TO:                 Robert Kindrick, Provost, The University of Montana


FROM:           Karl Ulrich, Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, WMC-UM


RE:                 Early Childhood Proposal for Great Falls




Attached is our proposal for offering our A.A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education at the Great Falls Higher Education Center.  Attached are letters of support representatives of the University of Great Falls and from the Montana State University Great Falls College of Technology.  Please forward this proposal to Deputy Commissioner Scott for Level I approval if you deem it satisfactory. 




Western Montana College of The University of Montana


Proposal to Offer the Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education at the Great Falls Higher Education Center


PROPOSAL:  Western Montana College of The University of Montana (WMC-UM) proposes that an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Early Childhood Education (ECE) be offered by WMC-UM at the Great Falls Higher Education Center beginning with Fall Semester, 2000.


RATIONALE:  WMC-UM currently offers an AAS in ECE and a Child Development Associate (CDA) training program on the Dillon campus and at five field sites (Missoula, Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Helena).  The CDA credential is a national credential awarded to teachers who demonstrate competence in working with young children.


The off-campus program is a two-year program consisting of 24 semester credits.  Two courses and two labs are offered each semester.  These courses can be used to satisfy the training requirements for a CDA.  They also form the professional core for the AAS degree in ECE.


There is a growing emphasis on professionalizing the early childhood field which has resulted in Federal training mandates, a Montana Early Care and Education Career Path, and grants to practitioners being tied to early childhood training.   This attempt along with the increasing demands for early childhood programs is creating a need for early childhood higher education coursework.  In a preliminary survey conducted in Great Falls, 48 practitioners stated that they would take early childhood coursework if it was accessible and affordable.  These practitioners are non-traditional, place-bound providers who are currently working in a field characterized by low wages. A high percentage of current students qualify for PELL grants.  For those who do not scholarships are available.  The courses would be offered at night to meet the needs of this group.  Whenever possible, labs would be conducted in the early childhood setting where the student was employed. 




Fall Semester 2000                        (6 credits)              

*ED 142/143  Introduction to Early Childhood/Lab                      

*ED 250/251 Child Growth and Development/Lab                      

Spring Semester 2001                  (6 credits)

*ED 144/145  Creating an Environment for Learning/Lab

*ED 240/241 Positive Child Discipline/Lab

Fall Semester 2001                        (6 credits)

*ED 242/243 Meeting Needs of the Family/Lab

*ED 320/321 Early Childhood Curriculum/Lab

Spring Semester 2002                  (6 credits)

*ED 246/247 Early Childhood Professional/Lab

*ED 324/325 Management-Early Childhood Programs/Lab



SOURCES OF FUNDING: The program will be funded through student fees and institutional support.  WMC-UM recently received a grant to expand the early childhood program.  This grant will assist in start-up costs of the new site.


FACILITIES:  Courses will be held at the Montana State University College of Technology, Great Falls.  Students will have access to the College of Technology computer labs and library.          


ADVERSE IMPACT:  There is no projected adverse impact to local institutions.  In a meeting on May 10th, the Great Falls Higher Education Center Committee came to consensus that they would support this program. The University of Great Falls has written a letter in support of the program (attached).


FACULTY: WMC-UM will provide all the instructors for the 24 credits of early childhood coursework. Adjunct instructors will be hired who have credentials at least equivalent to those required of the current instructors in the program.  The instructor will be evaluated each semester by the students in the courses.  The WMC-UM Director of Early Childhood Education will also evaluate the instructor.


STUDENTS: Students will meet the same admission requirements as on-campus students.  The 24 early childhood credit hours will be accepted toward the WMC-UM residency requirements for the degree.


COURSE MANAGEMENT AND SUPPORT:  The courses in Great Falls will use the same syllabi and textbooks as are used on the Dillon campus and other off-site programs.  This helps to assure that students at each site are meeting similar requirements and are being monitored and assessed in similar ways.  Each year, early childhood WMC-UM instructors from all the sites meet to evaluate the program for organization and content.  This evaluation is based upon student feedback, feedback for other early childhood professionals, and review of national and state standards.