Education Requirements for Education Managers

Education managers support and help teaching staff to strengthen and improve effective teaching practices. Use this brief to examine the qualifications needed for education managers in Head Start and Early Head Start to help you find the best candidates for your program.

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Teacher with toddler studentsStaff Qualifications: Steps for Programs to Consider

Use this brief to better understand the Head Start regulations and considerations for education managers.

Local programs determine how their staff meet the Head Start regulations.

Follow these steps to help guide you in the process of determining and justifying how your education managers meet the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS).

  1. Read the HSPPS:
    • Know the specific education requirements for staff and consultant roles detailed in 45 CFR §1302.91
    • Review the cross references to the staff and consultant qualification requirements in the Head Start Act and other relevant HSPPS
  2. Gather data to know your program’s needs and expectations, based on:
    • Community, family, and child needs
    • Program goals including school readiness goals
    • Your existing continuous quality improvement system
  3. Use all available information to ensure your program has:
    • Human resources and professional development policies and procedures to help you meet regulations
    • Clear program goals including school readiness goals
    • Qualified staff and consultants who can effectively support your program’s goals and service delivery
    • An ongoing monitoring process that identifies and addresses challenges in hiring and retaining qualified staff and consultants

What Are the Requirements?*

*For full text, access the HSPPS.

Teacher with studentKnowledge

45 CFR §1302.91(d)(2) “As prescribed in section 648A(a)(2)(B)(i) of the Act, a program must ensure staff and consultants that serve as education managers or coordinators, including those that serve as curriculum specialists, have a baccalaureate or advanced degree:

  • in early childhood education…or
  • [with] equivalent coursework in early childhood education (ECE) [and] with early education teaching experience.”


45 CFR §1302.91(a) “A program must:

  • Ensure all staff, consultants, and contractors…have sufficient knowledge, training and experience, and competencies to:
    • fulfill the roles and responsibilities of their positions…
    • ensure high-quality service delivery…
  • Provide ongoing training and professional development to support staff in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities.”

Please Note!

Grantees have the flexibility to implement higher or more stringent requirements than those outlined in the regulation. To meet Head Start regulations, education coordinators, including those who serve as curriculum specialists, could have a bachelor’s or advanced degree either:

  • In ECE
  • With coursework equivalent to ECE and has experience teaching preschool-age children

Education coordinators must have the capacity to assist other teachers in the implementation and adaptation of curricula to the group and individual needs of children in Head Start classrooms.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Considerations for Hiring Staff

  • Ensure education managers and/or curriculum specialists have sufficient knowledge, training, experience, and competency to be able to effectively support education staff with planning for and implementing education services for young children and their families.
  • Review** training and course substance to determine if it includes ECE content. Make sure that decisions are based on more than just the course title or name of the department that issued the credits. To the extent possible, get the course descriptions from awarding institutions. ECE or child development related courses may be offered in various departments—such as education, home economics, family and consumer science, human ecology, music, art, library science, physical education and recreation, psychology, family studies, and others.

Courses equivalent to ECE major can:

  • Come from more than one accredited college
  • Be earned at the associate degree level and at the four-year level
  • Include one-credit courses. Colleges may require one or more specific one-credit courses as part of their ECE studies. Know that isolated one-credit courses rarely provide the intensity of study or the depth of content necessary for mastery of a subject or improvement of teaching skills.
  • Access the T/TA system for support and connect with your regional office program specialist as necessary.
  • Consider requirements detailed within the state/territory early care and education system (includes licensing requirements, requirements included within the Quality Rating and Improvement System, etc.). 

**In reviewing coursework taken by applicants, be sure to look beyond just the title or name of the department that issued the credits, as they are sometimes deceiving.

Considerations for Professional Development

  • Use the annual professional development hour requirement to help strengthen education managers’ ability to effectively support teachers in implementing and adapting curriculum and help home visitors implement a home-based curriculum and individualize home visits and socializations. This can include ongoing training and taking college courses.
  • Use individualized professional development plans and ongoing supervision to support areas of need and interest, such as supporting staff working with infants and toddlers, children who are dual language learners, children who are experiencing homelessness, or children with disabilities.

Where Can I Find More on This Topic?

Last Updated: February 27, 2019