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CCTC Accreditation 2022

Early Education Specialist Credential

Contact Person
Heather Horsley

Sergio La Porta

Associate Dean
Song Lee

For technical issues
Contact Laura Rabago at

1. Program Summary


In Fresno County, California, the need for developing early childhood specialists trained in developmentally appropriate practice for culturally and linguistically diverse children is urgent. 42% of Fresno County children 0-5 years live in poverty as compared to 22.7% across the state (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017); Fresno was described by The Atlantic as the “Poorest Major City in California” (White, 2018). The children living in Fresno County communities are 64% Hispanic or Latino, 19% White, 10% Asian, 5% African American, and 18% other races (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017); 60% of those children are dual-language learners (Cradle to Career, 2015). The inequalities that persist throughout the county amount to systemic impacts that continue to marginalize the most vulnerable populations, including children who are impacted by maternal health issues (Katcher, 2018), broken immigration systems (Egkolfopoulou, 2018; Flin, 2018), chronic food insecurity (CFPA, 2003), and violence and parental incarceration (Thebault & Fuller, 2018). Community-wide biases and systemic segregation (Katcher, 2018; Thebault, 2018) further exacerbate the above-mentioned barriers to the development of self-determined, thriving communities. 

Although there are many structural inequities that pose significant gaps in opportunity and achievement for Fresno County children, their families have a rich history embedded in the cultural, economic, and societal fabric of the greater Central Valley region  (Fujimoto & Sandoval, 2007). The diversity of language, culture, and experiences contribute to a wide range of knowledge and expertise found within classrooms, the early childhood workforce, and institutions. This dynamic local context also enhances the learning experiences for all young children of Fresno County.  

Additionally, Fresno State’s Master of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education (MA in ECE) further strengthens young children’s access to high quality learning experiences by providing a pathway for teachers with a basic teaching credential to earn their early childhood specialist credential. With this advanced credential, these teachers can create curriculum, establish programs, and facilitate professional learning experiences for teachers  including developmentally appropriate teaching methodologies for child development programs and early childhood education programs in grades three and below coordinated by school districts or county offices of education. This specialist credential also authorizes these teachers to teach courses in child development for classes primarily for adults who work in K-12 settings. This specialist credential aligns with recommendations to improve the experiences of the children from birth to age 6 with efforts to improve the curriculum and professional development of the early childhood workforce (Torlakson, 2011).

The MA in ECE which administers the early childhood specialist credential offers specifically designed preparation for a wide variety of positions in educational settings with children from birth through the primary grades. The program is a non-cohort model designed to meet the needs of candidates with different professional and educational backgrounds and varied career objectives. Some students are full time and complete the program within 18 months while others are part time and complete the program within 24 months but they have five years to complete the program upon entry. The MA in ECE program has several aims for the Central Valley and Beyond:

  • Elevate and professionalize the field of early childhood
  • Help develop a high-quality early childhood workforce 
  • Engage in partnerships to improve accessibility and quality of early care and education 
  • Provide equitable professional learning opportunities in early childhood education
  • Mentor and provide opportunities for future early childhood leaders by offering the early childhood specialist credential
  • Advocate for equitable evidence-based early childhood policies regionally and nationally


The MA in ECE program is housed with the Literacy, Early, Bilingual, Special Education Department in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. The Dean appoints a MA in ECE coordinator who facilitates recruitment efforts, admissions advising, on-going student advising, curricular developments, program assessments, monthly program faculty meetings. Tenure-track faculty and adjunct faculty are invited to monthly program faculty meetings where the coordinator seeks input on program developments and follows university policies and procedures for making formal decisions regarding programmatic related changes.

Course of Study 

Admission to the MA in ECE program requires that each candidate is qualified for the ECE Master Teaching Permit or has earned a B.A./B.S. degree plus 12 units in ECE or Child Development plus 3 units supervised ECE fieldwork or hold a valid basic teaching credential. Moreover, applicants seeking the early childhood specialist credential must also have taught for a minimum of three years with a valid basic teaching credential.

The MA in ECE coursework is designed to deepen candidate knowledge, skills, and dispositions of developmentally appropriate, culturally and linguistically sustaining practices. The curriculum is informed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) Teaching Performance Expectations and the seven program standards developed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Students have opportunities to deepen their knowledge of child development theories and curriculum development as well as application of developmentally appropriate practices, early childhood assessments, and professional skills such as collaboration, inclusive leadership, strengths-based coaching techniques. 

Under the direction of a graduate adviser, each student prepares and submits an individually designed course of study consisting of seven courses of advanced early childhood education coursework totaling twenty-one (21) units including:

  • LEE 171: Trends and Issues in ECE provides candidates a comprehensive overview of current issues in ECE including but not limited to ethics in ECE, parent engagement, policy issues, and community partnerships
  • LEE 232: Literacy in ECE helps candidates examine the development of oral and written language skills in young children. Explores theories, curricula, and strategies for teaching language arts and beginning reading. 
  • LEE 233: Curriculum and Assessment in ECE prepares candidates to design appropriate curriculum and assessment for young children. Includes standards, planning, project approach, and integration of play.
  • LEE 235: Concept Development in ECE explores how children develop conceptual understandings. The course will help professionals develop the ability to evaluate curricula and/or programs based on an understanding of cognitive development in young children.
  • LEE 241: Fieldwork in ECE  /  LEE 241: Fieldwork in ECE (revised), is a supervised ECE field experience that includes infant/toddlers, preschool, preprimary and/or primary grade children and their families in a variety of settings including schools, centers, home-based programs, agencies, organizations, etc.
  • LEE 250: Leadership in ECE identifies the role and responsibility of ECE leaders in creating, improving and expanding the quality of ECE programs, resources and services in schools, and community settings. Includes leadership roles, planning for positive educational change, partnerships to advocate for ECE
  • LEE 271: Diversity in ECE helps candidates understand and respond to cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity and the ways they affect personality, language, cognitive development, and socialization. How to create inclusive learning environments and curriculum in early childhood education is emphasized.

Two (2) courses of non-ECE coursework consisting of six units of study is also required consisting of:

  • ERE 220: Research in Education is a seminar in education research methodology; library resources; critiquing data collection, analyses, interpretation in research articles; writing research papers; for elementary and secondary teaching, early childhood, reading, administration, counseling, special education, related fields.

○ Requires ERE 153: Educational Statistics or equivalent for no credit as a prerequisite. This course details methods of describing, analyzing, and interpreting data; statistical methods including correlation, regression, t-tests, 1 and 2-way ANOVA designs, and chi-square.

○ CI 285 is a seminar designed to foster in-depth exploration of concepts in development, cognition, and learning situated within educational contexts. Children’s development and learning are examined within the context of school expectations, with an emphasis on the diversity among learners.

○ ERE 288 explores the procedures and issues involved in the measurement and evaluation of educational programs; planning, etc. Applications in educational settings are emphasized. Prerequisite: ERE 153.

Upon completion of the core coursework (27 units), candidates must choose their culminating experience in the program: 1) Masters project in Early Childhood Education for 3 units of study or a comprehensive examination for 0 units of study which requires candidates who seek this experience to also complete an additional elective related to ECE for 3 units of study. Taken together, the candidates must complete a 30-unit program of study to complete the MA in ECE program with the early childhood specialist credential.


The MA in ECE program established four program outcomes and eight corresponding student learning objectives (SLO) as follows:

Program Outcome 1:  ECE graduates utilize theory, research, and ongoing assessment when making instructional decisions.

SLO 1.1.  Demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions that promote development and learning.

SLO 1.2.  Apply current ECE research to issues of practice.

SLO 1.3.  Utilize a variety of inquiry methods and the latest technology.

Program Outcome 2:  ECE graduates are caring and ethical teacher-leaders, guided by their knowledge of culturally and developmentally appropriate practices.

SLO 2.1.  Engage in reflection, documentation, self-assessment and life-long learning.

Program Outcome 3:  ECE graduates are leaders who address the needs of their culturally diverse learners respectfully and responsively.

SLO 3.1.  Integrate various perspectives to create quality early education for all children.

