Head Start Classrooms: Tracking Trends in Quality and Teacher Characteristics, 2006 to 2014

Nov 04, 2016

FACES chart


A new research brief that examines data from Head Start classrooms from 2006 to 2014 reports some overall increases in average classroom quality, as well some positive changes in selected teacher characteristics. However, changes in the teacher characteristics examined accounted for only a small percentage of the trends in observed classroom quality.

The brief, based on data from three nationally representative cohorts--2006, 2009, and 2014--of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), addresses four key questions:

  1. Did the observed quality of Head Start classrooms change from 2006 to 2014, or from 2009 to 2014?
  2. Did mentoring in Head Start programs change from FACES 2006 to 2014? Specifically, how many teachers reported having a mentor? Who provided mentoring?
  3. Did levels of education of Head Start teachers change from FACES 2006 to 2014?
  4. Are changes in observed classroom quality across cohorts explained by selected teacher characteristics, including prevalence of mentoring, who provides mentoring, and level of education?

 “The findings provide important information on changes in the quality of Head Start classrooms; and the qualifications, credentials, and background of Head Start staff over time,” said Nikki Aikens, a senior researcher on the study.

Since its founding over five decades ago, Head Start has served as the nation’s premier federally funded early childhood intervention. Focusing on children in the years before formal schooling, often from families with multiple risks, it has served as a natural and national laboratory for a wide range of basic, prevention, early intervention, and program evaluation research. FACES was launched in 1997 as a periodic, longitudinal study of Head Start’s performance. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, funds the study.

The brief, “Tracking Quality in Head Start Classrooms: FACES 2006 to FACES 2014,” authored by Nikki Aikens, Charles Bush, Philip Gleason, Lizabeth Malone, and Louisa Tarullo, is based on Mathematica’s ongoing study for the Administration for Children and Families; Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation.

Read more about Mathematica’s early childhood research. 


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