New Mexico: Defining Common Core Content and Specialized Knowledge to Promote the Effectiveness of Infant/Toddler Providers and Professionals

Jun 22, 2009


New Mexico\'s early childhood professional development system was formed over the course of 15 years, beginning in the early 1990s with the creation of the Office of Child Development and the Child Development Board, appointed by the Governor. The Board established a standing committee, the Higher Education Early Childhood Articulation Task Force, to oversee and improve the professional development system. The system was designed to meet the educational needs of all professionals who served children from birth through age eight. Consisting of faculty from public universities and colleges, the task force addressed the challenge of providing a clear, uniform career lattice for early childhood professionals by designing a universal catalogue of courses and recommended syllabi. The catalogue is used by all public higher education institutions and allows for easier transfer of credits between schools. Based on Common Core Content and Areas of Specialization, the catalogue lays out programs of study for entry level training to bachelor\'s degrees in early childhood. At all levels, students must complete a set of common core courses appropriate for the degree level. The state also requires 45-hours of training in the seven core competency areas for staff in licensed early childhood programs.


Career Pathways for Infant/Toddler Providers and Professionals

New Mexico is currently revising its professional development system for early childhood professionals. Among major changes, the state is expanding its early childhood career lattice from one career degree pathway (early childhood teacher) to three career pathways (early childhood teacher, early childhood program administrator, and family, infant toddler professional). There are two key changes to improve preparation for working with babies and toddlers:

  • A special focus on infants and toddlers for teachers: The career pathway for early childhood teachers will have two distinct concentrations: children from birth through age four and children from age three through grade three. This change will distinguish the developmental needs of very young children versus children getting ready to enter the early grades and consequently provide better curriculum alignment.
  • A separate pathway for family, infant toddler (FIT) professionals: In addition, the new career lattice will offer a separate degree pathway for home visitors, early interventionists, and other professionals serving infants and toddlers. Currently, students pursuing the career pathway for early childhood teachers may earn a specialization in FIT Studies. The new pathway will replace this specialization and include an enhanced version of the FIT Studies curriculum, expanding course offerings from what is currently offered (9 credit hours) to 24 credit hours. The FIT professional pathway will be offered as a degree program of study at the associate\'s and bachelor\'s degree level. The task force also received input from organizations such as the New Mexico Association for Infant Mental Health on the development of the FIT curriculum. The new curriculum lays out what infant/toddler professionals and others serving this age group should know about infant/toddler development as well as the skills they need to support healthy growth.  

In the new career lattice, all students must still complete coursework that uses the Common Core Content. The Common Core Content outlines what all early childhood professionals should know and be able to do to earn a certain degree, which ranges from an entry level certificate to a bachelor\'s degree. While the content at each degree level is based on the same set of core competencies, the indicators of competence increase in expectations with each advancing degree.

New Mexico undertook these changes so that teachers would have essential knowledge about children\'s development and learning, in order to design effective learning opportunities in the earliest years. Candidates who take positions in infant-toddler care, but whose preparation has not included significant training on this age group, may fail to support children\'s learning and development because the curriculum and teaching strategies they were taught to use are more effective with older children. New Mexico\'s revised professional development system is in its final stages of approval, and the state expects to begin implementing the new system in the Fall of 2009.


Additional Resources




State contact information:

Judy Fifield, Director of Early Childhood Professional Development Initiative
Office of Child Development
Children, Youth and Families Department
(505) 827-4034

Candace Kaye, Associate Professor and Director of the Southwest Institute for Early Childhood Studies at New Mexico State University
(575) 646-8310


See all Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care State Examples.

Read more about the project recommendation to Establish Core Competencies, including research, policy ideas, and links to online resources.

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