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Montgomery College Early Childhood Alternative Certification Receives State Approval

College Awarded $1.45 Million to Implement Alternative Certification Program for Prospective Pre-K-Third Grade Teachers

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has announced the approval of a $1,452,964 grant to launch the Montgomery College (MC) Early Childhood Alternative Certification Program (ECACP) to increase access to high-quality early childhood education by supporting a mixed delivery system. The initiative will result in community-based approved nonpublic nursery schools meeting the required state qualification of staffing PreK Expansion classrooms with certified educators. 

Recently approved Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation expands full-day pre-K access so that all children are ready to learn and excel in kindergarten. As a result, MSDE has created a mixed-delivery system of public and private early childhood programs to support families and their young children. A mixed delivery system requires that approved PreK Expansion programs in child care-based centers be staffed with a state-certified teacher compensated with an entry salary that matches the local school system. While many community-based programs employ child care teachers with bachelor's degrees and several years of preschool teaching experience, these child care teachers are not state teacher certified. MC’s new certification program will address the certification requirement for MSDE’s expanded mixed delivery system for early childhood education programs. 

MSDE grant funding will allow the alternative certification program to be provided at no cost to qualifying program participants pursuing certification. The target audience for the MC Early Childhood Alternative Certification Program is early childhood educators with bachelor’s degrees working in approved nonpublic nursery schools or selected candidates that meet qualifications from the local school system. Completers of the MC ECACP will be certified as pre-K to third grade teachers in the state of Maryland. 

“The Early Childhood Alternative Certification Program provides an innovative model for preparing a diverse, high-quality workforce,” said Montgomery College President Jermaine F. Williams. “As we rebuild from the pandemic, this program will address teacher shortages and provide families and children with access to high quality early childhood education. We are grateful for MSDE’s support in preparing highly qualified early childhood educators for certification.”  

The MC Early Childhood Alternative Certification Program is an intensive, rigorous program, which will provide students with required classes for certification, an eight-week internship, and required residency at their worksite with ongoing support and mentoring from Montgomery College faculty. Assessment of teacher knowledge and skills during the internship and course work will be performance-based and evidence of critical thinking skills, notably in problem solving and self-reflection as teachers, will undergird all candidate assessments. The College’s ECACP is tailored to support the mixed delivery system to increase in state-certified early childhood teachers and will benefit children and families across Maryland. Additionally, the MC ECACP will allow participants to remain working in their current approved nonpublic nursery school throughout their internship and residency. Collaboration and partnerships between the local school system and community-based approved nonpublic nursery schools will be essential to support young children and families with high quality Pre-K programs in a mixed delivery system. 

For more information related to the MC Early Childhood Alternative Certification Program, please contact Dr. Sonia Pruneda‐Hernandez, acting dean of Education and Social Sciences at

The Maryland alternative educator preparation program directory will be updated to reflect the addition of the new Montgomery College Early Childhood Alternative Certification Program and will be posted on the MSDE website: and