Contexts Inside and Outside of School Walls as Predictors of Differential Effectiveness in Preschool Professional Development

Project: Research project

Project Details


Purpose: The goal of this project is to quantify and identify the sources of impact variation in early childhood professional development programming. Specifically, we aim to understand whether course instruction and coaching to enhance teacher-child interactions may be more versus less effective in improving classroom processes and child outcomes when implemented in different types of classrooms, centers, neighborhoods, and cities. Achieving this aim will support decision making around scaling and refining professional development programs in order to optimize classroom quality and child learning outcomes. Setting: This study leverages existing data from the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education Professional Development Study (NCRECE PDS), which took place across 9 sociodemographically diverse U.S. cities (e.g., Chicago, IL, Stockton, CA, Charlotte, NC). Population/Sample: The full analytic study sample includes (1) 1134 children, 263 teachers, and 163 centers in the course phase of the intervention, and (2) 1407 children, 326 teachers, and 198 centers in the coaching phase of the intervention. The sample—which is predominantly low-income and racially/ethnically diverse—is designed to represent the population of children in community and publicly funded preschool programs (e.g., Head Start) in the U.S. Intervention/Assessment: The NCRECE PDS evaluates the independent and additive impacts of two professional development components designed to enhance teacher-child interactions: (1) a 14-week course; and (2) individualized coaching. Control Condition: Teachers in the control condition were followed across time but did not receive any additional services. Research Design & Methods: The NCRECE PDS interventions were randomly assigned to teachers in two sequential phases, generating four experimental groups: (1) no course/no coaching (i.e., control); (2) no course/coaching; (3) course/no coaching; and (4) course/coaching. Key Measures: Classroom quality outcomes were measured by the Classroom Assessment Scoring SystemTM. Child language, emergent literacy skills, and self-regulation were measured using the PPVT, WJ-III Picture Vocabulary, TOPEL Phonological Awareness and Print Knowledge subtests, Pencil Tap, and the Backward Digit Span. Contextual predictors of impact variation within school walls include: composition of students (e.g., race/ethnicity, language status); teacher qualifications (e.g., education, experience, credentials) and psychological characteristics (e.g., self-efficacy, authoritarian beliefs, anxiety, and work-related stress); and center structural features (e.g., program type, enrollment, group size, staff-child ratio). Predictors of impact variation outside of school walls include: neighborhood conditions (e.g., concentrated disadvantage and residential stability from the Census) and characteristics of the school grounds and surrounding neighborhood (e.g., safety, access to learning opportunities), which will be quantified using adapted Systematic Social Observation (SSO) protocol. Data Analytic Strategy: We will leverage cutting-edge statistical approaches to quantify the distribution of program effects across NCRECE PDS cities and centers (Bloom & Weiland, 2015; Raudenbush & Bloom, 2015). To predict this variation, we will compare traditional random intercept models in the full sample against novel multi-level models with fixed intercepts for centers and random slopes for treatment condition in a selected subsample.
Effective start/end date9/1/165/31/21


  • Institute of Education Sciences (R305A160013)


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