Teacher–Child Relationship Quality and Beyond: Unpacking Quality in Early Head Start Classrooms in 2018

Teacher–Child Relationship Quality and Beyond: Unpacking Quality in Early Head Start Classrooms in 2018

OPRE Report 2022-122
Published: Jul 29, 2022
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Associated Project

Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey: Baby FACES 2018

Time frame: 2015-2022

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

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Key Findings

Quality in Early Head Start classrooms:

  • Elements of structural quality such as teacher qualifications, curricula and child assessments, group sizes, and child-to-adult ratios are, on average, in line with the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) requirements.
  • Early Head Start classrooms are well-organized and have a variety of materials available to children.
  • Generally, Early Head Start classrooms are in the midrange of quality in teacher–child interactions and practices based on two classroom observation tools, the Classroom Assessment Scoring Systems (CLASS) Teacher–Child Relationship Quality and Beyond: Unpacking Quality in Early Head Start Classrooms in 2018 x and the Quality of Caregiver–Child Interactions for Infants and Toddlers measure (Q-CCIIT). Classrooms tend to provide stronger support for social and emotional development than for language and learning.
  • Overall, Early Head Start teachers reported positive relationships with children. Teachers and parents also reported positive relationships with each other.

Factors associated with teacher–child relationship quality and its associations with children’s outcomes:

  • Some teacher characteristics and classroom practices are associated with teacher–child relationship quality in infant and toddler classrooms in directions consistent with the literature. These factors are a teacher’s completion of at least an associate’s degree in early childhood education or child development, teachers’ mental health, teachers holding evidence-based beliefs about infant and toddler care and education, teachers’ job satisfaction, positive parent–teacher relationships, lower child-to-adult ratios, smooth transitions between activities in the classrooms, the variety of materials available to children, and well-organized classrooms.
  • However, a few factors are associated with teacher–child relationship quality measures in directions opposite to what the literature has shown. We give some possible interpretations of these unexpected associations and discuss possible next steps for research.
  • The analyses linking teacher–child relationship quality with children’s outcomes reveal few associations, which may be the result of limitations of the data and measurement issues.

The Baby FACES study is sharing a closer look at overall quality in Early Head Start classroom – from teacher training and experience, adult-to-child ratios, teacher-child relationships and more that could point to potential ways to help programs enhance their quality.

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