Early Childhood Education

Description of Assessment & Certification

The Early Childhood Education Assessment and Certification are:
  • driven by industry standards;
  • based on relevant content standards developed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and consistent with the National Standards for Family and Consumer Sciences Education and the National Career Clusters Initiative;
  • appropriate to validate achievement of competencies related to early childhood education;
  • useful in a broad range of education and employment settings, such as secondary and post-secondary education, community-based education programs, and employer-based human resource and staff development programs; and
  • advantaged to utilize a gold-standard, computer-based testing platform format that provides for valid and reliable competency measurement, and a reporting mechanism for data-driven program improvement, accountability, and individual remediation and acceleration.

Uses of Assessment & Certification

The assessment and certification are used to:
  • document exit-level achievement in rigorous secondary programs and lower division post-secondary courses;
  • satisfy federal accountability reporting mandates required by Perkins IV legislation;
  • facilitate seamless articulation, placement, and credit-by exam within post-secondary institutions;
  • validate competencies required for employment at the pre-professional and/or paraprofessional level; and
  • provide an industry-recognized certification.

Assessment & Certification Resources

Alignment Matrices
21st Century Student Outcomes Career Ready Practices (CCTC) Employability Skills Framework

* Bulletin includes detailed information on assessment design, scoring, content, sample test items, and resources)

Early Childhood Education Resource Directory 


The Early Childhood Education assessment and certification will address a skill set necessary for success in early childhood education which is one of the fastest growing programs that is reporting employment growth. It is anticipated that this assessment and certification will be targeted for individuals preparing for careers related to early childhood education, such as those associated with:
  • child care,
  • teaching,
  • community-based children's programs,
  • social services or counseling for children, and
  • after-school programs.


Once the assessment is submitted, results are immediately available to the test candidate. The results provide an overall percentage score, a breakdown of scores corresponding to domains, and the indication whether pre-professional certification was achieved. The national cut score for pre-professional certification eligibility is established annually by AAFCS. Scores can be used to demonstrate competency, pinpoint weaknesses or gaps in performance, improve programs and curricula, and demonstrate accountability to stakeholders. Through articulation agreements, scores may be used as the basis for advanced placement and/or credit-by-exam at post-secondary institutions. Thus, local and state entities have latitude for independently establishing passing or qualifying scores for other purposes.

Pre-Professional Certification Score: Click here for the list of current certification scores

Developed by National Early Childhood Education Leaders

AAFCS has engaged the assistance of a broad range of esteemed early childhood practitioners and educators from across the nation to assist in identifying relevant industry standards and develop the assessment instrument. Recognizing the value of a solid assessment tool in assuring that programs are effectively preparing individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide high quality child care in an optimal environment and for pre-professional careers requiring those skills, the following stakeholders participated on the development panel for the assessment and certification:
  • Peggy Thoenen, Buttons and Bullfrogs Family Center, Jefferson City, MO
  • Jean Simpson, Office of Head Start, Washington, DC
  • Barbara Sawyer, National Association of Family Child Care, Arvada, CO
  • Sara Moleski-Rice, National Child Care Association, Washington, DC
  • Alison Lutton, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Washington, DC
  • Celia Farr, Children's Harbor, Portsmouth, VA
  • Sabrina Thomson, Faith-Based Child Care organization, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Sabrina Thomson, Faith-Based Child Care organization, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Robin Hasslen, Head of Child Development Centers, Bethel University, St. Paul, MN
  • John Anne Reynolds, South Plains College, Levelland, TX
  • Anna Goff, Farmington School District, Farmington, AR
  • Eleanor Keppler, FCS Teacher and Child Care Director, IN
  • Vicki Rexroat, Oklahoma Department of Career Tech and Child Care Director, Fort Cobb, OK

Further Information

For further information please contact AAFCS at pre-pac@aafcs.org or 703-636-7641

Back to Top