A new research brief illuminates the landscape of professional development in Head Start programs. Using data from the spring 2017 round of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey 2014–2018 (FACES 2014), researchers explore the professional development (PD) experiences of Head Start program directors, center directors, teachers, and other staff, including two specific types of PD that support classroom quality improvements: (1) coaching and (2) assessment and curriculum support.
Findings show that Head Start program and center directors and their staff have access to and use a range of PD activities and resources from the Office of Head Start’s training and technical assistance system. However, program directors, more than center directors, commonly report participating in training or conferences related to their role as a manager or leader.
In line with the emphasis on coaching in the Head Start Program Performance Standards, most teachers have a coach and receive in-person training on child assessments and curriculum implementation. Researchers do not find any patterns connecting teachers’ experience or education levels to their coaching experience or their receipt of assessment or curriculum training. Similarly, less than one-quarter of program directors report that they use teachers’ experience to determine who receives coaching. Instead, they base their decisions on classroom observations and assessment data.
The findings reveal both Head Start programs’ strengths in providing PD and areas that could be the focus of additional support.
FACES is conducted by Mathematica with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation.