In 2021, the Children’s Learning Institute introduced the State of the Texas Early Childhood Education Workforce Report. The first of its kind, it compiled state-wide data from the Texas Workforce Registry within the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS) to tell an extensive story about the Texas early childhood workforce. Since then, the datasets within TECPDS have grown and enabled our ability to define and describe these data stories – adding nuance and needed updates to the data reviewed in 2021.
This current data snapshot focuses on the education and experience of different early educator types in the TECPDS: administrators, practitioners, and trainers. The Texas Workforce Registry is a web-based application for early childhood professionals to keep track of their education and employment history, as well as professional development they have accrued.
The data in this report was exported from TECPDS on January 3, 2023. We examined data for a statewide population of 69,400 early childhood professionals in TECPDS. This snapshot also looks at the data for a subpopulation of Texas Rising Star early learning programs, consisting of 9,793 practitioners (classroom staff who deliver and support instruction) and 1,677 administrators (program and school leaders)1.
The chart below presents data regarding the highest level of education attained by educators in TECPDS statewide. We include this data to help stakeholders visualize the status of educational attainment for those serving children ages 0-8 years old. While this data in TECPDS is growing, its story is consistent with the national picture of the workforce: over half of the early educators in Texas have earned less than an Associate’s degree, and two thirds have earned less than a Bachelor’s degree. This data aligns with current Child Care Regulation requirements for a High School diploma or General Education Development Test (GED) to work in child care settings, and a recent 2022 Texas Director Survey2 reveals similar data about educational attainment.
Recent national data indicates that higher educational attainment levels do not substantially increase wages, ultimately providing little financial incentive for practitioners to pursue a higher education degree; educators may find other value in higher education attainment, such as increased instructional quality.
Take some time to explore the education attainment filtering tool and see what you find! Use the filtering options to view data by role, education attainment, or Texas region.
At this time, TWR participation is not required for the early childhood field in Texas, and subsequently we have a high percentage of accounts that are missing data. In 2020, using the Texas Workforce Registry became mandatory for administrators of early learning programs participating in Texas Rising Star. Administrators were required to complete their personal profiles (education, experience, and professional development) for assessment purposes, and practitioners’ use was strongly encouraged. Due to this, we now have a subset of data that is more complete, and reports can support stakeholders to have a clearer picture as a comparison.
Although practitioners employed by Texas Rising Star-participating programs are not mandated to participate, we have seen considerable growth in this population due to administrator understanding of the benefits of having all center staff records in one location. This more complete collection of data shows that almost three quarters of Texas Rising Star practitioners have earned less than an Associate’s degree (73%). In comparison, administrators and owners are more likely to have a higher educational level of at least an Associate’s degree (53%) than practitioners. Below is a display of Texas Rising Star educational attainment data.
The chart below presents data regarding the years of experience educators state on their personal profiles. As of December 2022, 5,204 early learning programs connected to the Texas Workforce Registry, with 12,726 connected educators. Work experience can be used as a data point among others to measure workforce quality, expertise, and retainment, and looking across early childhood sectors.
On average, administrators (such as center directors) report more years in the field than practitioners; the majority of administrators reference 10-30 years of experience (34% indicating 10-20 years; 25% indicating 20-30 years). In contrast, this data reveals that the highest percentage of practitioners report work experience at 1-3 years (21%).
Take some time to explore work experience in your area using the filtering tool!
Texas Rising Star work experience is similar to all users in the Texas Workforce Registry. The data shows that practitioners come with a wide range of experience; less than a year (16%), 1-3 years (23%), 3-5 years (13%), 5-10 years (18%), and 10-20 years (19%). This contrasts with administrator roles which display most of the experience residing within 10-20 years (35%) and 20-30 years’ experience (27%).
The chart below presents data regarding the attainment of a Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential as documented in educator profiles. Available nationwide, the CDA can be significant pathway to higher education, with many educators using their CDA to pursue their Associate’s degree or more. Currently, about 2% of practitioners and 8% of administrators report having a CDA. Please note, the CDA must be renewed every three years, and users may not have updated their CDA status in TECPDS; currently, only 23% of reported CDA are still active.
We include CDA attainment data in this report because it is the most-reported credential and provides practitioners and administrators alike the opportunity to pursue career growth outside of a typical 2–4-year college degree. Providing alternate pathways to educational attainment through credentials such as the CDA can improve quality of teaching without the personal cost of pursuing an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree.
The goal of the report is to share timely data to inform policy decisions and drive further research. The Texas Workforce Registry was originally built to be a digital repository of early childhood career profiles; TECPDS continues to provide programs, services, and resources to the workforce, including core competencies, links to quality trainings and trainers, and certificate generation at no cost. Over time, it has continued to grow and support Texas with understanding workforce needs and driving investments in strategies to support its members. Leveraging TECPDS data can be one of the first steps toward supporting conversations regarding workforce improvement, and enhance reflection and decision making about the various ways our workforce can truly develop.
Each report of data from TECPDS, and others, provides deeper understanding of the complex early childhood workforce and individual members, but this story remains incomplete. In order to assemble a more accurate picture, we need the support of early childhood stakeholders, including city and state agencies, local workforce development boards, trainers, and administrators, to leverage TECPDS as a tool for personal career documentation and advancement as well as the state’s resource to learn about and plan for the early childhood workforce.
Registries are now poised to do so much more, with continued support and engagement TECPDS can amplify:
Please note, many TECPDS users have multiple roles in the system, representing the broad range of experiences across the early childhood field. For example, a user may serve as a lead teacher (practitioner on TECPDS), serve as an instructional coach, and be approved as a Registered Trainer. Some roles (e.g., school leaders) or settings (e.g., public schools) may require specific education, experience, or skills that are represented in this data.
The data is also impacted by users that are connected to the statewide Texas Rising Star program. Currently, Texas Rising Star early learning program administrators are the only users required to participate in the system. Therefore, a large portion of complete data is from this specific user pool, that may not reflect the rest of the Texas early childhood workforce.
As noted throughout the report, our data is sufficient to begin telling the story of our current early childhood workforce in Texas. Increasing TECPDS utilization, as well as additional data points about workforce members, support this common goal of learning about the workforce. More specifically, we hope to integrate new data fields that provide additional context in the future, such as age, ethnicity, wage, and workplace benefits, especially to bring insight to how the early childhood workforce reflects and influences the expanding Texas child population.
Thank you to the faculty and staff of the Children’s Learning Institute for their support and guidance to the 2022 State of the Texas Early Childhood Education Workforce Report, especially LaShonda Brown-Hollins and Karpagavalli Arul for their contributions.
Special thanks to the Texas Workforce Commission’s Child Care and Early Learning Division program leadership and staff for their ongoing support for TECPDS.
Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. (2023). Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System: State of the Texas Early Childhood Education Workforce Report 2022. Houston, TX. Retrieved from https://public.tecpds.org/about-us/state-of-the-ece-workforce-report/.