AA Degree

The Associate in Arts program at a community college enables you to complete the first two years of course work for a bachelor’s degree prior to transferring to a four-year college or university.

AAS Degree

An Associate in Applied Science Degree will be awarded upon successful completion of a minimum of 90 credits in courses numbered 100 or above. All core and general education requirements must be met with any additional credits to be selected as electives.

AAS-T Degree

Associate in Applied Science-Transfer (AAS-T) is built upon the technical courses required for job preparation but also includes a college-level general education component, common in structure for all such degrees. The distinguishing characteristic of the AAS-T is a minimum of  general education courses drawn from the same list as those taken by students completing the Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA) associate degree (that is, the list of courses generally accepted in transfer). ECE AAS-T programs are designed for the dual purpose of immediate employment and as preparation for entrance as a junior into an ECE bachelor’s degree program . The AAS-T degree generally will not be accepted in transfer in preparation for Bachelor of Arts or science degrees (other than ECE programs), although the general education component of the degree will be accepted in transfer.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) assures the basic civil rights of employment and access to public accommodations and services. The Act consists of five titles: Title I-Employment; Title II-Public Services; Title III-Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private Entities; Title IV-Telecommunications; and Title V-Miscellaneous Provisions. The ADA essentially extends the nondiscrimination mandate of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to those public entities that do not receive federal financial assistance. Colleges are required to provide accommodations to students to assist them with completing coursework. These accommodations may assist with language barriers, physical challenges, etc.

Alternate Route to Teacher Certification

Alternative route programs operating Route 1 enroll currently employed classified instructional employees (paraprofessionals) with transferable associate degrees seeking residency teacher certification with endorsements in special education, bilingual education, English Language Learner or other shortage areas Alternative Route 2 programs operating Route 2 enroll currently employed school district classified staff with baccalaureate degrees from regionally accredited institutions.

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BA, BS or BAS Degree

Bachelor's of Arts or Bachelor's of Science or Bachelor's of Applied Science degree is awarded by a college or university after completing a certain number of credits. The BA, BS or BAS-T usually takes 4 years to complete. It can be awarded after the completion of a two year AA degree, and requires another two years of study in most cases.

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The CDA (Child Development Associate) is a nationally recognized credential in early childhood education, based on a set of core competency standards set by the National Council for Professional Recognition

Child Care Basics

Child Care Basics (CCB) Training:  A curriculum designed to meet the initial basic training requirement for early learning program staff working in licensed or certified programs in Washington State. It serves as a broad introduction for professionals who are pursuing a career in the early care and education field.

Child Care Center

A facility licensed by the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families for the care and education of young children. Licensing rules apply to the staff, ratio of adults to children, facility, curriculum, etc. 

Cost of Attendance

A term meaning "everything you have to pay for to go to college." It includes both academic and living expenses.

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Department of Children, Youth, and Families

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) helps ensure all children in Washington state have high quality early learning opportunities that prepare them for success in school and life. DCYF works in partnership with parents, families, caregivers, and early learning professionals to offer information and resources that support healthy child development. 


A term meaning "distributed." Financial aid gets disbursed to your student account several days prior to the beginning of each term. 

DTA-AAS Degree

Direct Transfer Agreement - Associate in Arts and Sciences (DTS-AAS) is the community college degree designed to transfer to most bachelors degrees at Washington four-year institutions. 

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Early Achievers


  • Early Achievers. A statewide system of high-quality early learning that connects families to early learning programs with the help of an easy to understand rating system and offers coaching, professional development, and resources for early learning providers to support each child's learning and development.
  • Environmental Rating Scale (ERS). The evaluative tool used by Early Achievers for measuring classroom environment quality.
  • Quality Rating and Improvement System. A Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is an organized way to assess, improve, and communicate the quality of learning programs
Early Childhood Education BA (Non-Certification)

This results in a Bachelors degree or Bachelors of Applied Science in Human Development or Early Childhood Education. It is a good option for students interested in working with preschool age children in childcare centers, preschools, and Head Start programs. Students take a preschool internship and complete the degree in two years after their Associate Degree. This option does not qualify graduates to work as a certified teacher.

