components and Supporting Explanations (as of August 21, 2019)

Standard 1: Child Development and Early Learning

Candidates understand the impact of different theories and philosophies of early learning and development on assessment, curriculum, instruction, and intervention decisions. Candidates apply knowledge of typical developmental sequences and variations, individual differences, exceptionalities, and other direct and indirect contextual features that support or constrain children’s development and learning. These contextual factors as well as social, cultural, and linguistic diversity are considered when facilitating meaningful learning experiences and individualizing intervention and instruction across contexts.

1.1. Candidates demonstrate an understanding of the impact that different theories and philosophies of early learning and development have on assessment, curriculum, instructional, and intervention decisions.

Supporting Explanation:

Candidates understand the theories and philosophies of development and learning that guide historical and current approaches to early childhood education and early childhood special education services for children with and without disabilities, ages birth-8. They identify the contributions and limitations of different theories and philosophies as they apply to children who vary in age, characteristics, and family backgrounds. Further, candidates critically evaluate research and practices associated with these theories and philosophies. Candidates apply these perspectives to select and implement different preventive, ameliorative, and remedial approaches for supporting the development and learning of children who are at-risk for or with developmental delays and disabilities.

Candidates recognize how their roles may vary in focus, emphasis, or methods across ages birth-8 in accordance with the assumptions and practices of specific developmental and learning theories and philosophies. For example, when working with infants and toddlers, candidates may focus more on the central importance of identifying and supporting family resources and needs from a family systems perspective. Conversely, when supporting preschool and early elementary children, candidates may employ a family systems perspective to identify classroom and school resources in response to family functions. Throughout the birth-8 age range, candidates demonstrate their understanding of evidence-based practices associated with various theoretical approaches as they collaborate with families and other professionals to assess child and family strengths, needs, and priorities. Additionally, they apply their understanding of various evidence-based practices as they select and implement a broad array of responsive intervention and instruction with each child and family. Practices are evidenced-based when they are identified based on the best-available empirical evidence as well as the wisdom and experience of the field and closely monitored for efficacy.

1.2. Candidates apply knowledge of normative sequences of early development, individual differences, and families’ cultural and linguistic diversity to support each child’s development and learning across contexts.

Supporting Explanation:

Candidates articulate the sequence and milestones of typical development for each of the primary developmental domains, including social, emotional, physical (gross and fine motor), cognitive, language, and adaptive development. Candidates understand that abilities and skills interact with and are dependent on one another across domains. For example, candidates use their knowledge that social interaction supports children’s language development to create opportunities for peer interactions. Candidates provide examples of how abilities and skills across developmental domains are integrated in the accomplishment of developmental growth in play, daily living, and personal characteristics such as positive approaches to learning, executive functioning, and resilience. Additionally, they recognize that children may exhibit individual differences in their development within a normative range.

Candidates identify how children’s and family’s social, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds may influence children’s development, including the timing and order of developmental milestones, and how families support children’s development. For example, a family’s cultural background may influence behaviors that families view as important in daily living and the activities and routines that they view as supportive of their children’s development and learning. Candidates approach these differences from a strengths-based perspective and seek to understand families’ social, cultural, and linguistic background when determining how they can establish respectful relationships with families, and collaborate with families in all aspects of assessment, intervention, and instruction.

Candidates use information about typical development, individual differences, and the influence of social, cultural, and linguistic characteristics to observe and understand children’s abilities, skills, and behaviors, and to organize and/or select appropriate environments for instruction and intervention. This includes how they interpret, assess, and support children's development, behavior, engagement, interests, and learning within natural and inclusive environments. For example, candidates use their understanding of typical development to recognize deviations that require instructional adaptations, or may indicate a need for developmental screening or referral. Additionally, candidates apply this knowledge as they identify family priorities and needs, and plan intervention and instruction across contexts that are both developmentally- and individually-appropriate.

Candidates understand that early development and learning of young children are both a focus of intervention and instruction, and also an important context for planning and delivering intervention and instruction to all young children and families. For example, candidates consider each child's current abilities and needs as they work with families and other professionals to set priorities for child outcomes and goals that will guide the focus of intervention and instruction. At the same time, these same needs and abilities inform the candidate's planning of developmentally- and individually-appropriate environments, materials, accommodations, and strategies.

1.3. Candidates apply knowledge of biological and environmental factors that may support or constrain children's early development and learning as they plan and implement early intervention and instruction.

Supporting Explanation:

Candidates articulate the potential supportive and constraining influences of biological factors such as medical or genetic conditions, prematurity, health, and brain development on children’s development across developmental domains, prenatal to age 8. They understand the potential effects that biological factors may have on children's interactions, relationships, approaches to learning, and ability to access supportive learning opportunities. For example, candidates identify how children's interactions with their primary caregivers and with other children may be influenced by health differences associated with prematurity. Candidates apply their understanding of how biological factors impact children’s development to plan and implement assessment, instruction, and intervention.

Candidates understand that supportive or constraining characteristics in children's environments (e.g., food resources, medical care, access to high-quality early education) may affect children's growth, development, and learning. They articulate how these characteristics may also have indirect effects on children through their influences on children's interactions with primary caregivers and other children, and their access to supportive learning opportunities. Candidates apply knowledge of factors in children's social, economic, and physical environments as they plan and implement assessment, instruction, and intervention. For instance, when supporting infants and toddlers, they may identify family resources that address food insufficiency or parent mental health. At the early elementary level, candidates consider children’s access to environmental learning opportunities as they select and develop meaningful curricula.

1.4 Candidates demonstrate an understanding of characteristics, etiologies, and individual differences within and across exceptionalities and developmental delays, and their potential impact on children’s early development and learning.

Supporting Explanation:

Candidates describe the general characteristics of developmental delays and specific exceptionalities documented in law and policy, and the implications of said exceptionalities for intervention and instruction. They identify potential etiologies of developmental delays and exceptionalities, including genetic conditions, prenatal and postnatal circumstances, and early experiences. At the same time, candidates recognize that individual differences exist in how children with these exceptionalities learn and develop such that different children with a given delay or exceptionality may require differing intervention and instruction to facilitate their development and learning.

Candidates describe how the characteristics and etiologies of different exceptionalities may impact individual children’s early development and learning, including the timing and order of developmental milestones, how children demonstrate emerging abilities and skills, and the types and intensity of developmental and instructional supports children require. Further, they recognize that the presence of a developmental delay or exceptionality is not the only determinant of the child’s development or the types of intervention and instruction that they require. Candidates base decisions about interventions and supports on an understanding of the whole child and their diverse developmental contexts, and not just the developmental area(s) in which the child is showing a developmental delay or exceptionality. Such a holistic view of the child aids the candidate in selecting and developing appropriate assessments, effectively collaborating with families and other professionals, and planning and implementing appropriate instruction and intervention.

Standard 2: Partnering with Families

Candidates use their knowledge of family-centered practices and family systems to develop reciprocal partnerships with families. They apply family capacity-building practices as they support families to make informed decisions and advocate for their children. They engage families in opportunities that build on existing strengths, reflect current goals and foster family competence and confidence to support children’s development and learning.

2.1 Candidates apply their knowledge of family-centered practices, family systems, and the changing needs and priorities in family life to develop trusting, respectful, culturally responsive and affirming partnerships with all families that allow for the mutual exchange of knowledge and information.

Supporting Explanation:

Across all age levels, candidates are knowledgeable about family-centered services. They use relational practices to foster trusting partnerships with families including acknowledging child and family strengths and nurturing positive interactions by listening actively, showing compassion and respecting family perspectives. They use participatory practices to cultivate collaboration including soliciting families’ opinions and ideas, jointly sharing information for family choice making, and meaningfully involving families in identifying and obtaining the resources they need. Candidates seek a greater understanding of families’ diverse knowledge and expertise (e.g. funds of knowledge) about their children’s strengths and needs. Through their partnerships they support families by acting in ways that build on family strengths and capacities in working with their child with exceptionalities. For example, for infants and toddlers, candidates jointly identify and implement individualized plans and supports around the family’s priorities that promote the child’s engagement, learning, development, and well-being (e.g. accessing natural environments and inclusive settings within the community). For 3-8, they may jointly identify strategies to encourage development of peer relationships in the classroom, self-regulation, independence and safety within the community.

Candidates understand family systems theory and recognize biological, environmental, cultural and societal factors may influence families’ structure, interactions, functions and the family life cycle. They systematically gather information to develop a deeper understanding of families, their uniqueness, circumstances and changing priorities. They consider individual factors such as trauma, stressors, substance abuse, mental health, medical conditions, exceptionalities and social identities (e.g. culture, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, marital status and age) as they build relationships, exchange knowledge and information, and plan for individualized supports. For example, teachers ensure that materials chosen for the classroom reflect the diversity of families represented in the program; early interventionists modify services/supports or use technology when appropriate based on the family/child’s needs (e.g. adjusting meeting times to accommodate families’ work schedule). They engage in self-reflection of their own culture, beliefs and experiences and evaluate the impact it has on their partnerships with families. They use the knowledge gained through reflection to inform interactions with families and they respond in sensitive, and culturally affirming ways. For example, they recognize barriers, respect home cultures and languages, and honor parenting styles and family values. (e.g. candidates provide information regarding child progress in home language).

2.2 Candidates communicate clear, comprehensive, objective information about necessary resources and supports to prepare families to make informed decisions and advocate for access, participation and equity in natural and inclusive environments.

Candidates use effective communication strategies such as attending, listening, and asking clarifying questions, to actively seek information from and about families. They articulate unbiased, comprehensive, clear information. from multiple perspectives, and varied sources. Sources of information may include other professionals, policies, research, and professional literature. Candidates communicate in families’ preferred modes, utilizing multiple formats, using technology when appropriate, and regularly checking for understanding (e.g. inserting intentional breaks during conversations; using interpreters) during formal and informal processes such as individualized education planning, home visits, parent-teacher conferences, etc. They prepare families to make informed decisions that are reflective of their priorities and concerns and support their child’s engagement, learning, development and well-being. For example, they identify and connect families to resources, (e.g. mental health services, health care, adult education, English language instruction, and economic support/assistance) and may help with planning transitions from one setting to another.

Candidates recognize the critical need for equitable access to and supports within natural and inclusive environments for all children and families. They reflect on their own bias’s in order to understand the impact it has on their communication with families. They collaboratively problem solve and plan around the visions families have for their children. For example, they identify strategies to support the families in accessing local community settings. They ensure multiple opportunities for families to be engaged in program activities and governance, including using strategies to seek family perspectives on program offerings. Candidates use a range of strategies to support families in advocating for access and equity in natural and inclusive environments. For example, they share information about all available services, establish opportunities for families to connect with one another and respect families’ decisions.

2.3 Candidates engage families in identifying their strengths, priorities and concerns, support them to achieve the goals they have for their family and their child’s development and learning, and promote their competence and confidence during assessment, individualized planning, intervention and instruction, and transition processes.

Candidates recognize family engagement as essential in supporting and strengthening family capacity and family well-being to promote child development and learning and in the provision of high-quality, effective supports for young children and their families. They use participatory practices that promote families as equal team members, acknowledge their expertise and support them in identifying strengths, priorities and concerns.

Candidates ensure multiple opportunities for active family involvement in decision-making during assessment, planning, implementation, and transition processes. During assessment, they work in partnership with families to exchange knowledge, information and expertise and to evaluate and synthesize information about the child’s strengths and needs. They collaboratively create outcomes/goals, develop an implementation plan and identify the formal and informal supports and services, necessary to achieve the outcomes/goals. They use evidence-based practices that are rooted within a culturally responsive framework to select and adapt learning strategies appropriate to each family. They remain non-judgmental in their interactions and offer support aligned with family-identified strengths, priorities, and needs for themselves and their child.

Candidates support families in taking action that meets their own and their child’s needs. They continually communicate and reflect with the family to evaluate, monitor, and modify the services, supports and resources. They use a range of intervention/instructional strategies to promote families’ competence and confidence (e.g. video, coaching, consultation, modeling, assistive technology). They employ adult learning strategies when partnering with families across environments and programs including ensuring that information and knowledge shared is immediately useful and relevant to the family and builds on prior knowledge. In preparation for and during transition, they seek family input, provide unbiased information on a range of supports, services and resources available including supporting families in evaluating transition options and making decisions to meet identified needs and priorities.

Standard 3: Collaboration and Teaming

Candidates apply models, skills, and processes of teaming when collaborating and communicating with families and professionals, using culturally- and linguistically-responsive and affirming practices. In partnership with families and other professionals, candidates develop and implement individualized plans and successful transitions that occur across the age span. Candidates use a variety of collaborative strategies while working with and supporting other adults.

3.1 Candidates apply teaming models, skills, and processes, including appropriate uses of technology, when collaborating and communicating with families; professionals representing multiple disciplines, skills, expertise, and roles; and community partners and agencies.

Candidates are cognizant of the roles and responsibilities of multiple disciplines (e.g., occupational and physical therapists, speech-language pathologists) and family members on the team and work and interact with them collaboratively in various team processes. Candidates apply appropriate models of interprofessional teaming such as primary service provision, transdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and other models to meet the needs of children and families and professionals working with them. Candidates apply teaming processes and skills in activities such as team assessment, joint goal/outcome development, and planning and implementation of services. Candidates demonstrate teaming skills and processes such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, joint decision-making, role release, group facilitation, and communication. Candidates show respect for all members of the team who represent various roles, expertise, and skill levels by being opening to multiple perspectives.

Candidates participate in and lead team meetings to support the education and outcomes and goals of children with disabilities and their families (i.e., in the U.S., this would include IFSP and IEP meetings, both initial, semi-annual, and annual.)

Candidates use strategies for interacting and sharing knowledge and expertise with families. Candidates learn from families and interact in ways that are respectful, supportive, capacity enhancing, and culturally-sensitive. Candidates access supports to increase families’ understanding and engagement in collaborative activities through interpreters, cultural liaisons, and others.

Candidates are familiar with community-based services and resources and know how to access them for children with disabilities and their families. These services and resources meet family-identified child and family needs. Examples of services and resources include public education agencies, private therapy, private evaluation services, private schools, childcare, food banks, social services, and developmental pediatricians.

Candidates communicate clearly and without jargon to effectively explain children’s strengths and needs to families and other professionals. Examples include discussing a child’s progress in a team meeting, during a home visit, or with an early childhood educator to support a child’s inclusion in their classroom.

Candidates select and use appropriate technology platforms such as learning management systems and virtual communication systems as appropriate for effective teaming. Family preferences and access are considered to facilitate full participation of all team members.

3.2 Candidates use a variety of collaborative strategies when working with other adults that are appropriate to the task and take into consideration the environment and service delivery approach.

Candidates use adult-learning strategies that are appropriate to the learning preferences and existing knowledge of other adults on the team (family members, professionals, paraprofessionals) to promote and sustain collaborative partnerships. Candidates support other adults in working with young children with disabilities. For example, a candidate might coach a paraprofessional to implement an intervention strategy during large group time in the classroom or coach a family member in embedding strategies into mealtime routines. Role release is a strategy used to share and support implementation of recommendations amongst team members. For example, candidates demonstrate proper positioning, utilize adaptive equipment, and facilitates ambulation for children with physical disabilities as recommended by physical and occupational therapists.

Candidates engage in collaborative activities such as coaching, consultation, and co-teaching with other adults including related service personnel, general educators, paraprofessionals, family members, and medical professionals. Coaching could be used to support parents during home visits, consultation could be used to support teachers of preschoolers in inclusive early childhood programs, and co-teaching could be used to partner with general education teachers to provide support to early primary students in inclusive classrooms.

Depending on the situation and environment, the needs of family members and professionals, and the service delivery approach, candidates use a variety of strategies to increase the effectiveness of meetings with various professionals and family members. For example, using a triadic strategy while working directly with a parent and child would be appropriate in a home or school environment; however, using active listening and problem-solving skills would be effective in a team meeting at an office or school.

3.3 Candidates partner with family members and other professionals to facilitate individualized plans and the multiple transitions that occur across the age span (birth-age 8).

Candidates partner with families and other professionals to develop and implement individualized plans for each child. They share information about a variety of local services and a range of learning environments with family members prior to transitions to help families become informed of their options and next steps in the transition process. In collaboration with families and professionals, candidates explore and evaluate placement option(s) for children as they transition from one environment to another. Candidates support families such that they have the information they need to be their child’s own best advocate.

Candidates use a variety of planned and timely strategies to support children and families before, during, and after transitions according to their needs, preferences, and readiness. Candidates facilitate seamless transitions by developing individualized transition plans to provide successful preparation, adjustment, and positive outcomes for children and families. Examples include supporting a family’s observation of a new program and debriefing afterwards, holding a transition meeting where the goals of the child and family are shared between sending and receiving programs, preparing the child for transition by practicing some of the routines of the next environment before the transition, facilitating the child visiting the new program, and/or providing information to the family as they exit the current program and enter the new program.

Standard 4: Assessment Processes

Candidates know and understand the purposes of assessment, in relation to ethical and legal considerations. Candidates choose developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate tools and methods that are responsive to the characteristics of the child, family, and program. Using evidence-based practices, candidates develop or select and administer informal measures, and select and administer formal measures in partnership with families and other professionals. They analyze, interpret, document, and share strength-based assessment information with families and other professionals for goal development, planning instruction and intervention, monitoring progress, and reporting.

4.1 Candidates understand the purposes of formal and informal assessment including ethical and legal considerations, and use this information to choose developmentally, linguistically and culturally-appropriate, valid, reliable tools and methods that are responsive to the characteristics of the child, family and program.

Candidates understand the primary purposes for the assessment process including screening, determination of eligibility, program planning, on-going instructional monitoring and evaluation. Candidates understand that commercially developed assessment tools are developed for the specific purposes listed above. They understand that it is not appropriate to use tools developed for one purpose for other purposes. For example, screening tools should not be used for program evaluation and standardized formal tests are not designed for program planning.

Candidates understand how comprehensive screening methods (such as “childfind” in the US) are used systemically to identify children who may need additional evaluation. Candidates understand that when assessing for eligibility determination, multiple tools should be used by an assessment team that includes multiple professionals and the child’s parents/caregivers.

Candidates know federal, provincial and state regulations related to early childhood assessment Birth to age 8 and understand how assessment practices may differ across services for infants and toddler (e.g. Part C Early intervention in the US), and preschool special education (e.g. Part B Section 619 in the US), and K-2nd grade. They understand rules for eligibility determination for early intervention and special education services.

Candidates avoid bias in all stages of assessment. Factors that could contribute to bias are degree of professional preparation of the tester, translation of measures, use of interpreters, “cultural mediators,” and culture-specific measures. Furthermore, candidates understand that biased test results can occur if standardized assessment tools are not chosen carefully with the child in mind. For example, in a vocabulary assessment a photo was shown of a diving board, and the children assessed had never been to a pool before. In addition, many standardized assessment instruments include items that are intended to measure cognition but rely on motor or verbal responses. If an item requires a child to stack a certain number of blocks for a cognitive task and the child has motor difficulties, the item would not reflect cognition but rather the child’s motor issues.

Candidates understand the unique challenges that occur when assessing infants, toddlers and young children. It is important to assess infants when they are in an alert state. Important assessment information is gathered from caregivers through formal and informal measures and methods. Parents are known to be valid and reliable when providing information about their children. Because it is difficult to gather valid and reliable assessment results with some infants and toddlers, federal, provincial, and state regulations may allow for teams to use clinical judgement in determining eligibility for early intervention services.

Candidates know how to use informal strategies such as naturalistic observation and embed assessment strategies in the curriculum and in daily routines at school and in the home to facilitate authentic assessment of infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and young school age children. Curriculum based measures and observation-based methods yield critical information needed for program planning and on-going monitoring to make instructional based decisions.

4.2 Candidates develop and administer informal assessments and/or select and use valid, reliable assessments using evidence-based practices, including technology, in partnership with families, and other professionals.

Candidates understand basic principles of psychometrics and apply these principles to critically evaluate formal assessment instruments. They define test reliability and validity and can identify subtypes of reliability and validity. They develop informal measures that are valid relative to the content and reliable in that they provide consistent results.

Candidates plan and use assessments that are individualized and both developmentally appropriate and culturally and linguistically responsive for the child and family. Candidates integrate environmental assessment processes across settings as appropriate for the child and family.

Candidates use a variety of assessment tools, including formative and summative strategies that incorporate technology. They understand the strengths, limitations, validity and reliability of different assessment methods and tools for infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and young school age children. Candidates administer formal and informal assessments. Candidates understand the role of specialized assessment that may be performed by related service providers or other team members and know how to interpret results. Candidates understand how specialized assessment contribute to a holistic view of the child.

Candidates understand the role of play in assessment and can conduct play-based assessments. Candidates participate in team-based assessments that are comprehensive, covering all domains of child development, consider relevant child medical issues, and family characteristics including parenting skills, attitudes, and their understanding of their child’s developmental strengths and challenges. Candidates apply play-based methods as appropriate alongside other informal assessments such as questioning, checking for understanding, and more formal assessments to cover academic and developmental content areas.

4.3. Candidates analyze, interpret, document and share strength-based assessment information with families and other professionals.

Candidates use a strength-based approach in all facets of the assessment process. This means that they identify the child and family strengths and build upon them.. Candidates understand that the most important consideration in the assessment of a young child is the interrelationship between the child and his or her family. Candidates include family members and professionals in the assessment process, know the benefits of shared analysis with family members and other professionals and when sharing assessment results respect confidentiality. Candidates are respectful of families and demonstrate flexibility in supporting them to participate at their level of preference.

Candidates demonstrate essential knowledge and core skills in team building and in communicating with families. They use effective communication strategies with families to ensure assessment results and planning are conveyed in ways that facilitate families understanding. Candidates demonstrate respect for parental knowledge, opinions, and concerns. They use communication skills during interviews and conferences with parents including active listening, furthering responses, paraphrasing, demonstrating non-judgmental attitudes, responding to affect, questioning, and summarizing to ensure that the family member’s primary views have been heard accurately during the assessment process. Candidates write about, summarize, and display assessment data in a family-friendly way, without jargon. When specialized assessment results use technical terms, candidates explain those terms to family members. When asked questions about a child’s assessment results by a family member or other professional, the candidate responds accurately using positive language and referring the individual to completed assessment documents.

Candidates know about the similarities and differences in approaches and assessment techniques used in early intervention, preschools, and school systems to assist with keeping families informed and to help them with transitions as children progress from program to program.

4.4 Candidates, in collaboration with families and other team members, use assessment data to develop child and/or family-based goals, plan for individualized instruction, and monitor progress to determine efficacy of programming.

Candidates participate on teams including other professionals and families to use assessment results to plan for services and individualized programming (e.g. Individualized Family Service Plans [IFSPs] and Individualized Education Plans [IEPs] in the US).

