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  • May 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 3

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Tracking Quality in Head Start Classrooms: FACES 2006 to FACES 2014

The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services produced the technical report Tracking Quality in Head Start Classrooms: FACES 2006 to FACES 2014 to detail the trends from the cross-cohort analysis of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) for 2006, 2009, and 2014. Data were collected about classroom characteristics (e.g., observed classroom quality and instruction), teacher characteristics (e.g., professional development, credentials, background), program characteristics (e.g., teacher staffing and turnover), and changes in observed classroom quality. The researchers tried to determine whether these changes were explained by teacher characteristics, such as prevalence of mentoring, who provides the mentoring, and level of teacher education.

FACES used a variety of data sources, including one-on-one assessments of children at their Head Start centers, classroom observations, and feedback from parents, teachers, and program directors. The quality of each Head Start classroom was assessed using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), which measures instructional and social-emotional aspects of the environment, and the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R), which relies on structural features of the classroom.

The following are key findings based on the trend analyses across FACES 2006, 2009, and 2014:

  • Classroom quality and instruction—Average ECERS-R teaching and interactions scores, average provisions for learning scores, and average instructional support scores generally improved across cohorts. There was no statistically significant change to CLASS emotional support and classroom organization scores from FACES 2009 to FACES 2014.
  • Teacher professional development—The prevalence of mentoring remained the same from 2006 to 2014, with about three-fourths of teachers reporting that they had a mentor. From 2006 to 2014, there was an increase in teachers receiving support from a mentor, a master teacher, or another Head Start teacher in the program.
  • Teacher credentials and background—There were no statistically significant changes in teacher experience or job satisfaction from FACES 2006 to FACES 2014, and fewer classrooms had a teacher with an associate's degree or less. In addition, the average level of depressive symptoms reported by teachers decreased from 2006 to 2014.
  • Teacher staffing and turnover—The employed teachers and prevalence of teacher turnover in Head Start classrooms did not change across cohorts.
  • Child demographic characteristics—The average age of children in Head Start classrooms increased from FACES 2006 (45.5 months) to FACES 2014 (47.9 months). The percentage of children with a family income below the poverty level also increased across cohorts, from 58 percent to 68 percent.

These findings show that there was, on average, an increase in classroom quality from FACES 2006 to FACES 2014. Identifying the reasons for these increases may have implications for targeting resources for future quality-improvement efforts. However, additional research is needed to determine the causal relationships between quality-improvement efforts, teacher characteristics, and classroom quality.

To read the full report, Tracking Quality in Head Start Classrooms: FACES 2006 to FACES 2014, visit https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/faces_cross_cohort_analysis_technical_report_final_b508.pdf (1,220 KB).

Related Item

Previous rounds of FACES have been highlighted in the following articles in Children's Bureau Express:

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