Early Childhood Education endorsement

An endorsement ensures the candidate has met with competencies listed for the subject area. Competencies are often demonstrated through coursework. The ECE sequence of professional certification courses lead to teacher licensure PreK-3rd grade or a dual endorsement in elementary education and P-3. Students earning the P-3 teacher endorsement may work in primary grades Preschool – 3rd grade in public schools. A student completing the dual endorsement option may teach in any of the elementary grades. An endorsement ensures the candidate has met with competencies listed for the subject area. Competencies are often demonstrated through coursework. The ECE sequence of professional certification courses lead to teacher licensure PreK-3rd grade or a dual endorsement in elementary education and P-3. Students earning the P-3 teacher endorsement may work in primary grades Preschool – 3rd grade in public schools. A student completing the dual endorsement option may teach in any of the elementary grades.

Early Childhood Education Major with Teacher Certification/P-3 Endorsement

Results in a BA in Education, with a major or minor in Early Childhood Education and teacher certification with an endorsement in Preschool through 3rd grade / ECE. Students take a one-term preschool internship and a two-term primary internship. 


Results in a BAS in Teaching with two focused content areas, one in Early Childhood Education or Early Childhood Speacial Education. Internships depend of college attended and endorcement area focus. 

ECE Advisor

A college advisor who knows the ECE program at the college where they are employed. This advisor can help you understand the course of study that fits with your personal goals and advise you on the schedule that works best for you to meet graduation requirements.

ECE--Early Care and Education OR Early Childhood Education

The field specializing in the care and education of children from ages 0-8. Early childhood educators are employed by child care centers, Head Start and ECEAP preschools, cooperative preschools, private preschools, family child care homes, park and recreation departments, and public schools. Men and women with an early childhood certificate or accociate degree can qualify for positions as preschool teacher, child care director, child care worker, child care program supervisor, or elementary school classroom assistant. Other opportunities include jobs as recreation leaders, aides in children's institutions or sales persons of child care products.


ECEAP (pronounced "E-Cap") is the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program funded by Washington State. ECEAP is a comprehensive preschool program that provides free services and support to eligible children and their families. The goal of the program is to help ensure all Washington children enter kindergarten ready to succeed. The program includes: Early learning preschool; Family support and parent involvement; Child health coordination and nutrition.

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Face to face course

Classes that meet in person at a specific location. These classes are led by an adult educator and have specific goals and learning objectives. They may include group meetings (cohorts) and communities of practice in which adults can talk with each other in person (face to face).


Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the application you fill out in order to see your eligibility for federal and state sources of financial aid.

FCC -- Family Child Care

Family Child Care usually takes place in a home setting. This is a small business and usually the business owner also provides care and education to the children registered in the program. The FCC owner may also employ assistants to care for the children, and generally there is a mixed age group ranging from birth through after school care. A license issued by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families is required for a FCC business owner. An individual who provides care for children in his or her home must be licensed by the department unless exempt under RCW 43.215.010(2).

Financial Aid

Funding that is intended to help students pay education-related expenses including tuition, fees, room and board, transportation, books, and supplies for post-secondary education at a community college, four-year college, or university. There are four main categories of financial aid: scholarships, grants, work-study and loans.

Fully online course

Educational courses utilizing technology for the communication of course information, requirements and assignments. Usually there is a method for communicating with the instructor and with fellow students. Fully online courses do not require students to travel to a location but can be completed remotely from a computer or other technology. 

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Money for college that usually comes from the federal or state government. Awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. Several common grants are: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant, Washington State Need Grant.

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Head Start

Head Start is preschool funded by the federal government. Head Start is designed to foster healthy development in low-income children. Program grantees and delegate agencies deliver a range of services, responsive and appropriate to each child's and each family's heritage and experience, that encompass all aspects of a child's development and learning. Head Start includes Early Head Start, Migrant and Seasonal Head Start and Tribal Head Start. Click here to learn more.

Higher education (credit bearing)

Higher education is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after secondary education (high school). It is often delivered at colleges or universities that award academic degrees or professional certifications. Credits are awarded upon successful completion of a course and a degree is based on the number of credits earned. A college transcript is awarded by the institution to verify completed credit bearing coursework and degrees. DCYF verifies completed credits with the Education Verification system and records these completion of credits or degrees in a professional's MERIT account.

