DATE: November 3, 2000

MEMO TO: Montana Board of Regents

FROM: Stephen T. Hulbert, Chancellor,  Western Montana College of The University of Montana

SUBJECT: Campus Report for the November, 2000, Board of Regents' Meeting


WMC-UM has been offering early childhood coursework at off-campus sites for over 14 years. The recent interest in early childhood education and the federal mandate that 50% of teachers in Head Start classrooms have a minimum of an associate degree in Early Childhood has created an increased demand for the program. Students are typically place-bound women who have spent many years working in the field of early childhood. Many are first generation college students and for many this is their first experience with college coursework.

Students can obtain the WMC-UM 24-credit early childhood core in Missoula, Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Havre, Butte, Helena, and Dillon. This core of early childhood coursework can be used to meet the training requirement for a CDA (Child Development Associate), a national credential awarded by the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition. These credits also form the professional core of courses required for an AAS in Early Childhood Education (ECE). If the student has a degree in Elementary Education, this core can be applied toward a minor in ECE resulting in an endorsement on their teaching certificate. This semester there are 160 students taking the early childhood core off-campus.

WMC-UM has worked closely with other higher education institutions in providing this program.  The ECE classes generally meet at the local college or university.  General education courses offered by the local institution assist students in completing the AAS in ECE

A recent grant from DPHHS has allowed the ECE program to develop a new model (EC Rural) for students who do not have access to higher education. This model combines intensives and self-study. Research on the outcomes for student in this model versus the one-night-a-week model employed at the other sites is being conducted. Due to the seamless nature of the program, coordination with other higher education institutions, and the unique delivery model, the WMC-UM ECE program is one of six programs in the nation being highlighted in a book published by the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition.