State Professional Development Systems (PDS)

Secure support and expertise for systems building. We work with state and national partners to develop early childhood program leaders through the Whole Leadership Framework, which includes administrative leadership, pedagogical leadership, and leadership essentials and recognizes how the interdependence of these domains is key to effective site-based leadership. Our work with state PDS focuses on the core knowledge and unique competencies of early childhood administrators working in centers, schools, and homes. Our innovative learning opportunities, delivered both online and face-to-face, align with the Whole Leadership Framework, NAEYC Program Accreditation standards for administrator competencies and qualifications, and with Administrator Credential requirements within state PDS.

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Professional development makes a difference. Early childhood leaders who receive leadership and management training are positioned to perform their responsibilities more effectively. Participants in our intensive leadership training programs demonstrated gains in leadership competencies and skills.

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Get expertise.

McCormick Center staff are available to provide consultation to organizations on how to embed the tools below into their state professional development system for the early childhood workforce.

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Aim4Excellence™ Success Stories

North Dakota

In 2016 North Dakota adopted the Aim4Excellence National Director Credential  as the State’s defined Center Director Credential. It was also added to the North Dakota Career Pathways and remains there today. Using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, North Dakota named Aim4Excellence as one of the professional development opportunities that receives support from three types of incentives available to North Dakota ECE professionals participating in the Growing Futures professional development registry.

South Carolina

In 2017-2018 SC First Steps 4K was tasked with assisting child care providers in building the quality of their programs. The AIM4X program was one initiative implemented to strengthen leadership and improve opportunities for higher education. Since that time they have successfully led five cohorts to strengthen leadership, 4K instruction, and strengthened quality within programs. A sixth cohort is launching for 2023-2024.


ECCLA’s Rural R.U.N. Scholarship has supported early childhood professionals in Colorado’s Rural communities (basically the whole state aside from Metro Areas!) as they earn credentials and certificates related to early childhood education. Students can earn the Aim4Excellence National Director Credential, CDA, CLASS, Coach Credential, ERS Scales, and any certificates taken at colleges. Students are provided 1:1 support throughout their entire credential and are connected to ECCLA’s other scholarship programs if they wish to continue their education. R.U.N. is an acronym for Reskilling, Up-skilling, and Next-skilling. This program supports professionals impacted by COVID-19 who want to upgrade their careers and credentials.

Goddard Schools

The Learning & Training department at Goddard Systems, LLC (franchisor of The Goddard Schools) hosted an Aim4Excellence director cohort in 2022. Twenty-seven Goddard School directors worked to pilot the Aim4Excellence program to better understand the impact of the program on leadership capacity. Nominated by Goddard School franchise owners, selected director cohort participants were led by a member of the Learning & Training Department. Several participants commented on their personal and professional growth and also the opportunity to become reinvigorated to continue leading in an early childhood program environment.

PAS/BAS Success Stories

Arkansas Children’s Program Administrator Credential (ACPAC)

The ACPAC consists of 61.5 clock hours of continuing education on topics relevant to all early care and education administrators. It builds on the Arkansas Children’s Program Administrator Certificate, which utilizes the PAS or the BAS for self-assessment, goal-setting, and program improvement planning.

New Jersey Administrator’s Credential

A credential for administrators was developed to provide an incentive for center directors and family child care providers to obtain professional preparation in leadership of early care and education programs. The credential is competency-based and includes assessment in five areas: the Program Administration Scale, Program Improvement Plan, Professional Resource File, Professional Contributions, and Coursework.

Tennessee Early Childhood Program Administrator Credential

The Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA) at Tennessee State University Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences developed an administrator credential for the Department of Human Services. This credential utilizes the PAS or the BAS to measure administrative competencies with threshold scores required for credential renewal.

Wisconsin Registry Administrator Credential

The Wisconsin Registry Administrator Credential is attained by successfully completing a sequence of six courses in early childhood administration. The PAS is used in the course on Operations Management. Students choose six items from the PAS to assess their programs and develop a plan for improvement.

Director’s Toolbox Management Series Training Descriptions

From the Inside Out: The Power of Reflection and Self-Awareness

The frenetic pace that characterizes the professional lives of most early childhood directors leaves little time for reflection. Yet it is through reflection that educators often gain insight into the issues and problems that confront them. This session provides a focused opportunity for participants to reflect on their administrative roles. Key to this reflective journey will be the use of metaphoric imagery.

Leadership in Action: How Effective Directors Get Things Done

True leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Some are outgoing and charismatic; others are quietly influential. This session explores the concept of leadership in the context of early childhood education. It looks at the multifaceted role of the center director and the skills and competencies needed to nurture leadership at all levels of an organization.

A Great Place to Work: Creating a Healthy Organizational Work Climate

Directors often have a global impression that things are going well or not so well at their centers, but they lack specific information on just what areas of the program’s operation contribute to these impressions. This session provides an overview of the dimensions of organizational climate and how directors can improve the quality of work life at their centers.

The Right Fit: Recruiting, Selecting, and Orienting Staff

Well-trained and experienced staff are the key to early childhood program quality and healthy child development. Skills in recruitment, interviewing, screening, selecting, and orienting new teachers are ones that every director needs. This session breaks down the recruitment, selection, and orientation process into manageable components and suggests practical and effective techniques to help directors find competent and capable teachers for their program.

Inspiring Peak Performance: Competence, Commitment, and Collaboration

This session provides a comprehensive, integrated model for creating a professional learning community. Through the lens of continuous quality improvement, participants learn how developmental supervision, teacher induction, individual learning plans, peer learning teams, and 360-degree feedback can help them achieve their vision of program excellence.

Circle of Influence: Implementing Shared Decision Making and Participative Management

Building trust and a spirit of collaboration in early childhood programs is central to achieving high-performing work teams. Meaningful involvement in decision making is one way that trust and commitment to organizational goals can be achieved. This session presents a framework for analyzing different types of decisions in program management and how directors can move to a more participatory process in achieving organizational goals.

Making the Most of Meetings: A Practical Guide

This session looks at the importance of staff meetings as the primary vehicle for staff development and community building. Topics include an analysis of social interaction in groups and how interpersonal orientation among group members affects group functioning. A key focus is applying methods for managing meetings that achieve maximum participant satisfaction and productivity in a minimum amount of time.

Great information on hiring staff, making them feel welcome, and what you can do to help your new staff stay!
RACHELLE VARGAS, California, The Right Fit participant, Director