SLO 3.2.  Be responsive to ethical, cultural and linguistic diversity.

Program Outcome 4: Develop interprofessional skills necessary to become ECE leaders in both the educational community and in the community at large.

SLO 4.1.  Build strong relationships with families and communities.

SLO 4.2.  Advocate for children, families, and the profession.

Additionally, six (6) signature assessments and rubrics are linked to NAEYC program standards:

  • Assessment #1: ECE Culminating Activity: Embedded in LEE 298b Projects in ECE or Comprehensive Exam
  • Assessment #2: ECE Portfolio: Embedded in LEE 241 Fieldwork in ECE
  • Assessment #3: Developmentally Appropriate Practice Charter School Project: Embedded in LEE 233 Curriculum and Assessment in ECE
  • Assessment #4: ECE Leadership Activity: Embedded in LEE 250 Leadership in ECE
  • Assessment #5: Action Research Project: Embedded in LEE 271 Diversity in ECE
  • Assessment #6: Dispositions and Ethics Assignment: Embedded in LEE 171 Trends and Issues in Early Childhood Education

Changes to the program

Over the past three years, data was used to make two major changes to the program:

  1. Elevation from The Master of Arts degree in Education with an option in Early Childhood Education to a stand alone Master’s of Arts program in order to be in compliance with the California State University Chancellor’s Office Executive Order 1071.
  2. Transition of a signature assessment #5: from CI 285 Seminar in Advanced Educational Psychology to LEE 271 Diversity in ECE. 

Service Delivery Models


Delivery Model


Main Campus

Digital Campus


Early Childhood Specialist Credential

2. Organizational Structure

3. Faculty Qualifications

ECE Specialist Distribution Table


Current Numbers


Full-time Tenure-Track



Part-time Tenure Track



Full-time Lecturer



Part-time Adjunct



 Annotated Faculty List



Courses taught

Feiyan Chen

Full-time Tenure-Track

LEE 241, LEE 241 (revised), CI 285, LEE 298b

Heather Horsley

Full-time Tenure-Track
Program Coordinator

LEE 250, LEE 241, LEE 241 (revised), LEE 298b

Jacques Benninga

Full-time Tenure-Track,
now retired FERP

LEE 171, LEE 235

Kristin Beasley

Part-time Adjunct

LEE 271

Lupe Jaime

Part-time Adjunct

LEE 233

Monica Billen

Full-time Tenure-Track

LEE 232, LEE 241LEE 241 (revised), LEE 298b

Pei-Ying Wu

Full-time Tenure-Track

LEE 233, LEE 241LEE 241 (revised), LEE 271

Catherine Mathis

Full-time Lecturer

LEE 241LEE 241 (revised), CI 285

Early Childhood Education Program
Adjunct Experience Qualifications

All part-time/temporary faculty applicants for Early Childhood Education MA in Education classes must have the following:

  • Doctorate (or ABD) in child development, psychology, education, or related field
  • Experience teaching (minimum of 2 years ECE teaching or leadership experience)

All part-time/temporary faculty applicants for Early Childhood Education MA in Education classes are preferred to have the following:

  • Meet the online teaching requirement (see APM 206), or certificate of online training from another institution

Approved April 23, 2020

4. Course Sequence

Applicants indicate whether they are interested in the Early Childhood Specialist Credential as part of their Masters in Early Childhood Education admissions process. During orientation, the applicant is provided a ECE Course of Study plan. After an overview is provided and the applicant drafts a course of study for the whole time in which they expect to be in the program. The program coordinator reviews each student's course of study plan and approves or helps revise it. The forms are added to the candidate’s record.

Early Childhood Subject Course of Study for the Specialist Credential:


Title & Syllabi Links


Semester(s) Offered

Advising Notes

ERE 153

Educational Statistics


Fall, Spring, Summer

Prerequisite for ERE220

LEE 171

Trends and Issues in ECE




LEE 233

Curriculum & Assessment in ECE




LEE 250

Leadership in ECE




LEE 235

Concept Development in ECE



Must pass ECE graduate writing requirement in this course

LEE 232

Literacy in ECE




LEE 271

Diversity in ECE




CI 285 or

ERE 288

Seminar in Advanced Educational Psychology


Educational Measurement and Program Evaluation


Fall, Spring




ERE153 is prerequisite

LEE 241/
LEE 241 (revised),

Fieldwork in ECE


Fall, Spring

Concurrent with ERE220 in next-to-last semester

ERE 220

Research Methods in Education


Fall, Spring

ERE153 is prerequisite

Concurrent with LEE 241 in next-to-last semester

Culminating Experience

LEE 298B

Projects in ECE


Fall, Spring

Last semester


Exam +

1 Elective

ECE Comprehensive Exam (0 units)

+1 Elective of choice related to ECE approved by program coordinator




Fall, Spring

Last semester


5. Course Matrix

Not Applicable

6. Fieldwork and Clinical Practice

Course Title



LEE 241 Fieldwork in ECE

3 Units

This field experience is intended to support the application of skills and understandings related to leadership, early childhood education, child development and constructivist theory in a "real world" ECE setting. Self-study, a type of action research, will serve as a guiding framework for this course.

Minimum 24 – Maximum 45 

LEE 232 Literacy in ECE

3 units

This field experience is intended to support the implementation of early literacy strategies connected to literacy theory and research


LEE 235 Concept Development in ECE

3 units

This field experience is intended to support the transfer conceptual developmental theory to practice as students assess infants in the fours stages of development and interview children about the conception of the world. 


LEE 250 Leadership in ECE

3 units

This field experience is intended to support the application of adult learning theory and organizational leadership theory to the implementation of professional learning for adults (e.g. professional development sessions and coaching sessions).


ECE Specialist Placements

Fieldwork is embedded in the Master’s in Early Childhood Education program coursework that meets the CTC Field Experience Standards for the Early Childhood Specialist Credential (see LEE 241, LEE 241 (revised), LEE 232, LEE 235, and LEE 250 syllabi). Graduate students can select their own school/district sites where they already teach for fieldwork.

Veteran Practitioner Training Materials

Graduate students seeking the Early Childhood Specialist Credential are already veteran teachers in the field. Graduate students have already obtained their teaching credential and do not require additional training materials. Support for graduate students is provided through the instructor of record in the role of supervisor in each course with fieldwork. There are a number of assignments for students to receive feedback and guidance in a timely manner to evaluate and support graduate students’ instructional decisions. In addition, the fieldwork is supported through supervision and supportive guidance through an individualized coaching approach and related audio/video evidence of the graduate students’ fieldwork experiences.  

All information and expectations regarding supervisory courses for veteran teacher fieldwork can be found in the following syllabi:

Program candidates are placed in schools in the surrounding region. Every effort is made by program faculty to ensure that candidates are in the best possible placement to support their development. As demonstrated by the data represented below, our region is home to some of the most diverse student populations in the state, meaning candidates in all programs have opportunities to develop as practitioners while working with students from diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as students with disabilities.


ECE Specialist Placement


Student Last Name

Student First Name

School Placement

Grade Level


Course Instructor LEE 241, LEE 232, LEE 235, LEE 250



Lowell Elementary

Transitional Kindergarten

Fresno Unified

All information and expectations regarding fieldwork can be found in the see LEE 241LEE 241 (revised), LEE 232, LEE 235, and LEE 250 syllabi. 

Early Childhood Specialist Clinical Practice Fieldwork Assessment Instruments

7. Credential Recommendation

The Masters of Early Childhood Education program ensures that only qualified candidates are admitted to the program by having met additional admissions requirements. Additionally, only candidates who have earned their credential and have been teaching for at least three years are able to earn the ECE Specialist Credential. Upon admission each candidate is required to sign and submit a Course of Study plan that shows the sequence of courses. The signed Course of Study form is kept in the candidate’s record and serves as the program’s progress monitoring document. Upon completion of the program and all requirements, the University Credential Analyst checks the candidate’s transcripts against the signed Course of Study in the candidate’s record. After all requirements are met, the candidate is recommended to CCTC for the ECE Specialist Credential. 

Not Applicable