Kentucky provides free preschool programs for young residents starting at age four, provided they come from a household with an income of no more than 150 percent of the poverty level. Preschool is available starting at age three for children with developmental disabilities/delays.
These developmentally appropriate preschool programs operate under the Kentucky Department of Education, which only certifies properly trained and well-qualified preschool teachers in Kentucky. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kentucky offers the tenth highest preschool teacher salary in the nation as of 2013.
In order to become a preschool teacher in Kentucky, follow the steps as shown in this guide:
|Complete a Degree and Educator Preparation Program|
|Pass the Exams Required for Preschool Teacher Certification in Kentucky|
|Apply for Your Kentucky Teaching Certificate|
|Maintain and Upgrade Your Kentucky Teaching Certificate|
Step 1. Complete a Degree and Educator Preparation Program
In order to teach preschool in Kentucky, you must be certified in interdisciplinary early childhood education, birth to primary. This requires completion of at least a bachelor’s degree and an approved teacher preparation program. A database of programs approved by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board may be found here.
Additionally, you must maintain one of the following grade point averages:
- Cumulative GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale,
- GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale on the last 60 hours of your credit coursework (includes both undergraduate and graduate courses)
You must meet Kentucky’s recency requirement of having completed your teacher preparation program within the five years before applying for certification or having completed at least 6 semester hours of graduate credit in the five years before application.
Courses that you will take as an Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education major in Kentucky will, of course, vary from school to school, but will usually include:
- Instructional media
- Assessment of young children
- Intervention planning for special needs children
- Advanced curriculum planning
- Language and literacy for young children
- Human development and learning
Experience for Preschool Teachers in Kentucky
Under Kentucky law, you must complete student teaching and field experience as part of your teacher preparation program. Prior to beginning your student teaching, you must complete at least 200 clock hours of field experiences in a variety of programs from primary through grade 12. This experience must include:
- Engaging with diverse populations of students
- Observing in schools and agencies such as Family Resource Centers
- Tutoring students
- Interacting with students’ families
- Participating in a school-based professional learning community
- Attending school board and council meetings
- Assisting teachers or other school professionals
Your student teaching must last at least 70 full days and will be supervised by a Cooperating Teacher, who will monitor your progress and report to your University Supervisor. When you student teach, you will be placed into an age-appropriate setting and will get the opportunity to assume the full range of teaching duties, such as co-teaching, creating lesson plans, and demonstrating classroom skills.
Step 2. Pass the Exams Required for Preschool Teacher Certification in Kentucky
Before you are accepted into a teacher preparation program in Kentucky, you will likely need to pass the Praxis I basic skills exams. These consist of:
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading with a score of 156
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing with a score of 162
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics with a score of 150
The Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board requires that you pass the Praxis II content area examination for your chosen certification area. New preschool teachers in Kentucky must pass the following examinations:
- Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education with a score of 166
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood pedagogy examination with a score of 160
Testing centers in Kentucky include:
- Bowling Green
- Highland Heights
Step 3. Apply for Your Kentucky Teaching Certificate
Have you completed your degree, teacher preparation program, and examinations? If so, you are now ready to apply for your Kentucky teaching certificate in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education. Use the TC-1 Application Form. Be sure to include:
- Official copies of your college transcripts
- Have your student teaching school superintendent or personnel director fill out Section 2 of the application form verifying your full-time classroom teaching experience
- Certificates verifying you have passed the Praxis II exams
- Verification of completion of your teacher preparation program (Section 4 of the application must be filled out by your school’s certification officer)
- $50 certified check/money order payable to Kentucky State Treasurer or pay certification fees online after mailing application
Mail everything to Division of Certification, Education Professional Standards Board
100 Airport Road, 3rd Floor, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.
(Note to out-of-state and foreign graduates:
- if you graduated from an out-of-state teacher preparation program, use the same application form above and have your school complete the section verifying completion of the program, just as in-state applicants must do. If you hold any out-of-state teaching certificates, submit copies of them to the Board)
- If you graduated from a teacher preparation program in a foreign country, you must have a credential evaluation performed by one of these approved evaluation agencies)
Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Kentucky Teaching Certificate
Well done! You are now a Kentucky preschool teacher! Your Kentucky teaching certificate is valid for five years. However, you must complete the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program during your first year of teaching. This program is an electronic Intern Management System designed to track your progress and introduce you to teaching in Kentucky.
Continuing Education for Kentucky Preschool Teachers
Every five years, you must renew your Kentucky teaching certificate. When renewing it the first time, you must:
- Complete Section I of the Application for Certificate Renewal/Duplicate
- Have your school superintendent complete Section II, verifying that you have completed a minimum of three years of full-time teaching experience in the past five years (alternatively, to meet the recency requirement you may claim 6 semester hours of college credit – your college must verify this)
- Make check/money order for renewal fee payable to Kentucky State Treasurer
- Complete 15 graduate hours of college credit or complete half of the Continuing Education Option requirements (this involves a ranking system based upon the number of years you have taught and offers various, professionally meaningful continuing education activities for you to complete)
The second five-year renewal of your certificate follows the same procedure as above, with the exception that you may complete an approved master’s degree program consisting of 32 graduate hours, or complete your Continuing Education Option requirements. Subsequent five-year renewals only require you to show that you have taught for three years full-time in the past five years or have completed six semester hours of college credit.
Requirements for Child Care Providers in Kentucky
Some childcare centers are not affiliated with the Kentucky Department of Education, as the state’s preschool programs are. These programs must still be regulated, however, and are under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Department of Health and Family Services. All child care centers in Kentucky must have a director who meets these requirements:
- Is 21 years old or older
- Has a high school diploma or GED
- Only works as a child care director during the times the center is open
The director of a Type I center, which serves at least 4 children in a nonresidential setting or at least 13 children in a residential setting, must meet ONE of the following educational requirements:
- Has an associate degree in Early Childhood and Development
- Has an associate degree in another field plus 12 hours of child development training and two years of full-time experience working with children
- Has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Development
- Has a master’s degree in Early Childhood and Development
- Has a bachelor’s or master’s degree in another field plus 12 hours of child development training
The director of a Type II child care facility (in which there are 7 to 12 children being cared for at a private residence) must meet these same requirements, or have 12 hours of child development training and one year of full-time child care experience AND have or obtain 6 hours of training in child day care program administration.
Kentucky Preschool Teacher Salaries
Research consistently shows that children who obtain a high quality preschool education perform better academically. In Kentucky, the field of preschool teaching is projected to grow 2% a year in the ten year period leading up to 2020, according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training (KOET). Eight hundred jobs will become available during this time frame. This increase is two thirds greater than that predicted for occupations as a whole in Kentucky.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average Kentucky preschool teacher salary was the third highest in the nation as of 2013. The average salary was $33,461 that year according to the KOET.
Experienced preschool teachers earned an average of $40,739 a year in 2013 while entry-level salaries averaged $18,915. Average Pre-K teacher salaries varied a great deal throughout Kentucky and were highest in the Jackson Purchase region:
Jackson Purchase – $47,959
Lake Cumberland – $44,450
Big Sandy – $41,906
Lincoln Trail – $41,242
Barren River – $40,148
Pennyrile – $37,808
Green River – $35,720
Bluegrass – $34,417
Cumberland Valley – $31,267
The KOET reported a wide discrepancy in preschool teacher salaries depending on the type of employer. Those who worked in Educational Services in Kentucky 2013 made substantially higher salaries than those who were employed in Health Care and Social Assistance. They earned $43,678 and $22,604 a year on average.
The BLS provides a detailed analysis of preschool teacher salaries throughout Kentucky as of 2013: