The Penn State Berks Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education (ECEE) prepares reflective and informed candidates to teach all content areas in Pre-Kindergarten through grade 4 (PK-4). Students completing the degree will have met the requirements for the Instructional I certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Students may choose to graduate from the Berks campus with a B.S. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, or change locations after a two-year course of study to complete a degree in any teaching option at University Park or another campus.
The program requirements for degree completion include courses that investigate the complexities of how a young child learns by examining child development, methods of instruction in the areas of literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies, and critical evaluation of the research supporting rich learning environments. Candidates can expect multiple field placements and interactions with children during their program that align with their coursework. The program incorporates multiple field experiences in and around the vicinity of the Reading School District, which provides an opportunity to integrate theory and practice. Students plan instruction and assessments, experience young children in their natural learning environments, and develop a robust knowledge of subject matter with diverse populations. Full-time study is required for a minimum of the three semesters at the conclusion of the degree program when students are enrolled in the methods courses and placed in local schools for their student teaching practicum. Visit our Degree Overview for more information about entrance to major requirements and how this degree prepares graduates to support engaging and successful communities of diverse learners..
The teacher certification program in Elementary and Early Childhood Education (EECE) is extended from Penn State's College of Education to the Berks campus is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, is nationally recognized by the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The College of Education educator preparation program is seeking accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) in Spring 2019, which has replaced NCATE.
Complementary Minors and Certificates
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) teacher certification through Penn State requires that teaching candidates maintain an overall 3.0 grade point average (GPA), pass all program courses with a C grade or higher, and pass PDE-required content exams. Though not necessary, students may choose to enhance opportunities for employment after graduation by completing coursework toward an English as a Second Language (ESL) Specialist Certificate, or an academic minor. Students might consider the other minors to complement their Elementary and Early Childhood Education degree (EECE) such as:
- Rehabilitation & Human Services
- Special Education
Internships, Research, and Application
The Penn State Berks EECE program offers multiple educational experiences outside of the university classroom as a means to clarify academic concepts and support the development of sound pedagogical principles. Program coursework and projects are practically applied in school settings and students are guided to examine the practice of engaged learning, inquiry, and research-based instructional practices in the school environment with children of multiple ages. Students may choose to work closely with faculty to prepare projects for research purposes and present at national conferences. Teaching experiences begin in the freshman year with observations, and become more applied in the sophomore and junior years. For example, students may choose to engage in service learning activities, complete course projects during field placements or enroll in an independent study. Penn State students may also choose to participate in program activities exclusive to Berks such as workshops in science and math, summer camps to serve children of trauma, and international field experience trips to schools in Germany. Through these experiences the Penn State student has an opportunity to investigate various teaching methods in multiple content areas, explore the foundations of education, and gain experience with diverse learners while studying school systems in authentic learning environments. Such activities are encouraged as a way to build competence and confidence in teaching.
The teacher candidate’s senior year begins with a 2-day per week internship in the fall as students are placed with a professional mentor teacher in a local school and complete teaching methods coursework the remaining three days on campus. University faculty supervise the student teaching experience beginning in the spring and students begin to develop an ePortfolio with examples and evidence of their growth as educators. The ePortfolio is often used in interviews once students graduate. The year-long student teaching placement and experiential learning opportunities offer Penn State Berks graduates a unique opportunity to gain valuable experience with children before they graduate where they can apply their theoretical knowledge with children in authentic settings.
As a graduate of the teacher certification program in Pre-Kindergarten through grade 4, the teacher will receive a recommendation for PA teacher certification and may choose to begin teaching in a Pennsylvania school immediately. Students who minored in Special Education may choose to complete a Masters in Special Education as part of a 4+1 program at Penn State University Park. The resident M.Ed. program at University Park provides 30 credits of coursework and two supervised practicum experiences to prepare the Master’s candidate to work with students with disabilities. The 4+1 program will result in a bachelor’s degree with teacher certification, a Master’s degree in Special Education, and a recommendation for PA special education teacher certification.