Hybrid Course

A hybrid course is a combination of face to face (in person) and distance learning. Distance learning may consist of assignments to be completed outside of class, or the use of technology to supplement the face to face portions of the course. The online portion may take place in real time (synchronous) or students may log into the online site at their convenience during a set time frame (asynchronous) to complete assignments and communicate with classmates and the instructor. Communities of Practice utilize hybrid learning when they meet face to face, and complete assignments outside of class while using a computer based system of communication. Hybrid courses cut down on the amount of travel to complete a course while still maintaining some face to face interaction. On college course schedules, hybrid courses are often labeled "HY."

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I-BEST: Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training

Washington’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program (I-BEST) is a nationally recognized model that quickly boosts students’ literacy and work skills so that students can earn credentials, get living wage jobs, and put their talents to work for employers. I-BEST pairs two instructors in the classroom – one to teach professional/technical or academic content and the other to teach basic skills in reading, math, writing or English language – so students can move through school and into jobs faster. As students progress through the program, they learn basic skills in real-world scenarios offered by the college and career part of the curriculum. I-BEST challenges the traditional notion that students must complete all basic education before they can even start on a college or career pathway. This approach often discourages students because it takes more time, and the stand-alone basic skills classes do not qualify for college credit. I-BEST students start earning college credits immediately.

In-person Course

An in-person course offers traditional, face-to-face classroom instruction. Students meet at least once or twice a week at a specific time and place -- usually on the college campus. In-person courses are often marked by "IP" on college course schedules.

In-Service Hours

In-service Hours: Professional development requirements for continuing education delivered by a DCYF state-approved trainer or approved by the department to maintain staff standards and qualifications while employed as an early learning provider.

Initial Certificate

Early Childhood Education (ECE) Initial Certificate (Initial Certificate): Is 12 credit Certificate in Early Childhood Education that serves as the point of entry for a career in early learning or continued professional development, and covers foundational content for early learning professionals. Competencies within the certificate are comparable to those of the Child Development Associate (CDA). This provides the foundation for the ECE Stackable Certificates and associate degree. Courses include a 5-credit Introduction to Early Childhood Education; a 5-credit Health, Safety and Nutrition course, and a 2-credit Practicum to apply learning


ITV stands for interactive television. Colleges are able to use television technology to link students who live a long distance from a college campus to a class. Students usually go to a location in their community to access ITV classes. An instructor who is located on the college campus is able to see and talk with/answer questions from students at a different location. ITV classes are scheduled on specific days and times, just like an in-person class.

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MA or MS Degree

Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) is a post graduate degree issued by a college or university after completion of a Bachelor's degree. A Master's degree has an area of focus which allows the recipient a level of expertise in that focused area. 



Managed Education and Registry Tool (MERIT). Washington state department of children, youth, and families' current database of professional records of individual early learning providers that tracks provider background checks, training records, education information and qualification data.

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Online Course

An online course does not require students to travel to a classroom for instruction. Students receive all their instruction using a computer. Students who wish to enroll in an online course must have access to a modern computer that meets the requirements established by the college, the ability to navigate the Internet, send and receive emails with attachments, and use the required software. Each college provides students with assistance to access their online class and materials if they need help. Often students are required to participate in a workshop prior to enrolling in an online class. Online courses are often marked as "OL" on college course schedules.


The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 public education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Chris Reykdal, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students. OSPI is housed in the Old Capitol Building in Olympia. 

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Route 3 is a field-based alternative route for post-baccalaureate candidates with subject matter expertise and experience in an identified subject shortage area. Cohorts of candidates attend an intensive summer Teaching Academy, followed by a full-year employed by a district as a teacher intern, and second summer Teaching Academy II. Requirements for Entry: 1) 5 years’ experience in the workforce 2) BA/BS degree with 2.75 GPA until state content test available, then successful completion of content test. 3) Meet age, good moral character, and personal fitness requirements (WAC 180-79A-150) 4) External validation of qualifications, including demonstrated successful experience with students/children (e.g. references / letters of support from previous employers) 5) Successful passage of statewide basic skills exam required for residency certification 6) Seeking endorsement in state identified subject shortage area (excluding special education or ESL).

Professional Education Standards Board (PESB)

Establish policies and requirements for the preparation and certification of education professionals, ensuring that they: 1) Are competent in the professional knowledge and practice for which they are certified. 2) Have a foundation of skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to help students with diverse needs, abilities, cultural experiences, and learning styles meet or exceed the state learning goals. 3) Are committed to research-based practice and career-long professional development.

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Financial Aid to assist students as they take college courses. Considered "free money" for college, but there are typically requirements that students must meet, such as employment in a certain career, the declaration of a specific major, or attaining a 2.0 grade point average. 

  • Child Care Aware of Washington Scholarships: Child Care Aware of Washington Scholarships is a program of Child Care Aware of Washington to advance the early learning field by improving the educational qualifications, incentives and retention of the early childhood workforce.
  • Early Achievers Grant: A program through the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to advance the early learning field by funding educational qualifications of the early childhood workforce.

See the financial Aid section for more information. 

Short Certificate

Early Childhood Education (ECE) Short Certificate (Short Certificate): builds on the Initial Certificate with an additional 8 credits (for a total of 20 credits). The Short Certificate is comprised of a 5-credit Child Development course and a 3-credit specialization course. Currently there are six specializations to choose from: ECE general, infant-toddler care, school-age care, family child care, ECE administration and home visitor.


STARS ID: A unique identification number assigned to all users within Washington’s workforce registry, MERIT.

State Certificate

Early Childhood Education (ECE) State Certificate (State Certificate): Builds on the Short Certificate with an additional 27 quarter credits. The State Certificate is the final “stackable certificate” and is the benchmark for Level 2 Core Competencies for Early Care and Education Professionals and prepares for the next step, an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. College-level math and English are a foundation for this certificate, in addition to these general education requirements, the courses that students must take include Language and Literacy Development; Observation and Assessment; Child, Family and Community; and Curriculum Development, and may also include Guiding Behavior and/or Environments for Young Children.

Student loans

Sometimes called "Stafford" or "Direct" loans. The federal government loans you money to attend school. Student loans must be paid back with interest.

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TBD stands for "to be determined." A college class will be offered, but the time and location have not yet been finalized.


Tutoring is a form of mentoring in which a person with knowledge or skills in a certain area teaches a person who wishes to gain this knowledge or skill. Generally the tutoring arrangement is one on one, with time for specific questions and support for an individual learner. Tutoring is available at most colleges.

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WA State "Stackable" Certificates

In Washington, early learning professionals who want to further their education have a clear path to follow: Colleges across the state offer common courses, course titles, course numbers, course descriptions and student outcomes. All courses are aligned with the Washington State Core Competencies for Early Care and Education Professionals. They also allow students to earn “stackable” certificates: The courses that students are required to take will build on one another in a sequential manner and deepen levels of applied learning along the way.

WAC-- DEL Child Care Licensing

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) regulations (also known as rules, Washington Administrative Code, or WAC) set the standards for child care that is licensed or certified by DCYF. DCYF adopts rules (also known as regulations, Washington Administrative Code, WAC, and administrative law) to set licensing requirements when directed by state law to set specific requirements to help clarify more general laws, or help organize requirements that may be set by both state and federal laws. Learn more about the licensing WAC requirements for each program by visiting DCYF's child care licensing rules page.


Washington Application for State Financial Aid. Non-citizens fill out this application in order to be eligible to receive the State Need Grant.


Washington Educator Skills Test-Basic (WEST-B) is required to enter a teaching certificate program. It is a computer based test, comprised of 170 multiple choice questions and 2 constructed response questions. There are three West-B test requited, reading, writing, and math. 


Washington Educator Skills Test-Endorsements (WEST-E) measures the content knowledge required of candidates seeking an endorsement to a Washington teaching certificate and are fully aligned with the state’s teacher endorsement competencies and Essential Academic Learning Requirements. It is required to receive a teaching endorsement. 


Work-study is a form of need-based financial aid that provides recipients with a part-time job in order to earn money for college expenses.

Working Connections Child Care Subsidies

Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) helps low income families pay for child care while they work or meet WorkFirst participation requirements. When a family qualifies for child care subsidy benefits and chooses an eligible provider, the state pays a portion of the cost of child care. The parent is also responsible to pay a copayment to the provider each month.

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