Candidates use formative assessment results to make data based instructional decisions. On-going informal assessment is used by the candidate and instructional teams to adapt and enhance instruction in response to the child and family. Family friendly approaches such as interviews observations, and other authentic strategies are used with caregivers and other professionals to provide holistic, functional information to develop plans for on-going instruction and monitor progress.

Standard 5: Application of Curriculum Frameworks in the Planning and Facilitation of Meaningful Learning Experience

Candidates collaborate with families and professionals to use developmentally appropriate, culturally responsive and affirming early childhood curriculum frameworks across developmental and content domains. Candidates create and support universally-designed, natural and inclusive environments that provide each child and family with equitable access to high-quality learning experiences. Candidates plan strategies, modifications, and accommodations to provide each child with learning opportunities that meet rigorous learning standards.

5.1. Candidates collaborate with families and other professionals to identify, adapt, and individualize curriculum frameworks to plan and facilitate meaningful, culturally-responsive and affirming learning opportunities that support the unique abilities and needs of all children and families.

Candidates acknowledge that families and other professionals are integral members of the educational team, and their contributions positively impact the quality of educational programming for children. Candidates recognize the importance of involving other professionals in developing and individualizing the educational programs for children to increase equitable access to the general curriculum, and differentiate challenging content. Candidates clearly communicate developmental and educational expectations with families and children.

Candidates offer families opportunities to share their knowledge about their children’s strengths and needs, contribute to developing educational plans, and propose ideas to individualize plans that promote their children’s development and learning. Candidates collaborate with families and other professionals to provide children with opportunities to meaningfully participate in learning in natural and inclusive environments.

Candidates recognize that culture plays a central role in their collaboration with families and in children’s learning. Candidates seek to understand and are open to changing their own mindset about each family and child’s strengths and needs in the context of their culture. Candidates also make deliberate efforts to understand the families’ developmental and educational expectations for their children and children’s behavior in light of their cultural identity.

Candidates acknowledge the families’ and children’s cultural background, respond to them in ways that respect their cultural values and needs, and honor the differences among the families and children from diverse cultures. Culturally-responsive candidates provide equitable access to learning opportunities for all families and children from all cultures. Candidates are proactive in honoring and embedding children’s cultural references in all aspects of the learning environment (e.g., interactions, instruction, family routines, home, community outings, classroom activities and materials).

5.2 Candidates use their knowledge of early childhood curriculum frameworks, academic content knowledge and related pedagogy to plan and implement universally-designed, developmentally appropriate, and challenging learning experiences. In so doing, they individualize programming that promotes children’s learning within and across developmental and content domains and ensures equitable access to appropriate and challenging learning standards for all children.

Candidates use their knowledge of curriculum content resources that address developmental and academic domains and pedagogical knowledge as they collaborate in the identification of appropriate curricula. Candidates use the best-available evidence as well as the wisdom and experience of the field to identify, create, evaluate, and apply curriculum frameworks. Candidates apply knowledge of early childhood curriculum frameworks as a guide to make decisions about what, when, and how to promote all children’s learning. Candidates understand that foundational to this decision process is creating learning experiences across developmental (e.g., language and communication, social emotional, cognitive and approaches to learning, physical) and academic domains (e.g., literacy, math, science, arts) that challenge children to achieve at a level just beyond their current mastery, while also having opportunities to practice newly acquired skills. To create such learning experiences, candidates possess a strong foundation in developmental and content knowledge as well as related pedagogical knowledge.

Furthermore, candidates understand that young children come with a wide range of abilities, backgrounds, and family and community contexts. While this diversity brings richness to the work, ensuring all children’s needs are effectively met requires that candidates engage in thoughtful, intentional planning in collaboration with families and other adults in the child’s life. Candidates apply the principles of universal design for learning to ensure that learning experiences and environments are designed to allow for access and engagement to the greatest extent possible without need for adaptation. Specifically, candidates adhere to universal design for learning principles by incorporating a variety of ways for children to gain access to the curriculum content, offer multiple methods to recruit children’s active engagement, and include a range of formats for children to respond and demonstrate what they know and have learned.

Whether working with infants, toddlers, preschoolers or children in the primary grades, candidates plan and create universally-designed, challenging learning experiences that promote access, engagement, and learning across curricular domains. In infancy, this could be supporting a mother as she engages in rich and varied forms of communication/literacy development, including singing, talking, sharing books, making faces, using gestures, and playing simple games. For toddlers, this could be creating a variety of opportunities for children to engage in everyday mathematics (i.e., basic ideas about quantity, size, shape, and simple patterns). For preschoolers for example, opportunities to conduct their own science experiments, such as seeing if a ball rolls faster down a steeper incline could be planned. In working with children in the primary grades, an example in addressing important social competence content might include the candidate supporting children in working with their peers in cooperative groups. That is, learning through a variety of teacher planned activities that allow them to assume different roles to accomplish tasks, solve problems and at times settle disputes.

Standard 6: Using Responsive and Reciprocal Interactions, Interventions, and Instruction

Candidates plan and implement intentional, systematic, evidence-based, responsive interactions, interventions, and instruction to support all children’s learning and development across developmental and content domains in partnership with families and other professionals. In particular, they intentionally promote children’s learning and development in the social-emotional, communication, and play domains. Candidates facilitate equitable access and participation for all children and families within natural and inclusive environments through culturally responsive and affirming practices and relationships. Candidates use data-based decision making to plan for and adapt and improve interactions, interventions, and instruction to ensure fidelity of implementation.

6.1 Candidates identify systematic, responsive, and intentional evidence-based practices and use such practices with fidelity when interacting with children and families.

Across all age levels, candidates use effective interactions, interventions, and instruction practices that result in efficient learning of functional and socially valid skills. Effective interactions, interventions, and instruction practices are systematic and evidence-based. Practices are evidenced based when they are identified based on the best-available empirical evidence as well as the wisdom and experience of the field and closely monitored for efficacy. Candidates also systematically and intentionally identify what to teach, when to teach, and how to evaluate the effects of teaching.

Evidence-based interactions, interventions, and instruction practices have considerable research evidence to suggest that they are effective. However, candidates determine if particular procedures are evidence-based given the particular needs of the children and families with whom they are working. For example, naturalistic interventions may be well-suited to teaching language or play goals. More directive strategies might be more appropriate for teaching phonics or sight words. Further, candidates select evidence-based practices (e.g., incidental teaching, mand-model, scaffolding, modeling, peer-mediated interventions) that are developmentally appropriate and are likely to have the highest expected leverage and impact on outcomes.

A considerable amount of planning is required to effectively implement systematic interactions, interventions, and instruction with fidelity. Thus, candidates intentionally identify each child's strengths, preferences, and interests and plan instruction to ensure the child is engaged and to maximize learning. Further, candidates plan, monitor, and intentionally use interactions, interventions, and instruction with fidelity to teach functional and socially valid skills and to promote child engagement and learning. Candidates implement the appropriate frequency, intensity, and duration of interactions, interventions, and instruction given the child’s strengths, needs, and phase of learning (i.e., acquisition, fluency, generalization, and maintenance). Candidates intentionally and proactively support the child’s learning and development across environments.

6.2 Candidates employ adult-learning strategies as they engage in reciprocal partnerships with families, caregivers, and other professionals to facilitate responsive adult-child interactions, interventions, and instruction in support of child learning and development.

Candidates use effective collaborative behaviors (e.g. sharing ideas, active listening, questioning, problem solving) and focus on the unique needs of adult learners as they engage in reciprocal partnerships with adults centered on positive outcomes for young children with disabilities. Candidates acknowledge that each child and family is different and provide adults with relevant and immediately useful information that builds upon what they already know. Candidates use effective adult learning practices that involve active, hands-on experiences paired with real-time practice, positive reinforcement, and individualized and performance-based feedback and support.

Therefore, candidates consider the previous knowledge and experiences of families, caregivers, and other professionals (e.g., related service providers, paraprofessionals, early childhood educators) and ensure that the interactions, interventions, and instruction they identify and facilitate are built on and around a unique set of resources, priorities, strengths, and concerns. They engage in triadic and reciprocal partnerships with other adults as they facilitate responsive adult-child interactions, model naturalistic interventions, and actively demonstrate evidence-based instructional practices that promote child learning and development. candidates understand how adult-learning strategies apply to their work in a variety of roles (e.g. transdisciplinary team member, consultant, advocate, coach) and they employ those strategies consistently, across a wide range of natural and inclusive environments.

6.3 Candidates plan and use flexible and embedded instructional and environmental arrangements and appropriate materials to support the use of interactions, interventions, and instructional practices that are adapted to meet the needs of all children and families.

Candidates select evidence-based practices related to improvements in socially valid outcomes. However, different procedures might be equally effective, but one might result in more efficient learning. Thus, candidates intentionally consider efficiency of learning when planning and selecting instructional practices.

Candidates also thoroughly consider each aspect of the physical, social, and temporal environment when planning instruction to optimize outcomes and efficient learning. Each aspect influences the extent to which a child will learn. Candidates plan for and provide the level of support and adaptations needed for the child to access, participate, and learn within and across activities, transitions, and routines. This includes engaging with families in reflecting on their competence and confidence in supporting their child’s learning and development. The physical space is designed to support child independence and engagement. The social environment is designed to support ongoing social interactions, increasingly complex social play, and friendships. For example, children with stronger language and social skills might be encouraged to sit next to children who are learning language skills during mealtimes to support observational learning. The temporal environment is designed to maximize engagement and ensure children are likely to participate. For example, outdoor play time where children are active and more likely to engage in vigorous exercise might occur right before small groups when children are expected to be engaged and attentive.

Candidates establish and support environments in which diversity is honored, use flexible instructional practices that support equitable access and participation for all children, and closely monitor child progress to identify and reflect on how to remedy inequities. candidates also are responsive to the individual and unique needs of each child, family, and context. They observe, interpret, and plan instruction that scaffolds the child’s learning and engagement across the day; expands the child’s communication, cognitive, social, and emotional repertoire; facilitates more complex play skills; and supports the child’s increasing independence.

Candidates identify and use relevant and developmentally appropriate materials that support children learning and development. Materials that are directly relevant to the learning goals and outcomes are used. For example, when providing early intervention in a home, materials that are in the home and relevant to the specific interaction or routine and the child’s goals are used. Likewise, classroom materials are intentionally selected based on the children’s preferences, interests, strengths, and learning needs and systematically rotated to support engagement. In group settings, candidates capitalize on observational learning by regularly using flexible groupings (e.g., dyads and small-group instruction) and embedding instructive feedback opportunities. Small-group instruction involves the use of intentional, specific instructional procedures to teach targeted skills in groups of two or more children and can result in more efficient learning.

6.4 Candidates promote children’s social emotional competence and communication, and proactively plan and implement function-based interventions to prevent and address challenging behaviors.

Candidates partner with family members, other caregivers, and professionals to strategically promote social-emotional competence and communication to help children socially connect and engage with peers and adults across various environments. They recognize the importance of social engagement for overall child growth across developmental and content area domains as well as for positive family outcomes. Throughout their work with children and families, candidates are respectful and responsive to all aspects of diversity and actively nurture reciprocal interactions and positive relationships.

Candidates plan, identify, and support proactive and preventative social environments, routines, and activities with attention to aspects such as emotional wellness, mental health, self-regulation, and prosocial behaviors. Candidates explicitly teach, reinforce, and promote social and communication skills using evidence-based interactions, interventions, and instruction with fidelity. Where applicable, candidates support children’s use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and other assistive technology (AT) to support their access and engagement. They also coach other adults to employ evidence-based practices and responsive interactions across naturally occurring routines and activities. For example, in early intervention contexts, candidates enhance family and caregiver capacity to promote meaningful, positive outcomes for their children through a coaching model of service delivery. Through coaching, candidates support families and caregivers to effectively enact strategies that increase functional social engagement by helping them to embed strategies into family routines and activities across natural and inclusive settings. Likewise, in classroom settings, candidates coach other adults and children to embed evidence-based social-communication practices across classroom routines and activities. In all settings, candidates provide specific and meaningful feedback to assist children and caregivers to engage in ongoing self-reflection and assessment.

When challenging behavior occurs, candidates conduct functional assessments to systematically identify the behavior, events that precede such behavior (antecedents), and events that can maintain such behavior (consequences). Using behavior assessment data, candidates identify, plan, implement, and support others to implement function-based prevention, promotion, and intervention strategies with fidelity to promote social-emotional growth for all children across a range of settings. In supporting others, candidates help in building skills that will enhance social-emotional competence, communication skills, and overall connectivity and engagement of children and families in natural and inclusive environments to make challenging behaviors irrelevant, ineffective, and inefficient.

Where applicable, candidates utilize multi-tiered systems of support as a framework for efforts to improve social, emotional, communication, and behavior outcomes for young children and families. Such frameworks assist candidates to reduce the use of inappropriate discipline practices and promote family engagement in the intervention process. Further, candidates’ application of multi-tiered systems of support can promote the use of data for decision-making, integrate early childhood and infant mental health consultation, and foster quality, meaningful inclusion for all children and families.

6.5 Candidates identify and create multiple opportunities for children to develop play skills and engage in meaningful play experiences independently and with others across contexts.

Candidates recognize play as a critical developmental milestone that contributes to the learning of young children as well as a context within which development occurs. Candidates design and support the temporal, physical, and social environment to ensure children have sufficient periods of time to engage in child directed, meaningful play. Candidates identify, create, and support multiple opportunities for children to engage in sustained play of increasing complexity with the needed supports for success including promoting meaningful interactions across peers, adults, and contexts throughout the age range of birth to eight years. They work collaboratively with families, caregivers, and other professionals to identify and enhance environments to support play and play development.

Candidates use effective practices to facilitate children’s increasingly complex play with objects and others. Candidates assess, teach, and monitor children’s social and object play skills and coach other adults (i.e., family members, caregivers, and other professionals) to do so as well. Candidates identify object play goals that focus on teaching children to engage with objects with increasing sophistication moving from sensori-motor and functional use of objects to symbolic play. Likewise, candidates identify social play goals that support children in learning to play independently, then near peers (i.e., in parallel play), and eventually cooperatively with peers. Play goals should be identified with families and based on the child’s current strengths, interests, and preferences. Play goals should facilitate the child’s full participation and engagement in daily routines and natural environments. Effective play instruction should use evidence based practices and focus on teaching generalized play skills across people and objects and settings.

Candidates also recognize that developmentally appropriate play skills may increase learning opportunities for young children. Candidates use play as a context for embedding interactions, interventions, and instruction focused on other goals. Candidates also use play as a context to provide authentic opportunities to access additional and previously unavailable interactions with materials, peers, and caregivers.

6.6 Candidates use responsive interactions, interventions, and instruction with sufficient intensity and support across activities, routines, and environments to promote child learning and development by facilitating access, participation, and engagement in natural and inclusive environments.

Candidates recognize that the strategic provision of a continuum of responsive interactions, interventions, and instructional strategies is the foundation for promoting developmental growth across content area and developmental domains as well as meaningful inclusion and positive family outcomes. Candidates partner with other adults to ensure access, participation, and engagement by individualizing application of strategies to meet the needs of each child and family. They promote a wide array of activities, environments, and interactions for children to engage with adults, peers, and materials in meaningful ways. They identify and implement effective, contextually relevant, and individualized strategies, intervention, adaptations, and modifications that promote attainment of rigorous developmental and content learning standards. Further, candidates strategically identify, plan, and implement individualized interactions, interventions, and instruction across, and embedded within, environments, routines, and activities and provide multiple modalities of engagement to ensure access and participation.

Candidates ensure effectiveness by utilizing comprehensive, authentic, ecological assessment data to inform them of each child’s strengths, preferences, and interests to enhance their ability to promote active engagement in learning and participation in routines and activities. Candidates apply data-driven, responsive support of sufficient intensity across activities, routines, and environments to promote learning and development as well as meaningful inclusion by ensuring each child and family can function effectively as integral members of communities. Candidates also identify and ensure application of appropriate resources, including assistive and other forms of technology, to increase, maintain, and/or improve functional capabilities of children and their families to further ensure access, participation, and engagement across settings.

In early intervention contexts, candidates promote positive, responsive parent-child and caregiver-child relationships recognizing the importance of nurturing, responsive relationships to overall development. They utilize evidence-based coaching practices to assist families and other caregivers to employ naturalistic instruction that embeds strategies in the context of ongoing, natural activities and routines. Candidates coach and assist other adults in a child’s life to employ sensitive and responsive ways to interact with children that promote positive peer and adult-child relationships and in turn positive outcomes for children and families.

6.7 Candidates plan for and continually adapt and improve approaches to interaction, intervention, and instruction based on multiple sources of data across a range of natural environments and inclusive settings.

Candidates use knowledge of evidence-based practices and multiple sources of data to systematically plan for interactions, interventions, and instruction designed to promote specific child and family outcomes. Candidates recognize that child and family outcomes will vary depending on developmental levels and cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Candidates plan specific ways to engage in these practices across environments, routines, and activities. In addition, they support family members, other caregivers, siblings, and peers in learning sensitive and responsive ways to interact with and promote the child’s development. Candidates also identify, create, and apply formal and informal measures that are culturally and linguistically appropriate and technically sound, and ensure child and family data are collected from a range of natural and inclusive settings to utilize within a data-driven decision cycle (i.e., plan, implement, assess, and revise) to (a) delineate the strengths, needs, preferences, and assets of children and families, (b) develop individualized short-term and long-term goals, (c) select and implement meaningful and effective interactions, interventions, and instruction, and (d) make necessary adaptations to goals and implementation.

Candidates work collaboratively with the child’s educational team (i.e., including the family) to administer, interpret, and use data from multiple, authentic assessments, appropriate for the individual needs of children and their families. Candidates collaborate with the team to continuously monitor, evaluate, and document the learning, growth, and development of children and families to ensure adequate progress toward the attainment of short-term and long-term goals. Effectively conducting ongoing assessments may require candidates to use various kinds of technology for particular tasks such as test administration, testing accommodations, data storage, creating digital documents and logs, charting and graphing results, or using measurement programs or applications.

Working collaboratively with families, caregivers, and other professionals, candidates effectively utilize multiple sources of data to evaluate, revise, and improve interactions, interventions, and instruction. They regularly interpret and reflect upon progress monitoring data and make necessary adjustments and adaptations to meet the needs and build upon the strengths of the children and families with whom they are working. In addition, candidates systematically document all aspects of this data-driven decision cycle and consistently communicate child progress and adjustments to planned interactions, interventions, and instruction with all members of the interdisciplinary team.

Standard 7: Professionalism and Ethical Practice

Candidates identify and engage with the profession of early intervention and early childhood special education by exhibiting professional dispositions and advocacy and leadership skills while adhering to ethical and legal guidelines. Evidence-based practices are promoted and used by candidates.

7.1 Candidates engage with the profession of early intervention and early childhood special education by participating in local, regional, national, or international activities and professional organizations.

Candidates understand the nature of the profession of early intervention/early childhood special education and stay abreast of current issues as they arise (e.g., poverty, trauma, substance-abuse, and other issues). They apply their knowledge and skills of the profession to improve outcomes for each and every child and family. Candidates engage in leadership and service opportunities that support positive outcomes for children and families. They demonstrate skilled expertise, utilize the expertise of others, and access professional resources that support positive outcomes for children, families, and the profession.

Candidates understand the mission of professional organizations (e.g., CEC, DEC, NAEYC) and associate with them as a professional home. They engage in professional activities provided by professional organizations by accessing materials and resources (e.g., professional organization journals, webinars).

Candidates engage in continuous collaborative learning to develop skills and inform practice. They participate in learning communities in various ways (e.g., conferences, communities of practice) with other early childhood educators and professionals from specific specialties, disciplines, and professions.

Candidates know and use national and state academic and personnel standards and recommended practices developed through professional organizations for planning and improving targeted services, supports, and outcomes for young children and their families.

7.2 Candidates engage in ongoing reflective practice and access evidence-based professional development to improve their own practices.

Candidates participate in evidenced-based professional development activities and training to learn about and implement evidence-based practice and services for children and families to meet targeted outcomes. Candidates systematically reflect on their own practices and the practices of others. They reflect on their use of professional personnel standards, current research (e.g., research syntheses), and recommended practices (e.g., DEC Recommended Practices, CEC High-Leverage Practices) in their own professional practices.

Candidates identify areas for growth within their own practices. They engage in evidence-based professional development to address those areas for growth and demonstrate how their practices have improved as a result of the professional development. For example, they participate in conferences and online professional learning networks and access evidence-based resources through libraries and reputable internet sites. They use that knowledge to design and construct a professional learning plan to improve their skills. Using professional and evidence-based resources along with formative assessment data, candidates reflect on and adjust their practices. Further, candidates use mentors and mentorship experiences to continually improve their own professional practices. They actively seek feedback from others such as experienced EI/ECSE providers, families, and professionals from other disciplines, and apply this input to improve their own practices.

7.3 Candidates exhibit professional dispositions and leadership skills by using culturally/linguistically responsive practices and applying legal policies and ethical guidelines in relationships and interactions with children, families, and other professionals.

Candidates know and work within federal/state/provincial/local legislative and statutory mandates and regulations that support children and families and the implications of this legislation for professional practice.

Candidates maintain a high level of professional competence and integrity and exercise informed professional judgment. Candidates apply professional codes of ethics including the DEC Code of Ethics and NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct in their practice with children, families, and other professionals and are guided by their ideals and principles. They use these codes to analyze and resolve professional and ethical issues related to professional practice. Further, candidates understand their responsibilities for reporting ethical and legal violations in relation to the profession as well as in the safety of children and families.

Candidates understand implicit bias as well as the historical and current systems of marginalization and inequities. They reflect on their own sociocultural perspective especially as it impacts the services they provide for children and families. Candidates access evidence-based resources to be informed of issues around implicit bias and to limit their own biases in interactions with families, children, and other professionals.

7.4 Candidates advocate for children, families, and the profession including the promotion and use of evidence-based practices and decision making.

Candidates embrace a culture of research collaboration and engage in the research process to build and sustain the knowledge of the ECSE workforce and to advance the profession of EI/ECSE. They understand central policy issues in the profession including issues of equity, bias, and social justice that impact all children and families. Issues may include gaps between research findings and applications to practice or, other problems with interpretation, application, and/or implementation of instruction and interventions.

Candidates have basic knowledge of how federal/state/provincial/local policies are developed. They demonstrate advocacy skills and understand how their efforts support systemic change and improvements in policies regarding children with disabilities and their families. Candidates understand how to advocate for the rights of children and families. They recognize that program limitations and restrictions do not suppress the rights of children and families. Candidates know how to work with decision makers to remove barriers to the rights of children and families. They engage in and access professional organization activities and resources and/or evidence-based resources to support their advocacy efforts. Candidates are knowledgeable of professional organizations’ policy and advocacy missions. For example, they engage in in webinars, receive newsletters addressing advocacy events and initiatives, and stay abreast of current policy and advocacy issues.