San Jacinto College program earns accreditation by world’s largest organization for early childhood educators

06.25.2014 | By Jeannie Peng-Armao

San Jacinto College has joined the list of seven Texas community colleges to earn accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) for its early child education associate degree program.

In addition, the College is one of four in the state to hold NAEYC accreditation for its Early Childhood Lab School, a key component to the success of the associate degree program. The NAEYC is the world's largest organization working on behalf of young children. Its mission is to serve and act on behalf of the needs, rights, and well-being of all young children with primary focus on the provision of educational and development services and resources.

Institutions that hold NAEYC accreditations have met national standards of quality that include promoting child development and learning; building family and community relationships; observing, documenting, and assessing to support young children and families; using developmentally effective approaches; using content knowledge to build meaningful curriculum; and becoming a professional.

"What this means for our students is high quality, professional teachers and staff who know about child development and who know why we hold our program to these national standards," said Dr. Debbie Simpson-Smith, child development/education department chair. "We value children and families, and most importantly, we value them for what they know today, not for what they're supposed to know tomorrow."

By attending a NAEYC accredited colleges, students benefit from consistent structure and curriculum, such as the partnership between San Jacinto College and the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL). The University holds accreditation with the NAEYC's National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and an articulation agreement and reverse articulation agreement with San Jacinto College.

"The NAEYC standards serve as best practices in early childhood," said Dr. Rebecca Huss-Keeler, associate professor and program coordinator of early childhood education at UHCL. "This means that when San Jacinto College graduates transfer to UHCL for their bachelor's degrees, they are familiar with the same six NAEYC standards we have to meet as well. They do very well here because they already know our expectations."

Both San Jacinto College and UHCL work collaboratively on their education programs in relation to what is updated each year in Texas. Many of the San Jacinto College lab school teachers have graduated from the UHCL early childhood education Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) program.

Lizette Solis, San Jacinto College graduate, is revisiting the College this summer to gain experience as she pursues a bachelor's degree in early childhood program leadership at UHCL. She is working at the San Jacinto College Childhood Lab School.

"It was important for me to learn the fundamentals of education here at San Jacinto College and then move on into the advanced courses at UHCL," said Solis. "Coming back to San Jacinto College to work in the lab school allows me to apply what I have learned, gives me experience in the classroom, shows me what I’ll be doing one day.”

Field experience for students is an additional NAEYC standard a college or university must show to earn accreditation. Dr. Simpson-Smith said other accreditation requirements included a three-day peer review visit from community colleges in Nevada, California, and North Carolina. They reviewed the San Jacinto College self-study report and the five assessments that the San Jacinto College early child education faculty had to develop and align with the national NAEYC standards. Faculty members also had to develop rubrics to measure student performances, collect data, and reveal the outcomes over a four-semester timeframe to complete a report on areas of improvement and areas that were working.

"Holding this accreditation ultimately helps our students and their career choices," said Dr. Simpson-Smith. "It serves to validate that they are earning a quality education by quality professionals that will translate to a career pathway, professional development, and higher paying wages."

For more information about NAEYC accreditation, visit

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 credit students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career and workforce preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit, or follow us on Facebook.