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Early Care and Education Classrooms as Ecological Systems: Predictors and Implications of Classroom Quality Profiles

  • Author(s): Boyle, Kelly Erin
  • Advisor(s): Cunningham, Anne E
  • et al.
Abstract

Early care and education quality is a complex, multi-faceted construct consisting of multiple dimensions, such as: 1) emotional climate, 2) instructional supports, 3) learning formats, 4) assessment practices, and 5) support for families (e.g., Bulotsky-Shearer, Wen, Faria, Hahs-Vaughn, & Korfmacher, 2012; Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; LoCasale-Crouch, et al., 2007). Each of these dimensions represents separate but interrelated aspects of classroom quality that exist as part of an ecological system. Individual teachers may vary widely in the levels of support they provide across domains (Curby, Rimm-Kaufman, & Ponitz, 2009). The present study used profile analysis to identify distinct patterns of quality across multiple dimensions in a national sample of early care and education settings (N = 283 classrooms). Five distinct profiles emerged, which were differentially related to teacher/program background characteristics such as teacher education, beliefs, self-efficacy, salary, and program type. Profile membership was also predictive of child outcomes (N = 2,604) at the end of the preschool and kindergarten year. For academic outcomes, the most optimal gains were seen in the profile with high levels of quality overall, particularly in the area of instructional supports. For social-emotional outcomes, this profile was statistically similar to other profiles with above average levels of quality in emotional climate and support for families. These findings are discussed within the context of implications for policy and practice.

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