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National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation  

The Fishback Center for Early Childhood Education became the first program in the state of South Dakota to be accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs (NAECP) in affiliation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The center pursued accreditation at the inception of the process in 1985. It continues to maintain its accredited status with the new accreditation process which was put in place in 2007. The accreditation process increased in criteria from 100 standards to just over 430 standards that are randomly reviewed, 20 standards that are always reviewed and 5 that are always required for accreditation candidacy.

Currently there are 7,181 programs in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and US Military Bases, with South Dakota having 4 programs in the state. This translates into less than 7% of early childhood programs nationwide achieve accredited status. The Fishback Center for Early Childhood Education has been in that 7% category since the NAEYC Accreditation program’s inception. Few university lab schools (approximately 2% of the programs which are accredited) maintain accreditation due to the difficulty of balancing the needs and demands of the university mission, the children and families and the accrediting body's standards.

NAEYC Accreditation Benefits


  • Builds teaching teams
  • Builds strong self reflection and goal setting
  • Creates a higher quality of care for children
  • Examines environments, from playground to emotional environments in classrooms
  • Examines administrative policy to teaching practices
  • Supports ongoing improvement and best teaching practices
  • NAEYC Standards spell out high quality education and care


  • SD AEYC Affiliate grant program to support accreditation fees
  • NAEYC Accreditation tools
  • Self-Study process
  • Facilitating program feedback from families and teachers


  • Focused placed on continuous quality improvement
  • Teachers at NAEYC Accredited programs use developmentally appropriate practices and intentional strategies to help children learn.
  • Self-Study process provides opportunities for teaching teams to focus on areas of improvement.
  • NAEYC Accreditation increases the visibility of the program and recognizes teaching teams commitment to high quality programs.


  • Accredited programs partner with their community to provide needed services and resources to families.
  • Accredited programs support children's learning and development.
  • Early childhood programs that achieve NAEYC Accreditation are committed to providing high-quality early learning experiences.

NAEYC Accreditation Process

NAEYC Accreditation is a voluntary process by which early childhood programs demonstrate that they meet national standards of excellence. It is a rigorous process. Programs seeking accreditation undergo intensive self-study process (usually a two year-long process) collecting information from parents, teachers and administrators. The collected information is in the form of questionnaires, observations and documentation showing evidence for the national standards. Programs receive an onsite visit by an early childhood professional validator to confirm the results of the self-study. The validator's report is then submitted to the NAECP review board made up of a panel of early childhood education experts to grant or defer the program's accreditation status.

The Fishback Center for Early Childhood Education was reaccredited in June of 2017. The SDSU Kindergarten is the only kindergarten in the state that has the status of national accreditation. The Out of School is the only after school program in the state of South Dakota that is accredited.

Our accreditation goals

Our accreditation program goals during the 2018-2019 year are to complete Standard 2 evidence for our classroom and program portfolios in an electronic format.