A Spotlight on Professional Development in Head Start: FACES Spring 2017

August 2, 2019
Topics:
Child Care, Head Start
Projects:
Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), 1997-2022 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
FACES Spring 2017 Spotlight Head Start Brief Cover
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  • File Size 754kb
  • Pages 18
  • Published 2019

Introduction

This research brief describes the professional development (PD) experiences of Head Start staff (program directors, center directors, teachers, and other staff), using nationally representative data from the spring 2017 round of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey 2014-2018 (FACES 2014). First we describe the landscape of PD for a variety of staff in Head Start. Next, we describe two specific types of PD that support classroom quality improvements: (1) coaching and (2) assessment and curriculum support. We also examine whether selected PD supports vary by program agency type, program size, teacher experience, and teacher education.

Primary Research Questions

  1. 1 What PD activities and resources do Head Start directors and their staff receive and use? What PD activities do programs and centers offer Head Start staff?
  2. 2 What are the characteristics of coaching for staff in Head Start programs? What coaching do Head Start teachers receive?
  3. 3 What training and support do teachers receive to conduct assessments and implement the curriculum?

Purpose

The purpose of this brief is to describe the PD experiences of Head Start staff, including coaching and assessment and curriculum supports. We also examine differences in selected PD supports by program agency type, program size, teacher experience, and teacher education. The findings provide insight into Head Start programs’ strengths in providing PD and potential areas that could be targets for additional support.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Head Start directors and their staff have access to and use a range of PD activities and Office of Head Start training and technical assistance system resources. For example, more than half of program directors report they or other staff often use Office of Head Start training and technical assistance system resources, particularly the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center website
  • Program directors, more than center directors, commonly report participating in training or conferences related to their role as a manager or leader.
  • Few differences exist in the specific PD activities available to staff relative to agency type and size.
    • Center directors in school districts are more likely to report providing paid substitutes and less likely to report providing tuition assistance than center directors in community action agencies and other types of agencies.
    • Center directors in smaller programs are more likely to report different types of PD than those in larger programs.
  • In line with the emphasis of the Head Start Program Performance Standards on coaching, most teachers have a coach and receive in-person training on child assessments and curriculum implementation.
  • The majority of programs hire coaches as staff instead of using consultants; in about half of programs, coaches also supervise the staff they coach.
  • Most programs use classroom observations and classroom-level assessment data to determine who receives coaching.
  • Teachers experience similar amounts of coaching and training regardless of their experience or education.

Methods

FACES provides information at the national level about Head Start programs, centers, and classrooms, and the children and families they serve. We selected a sample of Head Start programs from the 2012–2013 Head Start Program Information Report. In spring 2017, we updated the sample of programs to ensure it was nationally representative of all Head Start programs at that time. We visited two centers per program and selected two classrooms per center for participation. In spring 2017, 178 programs, 350 centers, and 647 classrooms participated in the study.

The sample used for this brief provides information on key characteristics of Head Start programs, centers, and teachers in spring 2017. Survey data from program or center directors are weighted to represent all Head Start programs or centers, respectively. Data on teacher characteristics are weighted to represent all teachers in Head Start.

Citation

Harding, J.F., E. Moiduddin, L. Malone, J. Cannon, L. Tarullo, and N. Aikens. A Spotlight on Professional Development in Head Start: FACES Spring 2017. OPRE Report 2019-75. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019.

Glossary

FACES
Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey
Last Reviewed: August 6, 2019