University Relations and Communications

MSUB College of Education launches pathway to Early Childhood Education Licensure

November 25, 2014



Dr. Mary Susan Fishbaugh, College of Education, 657-2286
Carmen Price, University Relations and Communications, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings College of Education will offer new and revised programs beginning in spring 2015 in preparation of the preschool accreditation standards approved last week by the Montana Board of Public Education.


College of Education on the MSUB University campus

Governor Steve Bullock will present the legislature with the proposed $37 million program, dubbed "Early Edge Montana," that would make block grants available to every school district in the state to implement pre-kindergarten programs. Participating preschools would be required to follow accreditation standards that include one licensed early education teacher for every 10 students.


The new rules also call for establishing curriculum standards at the collegiate level with an “early childhood” category for teacher licenses that would prepare educators for students age 3 through third grade. 


“Quality early childhood education is an essential investment for our children and for the future of our community,” Dr. Mary Susan Fishbaugh, the college’s dean, said. “The College of Education has a long history of preparing highly-qualified early childhood educators who can meet the developmental needs of young learners.”


The College of Education’s pathway to the early childhood endorsement includes revising the undergraduate early childhood education minor courses and adding a preschool-third grade student teaching experience, setting the stage for eligibility for accreditation through the Montana Board of Public Education.


The current accreditation by the Area of Permissive Special Competency in Early Childhood Education will be phased out over the next three years as the new P-3 endorsement is phased in.


The college’s faculty are also reviewing and revising graduate courses in early childhood education in order to offer both post-baccalaureate and graduate degree options for earning the P-3 endorsement, Fishbaugh said.


Early childhood educators who are teaching in public preschools but do not have the credentials outlined in the new rules will have three years to obtain them.


Current early childhood teachers seeking a bachelor’s degree or taking a post-baccalaureate path will also have the opportunity to earn credit toward the licensure requirements through documented prior learning experiences.


The P-3 licensure will also be available online, Fishbaugh said, to maximize access for in-service and pre-service educators throughout Montana.


For more information, contact Fishbaugh at